The distribution of strength in the 1980s was military as well as economic.
The superpowers spent hundreds of billions of dollars annually in a technological struggle for superiority despite their existing "overkill" capabilities.
The contest was futile and wasteful for military power is only relative and neither side gained in security or influence.
Retaliating in kind is a way to deter the other side from attacking it.
Nuclear arms were the most dangerous and costly contest.
The first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan in 1945.
The Americans let the world know of their ability and will use these "ultimate" weapons when they see fit.
During the 1950s, the race went on for more efficient warheads and for faster and more accurate means of delivery, as the Soviets responded by building nuclear bombs of their own.
The Americans were ahead in both technological advances and the number of warheads.
The most critical area of competition was in long-range strategic weapons that could reach the homeland of the other superpower.
Most of the United States's are in land-based missiles and bombers.
By 1970 it was clear that the population of the other side would be wiped out by each side's warheads.
Each side sought a breakthrough that would give it superiority over the other side.
The final say in disputes with the other superpower would be gained by the nation that gained first-strike capacity.
Both sides wanted the advantage and the other side couldn't gain it.
Nuclear war planners turned to defensive weapons as a way to gain the advantage because it became obvious that neither side would be allowed to win superiority by adding more offensive weapons.
The first side would have gained the desired first-strike capacity if one side had a "near- perfect" defense against enemy warheads.
About 1970 a race began to build antiballistic missile defenses.
It was realized that this added another threatening and expensive side to the arms race, one that neither side could afford to lose.
Nixon and the Soviet leader signed a treaty limiting the building of ABM systems.
Efforts were made to achieve "arms control" after this agreement.
The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty was signed in 1979 by Jimmy Carter and Brezhnev.
The race for offensive weapons remained open even though the U.S. Senate failed to approve the treaty.
Nuclear arms were being produced by Britain, France, and China.
The nations were not in the same league as the powers that be.
Their relatively small supply could not give them a first-strike capacity, and they viewed their weapons only as a last resort, to be held as a deterrent threat against any nation that might plan to attack them.
India tested a weapon to prove that it could build them, and Israel had nuclear weapons of its own.
Iraq, North Korea, and Pakistan were trying to acquire such weapons, and many other countries had the ability to build them.
They had a lot of other types of arms, which were growing in power and accuracy.
In order to achieve political and military goals, indiscriminate killing and destruction is nothing new.
The Conquerors suppressed uprisings by massacring villagers and burning their crops and the sides in the Second World War bombed cities.
Terrorists generally involve not large-scale but relatively smallscale (though still indiscriminate) killing and destruction.
Modern civilization spreads fear through the mass media and widens the damage through its complex web of transport and communications.
This is the reason why terrorism is a good weapon for small groups.
The need for revenge is satisfied by the fact that it expresses rage against real or imagined injuries arising out of ethnic, social, and national conflicts.
To crush terrorist groups costs a lot and often leads to atrocities that keep hatred against them alive.
If a terrorist group doesn't achieve its stated goals, it can produce a bloody stalemate that hurts the repressors more than the terrorists.
Terrorists sometimes achieved their goals.
It was used by nationalist movements against the French in Algeria and the British in Palestine.
The success of these early campaigns, together with new opportunities for spectacular operations presented by the growth of airline travel, led to new campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s by Palestinian exiles against Israeli and Jewish targets.
The new campaigns had a lower chance of success.
Car bombs might encourage the British to evacuate Palestine, which is not a national interest for them.
Cuba and Israel had no choice but to fight against airplane hijackings that were intended to overthrow communist rule or the Jewish state.
From the point of view of the terrorists, the bloody stalemate was better than no conflict at all.
This view was shared by the rulers of countries under Arab nationalist or Islamic fundamentalist rule like Syria or Libya, which sponsored terrorism as a weapon against adversaries like Israel or the United States.
By the 1980s, terrorism had become a recognized worldwide problem, though it was not considered as serious as nuclear proliferation or the balance of terror.
The priorities would change in the 1990s.
The political and economic order that had existed throughout the West since the Second World War was changed during the 1980s.
The functioning of the welfare state was seen as a brake on economic growth and rising standards of living.
While dictatorships continued to rule their home countries, a new militancy appeared in relations with the socialist camp.
The changes did not represent a break with the past.
Few politicians of any stripe doubted that the socialist camp would be the West's rival and partner for the future, despite the fact that no Western leader tried to dismantle the welfare state.
The political leaders of the socialist camp were growing frustrated.
At the end of the decade, the socialist countries broke with the past and gave up their effort to build a world order alternative to the West.
The liberal policies that had prevailed in the West from 1933 until about 1980 caused this reaction.
The revolt against hereditary privilege and absolute monarchy was seen as a sign of liberalism.
In the twentieth century, liberalism stood for individual rights and openness to social reform, but came to be most strongly identified with social democracy and the welfare state.
The welfare state's social and moral changes were linked to liberalism.
In Britain and the United States, the conservative reaction to the changes was decisive.
Margaret Thatcher led her party to victory in Parliament during the decade after she was chosen as leader of Britain's Conservative party in 1979.
She was able to make changes with large majorities in the House of Commons.
Thatcher gained and held power because of the splits within the Labour party, which were not pleasant to many British voters.
She was replaced as party leader and prime minister in 1990 by John Major, a member of her cabinet.
Many of the "Thatcherite" changes became permanent features of the British way of life.
In the United States, the conservatives did not have complete control over the federal government.
The constitutional provision for "checks and balances" gives authority to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
The election and reelection of Richard Nixon as president in 1968 and 1972 signaled widespread discontent with liberal social reforms, but Nixon had disappointed conservatives by maintaining both the welfare state and detente.
He left office in 1974 under threat of impeachment, following the discovery of his role in covering up a political burglary at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, D.C., as well as in numerous other abuses--illegal financial contributions, misuse of government agencies, campaign " Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, took several years for the conservatives to regroup.
By 1980, conservative opinion makers were setting the national mood.
Like the liberals, the conservatives had a lot of interpreters.
The central thrust of the movement was becoming clear.
To restore and keep American institutions and lifestyles as they were thought to have been around 1930 is what their common wish was.
The welfare state was introduced in 1933 by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and they objected to many of its features.
The conservative program had an opposition to the expanding functions of government, which included business regulation, welfare services, deficit spending, high taxes, and opposition to social "permissiveness".
There was a huge demand for prayers in public schools and a huge response to television preachers.
Both the 1980 and 1984 elections had clear issues between conservatives and liberals.
The Republican party stood in opposition to most of the reforms of the New Deal.
The New Deal made the Democratic party identify with liberalism.
Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States in 1980.
Reagan wanted to reverse the tendency of Franklin Roosevelt to look to government to solve the nation's problems and help its citizens.
In keeping with that declaration, he cut income tax rates, which in turn put heavy pressure on Congress to make up for the loss in government revenues by cutting spending on social programs.
Reagan insisted on large increases in military spending.
The federal budget couldn't be balanced and the huge annual deficits had to be made up through government borrowing.
The tax cuts left the country with a mountain of government debt and an unprecedented level of private debt, but they stimulated substantial economic growth and left more money for businesses to invest and consumers to spend.
The total amount of interest on the federal debt was estimated to be $250 billion for the fiscal year 1991.
Reagan and his advisers claimed that a growing economy would eventually yield higher revenues even with lower tax rates.
In 1990 his successor, President George H. W. Bush, decided to make substantial cuts to the annual deficit.
Deficits were reduced in the 1990s.
The burden of debt on the economy and essential public services increased again in the new millennium.
Reagan wanted deregulation of the economy.
This was favored by the business community.
Lax supervision of the savings and loan industry was a factor in allowing gross mismanagement and fraud.
The losses to taxpayers would run into hundreds of billions of dollars if Congress had guaranteed savings accounts.
The Environmental Protection Agency was one of the federal agencies Reagan wanted to eliminate.
He succeeded in cutting their funds and choosing agency heads who would limit their effectiveness, even though he was unable to get congressional approval to abolish them.
His most significant impact was on the courts of the land.
Reagan was able to name hundreds of federal judges, most of whom shared his conservative political and social views, and whose lifetime tenure on the bench would run many years beyond their appointment.
Reagan's second term was not as revolutionary as his first.
Widespread support for his conservative policies contributed to his reelection, but much of his support came from his personal appeal: his good looks, humor, and confident public assurances.
Other conservative candidates did not fare as well as he did.
Republicans lost control of the Senate in congressional elections.
Conservatives and liberals were at odds after Democrats took control of both houses of Congress.
Reagan's vice president, George H. W. Bush, was unable to bring about a majority for his party in either the Senate or the House of Representatives in the election of 1988.
The political pendulum swung in 1992 when President Bush lost the White House to Bill Clinton.
The Soviet Union had been engaged in a lengthy build up of nuclear and conventional arms when Reagan became president.
This was done in order to force the United States to treat it as equal in their partnership, but also to gain an advantage in their rivalry.
The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and their support for left-wing governments in Central America and southern Africa seemed to be changing the balance of power and undermined detente.
Reagan was eager to take up the challenge of the west taking up the challenge.
He wanted to deal with the Soviets from a position of strength, which meant superior strength.
Reagan took a hard line against communism.
When the island of Grenada fell into a political crisis in 1982, he sent the United States military to occupy the island and install a prodemocratic government.
He supported the government of the Central American republic of El Salvador in a brutal war against Marxist guerrillas, as well as backing guerrilla uprisings against Marxist governments in other countries.
None of these wars were as easy to win as that against Grenada, and in all three countries they dragged on, at huge cost in human suffering, until the end of the Cold War.
The conflicts ended in compromise once the Marxists were no longer able to count on Soviet support.
Reagan wanted to change the nuclear balance of terror in favor of the United States.
By 1980, the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union was at an end.
The powers that be had reached rough equality.
After the Second World War, Reagan and his advisers began steps to regain nuclear superiority, and they were not satisfied with parity.
The military spending doubled from $150 billion in 1981 to $300 billion in 1985 and continued to increase thereafter.
The strategic standoff persisted after the Soviets matched the build up.
Reagan proposed to build a defensive system against intercontinental nuclear missiles in 1983 in order to gain superiority through offensive weapons at a dead end.
The idea of a return to an earlier idea in the arms race was rejected by both sides in 1972.
Some weapon scientists advised the president to try again because of advances in technology.
Reagan wanted to build a space-based system that could give the United States a first-strike capacity and give up the "stability" of the existing nuclear balance.
The news media dubbed Reagan's plan "Star Wars" because he called it the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Even if the technical problems could be solved, a workable Star Wars system would cost hundreds of billions of dollars and the Soviets would build up their offensive missile force so that it would overcome any defense system by sheer weight.
The time was ripe to reduce tension between the two countries, and neither side was eager for a new arms race that would be more costly than before.
Reagan and Gorbachev discussed the issue of Star Wars at a summit in November of 1985.
Reagan showed a definite shift in his tone and words to the Soviets after responding to concessions and fresh initiatives from Gorbachev.
The shift was welcomed by America's European allies as well as people who feared war between the superpowers.
The Star Wars project was eventually put on hold due to the fact that it was a critical turning point in the arms race.
The end of the Cold War and the fall of communism can be attributed to the revelation that what the Soviet leaders called the "correlation of forces" was not moving in their favor.
During the 1980s, conservative reforms were taking shape in western Europe and America, but the eastern bloc showed little change until the end of the decade, when the region exploded in radical political, social, economic, and cultural changes.
Since the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Communist party's hold on the Soviet Union had appeared to be unbreakable.
It had a forty-year hold on the countries of East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria.
There were some outspoken dissidents.
The socialist camp's instruments of control were so powerful that no major change could be made.
The "historical surprise" of the century was the sudden collapse of communism.
Even before 1980, serious doubts about the viability of the communist system had begun to grow among some of the higher officials of the Soviet party.
As far back as the 1930s, the Stalinist regime had been criticized by a man who had called for more flexibility in the economy.
Nikita Khrushchev introduced some relaxation measures after Stalin's death.
The views and actions of the party were not sustained.
It wasn't until a generation after Khrushchev that it became a rising force.
Party members as well as ordinary citizens were concluding that the promises of communism were not being fulfilled.
They were discouraged by the failure of many years of weapons build up to change the "correlation of forces" between the Soviet Union and the United States.
As a result, they became convinced that changes had to be made to rescue their faltering economy and that if only to lighten the burden of military spending, they must end the worldwide power struggle with the West.
The central committee of the party chose Gorbachev as their agent of change.
Similar efforts were being made in other states.
Gorbachev urged "new thinking" for his own and other countries.
A new era of cooperation was needed to address the real problems of the planet.
The main factors that led to the revolutions of eastern Europe were articulated and pursued by Gorbachev.
The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to Gorbachev in 1990 was a sign of global recognition of his historic role.
The progress of change within the Soviet Union was not consistent.
Those who wanted to move faster and those who wanted to hold back reforms were both powerful domestic critics of Gorbachev.
swift action was taken to implement glasnost Thousands of political prisoners were released.
The abolition of the Communist party's monopoly on political power was the most significant constitutional reform.
There were new elections throughout the USSR.
The restructur ing of the economy was Gorbachev's main frustration.
Some people wanted to move quickly from a centralized control to a market economy.
Others believed that a rapid move would be too disruptive and painful for workers and consumers.
A plan combining features from both sides was proposed by Gorbachev.
In October 1990 his compromise was approved by the newly elected soviet parliament and he was authorized to set it in motion by executive decree.
Gorbachev's plan was too little and late.
The central planning establishment made critical mistakes over the years, as well as lack of provision for individual incentive and initiative, gross neglect of ecological considerations, and overall political and social rigidity.
The most decisive cause was the Cold War with the United States and its NATO allies.
The diversion of resources and manpower from peaceful production to pursuit of the extravagant arms race greatly strained the American economy and left it with a huge burden of debt; but the arms race brought to the "enemy" Soviets what Washington had sought: the fatal crippling of their economic system.
The dissolving of ties between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world made the economic situation worse.
Gorbachev's policy of repudiating the use of military force to keep the country unified opened the door to long-awaited desires for independence from the multinational state.
The Baltic republics were the first to declare their own sovereignty.
The Russian Republic was the largest by far of the fifteen.
The Russian Republic faced this dilemma.
Yeltsin was elected president of the new republic in 1991.
He said that Russia would press toward a market economy by a much faster route than Gorbachev had thought.
August 1991 gave Yeltsin's plan added force.
The right launched a coup against Gorbachev and the reformers in the Russian Parliament.
Thousands of people filled the streets to defend their parliament as the coup lasted only 72 hours.
This effort to overthrow the legal order was strongly condemned by opinion elsewhere in the country.
The map shows the triumph of nationalism.
Germany is united again.
In most of the states of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, one nation dominates.
The challenge of the future will be for the European nations to fulfill their ideal of national unity and independence.
Within days, reformers in the Parliament began to change the functions of the secret police, loosen controls over the media, and ensure that the armed forces were under the command of loyal officers.
The individual republics were able to achieve complete independence by allowing their elected leaders to negotiate with one another and with foreign countries.
The governing organs of the USSR ceased to exist after these actions.
The presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus met in December 1991 to announce the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Most of the other new republics joined this association.
The British Commonwealth of Nations was the inspiration for the idea of the CIS.
Many of its members have taken steps for economic cooperation, and in 1997 Russia and Belarus agreed on a "union" with a common currency and citizenship, though still being separate and independent states.
The "Antifascist Defense Wall" was built by the East German government to stop its citizens from moving to the West.
Ronald Reagan went to the Berlin Wall in 1987 and challenged Gorbachev to tear it down.
In November 1989 an East German policeman reaches down from the wall to get a rose from a West German woman.
The Cold War is over, the wall is about to come down, and Germany will soon be reunified.
The United States and the European Community welcomed the declaration.
On Christmas Day 1991, Gorbachev resigned his empty office as president of the now-dissolved multinational state.
Gorbachev wanted to reform communism and maintain the unity of its political domain.
He was overshadowed by the swelling popular demand for radical economic change and national self-determination in the country's critical time of troubles.
They were allies of the USSR under the Warsaw Pact of 1955.
They were viewed as a buffer by the Soviets to protect their homeland from future attacks by Germany and the West.
The economies of these states had suffered from the same paralysis that the Soviets had.
The popular movements against the communist regimes exploded when Gorbachev said force wouldn't be used to hold them.
The reunification of West Germany and East Germany was achieved after the West Germans persuaded both their allies and their enemies that they wouldn't use it to reverse the results of the Second World War.