The End of the Cold War

  • Lawrence FreedmanEmail author
  • Jeffrey Michaels


The Cold War ended not with a terrible nuclear bang but with a whimper. The Soviet system collapsed. The arms race with the United States was a contributory factor. The American technological advantage had convinced many in the Soviet military that urgent measures were necessary to ensure that they were not left behind, and that this might require reform of the whole economy. Mikhail Gorbachev himself, who, unusually for the Soviet Union, had no association with the security apparatus, was appalled by the extraordinary burden of the military establishment. Only as the system became subject to a far more searching audit than had been possible during Brezhnev’s time did it become apparent that defence accounted for some 25% of the economy. This created an incentive to find ways of defusing tension so that resources could be diverted into more productive areas.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Defence StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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