Ronald Reagan and the End of the Cold War

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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 ... ... middle of paper ... ... References 1 Walter Lippman, The Cold War: A Study in U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1947) 48-52. 2 Charles S. Maier, ed., The Cold War in Europe: Era of a divided Continent (New York: Markus Wiener Publishing, Inc., 1991) 27. 3 Ralph B. Levering, The Cold War (Illinois: Harlan Davidson, INC.,1988) 169. 4 Levering, 169 5 Levering, 169 6 John Young, Cold War Europe 1945-1989 (New York: Edward Allen, 1991) 26. 7 Levering, 171-2 8 Levering 173 9 "The End of the Cold War" 2 Feb. 1997 10 11 Young, 28 12 Young, 28 13 Tom Morganthou, "Reagan's cold war 'sting'?", Newsweek 32 August 1993: 32 14 Levering, 180 15"Ending the Cold War", Foreign Affairs Spring 1988: 24-25 16 Young, 28 17 Young, 29 18 Young, 29 19 Levering, 187-188 20 "Ending the Cold War", 27 21 "Ending the Cold War", 28 22 Brinkley, Alan An Uneasy Peace 1988-, Vol. 10 of 20th Century America, 10 vols. (New York: Grolier 1995):22 23 Brinkley, 30 24 "George Bush addresses Europe" 13 March 1997.

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