Mikhail Gorbachev: The Cold War

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The Cold War was a hostile rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. It lasted from the late 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The war was "cold" only in that the United States and USSR never fought each other in a direct military confrontation, but both superpowers threatened each other with nuclear annihilation and participated frequently in "proxy wars" by supporting allied nations in numerous "hot" wars in places like Korean, Vietnam, and Angola. The Cold War defined both countries' foreign policies through the second half of the twentieth century, as Americans and Soviets competed for allies to maintain and widen their respective spheres of influence around the world. Each side viewed the Cold War as a …show more content…
For many years, the Soviet-American conflict hung heavy over global affairs, shaping the world with massive military buildups. In addition, to a never-ending nuclear arms race and fierce technological competition as each side tried to gain the upper hand in preparation for the thermonuclear "hot war".
The end of the Cold War was a greater historical transformation than 9/11. A greater portion of the cause belongs to Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev wanted to reform communism. However, his reform snowballed into a revolution driven from below rather than controlled from above. When he first came to power in 1985, Gorbachev tried to discipline the Soviet people as a way to overcome the existing economic stagnation. When discipline was not enough to solve the problem, he launched the idea of perestroika, or "restructuring," but the bureaucrats kept thwarting his orders. To light a fire under the bureaucrats, he used a strategy of glasnost, or open discussion and democratization. In 1991, he proposed a Union Treaty,
…show more content…
The United States spent trillions of dollars arming themselves for a direct confrontation with the Soviet Union that fortunately never came. Regardless, thousands of American lives were lost waging proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam. Most Americans found it difficult to get used to the idea of no Cold War. Since 1945, Americans were born into a Cold War culture that featured McCarthyist witch-hunts, backyard bomb shelters, a space race, a missile crisis, détente, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Star Wars defense proposal. Now the enemy was beaten, but the world remained unsafe. In many ways, facing one superpower was simpler than challenging dozens of rogue states and renegade groups sponsoring global

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