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International Relations Since 1945

International Relations Since 1945 (3rd edn)

John W. Young and John Kent
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date: 15 April 2024

p. 43919. The Decline of the Cold War, 1985–9locked

p. 43919. The Decline of the Cold War, 1985–9locked

  • John W. YoungJohn W. YoungProfessor of International History, The University of Nottingham, UK
  •  and John KentJohn KentEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics & Political Science


This chapter examines the decline of the Cold War during the period 1985–9. It begins with a discussion of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s ‘new diplomacy’, a more flexible, less ideological foreign policy based on his belief that ‘a less confrontational stance towards the outside world would provide greater security than endless rearming’. It then considers Gorbachev’s reforms, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in December 1987 by Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, and US–Soviet relations under George H. W. Bush and Gorbachev. It also analyses the end of the Cold War in less developed countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, and Cambodia, before concluding with an assessment of the demise of Soviet communism in Eastern Europe.

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