Mikhail Gorbachev as the Primary Reason the Cold War Ended
After World War II, which has been the largest and the most violent conflict in the history of mankind, there was a confrontation between the Eastern Bloc countries and the Western capitalist countries. The confrontation was mainly between the two superpowers of the time – the USSR and the USA. The term “cold war” was coined by Winston Churchill during his speech in 1946. At the time his speech was a symbol of the beginning of the Cold War. This war can be briefly characterized as a rivalry for dominance in the new post-war world. The main reason for the Cold War was unsolvable ideological differences between the two models of society – socialist and capitalist. The ambitions of political leaders, as well as the lack of a common enemy also played a significant role. The Cold War began in 1946 and ended in the late 1980s. The coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union led to significant changes within the country, as well as radical changes in the foreign policy called “new political thinking”. In the book History for the IB Diploma, it is stated that “Part of Gorbachev’s new approach thus involved rethinking Soviet priorities and removing ‘Marxist-Leninist’ ideology as the main factor in determining Soviet foreign policy” (Todd 190). This paper defends the position that Mikhail Gorbachev contributed to the end of a long confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Cold War and the reasons for its completion is a controversial issue. Therefore, there are many arguments that claim that Mikhail Gorbachev was not the reason of the completion of the Cold War. The real reason was a tough situation in the Soviet Union (Todd 191). The end of the Cold War was caused by the weakness of the Soviet economy, its inability to support the arms race, as well as the pro-Soviet communist regimes. A certain role was played by anti-war protests in various parts of the world. Results of the Cold War were extremely disappointing for the USSR.
The Soviet economy began to weaken in the course of numerous internal and external processes (Todd 191). It was in a poor condition because of the huge amounts of money that the Soviet Union spent on the arms race. After World War II, the Soviet Union developed its economy in such a way that most of the funds went to the military-industrial complex, as it could not afford to be weaker than the United States. This fact turned the Soviet Union into a country of public deficit, weak economy, and lead to the downfall of the once mighty power. The USSR experienced a deep sociopolitical and economic crisis, which led to the collapse of the country (Todd 191). There was a strategic retreat of the Soviet Union in the international arena.
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However, despite the fact that the Soviet Union experienced an extremely difficult economic situation, it would still continue the Cold War if Mikhail Gorbachev did not come to power. His diplomatic policy and peace negotiations caused the end of war. If a more ambitious leader, who would not want to renounce the United States, came to power, the Soviet Union would continue this war and the consequences could be disastrous.
There were several events that accelerated the completion of the Cold War. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev informed the communist leaders of the Eastern Bloc that Moscow would not carry out a militarily intervention to save communism in Europe (Todd 190). In October 1986, a Soviet-American summit meeting took place in Reykjavik, where Mikhail Gorbachev and the President of the United States Ronald Reagan had negotiations (Todd 190). The negotiations contributed to establishing mutual trust between the USSR and the USA. In December 1987, Reagan and Gorbachev reached an agreement on nuclear arms reduction (Todd 190). In February 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev announced the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan (Todd 190). These events contributed to the end of the Cold War. Quite often, the former US President Ronald Reagan is mentioned in this context. He called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and challenged the Soviet Union to participate in the arms race, which became an intolerable economic burden for Moscow. Nevertheless, one can say that Reagan became the US president at a time when there was a generational change in leadership of the USSR.
Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War. In the book Global Business, the author says that “When late 20th century history is written, Mikhail Gorbachev will be remembered as the primary reason behind the end of the Cold War between the so-called ‘capitalist’ and ‘communism’ worlds” (Scarlett and Koslow 304). The most important fact was that the Secretary-General abandoned the prevalent view of the Soviet Union that violence was justified for the sake of building communist utopia. This approach was an important breakthrough. It is associated with the fact that the Soviet Union and its European satellites, the Eastern Bloc, were built on terror. Another decisive factor was the recognition of the invalidity of the socialist economic model. Mikhail Gorbachev understood that Moscow became dependent on the capitalist West.
The end of the Cold War is a result of the purposeful activity of Mikhail Gorbachev and his team. First of all, they abandoned further confrontations with Washington, the economic sanctions of which caused serious damage to the Soviet Union. Concluded in 1987, the agreement between the USSR and the United States on the reduction of nuclear arms and land forces gave the Kremlin an opportunity to save significant funds. Mikhail Gorbachev held an optimistic view that the history and culture of Russia made it a European country. Beyond doubt, Moscow also had its economic interests in Europe. Gorbachev quickly established a trust-based relationship with the leaders of Britain, West Germany, and France (Scarlett and Koslow 305). However, these relations could develop only under the conditions of refusal to use military forces in Central and Eastern Europe. Mikhail Gorbachev accepted this condition. Immediately after coming to power, he promised the leaders of the Eastern bloc that the Soviet Union would no longer carry out a military intervention in the political life of these countries. All these facts led to the completion of the Cold War, which was extremely beneficial to both sides.
In conclusion, the Cold War was a global confrontation between two military-political blocs headed by the Soviet Union and the United States. It is important that this confrontation did not result in an open military conflict between them. After World War II, the world was divided into spheres of influence between the two blocks with different social systems. The Cold War lasted for about 45 years. All these years led to great economic difficulties on both sides. There is an opinion that Mikhail Gorbachev became the person who put an end to this confrontation. The end of the Cold War was a key that opened the gates of the prison of the Soviet peoples. However, no one could have foreseen that Moscow will come out of the Cold War era without giving the last fight leading to total destruction.