Explain why the Cold War came to an end, and show how this affected international relations.

Published: March 19, 2017

With the fall of USSR in December 1991, cold war came to an end. There were several events leading to this. Communism was swept by rising tide of popular opposition and mass demonstrations.

  • The fall of communism began in Poland. ‘Solidarity’ trade unions organized huge anti-government strikes. This forced government to allow free elections, in which communists were defeated. Demands for free elections spread rapidly through USSR satellite states.
  • Next was Hungary where free elections were held and communists were defeated.
  • In East Germany, due to huge demonstrations, the communist government was forced to resign in 1989. And later in the summer of 1990 Germany was reunited.
  • Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania followed the suit and multi-party elections were held.
  • And at last by December 1991 USSR itself collapsed. Gorbachev resigned and 75 year of communist rule over Russia was over. With this cold war was over.

With the fall of USSR world became unipolar with the USA as only super power. This affected international relations in many ways:

  • The first and foremost result was that former USSR and its allies were no more seen as enemies. The countries of NATO and Warsaw pact signed a treaty agreeing that they were ‘no longer adversaries’.
  • With the loosening of authority, internal conflicts broke out in newly independent republics. Like Czechoslovakia, Georgia and most Yugoslavia. War broker between Azerbaijan and Armenia over a territorial dispute.
  • All the former communist countries face severe economic and social problems. Poverty and unemployment were rampant. If not dealt effectively there was fear of right-wing backlash which would be worse than the communist rule.
  • A large number of nuclear weapons were still present in the region and fear was that in a desperate need to raise money Russia might sell these to ‘unsuitable’ governments.
  • With the fall of communism relations between the USA, western Europe, Japan and other western allies were affected. With no need to stand firm against communism, new disputes among them started to crop up. Trade dispute started to emerge between the USA and Japan. During the war in Bosnia the USA refused to provide troops for UN peacekeeping which strained its relations with eastern European nations.
  • Cold war being over third world countries were no longer have to walk on a tight rope in term of foreign relations and diplomacy.

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