Discussion questions week 5

Please answer all questions with 150 words and explain your answers. 

1) How did the Reagan Administration’s confrontational approach aid in the fall of the Soviet Union? Was money spent to facilitate the end of the Cold War worth the cost? Why?

2) Many of you have probably heard Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech.  The one with the quote “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall.”  This has become an iconic moment that symbolized the end of the Cold War. In fact, it has led many to believe that Reagan singlehandedly ended the Cold War.

Berlin had been a symbolic city of the entire Cold War. Even since the fall of Germany at the end of World War II, the country had been divided between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union tried to swallow the capital city of Berlin by denying the allies access after World War II. This was remedied by the Berlin Airlift, where the Americans flew in supplies for the city for over a year. 

Kennedy made his famous pro Germany speech in Berlin – “Ich bin ein Berliner”

Much of Cold War espionage happened in the city. So, Berlin was a hot spot of Cold War tension.

Class, Was Reagan just in the right place at the right time, or was he part of the fabric this legendary cold war hotspot?

3) what were some of the big ticket programs that the Soviets just couldn’t keep up on?

In some regards, Reagan can be given credit for finally nailing the Soviet coffin shut. There are a couple theories behind this.  First, the United States spent the soviets into the ground. Think of the Cold War as a huge poker match with unlimited betting. The United States had a full house, but it thought the Soviet Union had one too. The only logical choice was to try to continue bidding, hoping that eventually the USSR would fold. Now, not only was the Soviet Union only holding a pair of twos, it also was bidding with its watch, its shoes, its designer gloves, and finally with the keys to its tanks. They basically ran out of money to pay for the large military expenditures deemed necessary to keep up with the United States. When this happened, there was no money to put towards public programs, even food production.  Starving people often  rise up and overthrow a government.

The second theory is a bit more about hero worship than legitimacy. Many think that Reagan just out crafted the Soviets by putting together quality foreign policy agendas towards  the fringe states of the Soviet Union. This is probably  less likely, as these fringe areas were probably more concerned with public policies than become the friend of the United States.

Class, what were some of the big ticket programs that the Soviets just couldn’t keep up on?

4) The 1980s were an important decade technologically and culturally for Americans. Pick a technology developed during the 1980s (IE: Cable television, mobile phones,  the first personal computers) and explain how it changed American culture. Was this change a positive direction for Americans?

5) As we look at what technology has done in the past three decades, we see that it has led to globalization in the marketplace and in the world in general. One of the strongest proponents of globalization is the internet. The web seemingly “shrinks” the world we live in today. Thirty years ago sending information to China would take as long as a journey to that country in most cases. Today, we can press send and the information is there in less than a minute.  This has changed the way we do business, how we interact with different cultures, and even how we learn.

Class, what are some of the major changes to education that has resulted from this “closeness” to other cultures?

6) Is the fragmentation of TV programing a good thing for the United States?


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