| At one point in Reykjavík, Iceland, Gorbachev offered to go to zero nuclear weapons if Reagan would agree to limit testing of his SDI program to the "laboratory." Reagan refused, although he did reach the conclusion, "A nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought."
The stock market crash of 1987 and the "Iran-Contra" controversy cast a pale over the final years of Reagan's administration. Congressional investigations proved that White House operatives sold Arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages. The administration then used the proceeds to illegally fund the Contras fight against Communism in Nicaragua. Despite Reagan's involvement in the affair, his vice-president George Bush won the presidency in 1988. Reagan finished his term in 1989 with his legacy of spending the USSR into crisis (and spending the US out of its ability to maintain many social programs) firmly in place.
Meanwhile Gorbachev continued to force his reforms over the objections of hard-line Communists. All throughout 1989 as the Berlin Wall fell and other democratic reforms occurred throughout the Eastern block, Gorbachev voiced his support for the changes. For his efforts he won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize.
Weakened by "Glasnost," the rigid system of controls that kept the USSR in intact for over five decades began to fall apart. Gorbachev avoided a coup by hardliners with the assistance of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He then saw his power fade away to a federation of independent states led by Yeltsin. On Dec. 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned the presidency of the Soviet Union as the USSR officially dissolved. The Communist party faded into minority status throughout the former union. New "freedom" and "market ideals" led to an unprecedented period of corruption and poverty that continues today.
In 1994 Reagan announced in a handwritten letter that he was suffering Alzheimer's. He explained that the condition would, "lead me into the sunset of my life." His name already is honored by his political followers with airports, buildings and perhaps most fittingly, warships.
Gorbachev continues in international affairs today as an outspoken advocate of nuclear abolition.