The End of the Cold War

Why did American win the Cold War?

Perhaps to the young it seemed inevitable but on that day in 1989
when the Berlin Wall came down (brick by brick sold off in a
capitalist venture it should be noted!) It seemed almost surreal. The
giant monolith of the Soviet Union had been defeated. The foundation
of the Soviet Union had been crumbling for a decade… some might say
it had never actually been solid yet nonetheless for those of us that
lived through the Cold War the sight was still shocking. It all
seemed so sudden. The days of air raid drills and realistic fears of
a nuclear war would never leave us. What had vanquished the giant of
the Soviet Union? What would be the future of world politics? What
would happen to all of those nuclear weapons? So many questions… a
very uncertain period of time.

I. The End of the Cold war.

A. How did the Cold War End?

1. In the late 1980’s Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev
initiated a series of Summit meeting s with President Ronald Reagan.

2. Gorbachev’s reforms led many soviets citizens to demand more
freedoms and an immediate move to capitalism.

3. Throughout the late 80’s there eastern European nations had
movements against their Communist governments. The Soviet Union did
not stop them.

4. Gorbachev and President Bush held a summit meeting at Malta and
negotiated important reductions in intermediate range nuclear

5. Late in 1989 there was a coup in the Soviet Union. Hard line
soviet leaders held Gorbachev hostage. He was “rescued by Boris
Yeltsin. The Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War was over.

6. The Soviet Union broke up into many smaller ethnic
nationalities. Some remained together in a loose confederation called
the “Russian Confederation.” Boris Yeltsin became the Premier of
Russia, a capitalist country with a more or less democratic form of

7. The Soviet Union no longer existed and thus no longer
controlled Eastern Europe. In 1990 West Germany and East Germany

B. What is the traditional view of the why the United States “won”
the Cold War?

1. During the Carter and Reagan Administrations the
United States upped military spending.

– Carter: B1 Bomber and MX Missile system.

– Reagan: Star Wars (SDI), more nuclear submarines, across the
board increases.

2. The Soviet Union spent to try to keep up with this arms race
but could no longer afford to do so. They could no longer afford to
produce basic consumer goods and the economy and system collapsed.

C. What is the less American centric view of the collapse of the
Soviet System?

1. The Communist system is flawed and could not afford
to provide for the basic needs of the people. A command economy is

inefficient and can raise productivity levels high enough.

2. In time, the system was destined to collapse. The Cold War and
increased tensions may actually have prolonged the existence of
Communism in the Soviet Union.

3. Gorbachev’s reforms opened a door that could not be closed. The
Soviet people now clamored for revolutionary change, not the slow
evolutionary change advocated by Gorbachev.