1980's Global Changes Thanks To Eastern Europe BRENA BRASIEL, AMANDA POWERS, ZOE JASPER, ALI HENDRICKS

1985: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union

In 1985, General Secretary Mikhail was elected President of the Soviet Union. Unlike previous USSR leaders, Gorbachev aimed to open up the political process to the public and establish better relationships with the West. He eliminated the Communist Party’s monopoly of power by establishing a Congress, elected by the public. He also amended the Soviet Constitution in order to increase the mostly symbolic power of the presidency.

However, Gorbachev’s new policies faced opposition from both ends of the political spectrum. The reformists criticized him for making changes at too slow of a pace and demanded even more radicalism. On the other hand, the Communists were horrified by his rejection of traditional Marxist values. This political unrest would eventually lead to the collapse of the USSR.

Gorbachev’s presidency also had a major effect on the Eastern European countries surrounding the USSR. By renouncing the “Brezhnev doctrine, Gorbachev allowed these countries to decide upon their own respective political and economic systems. Consequently, the Eastern European countries removed their Communist leaders from power, facing no Soviet intervention. Even Germany was reunited into one country in 1990, ending the existence of Communist East Germany and merging it with the Federal Republic of Germany.

November 9th, 1989 The Berlin Wall fell, but to this day it remains a symbol of a restriction on Democracy for the U.S. Once the wall was breached people were able to cross into West Berlin as they pleased. The Berlin Wall symbolized as George W. Bush said on December 3rd of 1989 “a long-lasting era of peace has begun” which symbolized for the U.S the end of the Cold War.

On November 19, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan met for the first time at the Geneva Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, to talk about international diplomacy and the “arms race.” No treaties came out of this summit, but it was symbolic of their commitment to detente and a gradual end to the Cold War. In Reagan’s second term, he wanted to leave a legacy by negotiating for disarmament in the Cold War. On October 11-12, 1986, they met at a summit in Reykjavik, and their negotiations led to the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This Treaty was finalized in 1988 at the Moscow Summit. This treaty decreased the amount of missiles that each country could have.

Perestroika was a policy first proposed by Leonid Brezhnev in 1979, but Mikhail Gorbachev promoted it in the 1980s. The policy was used to restructure, or reform the economic and political system. Perestroika introduced profound changes in the economic party's, internal affairs, and international relations. This revolutionary program swept communist governments throughout Eastern Europe from power, eventually ending the Cold War, and setting the stage for the collapse of the Soviet Union.


During the Cold War, Western capitalist countries were engaged in an ideological battle with the socialist East. Both sides were afraid of the nuclear weapons that the other side had. America led the West, and the USSR led the East. European countries were divided, and Germany had both communist and democratic parts, separated by the Berlin wall. When the Berlin wall came down in 1989, it symbolized the end of the Cold War and ushered in a new era for the world.

The 1980s marked a transition in global politics because the Berlin Wall came down, ending the Cold War. Throughout the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the USSR, and US President Ronald Reagan met to plan for disarmament and compromise so they could end the Cold War. In the USSR, President Gorbachev implemented a policy of perestroika, or restructuring, which consisted of a series of political and economic reforms. In reaction to poor living standards and a failing economy, Gorbachev reorganized the political and economic systems of the USSR, making them more efficient and open.

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