The Cold War Essay, Research Paper
United States and Russian Relations have always been up and down. For fifty years the United States was locked in a cold war struggle with Communist nation of the Soviet Union. The American people feared Communism. The U.S. government responded by spending trillions of dollars on weapons specifically for fighting a war with the Soviet Union, but of course this never happened. There where many times that tensions rose and the two nations hit the brink of war, but political solutions where always chosen over war. The U.S. was put into trillions of dollars worth of debt due to Cold War arms race build up. The Soviet Union crumbled in the early 90’s into the Russia of today. The eastern European nations it controlled took their independence, and Russia converted to a democratic, capitalist nation.
In the 1980’s Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist party. One of his first acts was to develop friendly negotiations with Washington to end the tensions. He started Glasnost and Perestraika, which means openness and reconstruction. Ronald Reagan, US President from 1981-1989, had an intense distrust of the Soviet Union. He increased military spending to build up and train all branches of the military. In 1988 smaller satellite nations broke away from the Soviet Union and became democracies. The United States funded them to help them get their democracies started, because it would be less of a threat to the United States if they were split up. The Soviet Union made itself bankrupt after the many years of trying to out-spend the US on military development. Unlike the Soviet Union the US had the economy to handle such spending.
In 1992 the United States saw the great end to the cold war when the mayor of Moscow Boris Yeltsin was elected president of free democratic Russia. This was because he stood with the anticommunist protestors in Moscow as the military tanks rolled in, and was seen as a hero. He took over when Gorbachev was forced to resign in late December 1991. Gorbachev was trying to do it slowly as to not shock the country s economy and government, but the people wanted it now. Everyone in the US now thought we could reduce our military spending, which will lower our taxes, use the money for more important things, such as paying debts, helping the poor, and new government programs. People in the United States felt that we had won, and we didn t have to worry about nuclear war any more. But we are not completely safe; problems in the Russian economy may cause it to return to Communism. Although the Cold War is over now, it could return at any possible time in the future.
In 1992 Bill Clinton was elected President. Since the Cold War he decided that the military could be downsized. This would allow the US to expand its economy as other countries had done without the burden of the cold war. Clinton’s policy on Russia was to give aid to help keep it democratic. But Russia s quick switch from communism to capitalism, as predicted, caused problems. The government had no rules to follow. There was no written document for the government to function from. Who would run the industries and businesses that where previously controlled by the government. This allowed former high rated officials in the former Soviet Union, and foreign investors to take over and run the dismal Russian economy. The United States had to step in and give aid to Russia and the breakaway republics in order to keep them from reverting back to communism, and help to get rid of their nuclear paraphernalia before they where sold to the wrong countries. Russia had fallen from a greatly feared nation to a charity case. When they protested US bombing of Serbia Clinton barely gave it a second thought. The Russian military couldn t even stop an uprising in little Chechnya. The US didn t regard Russia s opinion on world affairs as it once did. Russian people are not happy to say the least, but a change came but quick.
Recently Boris Yeltsin, due to his failing health, stepped down as Russia s President. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, took over the active role of president of Russia. The US is keeping an eye on him because he is proposing some old communist ideas. Putin, who wants to bring Russia back to its glory days (a.k.a. communist days), is enjoying a 52% acceptance rating. He got the military to fight harder in Chechnya, to bring some battle victories there. Putin has been taking steps to rebuild the Soviet Union by making deals with the Ukraine for increased trade, and using old KGB agents to crack down on corruption in the Russian government. Traditionalist other that Putin the Zhirinovski a hard line communist, Stalinists party will be running for president of Russia. The US fears a return to Communism, which would probably benefit the Russian people, but wreak havoc on relations. In order to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and the flow of weapons grade plutonium the US gave Russia 100 million dollars. This money is to be used to fix its nuclear reactors and document the amount plutonium they have. The United States was reluctant to send this money because some laundered Russian money showed up in some New York banks.
When the Soviet Union broke up in the early 90 s people in the US felt that there was nothing to fear anymore from Russia. Current relations between the United States and Russia have been better than the past 50 years, but still strained. Russia no longer wants to borrow money from the US because of political differences, so it has been asking other countries. If Russia returns to its former communist government, relations between them and the US may revert back to what they where during the cold war. Although if Russia is moving to bringing back some communist ideas to help stabilize their economy and government, and relieving some internal pressure, relations may improve. No one knows what the future holds so America must wait and do what we can to help Russia, as it does for many countries around the world.