Escalation of the Cold War




'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall !' Reagan and Kohl in Berlin, 1987


Détente began to unravel in 1979, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the following boycott of the Moscow Olympics by the US. There was a growing conservative movement in the US and a feeling for a stronger military after the loss of the Vietnam War and the Iranian hostage crisis. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 on a policy of a stronger military. He started a new arms race with the Soviets which they could not afford and was a major cause for their collapse .UD Defense spending hit a peak of $456.5 billion in 1987.



Berlin Wall" Speech - President Reagan's Address at the Brandenburg Gate - 6/12/87

In 1982 in West Germany, Christian Democrat conservative Helmut Kohl came to power after a vote of no confidence against Schmidt . This marks the beginning of  a new conservative approach to East Germany . In response to the new Soviet SS-20 missiles deployed in East Germany, Kohl agreed to deploying American Pershing and cruise missiles in 1983, sparking anti-American demonstrations . Kohl was caught between support for NATO and West German popular opinion, which was overwhelmingly against  the American deployment.

When Mikhail Gorbachev succeeded Konstantin Chernenko in 1985 he started a policy of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in a desperate attempt to save the Soviet Union from collapse . The Soviets were especially afraid of the new America Star Wars- SDI program to develop a high tech anti-nuclear umbrella. The idea was unworkable, but the Soviets didn't know that at the time. Gorbachev even went as far to as to offer to remove all nuclear weapons for Europe if Reagan would halt development of the SDI program, which Reagan refused to do.

Luckly for Kohl, Bush was elected in 1988 and able to give Kohl support.


Ulbricht Replaced by Honecker


Glasnost and Abgrenzung