Ronald Reagan And The End Of The Cold War

2042 words - 8 pages

The cold war was a post-World War II struggle between the United States
and its allies and the group of nations led by the Soviet Union. Direct military
conflict did not occur between the two superpowers, but intense economic and
diplomatic struggles erupted. Different interests led to mutual suspicion and
hostility in a rising philosophy. The United States played a major role in the
ending of the cold war. It has been said that President Ronald Reagan ended the
cold war with his strategic defense policies.

In the year1949, Germany was divided by the victors of World War II and
they occupied different zones. The western regions united to form a Federal
republic and the Soviet eastern region became communist East Germany. The cold
war had begun. Berlin, the former capital of Germany was divided into East
Berlin and West Berlin but was located deep inside the soviet controlled zone.1

Then, in 1961, the Soviet government built a wall which separated the
two halves of the city. It was not until the 1980s that cold war tensions eased
through the glasnost (openness to public debate) polices of soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev. Finally, in November 1989, the wall crumbled under the hands
of the Germans and the cold war ended.2

The downfall of the cold war started when Ronald Reagan came into office
in 1981. Reagan had two main priorities. He wanted to cut taxes and increase
defense spending. He felt that the United States of America should take a
confrontational approach towards Russia.3

Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of Russia in 1985. He wanted to improve
the Russian economy. He also wanted to improve relations with the United States.
He used his glasnost (openness to public debate) policy and perestroika
(restructuring) to help the Russian economy.4

Both leaders wanted a "margin of safety". Reagan took a tough stand
against Russia and it's allies. The soviets could clearly see that when Reagan
said he wanted a "margin of safety", he meant that the United States should be
superior to Russia. Moscow would not let this happen. They wanted equality.5

Reagan also believed that military power and respect for America abroad
were inseparable from economic strength. However, Reagan's defense policy
resulted in the doubling of the debt of the United States. He used the money for
new strategic programs and for expensive conventional programs such as expanding
the navy from four hundred to six hundred ships. Reagan also received increases
for the CIA and other intelligence agencies so they could aid anti-Russian
forces in Afghanistan and other Third-World countries.6

Reagan's administration did not have strong or consistent policies
towards Russia. It was divided between people who favored careful negotiations
and people who strongly opposed efforts to deal with "the enemy." The
negotiators were centered in the State department. It included George Schultz,

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