Why did the Cold War last so long? Arms races and the prolongation of Cold War conflict
The development of atomic and hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles exposed most of the globe to attack and devastation.
Technological advances threatened to give one superpower or the other a dangerous edge over its rival, thereby triggering vigorous counter-measures and increasing the risk of nuclear disaster.
There were also deep flaws in the command and control systems of both superpowers. With both US and Soviet nuclear geared to “launch on warning”, the danger of an accidental nuclear war was extremely high.
The resulting arms race led to ever higher levels of military spending, more ...view middle of the document...
Changes in the balance of political forces both within and among nations took place throughout the Cold War and played a major role in initiating, prolonging, and finally ending the conflict.
When did Cold war end?
• Michael Mandelbaum: 1989
Ending the cold war requires ending the Soviet threat to Western Europe, which requires ending Soviet subjugation of eastern Europe, which means allowing the people of that part of the world to decide freely how to govern themselves. Therefore, the collapse of the USSR was not an essential requirement for the end of the Cold War.
• John Mueller: 1988
Ending of the ideological conflict between liberal capitalism and state socialism was more important than the ending of the nuclear rivalry between East and West. Therefore, the end of the Cold War came about in 1988, when Gorbachev claimed to have completely discarded the old revolutionary-imperial basis for Soviet foreign policy.
• James Baker: 1990
End of Cold War came about in 1990, when US and USSR jointly protested against Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait.
• George Bush: 1990
End of Cold War came after the unification of Germany, but before the disintegration of the Soviet empire.
US policy of containment and confrontation under Ronald Reagan and its lesser role in ending the Cold war
Ronald Reagan, President of the US from 1981 to 1989, denounced the Soviet Union as an immoral “evil empire”, and fought the last phase of the Cold War vigorously on all fronts.
He persuaded Congress to approve massive increases in military spending, effectively ended arms control negotiations with the Soviets, and pursued an aggressive to roll back Soviet influence in the Third World.
Reagan’s policies resulted in
• A mushrooming budget deficit
• Heightening of Cold War tensions due to failure of arms reduction talks, American support of anti-communist movements in the Third World, American economic sanctions against the Soviet bloc
A mushrooming budget deficit
During the Reagan administration, the United States intensified the military build-up begun during the last years of the previous Carter administration and spent over $2 trillion to build up US conventional and nuclear forces.
Reagan revived the B-1 bomber programme that Carter had shelved, continued development of the B-2 (Stealth) bomber, and accelerated deployment of the MX ICBM and the Trident submarine missile system (very accurate missile systems with MIRV capabilities).
Much of the increased expenditure focused on conventional forces, including an expansion of the navy from 450 to 600 ships.
A key element in the build-up was the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) announced by Reagan in March 1983. SDI was a technologically ambitious and extremely expensive plan to develop a nationwide ballistic-missile defence system that would deploy weapons in outer space to destroy enemy missiles in flight. Popularly known as Star Wars, SDI...