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The End of the Cold War Essay

The late 1980s was characterized with the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War was brought about mainly by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the various Communist regimes in Eastern Europe (Hogan, 1992). Rampant poverty, government corruption and brutal suppression of individual rights and liberties finally led to widespread popular protests among the citizens of the Iron Curtain. Certain key political events in the 1980s likewise contributed to the end of the Cold War. Material Factors

Throughout the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union engaged in the “arms race” – a competition as to who would be able to acquire the most number of atomic and nuclear weapons. While the US effortlessly stockpiled atomic and nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union lagged behind. The extremely high costs of keeping up with the “arms race” plunged the Soviet Union into poverty. In Russia, for instance, people had to stand in very long lines just to be able to buy food (Kydd, 2005). Political Factors Another possible factor behind the end of the Cold War is the generational conflict between Soviet leaders.

Shortly before the Cold War ended, the struggle between the “old thinkers” (the architects of the Cold War) and the “new thinkers” (advocates of glasnost and perestroika) over the leadership of the Soviet Union intensified. The US took advantage of this conflict by engaging the regime of Mikhail Gorbachev in new and extensive political and economic agreements. In 1987, for instance, Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan agreed to rid their respective countries of nuclear missiles that are capable of attacking other countries from long distances.

These agreements eventually fueled popular discontent over the backwardness of the Soviet Government, which, in turn, led to the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War (MSN Encarta, 2009).


“Cold War. ” (2009). MSN Encarta. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761569374/Cold_War. html Hogan, M. J. (1992). The End of the Cold War: Its Meaning and Implications (2nd ed. ). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kydd, A. H. (2005). Trust and Mistrust in International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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