The end of the Cold War is a story that will no doubt be written and rewritten as historians discover evidence that casts light on presently unknown facts, and provide new ‘spins’ on those already known. Indeed, it is quite likely that, like its origins, the end of the Cold War will have its equivalents of orthodoxy and revisionism. Of all the players in this story it is Mikhail Gorbachev who will take the leading role; for some the hero and for others the villain. The story of the Gorbachev era is a controversial one, with the answers to many questions in dispute. Did the West win due to ‘peace through strength’? Was new thinking primarily driven by the need for economic recovery? Was the West too hesitant in its response to Soviet initiatives? For some, the end of the Cold War brought to a conclusion a tragedy in which the two superpowers had embarked upon defensive measures which had led each to believe that the other harboured malign intent; hence Robert Jervis’s assertion that the ‘Cold War may . . . have been an unavoidable tragedy rather than the result of an evil Soviet Union, as the orthodox school has it, or an evil United States, as most revisionists argue’.
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