The Cold War ended when Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union. After taking control of the country in 1985, he set about reforming governmental policies. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is often viewed as the symbolic end of the Cold War.Know More
Gorbachev's new policy changes included allowing Western goods, ideas and services into the USSR in hopes of reviving the economy. This had the opposite effect of what the leader wished for, however, and as citizens got a taste of freedom, this caused communist governments to begin falling around the world. This desire for freedom eventually spread to the Soviet Union and many states within the country began claiming independence. In 1991, Gorbachev proposed a treaty giving the states more autonomy, but they were not satisfied and more states began declaring independence. This left the president without a nation to rule.
As the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) continued to collapse, the newly independent states began adopting more Western trades and ideas. The Cold War lasted for more than 45 years and it became a major part of the lives of Americans as many people, including governmental agencies, remained prepared for a violent confrontation with the Soviet Union. Several political parties tried taking credit for the collapse of the country, but there was no one single cause.Learn more about Cold War
The main concern of the United States and the other western powers during the Cold War was that the Soviet Union would obtain control of the Western European countries through either invasions or by communist takeovers of unstable governments. Neither side was ever directly engaged in a full-scale armed combat, and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, or MAD, prevented either faction from using their heavily armed nuclear arsenals. Psychological war, propaganda, proxy wars and espionage were the primary means of each side's struggle for dominance in post-World War II Europe.Full Answer >
The significance of the Cold War is that it changed the course of the world in a number of ways and by its end, ushered in a new world order. With the two world superpowers, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as the primary players in the Cold War, the standoff lasted from shortly after World War II until the end of the 1980s.Full Answer >
Two of the primary causes of the end of the United States' policy of detente towards the Soviet Union were the election of Ronald Reagan to the U.S. presidency in 1980 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The policy of detente, an attempt to relax Cold War tensions promoted by the previous administrations of presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, was viewed as one of appeasement after the Afghanistan invasion and the policy was deemed both a strategic and a moral failure. It was President Reagan's intention to negotiate with the Soviet Union, which he famously referred to as an "evil empire," strictly from a position of strength.Full Answer >
While there are no officially agreed upon dates, most historians classify the Cold War as the period from 1945 to 1989. The conflict refers to the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II and did not involve direct military battle.Full Answer >