“The Soviets saw SDI not as a defensive measure but as a prelude to an attack” Pg. 393
No program reinforces Freeman’s argument that the early 1980’s saw a re-ignition of tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States then creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. Sold to the American public as a purely defense measures, the strategic defense Initiative was an attempt to use new technologies, namely satellites in space, to monitor and if need be destroy any soviet missiles fired at the United States, granting it it’s nickname ” Star Wars”. The Soviet Union officials did not see it that way, instead they were convinced that it would be used as an offensive measure and became even more mistrusting of America. The program never really took flight ,as both the technology was simply not advanced enough and it did not generate a large amount of support.
“Hezbollah, a newly formed Shiite group with Syrian and Iranian backing, found a devastating, low- tech way to respond to the high-tech American forces. On April, 18 1983, a pickup truck with two thousand pounds of explosives crashed into the lobby of the American embassy in Beirut, killing sixty-three people, including all six members of the CIA’s Beirut station and a high-ranking agency official who happened to be visiting.”
As we see in Chapter 16, Hezbollah is similar to other terrorist groups in the Middle East who combat American troops with unconventional warfare. Their type of warfare is cheap, effective, and cowardly since they are using explosives and blowing themselves up. With the most sophisticated military technology, America is still having difficulty defeating these types of forces. This is similarly seen in Vietnam when America could not defeat them with the most advanced military equipment.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, required an elimination of all intermediate-range nuclear weapons by the United States and Soviet Union. This was a significant moment towards resolution with an old enemy, it was the first time both the Soviet Union and United States agreed to remove an entire class of weapons from their armory. This bargain was one of the first stepping stones in Gorbachev’s attempt to improve the Soviet Union’s poor international relations which he believed hindered the health of its civilian economy. Gorbachev’s reforms did not sit well with some communist leaders, which led to a coup in 1991. The coup was unsuccessful but proved fatal for Gorbachev’s ability to hold the reigns of the state. He eventually was forced to resign and signed a decree that broke the up the Union. The end of the Soviet Union symbolized the ending of a chapter in American politics. International relationships were structured by the Cold War, which was now officially over. “For the United States, it was had been the defining element in its foreign policy, the impetus for two major was and the occasion for an unprecedented level of peacetime military mobilization.” (404) An unexpected moment in the United States occurred with the conclusion of this superpower rivalry. Policies that once shaped family life, economy and politics had to be redefined, introducing a new age in American history.
“Gorbachev announced a unilateral Soviet moratorium on testing nuclear weapon and sought out a summit with Reagan. At their first meeting, in November 1985 in Geneva, the two leaders failed to come up with an arms control pact but agreed to further summits.” (Pg. 401)
Many worldwide conflicts, alliances and political aims were related to the Cold War since the end of the Second World War, and the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the center of the war and jostled each other over their behaviors. Sometimes, they invited other lands to hold a leading position of the war and threatened each other with a nuclear weapon. However, in 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, the Cold War soddenly progressed toward a solution because Gorbachev shifted his attention to domestic problems such as deterioration in the standard of living in the Soviet and the nuclear plant disaster in Chernobyl, so the summit meeting between the U.S. and the Soviet was achieved.
The first Summit meeting started at November 1985, and it wasn’t successful, but they negotiated several times to eliminate nuclear arsenal and intermediate-range nuclear weapons. This reconciliation triggered settlements of other international problems. The Soviet Union retreated from Afghanistan in 1988, many East European countries changed into democracy and the Berlin wall was collapsed in 1989. The summit meeting is definitely a key to end the Cold War.
“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.” (p. 393)
Not only the two empires were fighting each other on foreign countries’ territories, but also they were in constant rivalry developing arms. SDI was the escalation point in the Soviet-American relationship. Reagan was excited to create a system to defend against ballistic missiles (antiballistic missile defense system). Even though it was portrayed as a defense system, the Soviet Union saw SDI as a “prelude to an attack”.
In 1986, three years later, Mikhail Gorbachev and Reagan would try to negotiate an agreement on strategic nuclear arsenal, cutting their intermediate-range missiles in Europe; and would try to reach a consensus on a certain SDI restrictions. This proves that existence of SDI was essential for both countries. And the fact of trying to reach a negotiation would be a powerful sign of the Cold War coming to its end.