1 Ronald Reagan and US-Foreign policy in the 1980's.
1.1 Reagan's foreign policy and the end of the Cold War: Reagan's policy was not to end the Cold War but to rather weaken the USSR. In fact, his policies were so successful at doing so, it played a major role in
ending the Cold War.
1.1.1 The Reagan Doctrine: The Reagan Doctrine decreased the financial resources and the political legitimacy of the USSR. For example, support for the Mujahideen prolonged the war in Afghanistan. This proved costly for the Soviets in Three ways: 1. Financially,the war drained Soviet resources. 2.The war was unpopular among the Russian people, and so weakened support for the Soviet government. 3. The war was unpopular internationally and so weakened support for the USSR among the international community.
1.1.2 Changing Diplomacy and SDI: Reagan's proactive approach to the Cold War forced the USSR to consider nuclear war as a real threat. However, Soviet leaders realised that the USA had a clear military advantage. Therefore elements in the Soviet government began to consider a negotiated
end to the Arms Race.
1.1.3 Trade Restrictions: Limiting Soviet access to American's energy and technology exposed the weakness of the Soviet's economy in the minds of Soviet leaders. In this sense, the restrictions led to a crisis of confidence at the top of the
2 Weakening Soviet Control.
2.1 Gorbachev and the 'New Thinking': In March 1985, Gorbachev became Soviet Premier. He was willing to admit that the USSR faced real problems and that he had to consider radical decisions.
2.1.1 Economical Decline : Perestroika, Workers and managers should be given greater power to make economical decisions. This would remove power from the Soviet central planning authority.
2.1.2 Public Loss of faith in communism: Glasnost. Corrupt and lazy members of the Communist party should be removed. The government should admit past mistakes and reduce censorship of the press.
2.2 Poland 1980-81.
2.2.1 The Soviet invasion of Afghan created international outrage, so Brezhnev felt unable to send Soviet troops to end the unrest in Poland. This implied a rejection of the Brezhnev Doctrine.
2.2.2 Brezhnev was unwilling to impose economic sanctions to Poland. The Soviet economy was in a period of decline, which made trade withe Poland extremely valuable to the USSR.
2.3 Instability in the USSR 1980-84.
2.3.1 During the 1980's the USSR was fighting an npopular war in Afghan and facing unrest in the Eastern Bloc, particulary Poland. During this period the Soviet government was unable to offer effective leadership because its rulers had chronic health problems meaning they were unable to address problems facing the USSR.
2.4 Nuclear diplomacy.
2.4.1 Geneva Summit: Gorbachev proposed a 50% cut in the total number of US an d Soviet nuclear weapons if the USA would stop SDI. No agreement was made.
2.4.2 Reykjavik Summit: Gorbachev proposed to eliminate all nuclear weapons if the USA would stop developing SDI by 2000. No agreement was made.
3 The end of the Cold War.
3.1 The fall of communism in Eastern Europe: Between 1989 and 1991 communism regimes were replaced by democratically elected governments throughout the Eastern Bloc.
3.2 Gorbachev's final reforms: During the years of the 1980's Gorbachev extended perestroika introducing greater decentralisation in the economy and elements of the choice in Soviet elections.
3.3 Gorbachev's role in the collapse of communism: Gorbachev played a significant role by abandoning the Brezhnev Doctrine and announcing that each communist country should do so.
3.4 The US role in the collapse of communism: New president George Bush welcomed the changed in Eastern Europe. He was praised.
3.5 The fall of the USSR: Neither Gorbachev or Bush tried to break up the USSR. Nationalist movements in the Soviet republics followed the example of countries from the Eastern Bloc and
began to move towards independence. Communist hardliners signed a coup in August 2991, removing Gorbachev' from power. The coup failed and so did Gorbachev's attempt to hold the
USSR together. Gorbachev resigned and so did the USSR a day later.
4 The role of personalities.
4.1 Reagan and the Triumpjalists: Reagan's hard-line approach to the USSR in the early 1980s imposed enormous
economic and military pressure on the USSR. As a result, the Soviet could no longer compete with US defense
spending and this had to abandon the arms race and the Cold War.
4.2 Margaret Thatcher: Many truimphalist historians assert that the British
government played an important role in the beginning of the end of the Cold
War due to supporting Reagan.
4.3 Pope John Paul II: The Polish pope also made a significant contribution to the ending of the Cold War by
inspiring Catholics in Eastern Europe and providing moral support for the Polish trade union Solidarity.
4.4 The role of Gorbachev: Other historians stress that Gorbachev's role in the end of the Cold War. He was unwilling to perpetuate the Cold War stalemate and worked to genuine East-West
relations by adopting policies to build trust, reduce Cold War tensions and solve the USSR's economical problems.