AD 1981- Reagan becomes president

Soviet Union, and this period was known as détente. America and Russia had conducted a joint mission in space and were working on trade agreements and nuclear weapons disarmament talks. In 1981, a former governor from California, Ronald Reagan was elected president. Reagan believed fundamentally that, the Soviet Union was the “Evil Empire”—as he labeled it during a speech—and that both ideologies could not coexist. As such, Reagan began a program to bring the Soviet Union to its knees. Reagan called for the construction of a 600-ship navy and began developing a series of new, highly sophisticated weapons with which to attack the Soviet Union. Reagan also proposed a new technology called the Strategic Defensive Initiative (also called Star Wars), which would position a series of lasers in space in orbit around earth. This shield of lasers was designed to shoot down any Russian atomic missiles, theoretically providing America a means to “win” a nuclear war. Russia, in response to Reagan, began a massive buildup of its own, and relations between the two nations became decidedly hostile. What America did not know was that Russia bankrupted itself during this arms race and did not pose a fraction of the threat envisioned by Reagan. However, this financial hardship would force Russia to change its outlook, and eventually collapse in 1991 (after Reagan’s retirement), bringing an end to the Cold War.