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The End of

the Cold War

Anna Fantini, Coco Koban, Simon Lewerenz, Clmentine Lucas, Edoardo Tamburelli
1. When did the Cold War end ? Introduction
Collapse of Soviet Union
2. Is the collapse of the Soviet
Empire in Central and Eastern USSR brief history
Europe best explained with
Gorbachev's reform policy
reference to material power,
the role of ideas, or something Factors of Collapse
else? Fall of Berlin Wall
The Reasons of the Fall
End of the Cold War?
The Origins 1945 - 1947

Relations between the Soviet Union

and the allies (US, UK and France)
Marshall plan

Beginning of the end 1975 - 1985

Election of Republican president, Ronald Reagan 1980

Breakdown of dtente (= means the reduction of
tensions between states)
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979
Iranian Revolution 1979
The collapse of the
Cold War as an
international system
was to a large extent
a result of the Third
Worlds rejection of
the need to see every
issue from the
increasingly arcane
context of the clash
between capitalism
and socialism.
Best, et. al., International History of the
Twentieth Century and Beyond, p. 481
Fall of
Berlin Wall
9 Nov 1989

Collapse of
Soviet Union
26 Dec 1991
December 1991,
Soviet Union disintegrated
15 separate countries.
Victory for freedom, triumph of
democracy over totalitarianism,
capitalism over communism.
USs formidable enemy finally
brought to its knees.
Complete reformulation of
political, economic and military

But WHY did it collapse?

Soviet Union in 1985

Social, political, economic growth Corruption and nepotism

After WWII military and political High military budget (war
superpower = the only real in Afghanistan) 20% GDP
counter-balance to American

Mikhail Gorbachev
General Secretary of the Communist Party (CPSU)

For nearly all historiography a turning point in Soviet history

Soviet Union
composition and history

1917 Bolshevik Revolution: Problems:

Newly-formed government. Non-russian ethnic groups (more
Communism ideology = than 50%) resisted assimilation
overcome national differences into new state.
One monolithic state with Economic planning failure =
centralized economical and vicious arms race with US and
political system. economic decline.
Soon became a totalitarian state, Ideology of Communism never
in which Communist leadership took firm root and lost whatever
had complete control . influence it originally carried.
URSS stamp

two-tiered reform policy

Glasnost Perestroika
(openness) (rebuilding)
A greater willingness on the part of Soviet Economic reform that allowed limited
officials to allow western ideas (freedom market incentives to Soviet citizens

of speech) and goods into the USSR

Gorbachev the idealist: negotiation, policy
tolerance of reform
and cooperation instead of use of force.
End of ideological conflict between states; importance of international institutions.
Objective: spark the sluggish Soviet economy.
His reform failed to improve the economy Soviet people used their newly allotted freedom of
speech to criticize him.
Gave more freedom (contrast with the communist system) freedom, however, is addictive.
Periphery republics start to demand of independence...
Further world progress is now
possible only through the search
for a consensus of all mankind, in
movement toward a new world
The very tackling of global
problems requires a new "volume"
and "quality" of cooperation by
states and sociopolitical currents
regardless of ideological and other

Mikhail Gorbachev
43rd U.N. General Assembly Session
December 7, 1988
Disintegration starts...
First nationalist movements in the Baltics 1987 Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia.
June 1989 Polish voters elected a noncommunist opposition government.

Gorbachev again refused to act.

Like dominoes, Eastern European communist
dictatorships fell one by one.

1989 Fall of Berlin Wall (end of Cold War?).

Hungary + Czechoslovakia communist regimes
Brutal Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu
Yugoslavia threw off the yoke of communism
violent civil war.
August 1991 last (failed) effort to save the
Soviet Union: coup detat organized by a
group of hard-line Communists.
Demonstrations of the August days had
demonstrated that the population
demanded nothing else than democracy. Formation of new entity
25 December 1991 Gorbachev resigned. Commonwealth of Independent Republics
January 1992, by popular demand, Soviet Independent countries of the former Soviet
Union ceased to exist. Union. Complete political independence, linked
by economic (at times military) ties.
Factors of collapse Four different point of views

Economic Nationalities

Flaws of the Soviet economic system, formalized Dissolution was brought by the structure of the Soviet
under Stalin, were never overcome, and ethno-federal system and Gorbachev's new policy.
accumulated over the decades.
USSR constructed as the union of republics and their
Development became harder and harder as populations trapped in a centralized state.
modern economic activity demanded higher
sophistication. More freedom with perestroika and glasnost =
republican politicians were able to effectively use their
No organizational capacity to regulate the huge greater power against the Centre.
economy complete break with the foundational
institutions of the state. Edward Walker, Dissolution: Sovereignty and
the Breakup of the Soviet Union, 21-48
Knight, Stalinism in Crisis, 13-14
Political Systemic

Yegor Ligachev (former leader of the CPSUs A much broader (and perhaps nebulous and generally
conservative faction), blames the radical-democratic less academically rigorous) line of argument
forces and Gorbachev;s leadership style for collapse. collapse due to the nature of the system (unviable
and corrupt).
The Soviet system was a stable and superior form of
social organization which needed only limited reforms. With the shabby state of the economy the entire
legitimacy of Soviet rule rested on propaganda, lack of
Gorbachev, largely communication with rest of the world, and state terror.
incompetent and reactive in
leading, fell under the When the resources for sustaining this were exhausted,
influence of proponents of the USSR was doomed to collapse.
capitalism who destroyed the
country for their own localist George Neimanis, The Collapse of the Soviet
political and economic Empire: A View from Riga, 8

Yegor Ligachev, Who

Betrayed the USSR?, 89-132
Fall of the BERLIN WALL 9th November 1989
- Built starting from 1961, it represented the
division of West Germany from the East part.
- Named as the Iron Curtain that separated the
western Europe from the Eastern Bloc during the
- From an american point of view, this event
represented the end of the Cold War. Why?

ic an ce do Sovie
er an mi
na t
A min
m nc
do - After this event the Warsaw pact was
scraped, meaning that the institutional
basis for the Cold War disappeared.
A change to the entire map of the world - The Soviet power was going to be
- Serge Schmemann pulled back.
Berlin Wall Speech 12 June 1987

The main aim of this speech was to

put pressure on Mikhail Gorbachev.

Tear down this wall

- Ronald Reagan
So when did the Cold War end ?
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Collapse of the Soviet Union:
Independance of Eastern and Only one of the two superpowers
Central European countries remaining
Reunification of Europe, non No more obstacle to American
communist and capitalist hegemony
Proof of the weakening of the
communist ideology

There can be no definitive still less

scientific answer to the question,
when did the Cold War end?.
- Brown

Historians are still debating on this

subject also because it is so recent.
Did the Cold War really end?
Best, et. al., International History of the Twentieth Century and Beyond, pp. 480-499.
Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, chapter 30. G.
John Ikenberry, The Restructuring of the International System After the Cold War, in The Cambridge History of the
Cold War, Vol. 3. G.
John Ikenberry, Getting Hegemony Right, The National Interest (Spring 2001).
Samuel P. Huntington, The Lonely Superpower, Foreign Affairs, (March/April 1999).
Archie Brown, Ending the Cold War, Seven Years that Changed the World, (April 2007).
Michael Cox, Rethinking the End of the Cold War, Review of International Studies, pp. 187-200.

(fall_of_the_soviet_union @, n.d.)
Anthony Kalashnikov, Differing Interpretations: Causes of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1997
(why-socialism-collapsed-eastern-europe @, n.d.)
(01003-20161225ARTFIG00023-il-y-a-25-ans-mikhail-gorbatchev-mettait-un-point-final-a-l-union-sovietique @, n.d.)