end of cold war notes - Reagan Gorbachev and the End of the...

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Reagan, Gorbachev, and the End of the Cold War Notes End of the Cold War The man who would lead the Soviet Union during its breakup was a member of this new generation Mikhail Gorbachev was born in 1931 He joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union(CPSU), graduated from the Moscow University Law School At age 39 Gorbachev became a provincial Communist Party chief Though still a provincial (not headquartered in Moscow), he became a part of the Party Elite Gorbachev took his first trips to the west, driving with his wife through much of France and Italy Amazed by the standard of living and civic freedoms, Gorbachev later wrote that the returned still convinced public education and medical services were organized “more fairly” in the USSR that in the West At the same time, the huge gap in wealth between the West and the USSR increased his desire and urgency to “catch up” with the West. Career Path Gorbachev was sent to Czechoslovakia in 1969, right after the Soviet crackdown on the Czech demands for more democracy and independence during the spring of 1968. He realized that the Soviet presence in the country amounted to an armed occupation and that without the Red Army Czechoslovakia would not be in the Soviet orbit. In 1969, Uri Andropov, chairman of the KGB (the Soviet Secret police) visited a spa in Gorbachev’s province for kidney treatments and Gorbachev played host. The two developed a friendship that deepened on Andropov’s subsequent rest cures. It was Andropov who was responsible for both the destruction of the Prague Spring and the promotion, in 1978, of Gorbachev to become the CPSU’s Secretary for Agriculture Just 47, Gorbachev became, by far, the youngest member of the Communist leadership, most of whom had been born around 1910. The generation in between—that of the 1920s—had been largely decimated in the war. The Soviet elite were growing old and infirm Between 1977 and 1980, those whom Chairman Leonid Brezhnev considered rivals were removed from the Communist Party’s leadership, creating a lack of dynamic leaders to succeed him when he died in November 1982. Andropov became the Communist Party’s Chairman and he made Gorbachev responsible for the USSR’s entire economy (in the Soviet Union the Chairman of the Communist Party was also in charge of the Soviet government). Upon Andropov’s death in February 1984, Konstamtin Chernenko, and invalid dying of emphysema, was picked as an interim leader. Other members of the Politburo jockeyed for influence (the Politburo, made up of the top leaders of the CPSU, was the agency that selected the new Chairman of the Party).
In March 1985 Chernenko died and the 54 year old Gorbachev became the Communist Party’s Chairman.

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