Mikhail Gorbachev's Decisive Role in a Cold War's End

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Mikhail Gorbachev's decisive role in a Cold War's end
: Was it possible that the end of the Cold War happened without Gorbachev?

Introduction

The very end of the Cold War happened 'suddenly' in 1991. A dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was consequentially connected to the Cold War's end. However, The Soviet Union had a strong military power both conventionally and strategically until 1985, and its economy could still endure more. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was inaugurated as a leader of the Soviet Union. After six years of Gorbachev's leadership, the Soviet Union collapsed. At this time, Ronald Reagan, the president of the United States of America since 1981 until 1989, implemented various policies against the Soviet Union, and some of those policies were actually effective. In historical debate, scholars have argued about who brought an end to the Cold War indicating that this matter is quite controversial. Also, knowing who played a crucial role is historically significant to understand why and how the Cold war ended. In historical debates on the reasons for the end of the Cold War, Peter Schweizer and Raymond L. Garthoff pronounced very different point of view. Peter Schwerzer, a conservative author and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution analyzed, in his thesis, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the context of a systematic crisis. In his point of view, the end of the Cold war was caused by an inherent systematic crisis of the Soviet Union exacerbated by Reagan's policy; Gorbachev is rarely mentioned in his text. One of the few mentions of Gorbachev is "Absent this systemic crisis, Gorbachev never would have begun his walk down the path of change" (Peter Schweizer, Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1994), p. xii). Not only is he intentionally excluding Gorbachev in his thesis, but he is also disparaging his revolutionary attempts. In contrast, Garthoff, a specialized senior fellow on arms control, the Cold War, and the former Soviet Union at the Brookings Institution, is acutely pointing out an unhistoric role of the USA. This is to maximize Gorbachev's undeniable part in the end of the Cold War. In his thesis, he clearly remarks "Even More significant was Gorbachev's historic achievement in bringing an end to the Cold War" (Raymond L. Garthoff, The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (1994), p. 772). This statement is poles apart from his other reference about both Gorbachev and Reagan: "Some American observers, above all those with an essentialist view point or a stake in the Reagan administration and its reputation, have contended that Gorbachev's remarkable pliancy was a response to and justification for the Reagan administration's hard line of the previous four or five years" (Raymond L. Garthoff, The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (1994), p. 774). Considering various historical debates on the end of the Cold War and facts that happened in the 1980s, Garthoff's argument is more convincing as the end of the Cold War would have never been happened 'peacefully' without Gorbachev.

Body I: Gorbachev founded a reform

When Gorbachev became a leader of the Soviet Union, there was already a lot of preexisting problems, so he decided to introduce a change. Although Schweizer's opinion is quite skeptical about Gorbachev, his point about inner problems of the Soviet Union is fairly precise: "By the 1980s, these economic difficulties became intractable" (Peter Schweizer, Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1994), p. xii). By the 1960s Soviet Union had achieved rapid economic growth. But the development was mainly focused on heavy, chemical, war industries. This planned concentration of development gave rise to an enormous...
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