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End Of Cold War Notes

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Collapse of the Soviet Union

In August 1990, Russia and 10 other republics broke away from what was formally known as the USSR. The Soviet Republic had, at its prime, comprised one-sixth of the world's surface area, 11 timezones, 300 million people, and had remained a superpower for over forty years. Overnight it imploded and disappeared from the map of the world. A.

Long-term problems were responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union:

1. The sterile years of the post-Khrushchev era and the element of stagnation had made for deteriorating agro/industrial sectors

2. The country could no longer bear the burden of the arms race

3. Severe food shortages, and decline in quality and quantity of consumer goods

4. Health standards below par, with polio, diphtheria, scarlet fever, pox and measles widespread

5. Infant mortality rate on the increase, with average life expectancy in decline

6. Drug addiction, crime and alcoholism were all on the increase

7. Misha Glenny, a BBC correspondent accused the communist record on health, education, housing and a range of other social services of being atrocious

8. Government spending and budget was completely lopsided, with defence spending 25% higher than in the USA

9. Wars in Angola, Afghanistan were taking their toll, leading to imperial and military overstretch

10. The USSR was seriously embarrassed by its involvement in Afghanistan - 100,000 Soviet troops had found it impossible to subdue the ferocious Islamic guerrillas

11. Agrarian sector suffered from over-centralization and lack of government investment B.

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Archie Brown sees communism as an inefficient system altogether, saying: "The long-term causes of the end of the Cold War include the indubitable fact that democracies, with all their imperfections, turned out to be more just, more efficient, more prosperous, and it goes without saying, freer societies than the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe" In addition, the socialist economic system was inefficient, over centralized and subject to too many restrictions C.

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Communism itself was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union:

Reagan was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union:

British historian Archie Brown does not view Reagan as responsible for the end of the Cold War, whereas Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis does John Lewis Gaddis suggests that if Hinckley's bullet had killed Reagan in 1981, the Cold War would not have ended because "there would not have been an American challenge to the Cold War status quo" The Reagan factor was important to an extent, especially because Reagan had long standing anticommunist credentials, and listened to hardliners within his administration, notably Secretary of State George Schultz. It can be argued that his weapons build-up and embrace of Strategic Defence Initiatives (weapons based in space designed to destroy ballistic missiles in flight) shocked the USSR into submissiveness Vladislav Zubok: "Reagan's administration continued to wage the Cold War against the Soviet Union in the worst possible ways, by supplying 'Stingers' to the fundamentalists in Afghanistan, by continuing the technological arms race, and even flexing its military muscles against the weakest enemies, such as in Nicaragua

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