Who were the main people involved during the Cold War?

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chadphares eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Cold War lasted for more than four decades, so there were multiple players, but any Cold War discussion would be incomplete if it didn't include at least the following individuals:

• Nikita Krushchev — Krushchev was the premier of the Soviet Union from 1958-1964. His major contribution to the escalation of the Cold War might be his role in the provocation of the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

• John F. Kennedy — U.S. President Kennedy was responsible for the Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba in 1961, which was not effective. However, his role in avoiding conflict during the Cuban Missile Crisis has helped overshadow the failure of the Bay of Pigs attack.

• Fidel Castro — As prime minister of Cuba, Castro was intimately involved in the happenings associated with both the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

• Mikhail Gorbachev — As General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev's policies of perestroika (economic and political reform) and glasnost (openness) helped bring a thaw to the Cold War. 

• Ronald Reagan — U.S. President Reagan's Cold War policies weakened the potential advancement of Soviet communism and promoted the spread of democracy and liberty.