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  /  News   /  Reagan’s hand in ending the Cold War

Reagan’s hand in ending the Cold War

(NewsNation) — Of the successes measured during former president Ronald Reagan’s tenure, one of the biggest was his role in ending the decades long Cold War. 

When he came into office, Reagan presented a laser focused goal to contain Communism and win the Cold War against the Soviet Union. 

The two nations had been in an arms race building up nuclear weapons in the name of their political ideologies. 

This Saturday, NewsNation will air the 90-minute documentary film “Reagan: Portrait of a Presidency” about the life and legacy of President Ronald Reagan, narrated by actor Dean Cain. The documentary film will air from 9-10:30 p.m. ET (8-9:30 p.m. CT), followed by “Reagan: The Post Show,” with NewsNation senior political contributor George Will and chief Washington anchor Leland Vittert from 10:30-11 p.m. ET (9:30-10 p.m. CT). To find NewsNation on your screen, go to

While the Cold War never led to a direct armed conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, each superpower supported the armed struggles of pro-communist or pro-democratic groups in other parts of the world such as Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. 

“I decided we had to send as powerful a message as we could to the Russians that we weren’t going to stand by anymore while they armed and financed terrorists and subverted democratic governments,” Regan wrote in his autobiography. 

Reagan and Gorbachev’s unlikely friendship helped end Cold War

The former president convinced Congress to increase military expenditure by 13% in 1982, forcing the Soviets to keep up. As the Soviet nation began to fall behind in an economically unsustainable arms race, and former leader Mikail Gorbachev came into power, Reagan sensed an inroad. 

Reagan engaged Gorbachev, a reformer not a revolutionary, in negotiations that would lead to the end of the Cold War. During this time, the two formed a professional bond which is still a benchmark in geopolitical relationships. 

On June 12, 1987, Reagan took aim at the Berlin Wall, the physical manifestation of the battle between communism and democracy that divided Germany and the entire European continent during the Cold War, according to The History Channel

In one of the most unforgettable speeches of his presidency, he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The speech was later viewed as a turning point in the Cold War, the outlet reported. 

By the time Reagan left office in January 1989, he had achieved his goal of ending the Cold War. 

‘I’m not whole without you’: Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s love story

Mikhail Gorbachev publicly acknowledged the failures of Soviet ideology and ultimately abandoned Marxism-Leninism and began to dismantle the power of the Communist Party in favor of a more open political system, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Reagan’s tactics were a “departure from his three immediate predecessors, Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, who all focused on a policy of détente with the Soviet Union, playing down Cold War tensions and trying to foster a peaceful coexistence between the two nations,” according to The History Channel. 

Reagan dismissed détente as a “one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims.”  

In her eulogy for Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher discussed his seminal role during the Cold War. 

“He won the Cold War, not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.”