'The Second Cold War'

  • Created by: TessBlyth
  • Created on: 27-05-19 13:45

The Olympic Boycotts

In protest against the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the USA led a boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games, which was held in Moscow. Over 60 nations supported the US boycott. The olympics are a global event, which the Soviet Union was hoping to use in order to showcase communism to the huge audience around the world. The boycott reflected the influence that the USA had in international affairs. Some countries did not prevent their athletes from going, but discouraged them to do so. However, American athletes were threatened with the loss of their passports if they attempted to travel to Moscow. 

The boycott was so effective that with many of the best athletes staying away, some events at the Moscow Games were made to look second-rate. The Soviet Union was extremely angry that its chance to showcase communism had been undermined and relations with the USA deteriorated further.

This was a significant moment in the 'second cold war'. Relations were so poor that four years later, when it was the USA's turn to hold the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984, the Soviet Union led a boycott of the games, which was joined by 15 communist countries.

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Ronald Reagan's Policies

President Reagan had been elected in 1980 after the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and was determined for America to reclaim its position on the world stage and stand up to communism. His tougher approach led to a period of hostility that is often referred to as the Second Cold War

  • Reagan's mind-set was made clear in a speech to a Christian group in 1983, in which he described the Soviet Union as 'an evil empire' and said that the USA represented the forces of 'good'.
  • Reagan persuaded the US congress to boost America's armed forces by increasing spending on arms. In 1982, 13% more was spent with a fruther 8% in the following years. New weapons such as Trident submarines and Stealth Bombers were developed.
  • He announced the Reagan Doctrine - "the USA would not only support anti-communist governments but also anti-communist groups that were trying to overthrow communist governments." Support was given to insurgent groups in Central American countries, including El Salvador and Nicaragua. US forces also invaded the Caribbean government there. Reagan described this as the first 'roll back' of communist influence since WW2.
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The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)

President Reagan knew that the Soviet economy was struggling, so, by increasing spending and support for anti-communists, he knew that he could create real difficulties for the Soviet Union. In 1983, Reagan announced a new policy called the Strategic Defense Initiative or 'Star Wars' which would place a series of satellites in orbit. They would carry powerful lasers that could shoot down Soviet missiles and prevent them from harming the USA. This was against the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Reagan spoke of SDI as a reality and did not admit that the system was years from being ready.

The news of this development was a complete shock in Moscow. The USSR had devoted huge resources to catch up with American missile technology. Now, they would be redundant and a new system was needed.

SDI was a significant turning point, both in the arms race and the Cold War. The Soviet Union's leaders knew that they would have to invest huge sums in order to create an equiavlent system to SDI, however, their economy was not strong enough. The USA had made huge advances in computer technology.

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