“That land over there is yours and you will go back one day because your cause is right and God is on your side.”
These were the words from President Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Afghan fighters to rile them against Soviet Union communist government. This was a war of two world superpowers United States and USSR. The war called the Cold War because there was no fighting directly between the two superpowers. Instead they manipulated their allies and fought indirectly. For many years the Cold War had fostered economic, political, and military relationships around the entire world. The Cold War served as the defining component that bolster United States foreign policy.
“The Reagan administration portrayed itself as a promoter of democracy, but it simultaneously adopted the view that sometimes the road to democracy-or at least the best interest of the United States- lay in supporting anticommunist dictatorships. This was far from a new position for the United States, which over the years had allied with doctoral regimes such as….”
Jose Napoleon Duarte, leader of the Christian Democratic Party of El Salvador. He was a Notre Dame graduate and presented a much more attractive image than the far-right ARENA party. Reagan took an interest in the party and saw it as an opportunity to “flex” American muscle by sending aid, advisors and training for the Salvadorian soldiers to overthrow radical communist uprisings. Reagan also knew that Americas foe Russian would stay out of it, mainly because they had no prior interest in the region. However, this reiterated a well know message that Americans would even support a dictatorship over communism. This is mentioned by Freeman to show the increasing medaling by the United Stated in foreign affairs with personal gain at the root of it all. This action, although briefly mentioned is a small portion of the behind the scenes, covert operations that took place- quietly of course in avoidance of the negative Vietnam feelings towards Vietnam.
” The beleaguered mind-set of the Soviet leader might have contributed to their decision to shoot down a South Korean passenger jet, KAL flight 007,that in September 1983 strayed over Soviet territory, killing all 269 people aboard, including sixty-one Americans.” P.393
In 1983, the tensions between the US and USSR reached a level not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. These factors were the United States’s Strategic Defense Initiative and planned deployment of Pershing II mission in Europe. The Soviet were highly suspicious of a surprised nuclear attack by the US. On September 1, 1983 when Korean Airlines Flight 007 unintentionally entered Soviet airspace over the Kamchatka Peninsula, in Russia’s Far East region was approaching Sakhalin. The Soviets mistook the commercial airliner as a Boeing RC-135 spy plane owned by the US navy and order Su-15 Flogon fighters to intercept the jetliner. After not being able to get the attention of the pilots in KAL 007, the Soviet decided to shoot down the passenger jet killing all passengers. This horrified the world, many including President Ronald Reagan calling it an act of barbarism.
American Empire: Page 401.
“Gorbahev, who in March 1985 became the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party at the age of fifty-four, brought much more dynamic leadership and a different set of assumption to the post than the aged leaders he succeeded.”
This organization/party is significant in the sense that Gorbahev can see the weakness the party has accumulated over the decades.He is trying to undertake major reforms to stop the internal decay, help boost the economy and also improve the daily lives of the citizen. The party after this year can also foretell the ending of the Cold War that is happening. Gorbahev tried to end the war by engaging in meetings with the United States multiple times over issues like cutting nuclear arsenals. In 1987, they agreed to a treaty calling for the elimination of all intermediate-range nuclear weapons. After this treaty, Gorbachev said Soviet Union will withdraw from Afghanistan. These actions are showing the end of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Freeman during this chapter is viewing a point where the economic, political, and military relationships around the world are being affected and the ending of the Cold War shows the changes that has changed since then. The fear of war, building weapons, affected foreign policies and domestic life.
“High oil prices enabled the Soviet Union, the world’s largest oil producer, to fund groups in Africa, and else where with which it felt political kinship”
Following the Iranian Revolution there was a major anti-Western attitude that led to the growth of the left-wing force in Africa, the Near East and Latin America. Wealthy families and groups in the Far East supported fundamentalism financially and so encouraging the spread of the left-wing power. In Central America, the Sandinista from Nicaragua tried to take over the government, and also aided the guerrilla movement FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) in El Salvador. With the uprising of these left-wing groups, President Reagan’ s policies were being challenged not only by the eastern countries but also by the southern countries as well.
“Oliver North, a midlevel NSC staffer, set up a network of former military and intelligence officers, arms dealers, and private businessmen. White house officials repeatedly lied to Congress and the public when they denied that the administration was still involved in supporting the Contras.”
Although congress specifically denied any further funding to the Nicaraguan Contras, the Reagan administration completely defied this order. North worked to set up a secretive system where Americans would sell weapons to Iran in order to secure the release of American hostages in Lebanon. The money gained from the sale of these weapons was then funneled to the Nicaraguan Contras. The goal was to help the Contras overthrow the Sandista government. This shocked many Americans who never would have guessed their government was negotiating with terrorists, secretly supplying the world with weapons, overthrowing democratically elected governments, and dealing in drug money. The fact that the military-industrial complex was able to do this despite congress’ explicit ban on these actions speaks to the power the military was gaining behind the scenes in the American political realm. This would create problems that we are still experiencing today, such as those illuminated in the documentary Dirty Wars.
“An August 1991 coup by communist leaders opposed to Gorbachev’s reforms fell apart after three days as a result of popular opposition, including large demonstration led by Boris Yeltsin, who headed the Russian Federation.” p. 403
The election of Boris Yeltsin as the first president of Russian Federation becomes a very significant event for many reasons. First, it leads to the dissolution of Soviet Union which gives independence to former Soviet states like Ukraine and Belarus. Second, by losing sovereign states, Russia loses the status of a world superpower. In fact, the first decade of its existence proves to be economically disastrous. In that time, United Stated pulls far ahead, essentially winning the Cold War. Yeltsin bans Communist Party of the Soviet Union which had been in power since 1917, completely reshaping the political status of Russia on international level. In a way, he becomes a leader of a brand new country with a brand new regime. His tenure will fall under a lot of criticism, but given the circumstances, he establishes a decent foundation for Vladimir Putin’s policies of 2000s that regained Russia much of its credibility as a world power.
“Accepting the new reality, on December 25, 1991, Gorbachev issued a decree dissolving the Soviet Union and resigned from office.” (pg. 403)
Mikhail Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 till 1991. He would also be the head of the state from 1988 until 1991. Gorbachev would ultimately be the person who issued the break up of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s decree would eventually reorgonize many structures of the world. Many split up republics would adapt new ideologies and establish their own rights. The Cold War as Freeman describes would also eventually be over because of the Soviet Union break up. Military conflicts over the world and many tensions would also cease to exist because of the pressured break up by Gorbachev, who is still regarded as one of the world’s greatest former leaders.
“Especially frightening to Soviet officials was Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI ), a plan to develop a system to defend against ballistic missiles, which he announced in a nationally televised address two weeks after the “evil empire” speech… He had faith (not shared by many scientists) that the formidable technical challenges to stopping incoming missiles could be overcome. The Soviets saw SDI not as a defensive measure but as a prelude to an attack.”
Reagan’s SDI was clearly received as a threat to the Soviet Union. The SDI, which was created to bring resolution to an issue, became a catalyst for chaos. The paranoia triggered by the SDI led to the shooting down of the South Korean jet. That then led to Reagan labeling the act as one of “barbarism.” Though Reagan did not initially intend for a direct confrontation with the Soviet Union, the SDI catalyzed conflict on both sides.
“During the last months of the Reagan presidency and the first months after George H. W. Bush took office, the United States essentially stood on the sideline as the Soviet block underwent cataclysmic changes.”
America’s identity is associate with the fight against communist but when it is finally winning, it took a very passive role in the collapse of Soviet Union and communist party in Eastern Europe. America did not help to end Soviet Union or the control of communist party in many other countries. The fall of Soviet Union was the result of internal problems where the country spent too much money on military and not enough money in their own country on its own people. I feel like America will face a similar problem as it cuts down its social welfare problems such as medicare/medicaid, social security, and food programs while increasing the budget for military especially for the private industry. The fall of Soviet Union came from a push by Gorbachev who realizes there needs to a change in Soviet Union. It is interesting to know that the fall of communist party was done so peacefully when America was not involve. There was no major bloody war in Eastern European countries except for Romania as political system changes for a more democratic one.