Role of Reagan and Gorbachev in Cold war conclusion - Politics Essay Example

The Cold War was an ideological war between socialism and capitalism with the Soviet Union supporting socialism (consequently communism) and the west supporting capitalism. There was no active battling in the field thus the term “cold war”. There was a belief among the capitalist nations that communism could not be stopped and all they could do wads to contain it to avoid its further spread. Once a country became communist it could no longer revert to a democracy. In his book “The Cold War: A New History”, Gaddis illustrates Reagan’s defiance of this belief and the advice given supporting it by his advisers.

Reagan’s attack on the Soviet Union started off with the assistance of Grenada to get out of soviets rule something that had been previously deemed impossible. This was in line with the Reagan Doctrine that proposed that the United States ought to offer military and material support to indigenous resistance movements in any country that was under tyrannical rule that was supported by the soviet[1]. He then initiated the Strategic Defense Initiative that was meant to pressurize the soviet union to joining in the arms race and consequently use all their resources thus bring an end to the union.

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He proposed and actually initiated a military build-up that would cost $ 1.5 trillion which would cripple the Soviet economy if they were to try and counter it. In response to the presence of Soviets’ SS-20s in European cities, Reagan intended to lead the Western alliance in using the 108 Pershing II and the 464 Tomahawk cruise missiles against them but offered not to do so if they would remove their missiles from the cities. This suggestion was to be known as the “zero option”. He also suggested the reduction of nuclear stockpiles by both powers. On June 12 1987, he stood at the Brandenburg gate and demanded that Gorbachev bring down the Berlin wall.

The war would not have ended without the contribution of Mikhail Gorbachev and his reforms. The Soviet Union was under serious economic strain and would not survive if it engaged in a war with the Western alliance. To avoid military confrontation with the United States, he reduced the armed forces by 10% but left enough to fight in case a war was inevitable. In dealing with Eastern Europe, he withdrew 50,000 troops and thus eased the tension. The number of tanks in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany were reduced by 50%[2].

Consultations with his defense and financial advisors led him to believe that the soviet could not join in the arms race and hence proposed to have the arms race end. He met with Reagan four times and tried to discuss reforms beneficial to both powers. This empowered Reagan to push on with his demands as he saw that Gorbachev had resigned himself to losing the war. Gorbachev made concessions to try and save the union without a war but although this failed, he is still remembered as having aided in the end of the cold war.

Pope John Paul II was very vehement in his opposition of the soviet and his contribution is noteworthy. He was from Poland and wanted his home country to be a democracy. He was of the opinion that communism was an evil and immoral order that would bring about global instability as a threat to humanity. He appointed bishops who were sympathetic to his cause and met up with Reagan a number of times. His assassination attempt was blamed on the soviet and it contributed to its downfall.

Bibliography

Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: New York: Penguin Publishers, 2005

[1] John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (New York: New York: Penguin Group, 2005)
[2] John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (New York: New York: Penguin Group, 2005)

 

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