The End of the Cold War Interpretations

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Interpretations of why the Cold War Ended
Economics
The end of the Cold War, it can be argued, was the result of the
worsening economic situation in the USSR. Because of this,
Soviet leaders were forced to seek negotiations with the US on
arms reduction as they could no longer afford to keep a high level
of spending on the military (50% of their GNP went on defense
spending). This is more important then the Soviet leadership, as
it created the situation in which they had to act.
Reagan
It also can be argued that Reagan's tough policies in his first term
were crucial to the end of the Cold War. It is suggested he
identified and exploited the USSR's key weaknesses, such as with
SDI (Strategic Defence Initiative), which knocked the USSR out of
the arms race, as it required the level of massive military
spending and investment in high technology that the Soviet Union
did not have and could never have. Further, SDI threatened to
make the USSR's nuclear weapons null and void, by neutralising
them before they reached their target. As they couldn't compete,
it forced Gorbachev to negotiate with Reagan. Additionally, his
anti Soviet rhetoric (such as Evil Empire and Focus of evil in the
modern world) added a moral dimension to the Cold War. His role
exposed the economic and moral weakness of the Soviet Union.
Further, his willingness to talk with Gorbachev was important in
ending the Cold War, which allowed a dialogue to be established
between the two superpowers. Reagan also took Gorbachev's
reforms seriously and gave credibility to the Soviet government,
stopping hard liners from regaining control. Reagan was also an
idealist and wanted to abolish nuclear weapons, therefore he took
the disarmaments suggestions by Gorbachev seriously. In doing
this, he played a key role by responding to Gorbachev. His long
term goal was to ultimately abolish nuclear weapons, and the goal
of the SDI was to make nuclear weapons irrelvant- however, he
knew the importance of nuclear weapons to US security, and
expanded the nuclear arsenal of the US (development of the
Trident submarine and Stealth bomber/ 1981-186 doubling of
defence spending) without giving up complete hopes of nuclear
disarmament. Reagan seriously considered Gorbachev's offer of
the "Zero Option" (ie getting rid of all nuclear weapons) at
Reykjavik, but George Shultz, his Secretary of State, persuaded

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Reagan refused to give up SDI (he was
"deeply committed" to it).
Sub reason: Magaret Thatcher
It can be argued that Thatcher played an important role as an
uncompromising supporter of Reagan. She and Reagan had the
same of the Cold War, viewing communism as an evil to be
repressed. She agreed with Reagan's negotiating from a position
of strength, and supported this by allowing nuclear weapons to be
put in the UK, giving more of a threat to the USSR.…read more

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Communist rule in the USSR
and Eastern Europe. The Polish revolution, fuelled by the illegal
trade union group Soldarity, led other countries to follow suit.
These were a response to the failing economies of the USSR and
the years of economic hardship they had to face. This also
reflected the fact that the people of Eastern Europe had rejected
communist ideology.…read more

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