The end of the cold war brought great historical transformation for both US and the Soviet Union, but controversy still persists about its cause. Cold war refers to a prolonged period of rivalry and tension between two major economic and political systems, particularly, the United States of America USA and the Soviet Union. This period was characterized by the superpower control of the two opposing political and military blocs. The cold war was a worldwide conflict between capitalism and communism systems. Cold war was officially concluded in 1989 with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The cold war was ended as a result of both external and internal causes such as the weakening of the USSR economy, the Gorbachev’s reforms and breaking away of satellite states. The external factors included the signing of treaties that limited the arm race, as well as US-soviet diplomacy. This article will analyze important factor behind the end of the cold war in depth.
The president Ronald Reagan doctrine was one of the factors that contributed to the end of the cold war. Although the end of cold had initially been instituted by President Nixon, Reagan used the policy of Detente to regulate the arm race in the world. President Reagan signed two significant treaties widely known as SALT I and SALT II. The main aim of President Reagan was to put pressure on the Soviet Union to spend a lot of resources while striving to catch up with US. Through this strategy, Reagan spends trillion dollars in supporting and sponsoring capitalist group all over the world to drive out the communist regime. For instance, the invasion of Poland and Afghanistan was strategically aimed at weakening the Soviet Union. In response to American action, the Soviet Union spends a lot of resources in on military and arms. This made the Soviet Union population face many issue since more than 50 percent of the Soviet resources were used in development of weapons. This made the soviet population rise against its leaders. These factors led to breaking down of the community party and eventual decrease of its influence.
Gorbachev’s internal policies in the soviet also played a main role in ending the cold war. The new policies adopted by Gorbachev improved relations with the western world particularly US, which was the main rival in the cold war. The 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl had a lot of negative effect on a large section of USSR population as a result of exposure to high radiation level. This forced the USSR to establish new reforms. The Gorbachev administration established the policy of openness (Glasnost) and restructuring (perestroika). Through these policies, freedom of speech especially to the media was greatly enhanced than before. The restructuring policy increased agricultural productivity by making factories and farm enterprises more profitable and self-sufficient. [Gorbachev also enhanced a command in the economy by permitting the head of factories and farm to make decisions regarding production and distribution. This eventually led to increase in individual productivity since soviets were allowed to establish private businesses. These policies and reforms established by Gorbachev played a critical role in decline of communism because people started adopting the capitalist system.
The policy of openness (perestroika) also played a critical role toward the decline of the cold war. This is because limited the direct involvement of the communist leader to the internal affairs of other countries. As result, Mikhail Gorbachev started to shrink the soviet troops in countries such as Afghanistan and Vietnam. This reduced the soviet influence in the region that promoted easiness of political and economic tension. In addition, withdrawal of the soviet influence in these countries provided a favorable environment for election of new people with new reform ideas, causing the economic and political system diverge from the communism. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed a treaty that lead to destruction of all intermediate range nuclear force treaty. The signing of this treaty led to destruction of a large section of nuclear arsenal of both countries. These measures ultimately reduced the military tension between the two superpowers and lead to the end of the cold war.
A series of revolutions in a different part of the Eastern Europe nations that were under the influence of the Soviet Union, also leads to the end of the cold war. Since Mikhail Gorbachev mainly focused on improving the economic and political condition through a series of reforms, the Eastern Europe countries under the Soviet Union were given less attention. Therefore, the communist regime in those countries began to breakdown and numerous revolutions took place. For instance, In the East Germany, the communist regime under Eric Honecker was over overthrown, and the Berlin wall was broke down. The demolition of the Berlin wall clearly symbolized the end of communism in Germany. The west and East Germany was re-united thus signifying the end of the cold war in the region.
In Poland, the communist party was challenged by the solidarity party resulting to the institution of a free and fair election in Poland. The communist party was eventually defeated by the solidarity party, which changed the economic system from communist to the capitalist system. In Countries such as Hungary military communist was replaced by a more democratic regime that initiated reforms that stabilized the economy. In addition, the fence between Austria and Hungary was also broken down, thus signifying the end of the cold war in the region. The end of the communist influence in the region enabled these countries to improve their relation with the outside world, especially the west. In addition, the Gorbachev regime gave these countries more degree of freedom. Gorbachev even refused to use military force to put down demonstrations during the revolution in Eastern Europe countries that were initially under the soviet influence. This marked the collapse of the soviet empire into 16 different national parts. The decline of the communist rule in countries such as Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania was an ultimate indication of the end of the cold war in the Eastern Europe.
In conclusion, it is evident that the cold war ended when the Moscow opened itself to the rest world and when the soviet people finally experienced a sense of economic and political freedom. At the end of 1989, it was evident that the collapse of Soviet Union was inevitable. Cold war officially ended in 1989 when the President George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev signed an agreement at the Malta Conference. The decline of communist principles, increase in nor Russian population in the soviet, emergence of leaders like Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev with their reformist policies, weakening of the soviet economy and disintegration of the satellite countries in the soviet union lead to the end of the cold war. Therefore, Reagan foreign policy in comparison to those his predecessors; carter and Nixon played a critical role to end of the cold war. President Reagan did not essentially confront these policies; rather he strengthened the US position against the USSR. However, they all played an influential role in ending the cold war. The end of the cold war changed the dynamic of the world politics, and a new world order that was marked with security and prosperity was instituted. Gorbachev said, “The end of the cold war is our common victory”