"Rollback" was a term used by American
foreign policythinkers during the Cold War. It was defined as using military force to "roll back" communismin countries where it had taken root.
Rollback during the Cold War
The most important rollback period was during the Cold War when many Americans felt that they were in a life or death struggle against world communism.Fact|date=July 2008 After the devastation of the
Second World War, only a small minority of Americans were prepared to attempt to roll back communism throughout the world by direct force of arms. Many Americans were shocked by Winston Churchill's 1946 address at Westminster Collegein Missouri, warning of "an iron curtain" descending across Europe. They still remembered the Soviets as their friends and allies from the war years, and manyWho|date=July 2008 believed that socialism was a successful economic system, beneficial to civilization.
A compromise to military intervention was to use
intelligence services and other such efforts to achieve these ends. These attempts began as early as 1945with attempts in Eastern Europe, including efforts to provide weapons to independence fighters in the Baltic Statesand Ukraine. The most elaborate effort was against Albaniain 1948, following the defeat of Communist forces in the Greek Civil Warthat year. A force of agents was landed by the British and Americans to try to provoke a guerilla war. The operation had already been betrayed to the Soviets by the British double-agent, Kim Philbyand failed leading to the immediate capture or killing of the agents.
An alternative to rollback was
containment. Through the adoption of National Security Council document NSC 162/2 in October 1953, the Eisenhower Administrationeffectively abandoned these uniformly unsuccessful efforts in Europe after only a few years. Later efforts at rollback would be confined to the developing world. There were advocates of a rollback approach to Cuba especially at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisisin 1962.
Advocated by U.S. conservatives
The "rollback" movement gained significant ground, however, in the 1980s, as the
Reagan administration, urged on by the conservative Heritage Foundationand other influential conservatives, began to channel weapons to anti-communist resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Nicaraguaand other nations.
This effort came to be known as the
Reagan Doctrine. Critics argued that the Reagan Doctrine led to so-called blowback and an unnecessary intensification of Third World conflict, but in the various rollback battlefields, the Soviet Union made major concessions, and eventually had to retreat from Afghanistan.
As the retreat from the
Soviet-Afghan wargot under way, the subject nations of the Soviet Union started to prepare for their own independence, though critics of rollback interpret this not as the domino effectof the retreat, but rather as a consequence of Gorbachev's liberalization. Violence broke out between the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republicand the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Two years later, numerous Soviet Socialist Republics declared their laws superior to those of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union collapsed, and in some ways was already collapsing as the retreat got under way. The retreat from Afghanistan was caused by (among other factors) the use of American Stinger missiles, and many would argue that it was also indirectly caused by similar military pressures on many battlegrounds throughout the world, though Afghanistan was the only battleground where significant numbers of Russian soldiers were directly being killed by American weapons supplied for that purpose.
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