Before the Iron Curtain was shed in1991, the United States would enter a period of heightened hostilities with itsrival, the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Both sides had their troubles at home andabroad. The United States fear of war pushed them to increase military spendingand across the sea, the Soviet Union was struggling with a failing economy andwar in Afghanistan. Although there were intense tensions that indeed mirroredthe beginning of the Red Scare, the frozen war would soon be at a close. TheCold War finally ended after 44 years with a huge escalation of tension in the1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev coming to power in the Soviet Union, and the destructiondown of the Berlin Wall. Before the tensions between theUnited States and the U.
S.S.R. calmed, they escalated to high levels that werecompletely unprecedented in the 1980s. When President Reagan was elected in1981, he abruptly ended the period of détente, or the time of improved tensionsin the 1970s, between the Soviet Union and America. He labeled the Soviet Unionas “the evil empire” and dissipated over 2 trillion dollars on building up themilitary’s defenses. He also argued for his cause by speaking his aggressivespeeches on communism.
Across the sea, the Soviet Union was grappling with afailing economy. They were fighting a war in Afghanistan that would costmillions of lives and expenses that would only end at the end of the decade. TheSoviet Union was in desperate need of a new administration and leader to helpreform their failing economy. They found their answer in the election ofMikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev was elected in 1985, andhe brought new policies for the reforms of the communist organizations,political systems, and the soviet’s societies.
His most famous policies werethe ones of Glasnost and Perestroika. Glasnost is translated as “openness inpublic affairs and political affairs”. Perestroika is translated as “reformingor restructuring the state”. Gorbachev used perestroika to clean up thecommunist regime that ruled the Soviet’s government. He then used glasnost tomake the Soviet society more democratic and open.
These two policies were thefirst step for Americans and Soviets in ending the Cold War. His policies werewell-received throughout the worldwide nations, and they were not intended tocontribute to the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the Soviet Union’s reignbegan to fall. Various actions took place throughout the region and helped tocompletely crush the building blocks of the Soviet Union. The lasting end tothe war was stamped in history when the Berlin Wall was finally taken down. Manydemonstrations or rallies took place until eastern German government let go ofmost of the control over the wall in 1989.
The laws ruling how people couldpass between East and West Berlin were revised, and citizens flooded each sideof the wall tearing it down with chisels and cranes. Remnants of the wall stillstand today as a reminder of the end of both the Cold War and communism inGermany, setting an example for nations all around the world.Mikhail Gorbachev said, “The end ofthe Cold War is our common victory”.
That is true, but even 25 years afterthe Cold War ended, the United States and Russia’s relationship still has atentative relationship. At the end of the war, the tension felt in the 1980shad lessened and the physical sign of communism was torn down at last. Bothsides are still feeling the effects of the war, communism is very prevalent inother countries around the world, and the threat of nuclear war has switchedfrom Russia to North Korea. The hope is that no country has to go throughanother Cold War again and history shows the effects deeply on both sides.