Even as Reagan fought communism in Central America, however, the Soviet Union was disintegrating. In response to severe economic problems and growing political ferment in the USSR, Premier Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-) took office in 1985 and introduced two policies that redefined Russia’s relationship to the rest of the world: “glasnost,” or political openness, and “perestroika,” or economic reform. Soviet influence in Eastern Europe waned. In 1989, every other communist state in the region replaced its government with a noncommunist one. In November of that year, the Berlin Wall–the most visible symbol of the decades-long Cold War–was finally destroyed, just over two years after Reagan had challenged the Soviet premier in a speech at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” By 1991, the Soviet Union itself had fallen apart. The Cold War was over.
Acting deliberately, at times aggressively, to involve itself in the border states of the world, to keep them from turning communist, the United States spearheaded a movement that would eventually lead to the creation of NATO (North American Trade Organization). These acts of arbitration could include sending funds, such as in 1947 when the CIA spent large amounts to influence the result of Italy's elections helping the Christian Democrats defeat the Communist party, but it also could mean wars, leading to US involvement in Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere.
The most serious Cold War confrontation between the United States and the USSR that took place in October, 1962. The . discovered that the Soviets were in the process of positioning nuclear missiles in Communist Cuba. The United States sends naval blockade to stop Soviet ships carrying missiles to Cuba. October, 22, . military alert is set at DEFCON 3 and Castro mobilizes all of Cuba's military forces. October, 24, Soviet ships reach the quarantine line, but receive radio orders from Moscow to hold their positions while being backed up by a Soviet submarine. JFK concludes that if we invade in the next ten days, the missile base crews in Cuba will likely fire at least some of the missiles at US targets.