The Cold War

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Why did the Cold War end the way it ended? Can you elaborate on the various causes you believe are important in explaining the end of the Cold War.

The Cold War ended due to a more open regime in the Kremlin, increased nationalism in Soviet-controlled territories, and economic hardship in the Soviet Union due to high military spending and economic mismanagement by the government.

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The Cold War could not have ended without the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev opened a dialogue with the West and encouraged more open relations between the US. While some in the Politburo were anxious about this, Gorbachev viewed this as important for world peace. Gorbachev did not crack down...

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The Cold War could not have ended without the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev opened a dialogue with the West and encouraged more open relations between the US. While some in the Politburo were anxious about this, Gorbachev viewed this as important for world peace. Gorbachev did not crack down on dissidents as much as his predecessors, and these voices were important towards passing the liberal reforms in the Soviet Union that ultimately led to the transformation of the government.

Nationalism also played a role in the fall of the Soviet Union. The fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the more iconic images from the end of the Cold War. Polish independence was important, as was the effect of the Baltic states and Ukraine leaving the Soviet Union. These Soviet-controlled areas would not have been able to leave if there was a repressive regime still in the Kremlin. The Soviet Union had a long history of crushing rebellions in the Eastern bloc, most notably in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Economic hardship in the Soviet Union also brought about the end of the Cold War. Ronald Reagan increased American defense spending, leading to the Soviet Union to attempt to catch up. Soviet mismanagement of the economy led to the collapse of the ruble and shortages of various staples all over Russia. The Soviet Union also suffered a major blow to its prestige, as it could not influence potential satellite states as it used to. Their waning influence was evidenced by a disastrous invasion of Afghanistan. A loss of prestige and increase in economic hardship placed more pressure on the Kremlin to open the doors to communication with the West and make reforms that led to the end of the Cold War.

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