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Social Studies help for American History, Economics and AP Government. There are class notes, numerous Supreme Court case summaries and information on how to write a research paper inside.

Why did American win the Cold War?

Perhaps to the young it seemed inevitable but on that day in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down (brick by brick sold off in a capitalist venture it should be noted!) It seemed almost surreal. The giant monolith of the Soviet Union had been defeated. The foundation of the Soviet Union had been crumbling for a decade... some might say it had never actually been solid yet nonetheless for those of us that lived through the Cold War the sight was still shocking. It all seemed so sudden. The days of air raid drills and realistic fears of a nuclear war would never leave us. What had vanquished the giant of the Soviet Union? What would be the future of world politics? What would happen to all of those nuclear weapons? So many questions... a very uncertain period of time.

I. The End of the Cold war.

A. How did the Cold War End?

1. In the late 1980's Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev initiated a series of Summit meeting s with President Ronald Reagan.

2. Gorbachev's reforms led many soviets citizens to demand more freedoms and an immediate move to capitalism.

3. Throughout the late 80's there eastern European nations had movements against their Communist governments. The Soviet Union did not stop them.

4. Gorbachev and President Bush held a summit meeting at Malta and negotiated important reductions in intermediate range nuclear weapons.

5. Late in 1989 there was a coup in the Soviet Union. Hard line soviet leaders held Gorbachev hostage. He was "rescued by Boris Yeltsin. The Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War was over.

6. The Soviet Union broke up into many smaller ethnic nationalities. Some remained together in a loose confederation called the "Russian Confederation." Boris Yeltsin became the Premier of Russia, a capitalist country with a more or less democratic form of government.

7. The Soviet Union no longer existed and thus no longer controlled Eastern Europe. In 1990 West Germany and East Germany unified.

B. What is the traditional view of the why the United States "won" the Cold War?

1. During the Carter and Reagan Administrations the United States upped military spending.

- Carter: B1 Bomber and MX Missile system.

- Reagan: Star Wars (SDI), more nuclear submarines, across the board increases.

2. The Soviet Union spent to try to keep up with this arms race but could no longer afford to do so. They could no longer afford to produce basic consumer goods and the economy and system collapsed.

C. What is the less American centric view of the collapse of the Soviet System?

1. The Communist system is flawed and could not afford to provide for the basic needs of the people. A command economy is inefficient and can raise productivity levels high enough.

2. In time, the system was destined to collapse. The Cold War and increased tensions may actually have prolonged the existence of Communism in the Soviet Union.

3. Gorbachev's reforms opened a door that could not be closed. The Soviet people now clamored for revolutionary change, not the slow evolutionary change advocated by Gorbachev.


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