This article refers to debates explaining the end of the Cold War. It notes a variety of theoretical approaches but outlines two fundamental explanatory perspectives-the material and the ideational. The paper favours the ideational approach, and especially Gorbachev’s agency. Yet it underlines that the focus on agency does not automatically mean that an agent acted rationally and efficiently. The case of Gorbachev is a good illustration of partial reforms which were far from consistent. As a result, the article indicates a third, coincidental perspective which is necessary to an explanation of the end of the Cold War. It argues that elements of irrationality and coincidence cannot be ignored in the analysis of events accompanying the end of the bipolar rivalry. Finally, the paper formulates some conclusions about the rationality and predictability of contemporary international relations.
Åslund, A. (2011), ‘The demise of the Soviet economic system’, International Politics 48, 4/5 pp. 545-561.
Brooks, S. G., Wohlforth, W.C. (2000/01), ‘Power, Globalization, and the End of the Cold War. Reevaluating a Landmark Case for Ideas’, International Security 25, 3 pp. 5-53.
Brown, A, (2004), Gorbachev and the End of the Cold War, [in:] Ending the Cold War Interpretations, Causation, and the Study of International Relations, Richard K. Herrmann and Richard Ned Lebow (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004, pp. 31-58.
Cox, M. (2011), ‘The uses and abuses of history: The end of the Cold War and Soviet collapse’, International Politics 48, 4/5. Available online at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/people/michaelCox/PDF/Soviet.pdf (access 2017.05.12).
Craig, C. (2012), ‘The end of the Cold War and Soviet collapse-the limits of realism and liberalism: A reply to Wohlforth, Deudney and Ikenberry’, International Politics, 49 (3), pp. 383-387.
Deudney D., Ikenberry, G.J. (2011), ‘The end of the Cold War after 20 years: Reconsiderations, retrospectives and revisions’, International Politics, 48 (4/5), pp. 435-440.
Deudney, D, Ikenberry, G. J. (1991-1992), ‘The International Sources of Soviet Change’, International Security, 16 (3), pp. 74-118.
English, R.D. (2002), ‘Power, Ideas, and New Evidence on the Cold War's End: A Reply to Brooks and Wohlforth’. International Security, 26, No. (4), 70-92.
English, R.D. (2000), Russia and the Idea of the West. Gorbachev, Intellectuals, and the End of the Cold War, Columbia University Press, New York.
Evangelista, M. (2005), ‘Norms, Heresthenics, and the end of the Cold War’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 7 (2), pp. 5-35.
Fischer, B.A. (1997), The Reagan Reversal. Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London.
Gaddis, J.L. (1992-1993), ‘International Relations Theory and the End of the Cold War’, International Security, 17 (3), pp. 5-58.
Garthoff, R.L. (1994), The Great Transition. American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War, The Brookings Institutions, Washington.
Herrmann, R.K., Lebow, R.N. (2004), What Was the Cold War? When and Why Did it End? in Ending the Cold War Interpretations, Causation, and the Study of International Relations, Richard K. Herrmann and Richard Ned Lebow (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 1-27.
Jones, E. (2009), ‘Look for the Blind Spot where Structural Realism Meets Pluralistic Stagnation’, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 11, pp. 225-237.
Knopf, J.W. (2004), ‘Did Reagan Win the Cold War?’ Strategic Insights, III (8), pp. 1-14.
Kotkin, S. (2001), Armageddon Averted. The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Lebow, R.N. (1994), ‘The Long Peace, the End of the Cold War, and the Failure of Realism’, International Organization, 48 (2), pp. 249-277.
Lieven, A. (1994), The Baltic Revolution. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
Nau, H.R. (2011), ‘Ideas have consequences: The Cold War and today’, International Politics, 48 (4/5), pp. 460-481.
Snyder, J. (2011), ‘The domestic political logic of Gorbachev’s new thinking in foreign policy’, International Politics, 48 (4/5), pp. 562-574.
Stoner-Weiss, K., McFaul, M. 2009. Domestic and International Influences on the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) and Russia’s Initial Transition to Democracy (1993), Stanford University, “CDDRL Working Papers”, no. 108, pp. 1-39. Available online: http://cddrl.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/No_108_Stoner-Weiss_domestic_and_international_influences_on_collapse_of_USSR.pdf (access 2017.02.14).
Schweizer, P. (1999), The Man who Broke the Evil Empire, in Portrait of America, Volume 2. Steven B. Oates (ed.), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, pp. 406-414. Available online: http://frickman.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/80066117/Reagan.pdf (2017.05.18).
Schweizer, P. (1994), Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union, The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York.
Schweller, R.L., Wohlforth, W.C. (2000), ‘Power Test; Evaluating Realism in Response to the End of the Cold War’, Security Studies, 9 (3), pp. 60-107.
Wallander, C.A. (2003), ‘Western Policy and the Demise of the Soviet Union’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 5 (4), pp. 137-177.
Wohlforth, W.C. (2011), ‘No one loves a realist explanation’, International Politics, 48 (4/5), pp. 441-459.
Wohlforth, W.C. (1994-1995), ‘Realism and the End of the Cold War’, International Security, 19 (3), pp. 91-129.
Zubok, V.M. (2007), (A Failed Empire). The Soviet Union in The Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.