Factors That Led to the End of the Cold War

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The cold war is a war of words that culminated from a variety of factors. According to Tindall & Shi (1992, p40), the most notable of those was the clash of ideologies between two groups; the Marxists and the liberal Democrats. Both groups had political beliefs that differed in a variety of aspects. Specifically, one group was supportive of capitalism form of governance while the other was more liberal. The other factor that led to this heated war of words was the power structure that placed the United States as well as the Soviet Union in a higher position from the rest of the countries in the world. The two were viewed as superpowers that were above the rest and could, therefore, impose their rule on other states. In a nutshell, the cold war resulted from the notions of political power and ideologies. However, in the years close to 1991, the cold war came to an end. This was the case because of the return of peace and stability in the United States and the Soviet Union. Specifically, in 1991, the cold war ended peacefully as the Soviet Union disintegrated. Undoubtedly, this fall of the Soviet Union was the major factor that led to the end of the cold war. This paper will review some major factors that significantly contributed to the end of the cold war.

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The collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s surprised not only the Soviet officials who were not only confident of the union but also the western observers Pons, (Silvio, and Federico, 2015, p35). Due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a dialogue was opened between the two powerful men; General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan. When they realized that they could not withstand the pressures of the war, the two leaders of the Soviet Union opened a series of dialogues that ended with an agreement to end the cold war. As a result, the protracted war of words due to different political and ideological norms was halted. Peace and tranquility reigned after 1991.

The second and major factor that was responsible for the end of this tongue of war was the political and economic aspects of the war. Although the Soviet Union appeared adamant politically and economically in comparison to the United States, it was plagued by a variety of internal economic and political differences. These differences were hard to solve as there were no measures that could bring consensus. When the differences became too much to bear, different groups came out and disagreed openly. The resultant effect of this was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Although Gorbachev attempted to bring back unity via the use of openness and deep reforms, they did not bear fruits.

A joint memorandum that was signed by the presidents of the United States, Kennedy, and the leader of the Soviet Union was also a factor that significantly led to the end of the cold war. Specifically, the Cuban missile crisis that brought about renewed conflict between the two superpowers further escalated the war. However, after the two nations realized the damage that they will cause to their people by the renewed war, their leaders met and agreed on a hot line. In this regard, it is the opinion of most scholars that the burst of activity in the advent of the Cuban missiles was responsible for the end of the cold war.

The expose of the corruption and human rights violations by the different factions existing in the Soviet Union significantly contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union. Specifically, the push for domestic reform by Chernobyl led to discomfort in the leadership of the Soviet Union. As a result, there were disagreements between the leaders. From the preceding, the strength that the union had as a whole was weakened. This led to the United States remained as the only superpower. However, the different countries that broke away from the Soviet Union had their own strengths.

The Cost for Americas Winning of the Cold War

The United States was undoubtedly the winner of the cold war. Despite the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the US remained united. Further, it became the sole superpower that withstood the scare that was brought about by the pressure from the Soviet Union. After the disintegration, the threat of the Soviet Union became weak. However, despite the possible win of the war, America had to pay some human, economic and political costs. In the following paragraphs, a narrative will be presented on the costs that the United States had to pay in order to win the cold war.

To compete with the pressure of the Soviet Union, the United States had to spend a lot of monies so as to match with them. This led to increased taxes in order to supplement the extra costs. More importantly, the costs of the big government were enormous. The economic situation was unfavorable to the American people who had to dig deeper into their pockets to pay the high taxes. Trillions of money were spent on national defense. Due to the cold war, the United States could not take the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Therefore, they spent a lot of money in their quest to guard their territory against any apparent invasion of the Soviet Union.

The other cost that the United States had to pay was the loss of human lives. In this regard, a lot of people died in the quest to fight for the freedom of others. The likes of Martin Luther King, who was very vocal in the fight against discrimination based on color and social standing. Apart from that, a lot of defense personnel were lost in the Cuban missiles. In guarding the United States, they lost a lot of defense personnel. Additionally, some of the civilians killed due to the atomic bombs that were exchanged between the United States military and that of the Soviet Union. In view of this, there was the aspect of human cost or rather a cost of losing lives.

After the cold war had ended, the American government reeled from military vs. civilian relations. Due to the harassment that was occasioned by the military during the cold war era, the civilians were distrustful of the military. The relationship between the two took a very negative twist that was not good for the security of the United States. This was partly due to the mistreatment that the civilians had experienced in the hands of the military as they tried to halt their demonstrations for equality and political freedoms. The civilians became fearful of the activities of the military. Additionally, they failed to provide critical information to the army that was detrimental to the security and safety of the United States citizens.

The relationship between the government of the United States and other continental countries deteriorated. Most countries in the world viewed the United States as a government that is blind to the civil rights of its citizens. Additionally, they viewed it as the superpower that was determined to suppress the other nations due to its military prowess and financial strength. Although they had won the war, they had to deal with the negative publicity that ensued in the preceding years.

In conclusion, the cold war was a war of words that resulted from the political and ideological differences between the United States and the Soviet Union. The end of the cold war was a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Additionally, the economic challenges that were experienced by the leaders of the Soviet Union could not allow them to continue the war. Further, the leadership wrangles led to the crack in the solidarity that the Soviet Union enjoyed. Moreover, the agreement between the president of the US and the leader of the Soviet Union was the final stroke towards the end of the cold war. Although the United States won the cold war, it came at a high cost. Specifically, a lot of finances were spent in the war. Further, taxes were increased to cater for the national defense. Moreover, the relationship between the civilians and the military was ruined. As a result, national security and safety were compromised. In this regard, although they had won the war, the battle still continued.


Pons, Silvio, and Federico Romero. Reinterpreting the end of the Cold War: issues, interpretations, periodizations. Routledge, 2014. Pp. 35-70

Tindall, Shi, et al. America: A narrative history. Vol. 2. Norton, 1992. Pp.40-112

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