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The cold war begun in 1947 when the President Truman declared an anti-communist policy on the Soviet Union and it became a conflict between two world super powers. The democratic nations were led by the United States while the Soviet Union led the communist nations. This war was conducted using all necessary method including, economic sanctions, propaganda, and or diplomatic wrangles. Before the Second World War, the United States and the Soviets Union harbored deep-seated political, economical, and ideological differences, which strengthened soon after the Second World War. This essay will discuss the changes in the United States foreign policies when Presidents Nixon, Carter, and Reagan were in power.

President Richard Nixon:

The United States Foreign Policy towards the Soviet Union

The US foreign policy towards the Soviet Union had begun changing after the Vietnam War of 1973. Richard Nixon was the United Sate president for the period between1969 to 1974. During his administration, he implemented foreign policies that would facilitate the end of cold war. The border clashes between the Soviet Union and China worsened and their relationship deteriorated, during the first year of president Carter’s administration. Nixon then sent word privately[1] to the Chinese that he preferred closer relations. This facilitated him to release the trade and visa restrictions between the United States and china. China responded by inviting American team of table tennis players to visit china and play China’s top team. They were warmly received and given guided tours after the games. The year that followed on February 1972, President Nixon Travelled to China and met with the Chinese Prime Minister, Zhou Enlai. They held private meetings to discuss ways of improving relations between China and the United states. Later that evening he attended formal banquet to welcome the Presidential party. He toured Chinese architectural wonders like the Forbidden City. This meeting also enabled his administration to finalize on his Visit to Moscow. 

President Nixon initiated détente meaning the lessening of strained associations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Either side had accumulated enough nuclear weapons to destroy one another also called Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Therefore, there was need to avoid direct military confrontation. Improving the relations between China and the United States eased the situation. The Soviet Union feared the dangers that this union posed and thus agreed to work towards creating better relations with the United States.  On the other hand, the Vietnam War had drained the United States’ economy thus, there was need to improve the welfare state by channeling more resources towards developing the American people. Moreover, the developing influences of the third world countries made them to resist the pressure from these two super powers. The umbrella of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fueled the alignment of third world countries under thus their steady increasing influence. These factors led the United State President Nixon and Brezhnev of the Soviet Union to sign a Treaty, Strategic Arms Limitation Talk I (SALT I) in the year 1972. This treat also sought to limit the nuclear proliferations of these two world supper powers. Their leaders also believed that by improving relations their domestic popularity would increase and their power secured.

 

President Jimmy Carter:

The United State foreign policy towards the Soviet Union

President jimmy Carter was president between 1977 and 1981. It was during this time that the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated. In 1979, Carter signed another treaty with the Soviet Union SALT II in order to limit the arms capabilities of these two nations. It was also to cement further the need to avoid military confrontation between them. In the same year, three events occurred that undermined these efforts. The Nicaragua and the Iranian revolution ousted pro-United State governments in their respective country. The Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in support of the Marxist government led by Taraki.

Carter retaliated by supporting the anti-communist mujahedeen insurgents against the pro-Soviet government. He withdrew the SALT II treaty from the senate and imposed economic embargoes on the Soviet Union. He facilitated this by denying the pro-Soviet government the permits to fish on the Coastal waters of the United States, stopped the Soviet from accessing agricultural products and technological equipments. He also called on his allies to restrain their trade with the Soviets including the embargoed items and advised the United State citizens and sport men and women to boycott Olympics in Moscow. The Soviet Union’s attack on Afghanistan was seen as a strategic plan to dominate the oil source and path and block it from the rest from the world. Afghanistan contains more than two-thirds oil for export from the Middle East. According to Carter, any attack on the Persian Gulf was a direct attack on the interest of the United States and the United States government was ready to stop such attacks by any means necessary.

The subsequent military strategy that Carter spelled further tensed the United State-Soviet relations. He increased military spending significantly in order to enable them to deploy rapidly in distant places. He strengthened North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other United States alliances and persuaded them to deploy intermediate-range nuclear forces to meet the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union. He as well ordered the deployment of the naval force to the Indian Ocean and proposed the development of key air facilities for United State forces in the regions of Persian Gulf and Northeast Africa. However, these actions did not deter the Soviet Union; they continued to occupy the Afghanistan until 1988. Moreover, the cold war went to its peak when President Jimmy Carter left office.

President Ronald Reagan:

The United State Foreign Policy towards the Soviet Union

When Reagan became president in 1981, the America’s cold war with the Soviet Union spiraled. He implemented a new policy the, National Security Decisions and Directive (NSDD) towards the Soviet Union. This policy was to deal with the Union of Soviet Social Republic (USSR) on three areas. One, diminish their resources by limiting access to high technology and decreasing the value of Soviets’ products. Enhance American defense expenditure in order to gain negotiating position. This would also force the Soviet Union to dedicate majority of their economic resources to defense. 

He believed in maintaining peace through strength. That is in order to ensure the safety and peace from nuclear; America had to have a strong and armed military. As a result he initiated the B-1bomber program that begun producing missiles. When the Soviets deployed their missiles, Reagan reacted by overseeing the deployment of United States missiles in West Germany in order to fortify their bargaining position. On his address to the nation on March 23, 1983, he proposed a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). This was a technological defense against nuclear attack. He believed that achieving this technology would eliminate nuclear threat by rendering nuclear weapons useless. This plan caused great concern to the leadership of the Soviet Union.

            Reagan further introduced a policy, which supported all anti-communists. It later came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine; it allowed his administration to fund several freedom fighters. For instance, the RENAMO in Mozambique, Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua were funded through this program. In addition, he imposed sanctions on states that suppressed freedom; he imposed sanctions on the People’s Republic of Poland. These foreign policies directed towards the Soviet Union worse the tensions with both side-increasing arms in order to maintain negotiating positions and flexing their military muscles.

The End of Cold war

            Even though the size of the soviet’s force was not because of the race for might with the United States, the size of their defense was enormous in addition to continuous weapon upgrade. Consequently, the   military spent about 25% of the gross domestic product.  All this came at the expense of the consumer goods. The main problem was the deep leadership problems within their system. The leaders had grown dependent on the defense sector for their own privileges. Mikhail Gorbachev took over from Brezhnev in 1985 when the country was undergoing tough economic times. The downslide of oil prices in the early 1980s also contributed to bad economic times of the Soviet Union. The only way to rescue the Soviet Union from total collapse was the over whole restructuring of its management and leadership. This made Gorbachev to redirect the country’s resources from the cold war policies to civilian ventures. The process involved offering compromise on the platforms of nuclear weapons, backing down on Eastern Europe policies and conventional forces.

 When President Reagan realized that there was real change being carried out by Gorbachev, he soughed for further persuasion towards the changes. He gave a speech at Berlin wall that aimed to push the Soviet leader to tear down the Berlin wall. This marked the beginning of the end of the cold. It as well led to the soviet withdrawing her forces from Afghanistan in 1989 marking the end of the cold war. Reagan changed his attitude towards the Soviet Union and helped in the reforms. He visited Moscow and gave a speech on free markets at Moscow University. At the request of Gorbachev, the Secretary of State George Shultz privately taught him free market economics. He wanted the Soviet Union to observe the success of the United States and learn from them.

When Moscow opened itself to the rest of the world and the soviet people finally tasting the freedom, the collapse of USSR became inevitable. December 1989 was the final moments of the cold war when President George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev declared officially that the cold war was over. Upon approval of the treaty by Gorbachev the gate to the Berlin wall were opened. The large numbers removal of Troops from the Eastern Europe in February 1990, forced the communist party to surrender. This led to the 1991final dissolution of Union State of America 15 states into independent states in. Therefore, the Reagan’s foreign policy compared to those of Nixon and Carter finally ended the cold war. Reagan did not confront these policies directly but strengthened the position of the United States ensuring advantage against the USSR. However, all the three presidents played very important roles in ending the cold war.


 

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