Josh Clark, Staff Writer

hsw 2009

Who won the Cold War?: Author's Note

This article asked one of those seemingly easy questions: Who won the Cold War? Under "last man standing" rules, it was the United States that emerged the victor. But in another context, the question remains unanswered: Did the U.S. win the Cold War by beating the U.S.S.R. or did the Soviet Union lead to its own demise, with the U.S. merely as belligerent bystander? This view raises a far different question -- with a far different answer.

It turns out that a closer look at Perestroika, the Soviet restructuring plan that served as the transition from communism to a more capitalist society, convinced me that the U.S.S.R. died of natural causes. Perestroika was simply instituted too rapidly. A shock to the system like the one the Soviet economy took when it turned to a free market after 80 years of government intervention was too much to bear. And a stricken economy can topple a nation faster than any army.

In the end, though, this question is too complex for any simple answer and it will likely never be conclusively established, which makes me admire the question all the more.

Sources

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