Ronald Reagan's Role in Ending the Cold War

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In the minds of many Americans Ronald Reagan is the president that ended the Cold War, but is this view accurate? They claim Reagan's unprecedented military spending forced the Soviets to crumble. However, many critics of the president's outspending theory claim that the Russian economy would have imploded without such spending, and a military buildup of that kind did nothing but delay peace. Although, Reagan's willingness to negotiate was a clear factor in ending the Cold War, his aggressive arms race may have done more to forestall peace than abet it. The ascendance of Mikhail Gorbachev to power, the stagnating economy of Russia, and the personal friendship forged between Gorbachev and Reagan were the clear factors that contributed to the war's end.

Upon taking office in 1981, Ronald Reagan began to implement a simple strategy to win the war against the Soviets: he would outspend them in an arms race and force them to the negotiating table. Over the course of this erratic arms build-up the president spent a total of $2 trillion on the military alone. The most notorious of these programs was the Strategic Defense Initiative; also know as Star Wars, in which the president authorized billions to be spent to research a program that could defend America against a possible nuclear attack by blowing in an incoming nuke out of the sky. A vast majority of the scientific community thought such a program to be absurd and implausible, but Reagan pushed on. His belligerence in this arms race only provoked the Kremlin, and increased tensions. This massive military funding only led Russia to assume that the United States was planning to attack, and undercut efforts of peace. Also, in order to maintain such large military growth hundreds of ...

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...isputes, but Reagan refused to concede the right of the United States to intervene militarily if it deemed necessary. Despite this disagreement, Gorbachev and Reagan reached many agreements on issues regarding disarmament and sent a message to the world that the two biggest conflicting powers had ended their near-40 year dispute.

Although at the outset of his presidency, Reagan sought to resolve the Cold War primarily through the use of money, it was mouth that got the job done. The policy of containment had successfully stifled the Soviet empire and provided an opportune time for Reagan to end the war, and Gorbachev's willingness to comply provided him with the means to do so. Ultimately it was their special relationship, the inevitable implosion of the Russian economy, and President Reagan's fearlessness in demanding progress that brought and end to the Cold War.
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