In March 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and Ronald Reagan was a few months into his second term as US President, neither could accurately gauge the changes in ‘East–West’ relationships that lay immediately ahead of them. For four decades, the world had been substantially shaped by the fluctuating relationship between their two blocs. There was scarcely a state which, to one degree or another, had been not been caught up in its ramifications. Generations had grown up knowing no other world. ‘Cold War’ had both spawned and sucked in antagonisms, from Ecuador to Eritrea or Cambodia to Colombia, which had a life of their own. Even if the principals ‘called it off’, subordinates, for their own reasons, might continue. So, just as the Cold War had itself ‘emerged’, ending it had various beginnings. In December 1989, however, on board a Soviet ship off the coast of Malta, new American President George W.H. Bush and Gorbachev announced that the Cold War had indeed ended. It would have been rash to predict such a statement four years earlier. Their declaration was not a ‘world’ conclusion, reached by comprehensive multilateral conference. It was, in the end, an abrupt and laconic bilateral announcement.
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