Cold War Termination
Cold War Termination
Thomas R. Maddux
Most historians and foreign policy analysts in 1981 did not anticipate that within a decade the Cold War would be over and that it would end with relatively little violence and the end of the Soviet Union. Instead, they expected, like this author, to keep teaching their courses on the Cold War with new sections such as "Renewed Containment," "Détente II," and "Cold War IV." The widespread failure to remember the fundamental historical principle that change is continuous no matter how rigid and intractable problems appear to contemporaries led most historians to view the Cold War as an evolving but never-ending reality of international relations.
Historians did debate the central issues of causation, responsibility, and consequences of the Cold War as it came to its surprising conclusion. In the leading journal in the field, Diplomatic History, published by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, specialists reviewed many of the Cold War issues including the interaction of impersonal, structural forces such as the economic challenges faced by both sides and the relative policy contributions of major players such as President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Structural forces have received considerably less attention than the players in assessments on the end of the Cold War. There is widespread recognition that a stagnating Soviet economy definitely shaped Gorbachev's policy of perestroika to revive a command economy dominated by the Soviet Communist Party and state. The American economy in 1981, however, also looked shaky. Reagan's predecessor, President Jimmy Carter, had battled soaring inflation and an energy crisis driven by shortages of gasoline and rising prices; Americans also lacked confidence in the face of a mounting challenge from the export-driven Japanese economy. Although Gorbachev struggled to transform the Soviet economy, the American economy revived after a severe recession in 1982 and took off into sustained growth, offering a striking contrast to the Soviet scene. As Soviet party officials attempted to maintain restrictions on use of copiers to limit the circulation of critical writings by Russians, American technology launched the next information revolution with the increasing spread of computers, from the mainframe and minicomputer of business and scientific research to the personal computer of the 1980s.
Cultural forces had less immediate impact on Soviet and American policymakers and remain more elusive with respect to demonstrating their impact on the endgame of the Cold War. Nevertheless, they shaped the long-term competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. By 1980 the Soviet Union had fallen far behind in most significant areas, with a few exceptions such as length of time spent in space by Russian cosmonauts versus American astronauts orbiting the earth in the space shuttle. The Russians had long since lost out with respect to influence around the globe in areas such as the media, consumer products, and lifestyle. The emerging global interdependence of the late twentieth century brought increasing exposure to American television, Hollywood feature films, McDonald's, and American consumerism. As the Soviet Union and its eastern European allies struggled to keep their citizens from leaving, the United States once again became a mecca for global immigration.
The Soviet Union also had lost the ideological competition, a central feature of the Cold War since its origins. Although Gorbachev launched glasnost to open the door to new ideas and to reduce the remaining repression in the Soviet system as it struggled with the legacies of Stalinist totalitarianism, the Soviet leader faced a difficult challenge to overcome both the resistance inherent in the Soviet system as well as the stubborn opposition of party officials who had a vested interest in the status quo. Since Gorbachev emerged from within the party, he also had to grapple with the increasing necessity for a fundamental discarding of Marxist-Leninist doctrine in order to redirect both the economy and the political system in the direction of a European parliamentary system with respect for the rule of law and individual rights. Reagan, however, never had to make any adjustments in his vigorous articulation of America as the land of freedom, and he never passed up a chance (until near the end in 1988) to point this out to Gorbachev on issues ranging from human rights to the continuation of the Berlin Wall.
Yet these structural forces did not predetermine when the Cold War would end and how it would end. The players on both sides, as they interacted with these impersonal pressures, had the most to do with the actual historical dynamics, and the literature has emphasized the role of the players. Early American assessments written by leading U.S. officials including Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d, and White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, as well as Ronald Reagan, give themselves credit for ending the Cold War. Through a peace-through-strength strategy based on increased defense spending, a shift to the new Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that posed a technological challenge to the Soviet Union, and a willingness to apply significant rhetorical and other pressures against the Soviet empire, Washington brought a successful resolution to the conflict.
The most thorough development of this perspective appears in Peter Schweizer's Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Relying extensively on interviews with leading officials including Weinberger, National Security Advisers Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter, and other officials who supported a hard line with respect to the Soviet Union, Schweizer focuses on the development and implementation of a strategic offensive led by William Casey, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Casey's campaign aimed at resisting, weakening, and rolling back the Kremlin's effort to control Afghanistan, to retain a communist regime in Poland and hegemony in eastern Europe, and to increase Soviet access to Western technology and markets in order to modernize the Soviet economy and military forces. By the time Gorbachev took over as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in March 1985, the victory campaign had, according to Schweizer, significantly contributed to the problems that Gorbachev faced, so that he had few alternatives but to seek an accommodation with Reagan.
A second influential perspective puts more emphasis on the contributions of Reagan and Gorbachev and their chief diplomatic advisers, Secretary of State George Schultz and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze, than on Schweizer's hard-liners. In The Turn: From the Cold War to a New Era, Don Oberdorfer, a distinguished diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post, emphasizes Reagan's shift to diplomacy with respect to Moscow by 1983 and the willingness of Gorbachev and Shevardnadze to bring a fresh perspective and approach to Soviet diplomacy. Although Reagan and Gorbachev never achieved final agreements on all arms control issues, such as strategic missiles and SDI, Oberdorfer gives them credit for making considerable progress toward an end to the Cold War. He also gives credit to Reagan's successor, George H. W. Bush, and Secretary of State James Baker, despite their cautious initial response to Gorbachev, for managing the U.S. response to the collapse of the Soviet empire in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself. In The Great Transition, Raymond Garthoff, a former Department of State official, shifts more of the credit for the way the Cold War ended to Gorbachev. Garthoff believes the hard-liner offensive, including Reagan's Cold War rhetoric, contributed to the resistance of Soviet officials to Gorbachev's initiatives and reduced opportunities for earlier accommodation and agreements on strategic weapons and SDI.
A third perspective focuses more directly on Gorbachev and his efforts to reorient Soviet domestic and Cold War policies. These studies have made extensive use of Soviet memoirs, interviews, and published sources and significantly enhance understanding of Gorbachev's role. In Russia and the Idea of the West, Robert English focuses on the origins of new thinking in the Soviet Union that came to fruition in Gorbachev's policies. English correctly notes that most of the new thinking emerged before Reagan arrived in the White House and that Reagan's military buildup, SDI, and the hard-liner "victory" campaign may have made it more difficult for Gorbachev to gain power and, with his "new thinking" advisers, implement fundamental changes in Soviet outlook and policies. Matthew Evangelista's Unarmed Forces and a 2001 article in the Journal of Cold War Studies has also expanded our understanding by focusing on Gorbachev's political skills, which helped him persuade his Soviet critics to go along with his significantly new proposals on arms reductions, withdrawal from Afghanistan, and his goal of allowing the eastern Europeans to determine their own domestic systems.
THE SOVIET PERSPECTIVE
All three perspectives note that little opportunity existed for significant changes in the Cold War before 1985. Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union had attempted to maintain the détente relationship established with President Richard Nixon but at the same time pursue new opportunities to aid Marxist regimes. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on 27 December 1979 to restore reliable communist control of the government, the Carter administration abandoned any remaining hopes for an accommodation with the Soviet Union, most notably the unratified Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and moved to aid the Afghan resistance to Soviet forces.
Moscow may have hoped that Reagan would follow in the footsteps of Richard Nixon and shift from a career of anticommunism to a strategy of détente with the Soviet Union, especially since the Kremlin had not achieved very much in its recent international activities and faced a mounting crisis with Poland in 1980–1981. Economic problems in Poland, along with the deterioration of the Polish Communist Party, had contributed to the rise of Solidarity, an independent labor union. Soviet documents published by the Cold War International History Project reveal the desire of Soviet leaders to avoid another military intervention but at the same time defeat the challenge of Solidarity and keep it from spreading into the Baltic states and the Ukraine.
Ideology blended with great-power Realpolitik and regime preservation in the Soviet deliberations. Although the politburo received very detailed reporting on the Solidarity movement and the extent of public and worker support for Solidarity, Soviet officials and their eastern European allies filtered the situation through their ideological categories and jargon. In reports to the politburo as well as meetings of Soviet officials and Warsaw bloc allies, "forces of counter-revolution," "enemies of socialism," and "petit-bourgeois ideology" served as substitutes for challenging analysis of the situation. During a Politburo meeting on 29 October 1980, Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov worried about a "raging counterrevolution underway" in Poland with Solidarity leaders like Lech Walesa trying to "take power away from the workers." Brezhnev and other officials also frequently referred to Western capitalist forces seeking to aid counterrevolution in Poland. When Marshall Wojciech Jaruzelski finally imposed martial law in December, Soviet officials quickly stepped up their assistance to arrest Solidarity leaders. As a member of the politburo, Gorbachev participated in the many discussions on Poland in 1980–1981 but in his recorded comments never questioned the pressure policies and the traditional class struggle analysis.
REVITALIZED COLD WAR
If Soviet leaders had hoped for renewed détente with Reagan, they were quickly disappointed by the rhetoric and policies of the new administration. As part of his transition from New Deal liberal Democrat during the 1930s and World War II to conservative anticommunist by the early 1960s, Reagan had developed a strong personal distaste for communism through his bruising battles with communists in Hollywood as president of the Screen Actors Guild and a strong opposition to the Soviet Union as the source of global communism. Reagan never endorsed Richard Nixon's strategy of détente and quickly stepped up public criticism of Moscow. In his first press conference, on 29 January 1981, Reagan responded to a question by dismissing détente as "a one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims," that is, the promotion of world revolution. Reagan expanded his views in an address to the British Parliament at Westminster in 1982 with a call for a crusade for freedom and democracy that would "leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history" and pointed to the communist states in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself as prime candidates for this fate. Finally, in March 1983, Reagan used a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals to refer to the Soviet leaders as "the focus of evil in the modern world" and to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire."
The Kremlin resented Reagan's remarks but worried more about the campaign that hard-liners initiated to step up U.S. resistance to the Soviet empire and intensify a wide range of pressures on the Kremlin. Reagan and his advisers had argued in the campaign of 1980 that the United States had fallen behind in the Cold War and needed a substantial defense buildup to catch up to the Soviet Union and its allies, most seriously with respect to a "window of vulnerability" related to strategic missile forces. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger proposed a $32.6 billion increase to the defense budgets for 1981 and 1982, although Congress had already approved a 1981 budget with a 9 percent increase. Defense spending would increase from $142 billion in 1980 to $222 billion in 1982, and the Department of Defense anticipated requests for further yearly increases of 7 percent. After Congress approved the first defense budget in October, Weinberger presented a new request for a strategic modernization of U.S. forces, including plans to build a hundred MX missiles, six Trident submarines, three thousand air-launched cruise missiles, and a new Stealth B-2 bomber, and to reactivate the B-1 bomber that President Carter had canceled. Although the emerging deficit would prompt Congress to cut back the Defense Department's projected increase, Reagan's substantial increase clearly troubled Soviet officials as they attempted to ascertain the intentions of the new administration.
Hard-liners in the Reagan administration had the most influence with Reagan at the start and quickly pushed for a strategic offensive against the Soviet Union. According to Schweizer, the hard-liners, led by CIA Director Casey, the National Security Council staff under the direction of Richard V. Allen and William P. Clark, and Secretary Weinberger, with advisers such as Richard Perle and Fred Ikle, shifted their pre-1981 perception of the Soviet challenge to emphasize fundamental Soviet political and economic weaknesses. Casey frequently presented Reagan with unfiltered intelligence data on the Soviet economy that supported this assessment.
Reagan endorsed the recommendations of Casey and the NSC without much opposition from his advisers or Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who favored more negotiations with the Soviet Union than did the hard-liners. Most of the initiatives developed gradually and did not require either congressional approval or extensive publicity. Several focused specifically on economic objectives, including an effort to reduce Soviet hard currency earnings through the sale of oil and natural gas and stepped-up restrictions on the export of technology to the Soviet Union, as well as a CIA disinformation campaign to sell flawed technology and equipment to Moscow.
Along with the defense buildup, the most significant dimensions of the hard-liner campaign involved U.S. covert support for Solidarity in Poland and the Afghan mujahedin resistance to the Red Army. After the declaration of martial law in Poland and the arrest of Solidarity leaders, Reagan invoked economic sanctions against the Polish government and pursued a covert plan to aid Solidarity through financial assistance and communications equipment.
In Afghanistan the Reagan administration took over an existing Carter policy of aid to the Afghan resistance through Pakistan. Casey made numerous trips to Pakistan to bolster the government's commitment to the mujahedin. Casey also persuaded Reagan to increase the flow of arms, training, and assistance. When Moscow stepped up the war in 1985, Reagan approved an increase in high-tech weapons supplied to the mujahedin, which helped them blunt the Soviet offensive, including the delivery of Stingers, effective ground-to-air missiles that made Soviet helicopters and jets vulnerable below 15,000 feet.
THE REAGAN DOCTRINE, FREEDOM FIGHTERS, AND CENTRAL AMERICA
The hard-liner strategy certainly helped Solidarity stay viable and enhanced the mujahedin resistance. There were definite limits, however, to what the hard-liners could accomplish, especially when they attracted congressional and public attention to their aid to resistance movements against communist regimes. In October 1983, President Reagan expanded the campaign by calling for freedom against Soviet totalitarianism with aid to freedom fighters who challenged communist domination. Under this perspective, which acquired the title "Reagan Doctrine" after the 1984 election, Casey and the hard-liners pushed to extend covert assistance to a variety of movements including those in Angola, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Central America. Central America posed the most immediate challenge to Reagan and the hard-liner strategy, especially since the Soviet Union's role appeared distant and indirect with the exception of its alliance with Fidel Castro in Cuba. Washington faced the difficult challenge of how to deal with crumbling authoritarian regimes in Central America that the United States had supported throughout the Cold War. Should security and Cold War concerns receive priority or should Washington attempt to support reform, representative government, and negotiations among the contending factions? The Carter administration had wavered on this question but ended up attempting to work with a popular coalition in Nicaragua that included the Sandinist National Liberation Front (FSLN), which had overthrown Anastasio Somoza's regime there in 1979, and to encourage reform by moderates in El Salvador, where the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Forces (FMLN) challenged the authoritarian regime but had failed to overthrow it in a January 1981 offensive.
President Reagan and the hard-liner coalition preferred to emphasize Cold War concerns and moved quickly to step up U.S. aid to the government of El Salvador. Military aid jumped from $6 million in 1980 to $82 million in 1982, and economic aid to El Salvador tripled during the same period to $189 million. Washington also supported a moderate Christian Democrat, José Duarte, against the right and left and used Duarte's victory in the 1984 election to increase military aid to $196 million. U.S. training of El Salvadoran troops expanded and U.S. Green Beret advisers increased.
Secretary Haig wanted to go after what he considered the most direct source of communist influence, Fidel Castro's Cuba, with a naval blockade to shut off the flow of arms to Central America. Reagan's chief White House advisers, Michael Deaver, Edwin Meese, and James Baker, however, opposed any foreign adventures that would disrupt achievement of the Reagan domestic agenda, and they proceeded to keep Haig, but not Casey, from meeting alone with Reagan so that they could monitor the secretary's more aggressive Cold War scenarios. Haig also underestimated public and congressional resistance to a policy of direct U.S. involvement in Central America. Public opinion polls indicated majority support for staying out of the area, especially any U.S. involvement beyond economic aid, and the media stepped up its criticism in 1981 when a news photo revived memories of Vietnam by showing U.S. military advisers in the field carrying M-16 rifles instead of the handguns allowed under policy guidelines. Congressional reaction to El Salvador also limited the White House's options as representatives cut aid requests, demanded that the junta restrain the killing by security forces and right-wing death squads, and pushed for investigations on the killing of American churchwomen and labor advisers.
Washington faced an even more difficult challenge in dealing with Nicaragua and the Sandinista regime, a coalition increasingly dominated by Daniel Ortega and the FSLN. Washington maintained diplomatic relations with Nicaragua and engaged in discussions focused on persuading the Sandinistas to stop the flow of arms to the FMLN in El Salvador. CIA Director Casey, however, persuaded Reagan and the National Security Council to approve a covert operation ostensibly to interdict arms from Nicaragua to El Salvador and to disrupt any Soviet-Cuban ties in Nicaragua. Casey turned to Argentinian military veterans to train Nicaraguans, initially veterans of Somoza's National Guard, into a 500-man force that would operate out of Honduras. House and Senate intelligence committees received some information from Casey about this operation and raised many concerns, particularly about the extent to which this force, which would be called the contras, would operate in Nicaragua.
From 1982 on, Reagan and his advisers found themselves in an escalating campaign against the Sandinistas in the face of continuing public and congressional criticism and resistance. As the number of contra forces grew, the army's Special Operations Division replaced the Argentinians and provided training, arms, and intelligence assistance. In April 1982, Washington increased its demands from the arms issue to an insistence that Managua follow through on earlier pledges to permit political pluralism and hold free elections as well as tolerate a mixed economy. Congressional concerns about contra raids into Nicaragua prompted the first of many attempted restrictions: an amendment in December 1982 by Representative Edward Boland that prohibited the CIA and the Defense Department from using funds to support anyone trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. Casey's CIA heightened public and congressional criticism with operations to blow up Nicaraguan fuel storage depots at Caribbean coastal cities in October 1983 and to mine Nicaraguan harbors with small C-4 explosives that wounded fishermen and seamen and hit Soviet and British ships. Congress responded with a second Boland Amendment in June 1984 that cut off all lethal aid to the contras but not $27 million in humanitarian assistance. Casey and the National Security Council, with Oliver North as the manager of the supply effort to the contras, proceeded to turn for the next two years to other sources of funding including the diversion of funds from the sale of arms to Iran. The ensuing Iran-Contra affair drove a number of the hard-liners out of the administration and considerably weakened and distracted Reagan in his handling of not only the Central American crisis but also direct relations with the Soviet Union.
Reagan persisted in the campaign to get renewed funding for the contras in annual battles over military and nonmilitary assistance and resisted various negotiated attempts to end the conflicts in Central America. When President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica advanced a new Central American peace plan in 1987 that called for cease-fires throughout the region, an end to outside military aid, and negotiations among all of the contending forces as well as free elections, Reagan and his declining number of hard-line advisers tried without success to head off the plan. Reagan remained adamant in his denunciation of Ortega and the Sandinistas as unreliable communists who would not keep any agreements that threatened their rule.
By the time George Bush arrived in the White House in January 1989, joined by Secretary of State James Baker, the Arias peace process had moved farther beyond Washington's influence. In February, Arias and the Central American presidents persuaded Ortega to agree to reforms and an election during February 1990. Bush and Baker moved to demobilize the contra camps in Honduras and test Arias's prediction that a withdrawal of military pressure would lead to a Sandinista defeat in the election in light of the resentment toward some of their more heavy-handed policies and accumulated economic problems. Secretary Baker also followed up on earlier conversations with Gorbachev concerning a Soviet willingness to encourage the Sandinistas to negotiate, a reflection of Gorbachev's "new thinking" in international relations and his desire to reduce the drain of Soviet aid to Cuba and its allies in Central America. Gorbachev indicated a willingness to cut off arms shipments to the Sandinistas and urge them to accept the results of the election if Bush and Baker supported the Arias peace plan. When Violeta Chamorro defeated Ortega in the February election and a settlement in El Salvador brought an end to the conflict in 1992, Baker and Bush expressed both relief and satisfaction that the end of the Cold War had enabled them to achieve through negotiations what Reagan and the hard-liners had pursued unsuccessfully since 1981 through substantial aid, covert activities, and annual battles with Congress.
THE REAGAN REVERSAL?
Reagan looked, acted, and talked like an anticommunist Cold Warrior from start to finish in his doctrine about aid to freedom fighters and in his policies on El Salvador and Nicaragua. Yet Reagan did lower the rhetoric and move to meaningful negotiations with Gorbachev. Did this represent a reversal by Reagan, as Beth A. Fischer argues in The Reagan Reversal (1997)? Or did Reagan maintain a hard-liner perspective and accept concessions from Gorbachev as the Soviet leader moved to end the Cold War? Fischer suggests that by January 1984 Reagan was backing off of his hard-line rhetoric and rejection of negotiations because of a growing awareness that confrontation with Moscow could get out of control and lead to a nuclear Armageddon. Fischer points to three events after October 1983: the Soviet shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007, which not only horrified Reagan but raised the danger of a series of human errors producing a disaster; the controversial television movie The Day After, which focused on the effects of nuclear war on Lawrence, Kansas; and, third, Able Archer 83, war games carried out by U.S. and NATO forces in Europe that raised Kremlin concerns about a nuclear first strike to such a degree that the Soviets put their forces on alert.
Reagan was more multi-sided with respect to the Soviet Union and the Cold War than Fischer suggests. Although he never gave up on aid to freedom fighters, Reagan did respond to conflicting recommendations from his advisers and exhibited some flexibility toward Moscow before Gorbachev arrived. In the spring of 1983 hard-liners and Secretary of State Shultz encouraged Reagan to move in two somewhat contradictory directions. Hard-liners led by William Clark and the National Security Council strongly endorsed Reagan's speech on 8 March with its reference to the Soviet "evil empire" and his endorsement of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) on 23 March.
Shultz disliked both speeches and SDI and did not know about the "evil empire" reference. When Shultz met with Reagan on 10 March with a well-prepared rationale for a new approach to Moscow, to his dismay he found the room filled with Clark and other National Security Council officials opposed to negotiations. As Shultz later recounted, he met privately with Reagan the next day and told him that "I needed to have direction from him on Soviet relations. I went through with him again what I was trying to achieve. 'Go ahead,' he told me." Shultz noted that despite the green light from the president he had to be careful and keep checking back with Reagan on the "proposed route" to improved relations with the Kremlin. On SDI, Shultz indicated that he first heard about the strategic defense idea at a dinner with the president on 12 February and in a debate with Clark early in March. Shultz took his concerns to the president, emphasizing that Reagan was changing basic strategic doctrine without much scientific and technological basis or consultation within the administration or with Western allies. Shultz supported research and development consistent with the ABM Treaty and reliance on existing doctrine and the structure of U.S. alliances. Reagan, however, brushed aside the secretary's rationale and his offer to redraft the reference to SDI in Reagan's speech. The president pushed to announce SDI before it disappeared in the face of resistance and criticism from administration officials, Congress, allies, and public critics.
Shultz had more success when he persuaded Reagan, against the resistance of Clark and the National Security Council, to open a dialogue with Soviet officials. At the 12 February dinner with Reagan, Schultz suggested that Reagan meet with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. "Great," responded Reagan, although Clark and the National Security Council tried to head off a wayward president who had yet to meet with any Soviet official. For two hours Reagan and Dobrynin reviewed issues, including human rights and the Pentecostals, a small group of Christians who had been in the U.S. embassy in Moscow for five years and wanted to emigrate to practice their religion. According to Shultz, Reagan thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, wanted to be involved, and wanted to move forward. On 28 February, Moscow responded with a less than direct indication that if the Pentecostals left the embassy and went home they would eventually be able to emigrate. After the "evil empire" speech Reagan approved a response to Dobrynin, and the Kremlin began to allow the Pentecostals to leave. Dobrynin kept repeating "the less said publicly the better," and Shultz kept repeating "quiet diplomacy." From April through July, Shultz kept up the quiet diplomacy, Moscow released Pentecostals and family members, and Reagan stayed silent as promised.
REAGAN AND ARMS CONTROL
If Shultz or other advisers opened a path to negotiations with the Soviet Union, Reagan would pursue it, but he needed alternatives because the hard-liners rejected any meaningful negotiations with Moscow. Reagan always was confident that he could set aside his longtime hostility toward communism and the Soviet Union to solve problems, even the more intractable arms control issues, such as intermediate missiles (INF) and strategic missiles (START). The White House delayed resuming negotiations on either issue—both of which had been pursued by the Carter administration—until initiating the defense buildup. When public criticism, a nuclear freeze movement in western Europe, and pressure from Western allies finally prompted hard-liners, they developed negotiating positions that arms control negotiators believed were guaranteed to produce a Soviet rejection.
The hard-liner positions appealed to Reagan, and he used some of their recommendations to achieve much more than either the hard-liners or Democratic critics believed possible. On INF the Soviet Union had modernized its forces with the SS-20, a powerful missile that brought any city in western Europe within its range. The Carter administration had promised NATO allies that the United States would deploy a new generation of missiles, the Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles, and negotiate a reduction with the Kremlin. Weinberger's aide, Richard Perle, proceeded to develop the zero option of proposing to the Kremlin that it remove all of its missiles and that the United States cancel deployment of the Pershing. President Reagan went for the zero option because it involved meaningful arms reduction (unlike the previous SALT I and II accords, which had primarily put ceilings on the number of weapons) and because he could sell the zero option to the public.
On strategic weapons Weinberger and Perle again recommended to the president a negotiating stance that would ensure the absence of an agreement. They urged Reagan to support a dramatic reduction, particularly on the Soviet side, by insisting on a reduction in ballistic missile throw-weights that would reduce the Soviets' land-based, more powerful rockets by 60 percent but would not affect the U.S. forces. State Department specialists opposed this stance, but in order to win Reagan's endorsement they had to support a negotiating stance that would reduce launchers, cut warheads by one third, and also include Perle's throw-weight ceiling. Again Reagan approved a position that would significantly reduce strategic missiles even as his negotiators on both sides believed the Kremlin would respond with another nyet.
GORBACHEV AND THE COLD WAR
The Soviet response confirmed their expectations as the Kremlin struggled with a series of elderly, incapacitated leaders: Brezhnev died in November 1982, followed by Yuri Andropov, who had a reform agenda but became ill within a year, and then Konstantin Chernenko, who was also ill. Even if Reagan had pursued more quiet diplomacy, it is very unlikely that he would have accomplished much before the arrival of Gorbachev in March 1985.
Gorbachev came to power as a new-generation leader who had both practical experience in the Soviet system as a party official and substantial exposure to "new thinking" within the Soviet intellectual elite. As Robert English persuasively demonstrates in Russia and the Idea of the West, Gorbachev had had long-term exposure to "new thinking" at Moscow State University (which produced many of the leading reformers), in Czechoslovakia in 1968, in travel to the West in the 1970s, in the reading of restricted works on socialism and the West, and in the development of close relations with Eduard Shevardnadze in the neighboring Georgian Republic.
After his return to Moscow in 1979, Gorbachev significantly expanded his quest for new ideas with reform economists and foreign policy specialists, surprising many of them with the extent of his reading and interest in reforms of Soviet relations with the West and with eastern European socialist countries. As head of the international affairs committee in 1983, Gorbachev interacted with new thinkers in foreign policy such as Yevgeny Velikhov, Georgy Arbatov, and Alexander Yakovlev. When Andropov appointed Gorbachev to direct a plenum on economic issues, Gorbachev brought in new thinking advisers and ideas for shaping a domestic reform agenda with some veiled international implications.
Gorbachev confirmed the suspicions of the old guard in the politburo, which had tried to deny him the chairmanship of the party. His bold ideas on domestic-economic reform, military cutbacks, and foreign policy with respect to Afghanistan and eastern Europe stimulated significant opposition. (He informed party leaders in eastern Europe, for example, that the Brezhnev Doctrine of 1968, which insisted that a state that had joined the socialist camp could not leave, was dead.) Gorbachev, however, demonstrated superior leadership skills in outmaneuvering his critics through use of the prestige of the general secretary office and the politburo tradition of consensus behind the general secretary, as well as his personal skills at manipulating the agenda, persuading his critics, and replacing his adversaries with new thinking allies. In July 1985, Gorbachev replaced longtime foreign minister Andrei Gromyko with a colleague and confidant, Eduard Shevardnadze, who shared Gorbachev's belief in the need for economic and foreign policy reform. When resistance to his policies picked up in 1986, Gorbachev promoted Yakovlev as Central Committee secretary for ideology and replaced many Brezhnev supporters with new thinking advisers such as Anatoly Chernyaev as his personal foreign policy aide.
SUMMIT DIPLOMACY: GENEVA, NOVEMBER 1985
When Secretary Shultz initiated discussions with Soviet officials for a summit conference between Gorbachev and Reagan in Geneva in November 1985, Reagan made a significant contribution to ending the Cold War by overruling hard-liner objections and by recognizing that Gorbachev provided new possibilities for at least a reduction of tensions and nuclear risks in the Cold War. Weinberger and the hard-liners opposed a summit with Gorbachev, but Shultz persuaded a wavering president to go ahead, especially since Gorbachev and Shevardnadze had indicated a significant interest in the reduction of the burden of strategic weapons to enable the Kremlin to stimulate economic reform. Shultz, however, failed in an effort to persuade Reagan to accept a trade-off between offensive missiles and defense with limits on SDI. Instead, the secretary found himself fighting something of a rearguard action against efforts by hard-liners to reinterpret the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 so that it would permit development, testing, and deployment of new space weapons.
Gorbachev also faced resistance to the Geneva summit and a significant arms control settlement, but he did start to shift Soviet positions. Eastern European leaders and Soviet conservatives opposed any change in bloc relations and affirmed a class-struggle perspective in international relations. They pushed for an expanded offensive in Afghanistan and continued Soviet aid to anti-imperialist forces. In late August, however, Gorbachev signaled the possibility of a trade-off on offensive missiles and defense by dropping the longtime Soviet stance that called for a complete ban on SDI research, as opposed to a ban only on research outside of the laboratory. On 27 September, Shevardnadze followed up Gorbachev's comments with a proposed 50 percent reduction in strategic weapons in exchange for an agreement affirming the ABM Treaty against the development, testing, or deployment of space-based weapons. This represented the first of a significant number of concessions from Gorbachev on arms control that started to move the Soviet Union toward the U.S. position.
The summit did not produce significant movement in any of the three areas of arms control—intercontinental ballistic missiles, intermediate range missiles, and missile defense. It did establish the agenda for future summits, as the leaders agreed to hold two more meetings in Washington and Moscow, with regional issues such as Afghanistan and Central America and human rights issues receiving attention along with bilateral questions. Through substantial private exchanges during the two days, Reagan and Gorbachev initiated a personal relationship that started to break down entrenched stereotypes of the Soviet head of the evil empire and the American leader of capitalist imperialism. Shultz had finally brought Reagan into a policy of negotiation with the Soviet Union despite the continuing resistance of hard-liners, who leaked a letter by Weinberger on the day the president left for Geneva that warned the president against any agreements to restrain SDI or continue the unratified SALT II treaty.
In the aftermath of Geneva, Gorbachev faced the most serious challenges from critics who argued that he came home from Geneva without anything. The Soviet leader, however, moved the farthest to work out an accommodation with Washington. In January he proposed the elimination of all nuclear weapons by the year 2000 and a response on INF missiles that moved toward Washington's position of zero on both sides. The prospect of getting rid of all missiles clearly interested President Reagan, who brushed aside the criticism of Richard Perle, the original author of the zero strategy, that Gorbachev was just engaging in propaganda. Gorbachev, however, had to use all of his powers of persuasion as well as the strong Soviet commitment to disarmament to persuade the Soviet military to accept his proposals.
Gorbachev went on to establish a new policy line on both the domestic and international fronts with the Twenty-seventh Party Congress in February. Before the congress, Gorbachev, Yakovlev, and Shevardnadze met to work out a new philosophy of foreign policy with input from a number of new thinkers and with much personal struggle. They ultimately moved from Lenin's basic precept of a divided world and Marxist class struggle to a concept of an interdependent world that needed cooperation on global problems rather than an arms race and Cold War with the imperialist camp.
Shevardnadze went ahead in the Foreign Ministry to implement this perspective with new officials. Under this agenda the Soviet Union would aim at the reduction of regional conflicts, the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the establishment of a security system in Europe, the significant reduction of nuclear and conventional arms, respect for neighboring states with a policy of noninterference, and the end of the Cold War with the United States. In May, Gorbachev presented this perspective to the Soviet diplomatic corps, including all ambassadors. Although this new thinking effectively abandoned the traditional Soviet Marxist-Leninist framework and any ideological rationale for a Cold War, practical implementation would be more difficult with both Soviet and American hard-liners, who remained suspicious.
REYKJAVIK SUMMIT: OCTOBER 1986
Instead of new thinking in Washington, the old conflict between hard-liners and moderates persisted. Weinberger and Perle, for example, pushed to break through the SALT II restrictions that the United States still had not reached. The arms control bureaucracy also continued its usual disagreements, and Undersecretary of Defense Fred Ikle tossed a knuckleball into the field with a zero ballistic missile proposal. Shultz liked the idea as a way to get Reagan to agree to limit SDI, as less offense would reduce the need for defense. Only Paul Nitze, a veteran arms control negotiator, vigorously objected to the proposal as nonnegotiable and very disruptive to both the ongoing strategic modernization program and to the Western allies. Nevertheless, Reagan went away with the zero missile proposal in July and linked it to SDI with a proposal to not withdraw from the ABM Treaty for five years and to continue research, development, and testing as permitted by the treaty.
After the disruptive FBI arrest of a Soviet scientific attaché, followed by the KGB arrest of an American journalist in Moscow, Nicholas Daniloff, Washington announced that Reagan would meet with Gorbachev in Iceland in fifteen days for discussions to complete arrangements for the next summit in Washington. The Reykjavik meeting, however, turned into an intense two-day summit in which a prepared Gorbachev attempted to obtain a significant settlement of offensive and defensive weapons. Gorbachev presented new proposals on START and INF that significantly moved toward Washington's position, to the increasing enthusiasm of Shultz and other officials. At the same time, Gorbachev continued to link agreement on these two issues with missile defense, insisting that both sides keep the ABM Treaty for ten years and confine all research and testing to the laboratory. Gorbachev wanted the offensive reductions, but the politburo and Soviet military insisted on the maintenance of the ABM agreement to prevent space weapons that could be used for offensive and defensive purposes.
Despite the disclaimers in their memoirs, Reagan, Shultz, and the U.S. delegation had not prepared for substantial negotiations and consequently had to scramble to prepare responses and counterresponses, at one point redrafting the U.S. position in an upstairs bathroom in Hofdi House. Reagan defended SDI and indicated that the United States would share the technology when it became available so that both sides could eliminate ballistic missiles. After discussions that continued through the first night of the meeting, the negotiators made progress on START and agreed to zero missiles in Europe for the INF agreement. SDI remained the main obstacle. Reagan and his advisers and Gorbachev began to maneuver less for an agreement during the afternoon session on the second day and more for an advantageous position with respect to public perceptions on the results. Since the United States had not prepared any offers to make in response to Soviet proposals, Shultz and his advisers put the zero missile proposal on the table. Reagan wanted to leave and suggested they take it up again at the Washington summit. The negotiators, however, went off into a series of confusing exchanges in which they ended up with a proposal to get rid of all strategic weapons—missiles, bombers, cruise missiles—until a failure to get any movement on SDI prompted Reagan to stand up and say, "Let's go, George, we're leaving."
The Reykjavik discussions initially looked like a failure, but the negotiations did foreshadow the eventual INF agreement signed at the Washington summit and the START agreement that President George Bush finally concluded in 1991. The very critical reaction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, congressional leaders, and Western allies to Reagan's willingness to give up all strategic weapons would have forced a U.S. retreat from this position if SDI had not blocked any preliminary agreement.
STAR WARS: THE STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE
SDI could have been limited to the laboratory for ten years and the ABM Treaty affirmed as requested by Gorbachev without any real damage to meaningful research on defense technology. By the end of 1986 most of the exotic, space-based weapons such as the X-ray laser, chemical lasers, and other directed-energy programs had moved backward rather than forward toward the actual design of a weapons system. SDI research increasingly focused on kinetic-energy weapons, interceptor missiles fired from space or on the ground to destroy incoming missiles.
As Congress proceeded to cut fiscal year 1987 funding for SDI to 3 percent growth, versus the administration's request for 5 percent, or $3.5 billion, Weinberger and conservatives pushed for deployment of SDI despite the fact that the program remained a research program with nothing adequately tested for deployment. Hard-liners feared that if Reagan failed to persuade Congress to move to deployment, SDI would never make it out of the laboratory and would eventually be cashed as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Gorbachev.
During a prolonged battle with Congress over SDI in 1987 that intersected with the Iran-Contra affair and its damage to Reagan's confidence and political standing, the president refused to back off. In a push for a reinterpretation of the ABM Treaty that would permit testing, the White House succeeded in uniting Democrats and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in support of the established meaning of the treaty. The Joint Chiefs sent SDI back to the laboratory by insisting that any weapon would have to go through the standard Defense Acquisitions Board where it would have to fulfill a series of requirements starting with a statement of what the weapon could accomplish. Since SDI officials presented an initial plan that consisted mainly of theoretical components of space-based battle stations and ground-based interceptors, defense specialists strung out the review through the year and by 1988 had sent SDI back to the laboratory.
Although Reagan refused to make any deal that would limit testing and deployment of SDI, Gorbachev and Soviet leaders moved to detach the issue from an agreement on INF and START. Soviet officials had extensive experience with an ABM system around Moscow and shared the skepticism of American scientists about the Star Wars lasers and exotic technologies. They also recognized that any space-based system would be very vulnerable to attack. Yet they worried that the potential of American science and technology, combined with the expenditure of billions, could lead to a technological breakthrough and a first-strike capability. As Frances Fitz Gerald suggests in Way Out There in the Blue, information from Washington about the status of SDI research and a recommendation from Andrei Sakharov, a leading Soviet scientist recently released from internal exile, influenced Gorbachev's decision to unlink SDI from an INF agreement and START.
WASHINGTON AND MOSCOW SUMMITS: DECEMBER 1987 AND MAY 1988
Neither the Washington nor the Moscow summits achieved agreements on all of the arms control issues. At the Washington summit the leaders did sign an important INF treaty to get rid of all inter-mediate missiles, both in Europe and Asia. Weinberger and hard-liners joined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, resisted a START accord. Since the Joint Chiefs had never expected an agreement to be concluded, they had not worked out the force reductions that would be required by START, and they worried about Soviet statements that they might suspend any treaty if the United States engaged in SDI testing that violated the traditional interpretation of the ABM Treaty. Washington lacked an agenda to negotiate with Gorbachev, who arrived with numerous interesting proposals such as a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and joint Soviet-American support for the Central American peace process led by Oscar Arias of Costa Rica.
Beyond the INF Treaty, the most significant effect of the summits was in the public impact that Reagan and Gorbachev had in one another's capitals. Reagan played the genial host in Washington and Gorbachev swept the Washington media, intelligentsia, and congressional leaders off their feet, charming audiences with his dynamic personality, quick mind, and friendly demeanor. Crowds lined the streets as Gorbachev zoomed around Washington in a black limousine, and Gorbachev reciprocated with a spontaneous American-style movement into the crowd at Connecticut and L streets. Public opinion polls taken after the summit indicated that by giving a public endorsement of Gorbachev as his friend, Mikhail, Reagan weakened the traditional Cold War view of Soviet leaders and raised public perceptions that the Soviet threat and the Cold War had declined.
Reagan's visit to Moscow had a similar impact on the Soviet public. Reagan followed a carefully designed script with fourteen presentations that emphasized visual impressions and the emotional impact of Reagan on the Russian people as he acted out the ceremonies of the summit. Sounding the trumpet of human rights, Reagan also spoke to Soviet intellectuals and students at Moscow State University about freedom and democracy. On a morning walk in Red Square, Reagan and Gorbachev jointly held a small boy, like two candidates running for office. When asked later by a reporter about the "evil empire," Reagan replied: "I was talking about another time, another era." Just as Americans warmed up to Gorbachev, the Soviet public gathered around Reagan's visit and by the end applauded him in the streets.
END OF THE COLD WAR: 1988
As Caspar Weinberger followed many hard-liners into retirement, U.S. officials found it very difficult to recognize and act upon the significant changes in Soviet domestic and foreign policies. Gorbachev stepped up the pace of change in 1987–1988 with economic reforms and a surprising push to democratize the party system, initially with internal changes for secret ballots and multiple candidates. The more Gorbachev pushed a glasnost opening, the more demands he encountered from domestic pressure groups of reformers to move toward a Western representative system that tolerated more than just the Communist Party and operated with a government independent of the party, an independent judiciary, a president and bicameral legislature, and respect for individual rights. Although faced with increasing conservative resistance, Gorbachev achieved politburo approval for his agenda except for a multiparty system. Gorbachev used the appearance of arms control agreements with the United States and the growing normalization of relations for additional leverage against his conservative adversaries.
Gorbachev and Reagan moved toward announcing the end of the Cold War. When exchanging the INF ratification documents in Moscow with Reagan, Gorbachev stressed that each of the four summit meetings had undermined the foundations of the Cold War. During his visit to the United Nations in New York City and his brief meeting with Reagan and president-elect George Bush, Gorbachev articulated a new international order free of Cold War competition and guided by self-determination. This further development of new thinking shaped Gorbachev's successful persuasion of the Soviet military and the politburo to agree in November to significantly reduce Soviet conventional forces and shift to a defensive strategy as well as to initiate planning for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from eastern Europe. At the end of the Moscow summit Reagan came close to agreeing that the Cold War was over in response to a reporter's question, but he hesitated and then repeated his favorite refrain on Moscow, "trust but verify." Later, as he left Washington for retirement in California, Reagan announced that the Cold War was indeed over.
BUSH, BAKER, AND THE REVOLUTION OF 1989
President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker had participated in the evolving Soviet–U.S. relationship, but they found it difficult to keep up with the dynamic changes that Gorbachev had unleashed to end the Cold War as well as the increasing ethnic, national, and political tensions that erupted in the Soviet empire. Bush rejected Reagan's remark that the Cold War was over and initiated a strategic review that provided very little guidance when completed in mid-March 1989. Instead, the review reflected how American officials, like many of their Soviet counterparts, were finding it difficult to shift out of the Cold War paradigm of suspicion and competition. Bush, Baker, and national security adviser Brent Scowcroft preferred a return to stability and deterrence rather than the high-wire negotiations at Reykjavik and the antinuclear and anti-Soviet rhetoric of the hard-liners. Gorbachev's continuing moves to cut Soviet military spending and take Soviet missiles out of eastern Europe to support a request for the elimination of all short-range nuclear weapons in Europe, however, prompted the White House to return to negotiations with Moscow in May.
Gorbachev had urged Communist Party leaders in eastern Europe to implement reforms and warned them that the Soviet Union would not bail them out with force as it had done since 1945. Poland began belated changes in the spring of 1989 when Jaruzelski opened talks with Solidarity leaders that led to an election for the new upper house in the Polish parliament with Solidarity sweeping ninety-nine of one hundred seats. Solidarity joined a coalition government in July, an action endorsed by Gorbachev, and elected a Solidarity prime minister. Bush and his advisers recognized that the United States should support Gorbachev's willingness to allow freedom in eastern Europe by avoiding giving any ammunition to Soviet hard-liners through triumphal statements on the situation or by efforts to recruit the eastern European states to join the West against Moscow.
In the fall of 1989 the pace of change intensified as Hungary opened its western border to allow East Germans to escape to the West and the Hungarian Communist Party abandoned Leninism to become the Hungarian Socialist Party. By the end of October, Hungary had become a republic with a representative government, and national elections held in 1990 voted out the old Communist-Socialist Party. In November the East German communists dumped the veteran party leader Erich Honecker, and East Germans dramatically forced open the Berlin Wall on 9 November. On the same night, the Bulgarian Communist Party discarded Todor Zhivkov, the longest-ruling party leader in eastern Europe, and within little more than a year the party joined Zhivkov on the sidelines. Demonstrations also escalated in Czechoslovakia, leading to the resignation of Gustav Husák, another veteran communist leader, and the eventual election of Václav Havel, a leader of the opposition.
By the time Bush and Baker met with Gorbachev at a summit in Malta in December, Baker and Shevardnadze had met several times and resolved most remaining arms control issues as Gorbachev again offered to cut offensive strategic missiles without any agreement on SDI. Despite the stormy weather that kept the U.S. and Soviet leaders confined to a docked Soviet cruise liner, Bush successfully greeted Gorbachev with a series of proposals to remove Cold War economic restrictions against the Soviet Union and to step up the pace of the START negotiations.
Germany remained the most difficult challenge for Gorbachev and Bush. The collapse of eastern Europe in 1989 intensified Soviet conservative criticism of Gorbachev, with the prospect of a united Germany, raising memories of World War II, as the issue of greatest concern. With the assistance of Western allies and West German leaders, Bush and Baker successfully went to a "two plus four" negotiating approach, with the German regimes as the "two" and the World War II Allies as the "four." Despite the mounting problems that Gorbachev faced with independence movements in Lithuania and elsewhere, and increased resistance from the Red Army and Soviet hard-liners, Baker and Bush, in numerous meetings with Shevardnadze and Gorbachev including a Washington summit in May 1990, patiently achieved a favorable settlement on Germany.
Bush and Baker had less success in satisfying critics when the focus shifted to the emerging disintegration of the Soviet Union. Liberals and moderates in Congress and the media had urged the White House to back Gorbachev, but when Gorbachev fell behind the demands for change, such as the Baltic states' insistence upon independence, these critics urged Bush to shift U.S. support to Boris Yeltsin, a former Gorbachev ally who, as president of the Russian Federation in 1991, was now leading the opposition movement seeking to get rid of Gorbachev and the Soviet Union. U.S. conservatives and hard-liners, on the other hand, resisted offering any support for Gorbachev both because they remained suspicious that his ultimate loyalty was to communism and the Soviet party and because they hoped the rollback of communism in eastern Europe would reach Moscow and other communist regimes.
By moving to negotiate with Gorbachev on a growing number of issues in 1989–1991, Bush and Baker established a successful relationship with him. Although Gorbachev and his advisers wanted quicker and more U.S. support, they came to view Bush and Baker as sympathetic officials even when the latter felt compelled to criticize Gorbachev for some of the Soviet pressure used to resist independence in Lithuania. In the context of the tremendous changes that took place in eastern Europe in 1989 and the fragmentation that occurred in the Soviet empire with the independence movements in the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and the Central Asian regimes such as Kazakhstan, U.S. officials achieved essential objectives and at the same time avoided excessive involvement in the internal turmoil and disintegration of the Soviet empire and communist system.
In his famous article in 1947 advocating a strategy of containment against the Soviet Union, the foreign service officer George F. Kennan addressed the issue of how to achieve a successful conclusion to the expanding conflict with the Soviet Union. Kennan suggested that a patient and thoughtful policy that blended pressure and negotiations would ultimately be successful when the Soviet Union found it impossible to hold on to its new empire in eastern Europe, given the powerful nationalist forces at play in the relationship, and when the Soviet leaders abandoned their Marxist-Leninist attachment to supporting revolutionary movements and accepted normal international relations with Western capitalist states.
Kennan came fairly close to anticipating the most significant forces shaping the eventual end of the Cold War, as formally announced by the Western allies and their new Soviet partner, Gorbachev, in 1990. The U.S. strategy of containment—pursued in different forms with different rhetoric by all presidents since 1945, and pursued with failure and excess in some areas—shaped the resistance that Soviet leaders faced, both to their domestic system and revolutionary-imperial foreign policies. The broader success of the American economy, technology, commitment to freedom, and cultural appeal also ultimately stood in striking contrast to what the Soviet system looked like in all of these areas.
The end result, however, was not predetermined. Although the general economic, political, and ideological decay of the Soviet system certainly shaped Soviet policy, different leaders than Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and other "new thinking" advocates could have resisted these forces. They could have held onto eastern Europe with force if necessary and circled the wagons against the Reagan hard-liner campaign, which faced its own problems with budget deficits, the SDI controversy, and public and congressional resistance that limited the most significant Reagan Doctrine campaign to aid freedom fighters in Nicaragua.
Gorbachev and his new thinking advisers, along with Reagan and Shultz and their successors, Bush and Baker, contributed the most to shaping the endgame of the Cold War. Despite his career orientation and commitment to the Soviet Communist Party, Gorbachev made revolutionary changes in Soviet foreign policy even if his efforts to reform the Soviet economy lacked similar success. Through long exposure to new thinking ideas and advocates, Gorbachev moved as skillfully as he could to win over both Soviet hard-liners and Reagan and his advisers to a significant relaxation of the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, and the expensive and destructive global Cold War competition between the two countries. When faced with resistance at home and abroad from Reagan's Cold War suspicions and inflexibility on SDI, Gorbachev stepped up both campaigns, pushing the Soviet Union toward a Western parliamentary system and moving to abandon the fundamental Marxist-Leninist class and revolutionary precepts undergirding the Soviet perspective on international relations.
Washington policymakers certainly contributed significantly to both the way the Cold War ended and the fact that it ended. The support that Reagan and the hard-liners achieved for their "victory" version of containment, particularly in their aid to the Afghanistan resistance and to Solidarity in Poland, contributed to Gorbachev's successful reorientation of policy in both areas as necessary steps to wind down the Cold War. SDI and the defense buildup, on the other hand, probably increased the resistance of Soviet conservatives and the military to any arms control agreements and delayed Gorbachev's efforts to achieve significant reductions in this area. Yet Reagan did not remain just a preacher for the hard-liner campaign. In response to the persistent campaign of George Shultz and the overall impact of Gorbachev's personality and policies, Reagan warily but steadily opened up negotiations with the evil empire and, ultimately, agreed to significant changes in arms control. Although Bush and Baker initially stepped backward, they did engage in increasing meetings, visits, talks, and summits with Gorbachev in order to manage successfully the spectacular revolution of 1989 in eastern Europe, the reunification of Germany, and the U.S. effort to establish a new relationship as the Soviet Union gave way to Russia and Gorbachev exited the stage.
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See also Arms Control and Disarmament; Cold War Evolution and Interpretations; Cold War Origins; Cold Warriors; Covert Operations; Doctrines; Globalization; Post–Cold War Policy .
"Cold War Termination." Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cold-war-termination
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