November 29

Blog #92 – Pivotal Moment of Reagan Presidency

After reading your short answers comparing Reagan’s 1st and 2nd terms regarding foreign policy, and it made me wonder what you think is the turning point of Reagan’s presidency, especially with regards to the Cold War and the Soviet Union.

Schools of history fall into a couple of areas regarding the end of the Cold War:

  1. Gorbachev is the main reason why the Cold War ended.  It was his reforms (glasnost and perestroika), different from the previous Soviet leaders, that prompted Reagan to renew negotiations over reducing / eliminating nuclear weapons;
  2. Gorbachev was the reason why Reagan considered the Zero Option in Europe – Gorbachev proposed the Zero Option (for all nuclear weapons) at the Reykjavik Summit which eventually turned into the INF Treaty in 1987 that eliminated all intermediate range nuclear missiles (especially those in Europe).
  3. It was Reagan playing hard ball with the Soviets / Gorbachev over SDI when Gorbachev proposed the Zero Option at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986, that Reagan refused to abandon SDI, which led to the INF Treaty (in a roundabout way).
  4. SDI’s introduction was the pivotal moment of the Reagan presidency because it forced the Soviets back on their heels, wondering how to counter it, and if there could be anything done about it.
  5. Reagan’s refusal to entertain detente and cast the Soviet Union as the “evil empire”, plus a massive increase in military spending caused the Soviets to match us or risk losing the edge it had in conventional and nuclear weapons.

But there is also some unconventional thinking about the Reagan / Bush administrations and how they helped end the Cold War:

  1. The CIA’s aid to the mujahideen in Afghanistan helped sink the Soviets deeper into an unwinnable war, forcing the Soviets to use their best troops, and spend oodles of money that it didn’t have.
  2. While the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Eastern European countries and Soviet Republics broke away (1989-1991), President Bush did everything he could to encourage them to put democracy first and Communism second.  He did not ask for military aid to be sent to these countries, but he supported their break w/ the Soviets.  Even during the hard-line coup in the Soviet Union in August 1991, President Bush and his administration fought hard to support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his resistance to the Communists.

So which event or person or concept was the most pivotal to ending the Cold War and why?  

Explain your answer in 300 words or more.  Due Thursday, Dec. 1 by class. 

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Posted November 29, 2016 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

67 thoughts on “Blog #92 – Pivotal Moment of Reagan Presidency

  1. Lily Meinel

    I think the most important concept that ended the Cold War is INF Treaty. The treaty was signed by both Reagan and Gorbachev. The treaty was brought up at the Iceland summit. The INF Treaty made it so that both countries would have to eliminate all long range nuclear missiles. And the other country was allowed to come and watch the missiles be destroyed or disarmed. 2,700 nuclear missiles were eliminated. Gorbachev thought that Reagan was not going to be on board with the treaty. In reality that is what Reagan was looking for. A plan that was also brought up by Gorbachev was the Zero Action Plan. Which was a plan to completely get rid of all nuclear weapons. Reagan disapproved of the Zero Action Plan. So Gorbachev came up with the INF Treaty. The INF Treaty and the Zero Action Plan had the same ideas, but the Zero Action Plan would have made both countries get rid of all of their nuclear missile. The INF Treaty was the real first big step of the Cold War ending. The treaty showed that both side could listen to each other and communicate. It also showed that both sides wanted to end the war. The INF Treaty was also the first action to reduce nuclear missiles in any country. I find the treaty very important because of the fact that both countries started to communicate. This treaty also eased tensions between both countries because of the communication. Both Reagan and Gorbachev realized that they think the arm race is hurting both economies. They also realized that they want the best for their country and to not go into real war. Reagan sees that Gorbachev wants to reform the Soviet Union. Thus leading them to not be as evil as they have come across in the past. INF Treaty led to a lot of communication which was key to how the Cold War ended.

  2. Griffin Kozlow

    Reagan’s introduction of SDI was the pivotal point in ending the Cold War. It forced the Soviets onto their heels, needing to find a way to counter the bold move that President Reagan had made. It made the Soviet Union more willing to negotiate with America because they wanted to find a way to get rid of SDI. This had many effects. Reagan and Gorbachev made many huge steps after the plan for SDI was announced. They talked about Zero Option at the Reykjavik Summit, and signed INF later. INF was the beginning of the end of the Cold War and I don’t think it would have been possible without SDI. Since SDI was threatening to the Soviets, they needed to overcome that, but not start a nuclear war. The only way to do both of these was to negotiate with America, which is what Reagan did with Gorbachev that eventually ended the Cold War. SDI also shows that we were one step ahead of the Soviets in terms of the nuclear arms race, so they wanted to stop us. They wanted to negotiate with us and stop Regan from implementing SDI, which they did. SDI was the first time it became a legitimate possibility to negotiate with the Soviet Union. The thought of a nuclear war is extremely scary to the whole world. It means hundreds of millions of deaths and trillions of dollars. No matter their views, no country (aside from the occasional North Korea) wants a nuclear war. Since SDI made nuclear war seem closer than ever before, it made the United States and the Soviets more likely to negotiate out of the position the country’s relationships were in at the time. SDI was never implemented, but the importance it had on the Cold War and our relations with the rest of the world are not comparable to much else.

  3. Jack Walt

    Before Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, relations between the USSR and America were adversarial. Leaders of both countries stood firm with their own ideas of communism vs. capitalism and were determined to push each other into irrelevance. The power shift to Gorbachev brought a much more open and friendly outlook on negotiation with the United States and eventually caused the end of the Cold War. Throughout the war, U.S. presidents brought their own strategies on how to defeat the Soviet Union to the table and in the early 1980s it seemed as if we were going continue our unharmonious relationship with them. President Reagan consistently denounced the Soviets and their ideals and was determined to destroy them. This mood of Reagan’s changed drastically after hearing about and meeting with the new leader and his policies, especially perestroika and glasnost. These two policies opened up the country much more to the world and created new economic opportunities based on eliminating central planning. These plans moved away from communism significantly and highlighted a new emerging USSR. Gorbachev’s young age, which was new to Soviet leadership, prevented him from having the grudge against the U.S. that many of the earlier leaders embraced. Reagan saw a new Soviet Union forming, one that America could make peace with. He agreed to attend summits with the new leader and discuss the possibility of a treaty, which he had been heavily reluctant to do. The two leaders formed a bond that would not have not been possible had Mikhail had the same mindset as past Soviet officials. They initially had trouble making a deal due to Reagan’s stubbornness on not letting go of his SDI project, but moved past it to sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which brought a major reduction in both nations’ weapons. Gorbachev’s willingness to make a deal was highlighted in this instance due to his flexibility on SDI.

  4. Michael Wainer

    In my opinion Mikhail Gorbachev was the main reason for the negotiations between Reagan and him that lead to the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev differed from previous Soviet leaders by allowing the Soviet Union to be more open, making it easier for America to negotiate with the Soviets. Gorbachev was the first Soviet leader to look at the United States of America as a potential ally instead of as an enemy, this lead to negotiations with Reagan that had not taken place before his appointment. Gorbachev also strived to end the nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and America. He wanted America to eliminate the SDI lessen the production of nuclear weapons, and in exchange they would do the same. Gorbachev was a supporter of the zero option and since Reagan had a positive relationship with Gorbachev he also to the creation of the INF Treaty, or the Zero Option. Another way that Gorbachev helped to improve relations and end the Cold War were through his two famous social and economic reform policies, Glasnost and Perestroika. Glasnost, meaning openness, was a social reform that introduced pop culture to the people of the Soviet Union. It also helped to create more openness in the Soviet government. Gorbachev’s other major policy, Perestroika, was an economic reform. It was created to help the Soviet people who were economically unstable before Gorbachev’s assignment. Many people were poor, unemployed, or alcoholics, and Perestroika strived to defeat these policies. Although the economy was still communistic, Gorbachev was seen less strongly as a communist dictator by the American people. This made it easier for the American government, strongly anti-communism, to justify negotiating with the Soviets. This means that more negotiations did take place and America and the Soviet Union was able to make peace.

  5. Eric Ajluni

    I believe that the person most responsible for bringing about the end of The Cold War was the rise of power of Mikhail Gorbachev. While there were obviously other major factors such as the change in the arms race with SDI, and all Ronald Reagan did towards putting an end to Communism, the introduction of Gorbachev was what really shifted the tide of the Cold War. Within America during the Cold War, Reagan was far from being the first American leader to try to put an end to communism. Although Ronald Reagan was the first conservative president in America after a long line of liberal ones, they all were against communism and had the goal of putting an end to its spread. Meanwhile for the Soviets, it is a different story. Gorbachev was a different kind of leader to the Soviets than some of his predecessors. Many of those who came before him were unwilling to negotiate with the America, and would always have an aggressive attitude towards them. This would lead to the various conflicts that occurred within the Cold War. Previous leaders also imposed harsh communist laws on the Soviet people. Gorbachev was also seen as a more “modern” leader by both Soviets and Americans. He was younger, and had a different attitude towards the future of the Soviet Union in contrast to past leaders. He created two reform major policies, glasnost and perestroika, that shifted the Soviet Union from what had been the norm for decades. The former in particular was definitely a step towards more Democratic ideals. Glasnost was a policy of openness that allowed freedom of speech and other actions with no consequences. The economy was very poor, and the Cold War had greatly taken away from the money supply in combat, the arms race, and in other areas. The Soviet people were sick of the way they were living, and unlike stubborn communists that had ruled before, Gorbachev seaked change by stepping away from the communist party. He proposed ideas when negotiating with America to end the arms race all together, as well as to take down weapons. All these actions between the two nations that were spearheaded by Gorbachev, such as the INF Treaty, eased tensions that would bring an end to the Cold War.

  6. Emily Brown

    I believe that appointing Mikhail Gorbachev as the USSR’s new leader was the most important event that led to the ending of the Cold War for many reasons. First of all, all of the leaders whom had come before him like Stalin were hard-headed communists. These premiers were very stubborn and stuck in their ways. The leaders hated all America stood for and especially capitalism. They did not like to negotiate or talk with American leaders. However, Gorbachev wanted change from completely strict communism to a more open version. A cause for his beginning of the ideas for change came when he was first appointed to deal with the economic state of agriculture. He began his program for change of openness aka glasnost in 1985. Glasnost called for a more open government; one that could consult others and allow in criticism to help improve the government. The criticisms would be allowed with out the overbearing fears of punishment. Glasnost was the first step towards change. A second example of Gorbachev understanding limits and producing a change was when he removed the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The USSR followed in the United States footsteps in this exit by trying to have an honorable exit like the USA did in Vietnam. Gorbachev removed the Soviet troops form a country pushing for communism. This shows change because he decided that spreading communism was not the most important goal at the moment. The most important goal was to change for the better. Third, Gorbachev also introduced a policy of restructure or perestroika. This policy began the reformation of the Soviet economy and political systems which had struggled in the past. Fourth, Gorbachev lessened his control of the Eastern European nations. Each country then had some turmoil to get rid of the communism in their government systems. Ultimately, this led to communism to not being spread into Eastern Europe anymore. These actions by Gorbachev also led the American president, Ronald Reagan, to change. Reagan changed differently and because of Gorbachev. Reagan’s first term had his foreign policy seem aggressive. In his second term, his foreign policy was direct but nicer and easier to negotiate with. Reagan and Gorbachev had many meetings and formed a bond. These meetings, even with some failed ones, led to intellectual breakthroughs and the INF treaty which was a compromise between the two to get rid of mid-range missiles. All in all, the drastic Soviet change through Gorbachev led to America changing perspectives which eventually put an end the the Cold War. The more democratic style in the USSR helped to create a better relationship for the two nations. Gorbachev really did maximize the idea of openness, spreading it across the Pacific Ocean to the United States.

  7. Zacharie Chentouf

    Mikhail Gorbachev was the most pivotal to ending the Cold War because his honest reforms that he wanted to implement in the Soviet Union convinced Reagan that he was a man that was reasonable and a man that he could negotiate with, despite being skeptical at first, after Konstantin Chernenko died. Part of these reforms Gorbachev, first being General Secretary, wanted to implement were glasnost and perestroika, openness and allowing a little more capitalism. The openness let the people of the Soviet Union speak out against the government with more freedom than before, and perestroika let capitalism be a little more present in the economy. Before being the Soviet leader, Gorbachev had been an agriculture minister, understanding the Soviet Union’s economy, and its weaknesses. Before him, the people of the Soviet Union were not doing very well, as there were many alcoholics, the nuclear power system was incompetent, as seen by the explosion at Chernobyl in April 1986 with people worried radiation would spread from the ground of the five dead firemen to them because of the uncertainty people had about radiation, the economy was stagnating, the quantity of products were low, and lessening military spending would make this better, so Gorbachev decided to ease relations with the East and West. He also wanted to remove the Soviets from Third World countries where they were helping revolutions take place, and wanted to slow down the arms race with the United States. Slowing down the arms race was one of the key components of ending the Cold War, as that was the main fear for both superpowers. The United States feared nuclear attacks from the Soviets hence the reason Reagan was building SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) to make nuclear weapons obsolete, and the Soviets feared SDI which would make their nuclear weapons obsolete, but the United States would still be able to use theirs to attack the Soviet Union, which they obviously did not want. Furthermore, another key component of the Cold War at the times was proxy wars (Angola, Salvador, Afghanistan, Nicaragua and contras), wars between communism and another regime, the Soviet Union supporting communism and the United States supporting whatever other regime. Communism usually came from a rebellion sparked by some individuals believing in its ideas, such as in Afghanistan, while the other regime was the one that was already there that the people believing in communism were trying to take over, and remove from power. Gorbachev was the one that removed many Soviet troops from these proxy wars as soon as he got into power, while Reagan had been increasing military spending since the start of his presidency, doubling the Pentagon budget from 1981 to 1986, and tripling the debt by the end of his presidency, calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. Reagan had a confrontational approach from the start, starting the development of SDI, a system in space that would shoot lasers at incoming nuclear missiles to make them obsolete, as soon as possible, calling détente a one-way street where the Soviet Union received more benefits than the United States and made the Soviet Union stronger, replacing this with confrontation. Reagan believed this would intimidate the Soviet Union, and he did not want to negotiate. Instead, Gorbachev showed him he was wrong, and that negotiations were possible, as they were in their meetings, especially in the Reykjavik summit. Despite this, it is true that Reagan’s increased military spending in SDI, and conventional and nuclear weapons worried the Soviet Union because of their fear of these, but also because of the fact that increased the military spending as a whole for the Soviet Union, too, which did not improve the economy, but in fact, worsened it. This may have affected the fact that Gorbachev wanted to improve relations with the United States to reduce military spending as soon as possible, since the military spending was so high. However, it is also true that if Reagan hadn’t done all this to the military spending, Gorbachev would still have wanted to implement his reforms of glasnost and perestroika, as he would have wanted to improve the government and economy, and he also would have wanted to ease relations with the United States, as it still would have been taking a lot of money with the arms race and with the proxy wars, just a lot less than with all Reagan’s increased military spending, so it may have been a less urgent matter that Gorbachev would not have addressed as soon as possible, but still would have addressed eventually. If Reagan had invited Gorbachev to ease relations, as he did, but had not increased the military spending in proxy wars and the arms race, Gorbachev would still have accepted because the arms race would still have been costing his country a lot of money, just a lot less than it actually was than all the spending Reagan was doing. At first, Reagan was skeptical of Gorbachev, but then he was not, believing he was an honest reformer, and even the conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher believed that business could be done with Gorbachev. In addition to this, at the Reykjavik summit, the Zero Option was proposed, meaning there would be no nuclear weapons at all, and Gorbachev was for this completely, while Reagan wanted it, too, but would not give up SDI like Gorbachev said he would have to if Gorbachev would accept it. The Zero Option would have been an even better end to the Cold War than the INF treaty as there would be even less nuclear missiles, but because of Reagan’s obsession in the SDI program, which would never come to life or finished being developed, and would not have been needed with the Zero Option as there would have been no nuclear weapons to make obsolete, it showed that Reagan did not have a complete trust that there would be no nuclear weapons, and he was not ready to take that step. However, this still showed a mental breakthrough as this idea was even proposed, no nuclear weapons between the United States and the Soviet Union, and it was also the basis for the INF treaty that both Reagan and Gorbachev would accept. Gorbachev was the first to go ease relations by going to his “opponent’s” (in the war) country when signing the INF treaty in December 1987, which would remove intermediate-range nuclear arms (Cruise missiles destroyed for the United States, and SS-20s destroyed for the Soviet Union) (2,700 nukes and allow inspections from each other), especially in Europe. This was signed in Washington, and Gorbachev went there with his wife, humanizing himself and showing he was like any American, with his wife caring about fashion. At this time, Gorbachev talked to Americans. Then, Reagan did go to the Soviet Union at Moscow in 1988 in front of the Kremlin, the Soviet Union’s white house, retracting his statement of calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, but Gorbachev did go to Washington first, and was the one that made all this possible by convincing Reagan he could negotiate with him. In conclusion, Gorbachev was the most important point in ending the Cold War as he was the one that was different from his predecessors (three during Reagan’s term), introducing glasnost and perestroika, typical of a democratic government, not communist, and wanting to reduce military spending in the proxy wars and arms race, while Reagan actually hindered Gorbachev’s objectives at first, and made it harder for him by increasing spending for the arms race, especially in SDI, and increased military spending in all the proxy wars. In 1990, Gorbachev even signs another treaty, this time with Bush, the sign arms reduction treaty (START), getting rid of 6,600 nuclear warheads, and 1,500 missiles. In 1989, Gorbachev lets go a little bit on the control of Eastern Europe nations, Poland, and East Germany. The Berlin Wall even fell in 1989, and East and West Germany merged into the one country they were before. The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the end of the Cold War, and was made possible by Gorbachev easing up on the control of East Germany, showing how instrumental he also was in the symbolic end of the Cold War. In 1990 and after, after all this had happened, some countries that were part of the Soviet Union before, most in Eastern Europe leave. The first is Lithuania, and the Soviet Union protests at first, but then lets it leave. While Gorbachev is on vacation in August 1991, Soviet hard-liners not believing in the Soviets’ new policies created by Gorbachev including glasnost and perestroika stage a coup while Gorbachev is on vacation, but Russian President Boris Yeltsin rallies up the people of Moscow who do not allow the hard-liners to take control. The hard-liners were scared the Soviet Union would fall if nothing was done, as it would. By Christmas 1991, Gorbachev resigns as premier and the fifteen republics of what used to be the Soviet Union now become fifteen independent countries.

  8. Ian Birley

    All of the examples listed definitely aided in ending the cold war. Gorbachev definitely contributed with his radical (by Soviet standards) social reforms. He also made Reagan consider the Zero Option, which Reagan thought just wasn’t possible to negotiate. Reagan refused to back down to the Soviets, especially in regards to SDI, which transitions into four. Reagan knew that the idea of SDI terrified the Soviets, if he were to get rid of the idea, the Soviets may out produce us in nuclear weapons. Reagan also didn’t want détente. He thought it would surely lead to a loss for us, because the USSR could out produce us. An increase in military spending, on the other hand, may lead to us out producing the Soviet Union. This sort of thinking pushed the Soviets back, and didn’t make it seem like we were losing.
    As for the most important of the examples, I would point to Reagan’s hardball attitude in negotiations. While the Zero Option was something that both leaders wished for, Reagan wanted the United States to be the victor of the cold war, and he just couldn’t give up SDI. His refusal to give up SDI may have made Reagan look like a cold-warmonger, which it may have, but this confidence and knockback against Gorbachev led to a more favorable outcome for the US, the INF treaty. The treaty would force both the US and USSR to destroy all ground deployed short, medium, and long-range nuclear and conventional missiles. This treaty is essentially the Zero Option, but is unconditional. If Reagan had agreed to Gorbachev on the Zero Option on a condition, the United States may have looked weak, like the lesser belligerent in the war. The INF treaty makes it more as a white peace, or a US victory, because the Soviet Union would collapse four years after.

  9. Lizzie Potocsky

    Many could argue different points of the 1980s to be the most pivotal point in the Cold War. I believe that the introduction of SDI (the Strategic Defense Initiative) is really what sealed the deal. SDI was Ronald Reagan’s high-tech nuclear defense plan, launched in 1983. SDI believed that in outer space, a shield of lasers and satellites could be used to defend against nuclear attacks. If the Soviet Union, were to launch a nuclear missile at the United States, the lasers in outer space would blow it up. Reagan strived to make nuclear weapons obsolete. The Soviets felt intimidated by SDI. It was an extremely expensive program to produce and maintain, and the Soviets simply could not keep up. Gorbachev, the Soviet Union premier, offered to reduce nuclear missiles by 50 percent if the United States agreed to stop testing SDI. Reagan refused and kept testing SDI. The Strategic Defense Initiative really messed with the Soviets minds. It was different than anything seen before. For one thing, it was all occurring in outer space. The Soviets did not know how to counter it, especially with Reagan playing the hard ball. While the INF Treaty and Zero Option could be thought of as the turning points in the Cold War, they would not have happened without the production of SDI. Initially, the Soviets did not believe that SDI would be a success. However, as testing continued, they became frightened. SDI made the Soviets feel inferior. It really proved what America was capable of as a country. When SDI came into play, nobody knew how important it would become. It was, in my eyes, the most important point of Reagan’s presidency and the turning point of the Cold War. The Zero Option and INF Treaty were extremely important as they were our first negotiations with our enemy, but those compromises would not have happened if SDI was not in effect.

  10. Ashley Akaba

    Gorbachev’s leadership of the Soviet Union was an important factor in ending the Cold War. Gorbachev, unlike the past leaders of the Soviet Union, was very approachable and willing to negotiate with the Americans. Before Gorbachev, tensions between America and the Soviet union were very high and President Reagan did not want to negotiate with the “evil empire” unless it was from a point of absolute advantage. However, after getting to know Gorbachev in a series of meetings, they found they had similar beliefs, like on the fact that Gorbachev and he didn’t like how the Soviet Union was right now and wanted to reform it, hence Gorbachev’s never before seen policies of perestroika and glasnost. Glasnost allowed for a more open and consultative government and the ability to critique the government without fearing disciplinary actions. Perestroika called for the restructuring of the Soviet Union. These policies were the start of the weakening of their strict communist regime which eventually led to the end of the Soviet Union. Also, Gorbachev’s approachable nature made it easy for the Soviet Union and America to negotiate the plans and treaties that helped end the Cold War, like the Zero Option plan, proposed by Gorbachev, that later turned into the INF treaty. When Reagan refused to drop SDI to continue with the Zero Option Plan that would eliminate all nuclear weapons, instead of threatening Reagan into ending it they were able to communicate and negotiate the INF treaty which removed all the intermediate range missiles and other weapons. Gorbachev’s personality and leadership led President Reagan to also change his personal thinking when it came to the Soviet Union. He retracted his evil empire statement publicly, showing the world that America and the Soviets were finally at good terms. In conclusion, it was Gorbachev’s new type of leadership of the Soviet union and his congenial personality that aided in creating a respectful acquaintanceship between him and President Reagan that marked the turning point in the Cold War where change began to happen in the Soviet Union and in America’s perspective of the Soviet Union.

  11. Marshall Lockyer

    Mikhail Gorbachev was the main driving force in ending the Cold War, for a number of reasons. Before Gorbachev, the Soviet Union and the United were always at conflict and there was always tension. This changed when Gorbachev came into power in the mid 1980s. He wanted to negotiate with Reagan without the use of threat of nuclear war and ultimately repair relations. However, to give credit where credit is due, Reagan being willing to negotiate in his second term as president. Reagan and Gorbachev, met multiple times to discuss an agreement that would lead to a removal of nukes in Europe with the supervision of people from the respective countries, and their meetings led to the signing of the INF treaty in 1987. Lastly Gorbachev ended the Cold War with glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost was the opening up of the Soviet Union, notably with the United States, and probably more importantly perestroika by giving citizens rights like free speech and not being imprisoned for speaking out against the Government. In turn, Reagan retracted his statement of “evil empire”, for the man who hated détente, increased military spending through SDI to the point where the national debt had increased to $4 billion just to appear stronger than the Soviet Union. Lastly, the simple fact that he even called the soviet a the “evil empire” showed his true disdain for the Soviet Union. And for his willingness to negotiate with them his second term shows how much Gorbachev really did. Gorbachev vastly changed his policies from those of his predecessors (whose policies ultimately led to the start of the Cold War) and changed the way of his country was ran after roughly 90 years just to do what he believed was right, not to mention he did so while looking out for the best interests of his country.

  12. Josh Myers

    I think that the pivotal moment of Reagan’s presidency was when Gorbachev was appointed into office.In my opinion, this is also the reason that the Cold War ended. Gorbachev was a leader that was new to the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was much more willing to negotiate than the previous three leaders of the Soviet Union during Reagan’s presidency. Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, or openness, made the Soviet Union much more likely to change. Gorbachev also had a policy called perestroika. Perestroica was an economic reform of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev getting appointed was a turning point in Reagan’s presidency because Reagan was able to renew negations with the Soviet Union. Previously, it was difficult for Reagan to negotiate policies regarding nuclear weapons because there were multiple leaders of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s personality also made him a lot easier to negotiate with. He was a lot younger than all of the previous leaders of the Soviet Union, and he appeared to be easy going. Three summits were held where Reagan and Gorbachev were able to negotiate weapons. Reagan was not previously able to do this with any other leader of the Soviet Union. At the three summits many nuclear weapons owned by either the United States or the Soviet Union were eliminated. I think that this was one of the most important times in Reagan’s presidency. One of Reagan’s largest goals was to get rid of communism. Reagan was able to achieve this goal because of Gorbachev. When Gorbachev was appointed, Reagan’s foreign policy was regarded much better than it previously was during Reagan’s first term. The Soviet Union was now a different place thanks to Reagan and Gorbachev. Weapon regualtions were not the only thing that reagan was able to improve, Reagan negociated to get Soviet Involvement out of Afghanistan

  13. Celia Crompton

    In my opinion, Gorbachev’s change in attitude towards the US and new social reforms can be given credit as being the turning point in the Cold War. His new ideologies like glasnost (meaning openness) and perestroika (meaning the new political and economic policies) changed Soviet attitudes about cooperating with the US, and allowed Americans to be less wary of their secret ways and communist government. Also, Gorbachev was young and positive when he met with Reagan, which caused Reagan to be more willing to make deals with him. Gorbachev was easier to negotiate with as well, which led to almost eliminating all nuclear weapons (The Zero Option) in their first summit. The sole reason this didn’t occur was because of Reagan’s stubbornness with SDI (Strategic Defensive Initiative), a futuristic and mostly implausible waste of American tax dollars that, if successfully created, would have eliminated the possibility of nuclear war for the US. Eventually, they came to an agreement (The INF Treaty) which eliminated all mid-range missiles in Europe. This was a huge contribution to the end of the Cold War. Some might even consider this the turning point. One might also say that Gorbachev’s striking new policies and ideas (compared to the older Premiers that came before him that were more conservative) loosened up the same Reagan that referred to the USSR during his first term as an “Evil Empire”. Eventually he became the Reagan that visits Moscow and oversees friendly relations with the Soviet government and retracting his evil empire statement. In my opinion, Gorbachev’s new ideas and foreign policies were the biggest contributor to the end of the Cold War. Without the change in attitude from the Soviets, it is likely that we would not have made any headway trying to end the nuclear arms race, which arguably started the Cold War.

  14. Donavin Stoops

    During most of the Cold War, relations with the Soviet Union was cold and involving a lot of tension. America strongly disliked the Soviet Union, and they disliked us as well. In Nixons term, tensions started to cool down when he came up with detenté, which was the easing of relationship between the two countries. Detenté did help cool down relations with the two countries, but when Reagan went into office he threw away the idea of detenté because he’s thought it made America seem weak and as if we are giving into their intentions. In the Soviet Union, their leaders have all been old men who has mostly fought in WW2 and is still mad about how America didn’t help them out as quickly as they wanted. Leaders all had this mindset until one of the Soviet Union leaders died and was replaced by Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev was young and energetic, and looking to calm the relations with America and the Soviet Union. Gorbachev had two main ideals, glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost was the idea of openess, to open up relations with other countries in the world. The other idea, perestroika, was to fix the Soviet Unions broken economy and make the products in the country more caught up to other countries like America. Gorbachev was also the turning point of the Cold War because together the two leaders were actually able to make progress to getting rid of nuclear weapons. They went to three summits together before coming up with the INF treaty. The INF treaty was where the two countries agreed to get rid of 2,700 nuclear missiles. This also made it able for inspectors from each of the other country to go visit the other one to make sure the weapons was gone. This treaty really helped end the Cold War, and it was all because Gorbachev was appointed leader.

  15. Joey Shapero

    In my opinion the most pivotal event that ended the Cold War was when Gorbachev came into power as the Soviet Union’s leader. His ideas and thoughts were very different than ever before and this really helped ease tensions between the US and Soviet Union. Gorbachev and Raegan agreed on many things while they were both leaders, including the INF treaty, and Gorbachev even got Raegan to retract his statement of the Soviets being an evil empire. This was huge in not only Reagan’s presidency but also American history overall. It ended the Cold War for what we know it and helped the US save more money by taking funds out of the Cold War. The INF treaty really took nuclear weapons out of the US and Soviet Union, this shows how the Soviets and US are more trustworthy of each other and how Reagan has come a long way with the Soviet Union. When Raegan retracted his statement of the Soviets being an evil empire it shows how Raegan now trusts the Soviet Union. All of these factors together really shows how Gorbachev’s new ideas on how to rule over the Soviet Union helped to shape the bond between the US and Soviet Union and end the Cold War as we know it. Another example of how Gorbachev eased tensions with Raegan and the US was the zero option. This got rid of all nuclear weapons that were placed in Europe from the two countries. This showed a common interest in taking weapons out of the same country, which shows similar ideas on how to deal with nuclear weapons in foreign countries. Gorbachev and Raegan initially were not 100 percent comfortable with each other, but after the Raecheovic summit that agreed upon the INF treaty had occurred, the two men became more like friends and were willing and open to have their countries become peaceful with each other.

  16. Jacob Kroll

    1. The most pivotal point of the cold war was Gorbachev. It was his reforms (glasnost and perestroika), different from the previous Soviet leaders, that prompted Reagan to renew negotiations over reducing / eliminating nuclear weapons. Glasnost, and perestroika really differed from previous soviet leaders because it began to change the SU towards capitalist thought, instead of the prevailing communist thought. Not only did this ease tensions with the two countries, but it also hurt the SU’s communist backbone eventually breaking the empire down and that caused tension within itself. Gorbachev with these new ideas appealed more to Reagan which caused them to bond. New Ideas that backed up their bond were ideas such as perestroika and glasnost. Perestroika was the economic reform within the SU from the old communist way. Glasnost was the government becoming more open and not keeping as many secrets, moving away from what seemed like a dictatorship. The strong bond they had cooled the tension, and allowed them to make more agreements such as the INF to eventually end the Cold War. They visited each other’s countries and created a bond that could symbolize the tensions being eased. Before Gorbachev, Reagan saw the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire”, but once Gorbachev was appointed, Reagan retracted the statement after forming a certain connection with him. The cold war was a war without combat between the SU and the US. It is common sense to see that once the tension is eased between the SU and the US, there is no reason to have a war, thus when the two leaders include a close relationship with one another, just that happens and it is shown in there further peaceful agreements with one another such as the INF treaty or the intellectual breakthrough at the Reykjavik summit.

  17. Markus Butkovich

    The Cold War was a very long period of time where the U.S. and the Soviet Union were trash talking about nuclear missiles. There were many reasons the war ended, including some such as the Berlin Wall coming down, but the real reason happened when Reagan was in office. The real reason is Gorbachev and the Zero Option. Gorbachev was very good for the Soviet Union, ending the war and bringing ties with the U.S., just like Reagan did for the U.S. When Reagan commenced the SDI project, or Star Wars, people were afraid that nuclear war would become bigger and happen, and happen in space. Everyone knew that having the option of a nuclear program in space was way more dangerous that two countries arguing with each other. Gorbachev knew that something had to be done, so he produced the Zero Option. The plan was to take out all of the nuclear weapons, including Reagan’s brain child, the SDI project. Reagan rejected this idea, and refused to deactivate SDI. He was never going to stop his idea from being happened. But Reagan and Gorbachev became political friends over the years. They talked without fighting, but more of negotiating. They got along, or at least for the media, and slowly brought down the tension of the Cold War. Reagan handled this professionally, and even went to Russia, but Gorbachev once again had an idea to take out all of the short range missiles. These missiles were basically useless at this point, but still proved a point. Reagan also took down SDI due to the deal. Reagan and Gorbachev made ties with each others countries, and even though they both disagreed with the way they were ran, deals were made and the Cold War ended later on. Reagan hated communism, and Gorbachev hated capitalism, but the Berlin Wall was eventually taken down with the Cold War.

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