Many people give credit to Ronald Reagan, when he climbed up on the Berlin Wall and personally kicked it down brick by brick while under fire from the East German Stasi.
Many people give credit to Team USA, the Hockey Team that beat the USSR team at the Lake Placid Olympics.
Still others credit various movies , books, or political revelations.
But I tend to agree with what my father always said about this.
In 1987, teenager Mathias Rust flew a tiny, unarmed rented Cessna from Helsinki to Moscow, landing very near to Red Square. The soviets never detected the aircraft. This demonstrated that even the simplest available technology was sufficient to outsmart Soviet anti-ICBM or other defenses. Presumably, then, even the simplest technologies could fool US defenses. The fact that the Soviets were taking a bath in Afghanistan might have contributed to the collapse of that particular “empire” but it seems more likely that Rust’s foray was the key event. The withdraw from Afghanastan starting a year later postdated the important changes that began right after Rust’s flight.
That was the end of the whole damn presumption that there was a powerful East and a powerful West instead of just a bunch of boys with toys and too much power.
If you want to read the best cold-war era spy book that is based on the same premise (but that has no Cessna’s or teenage pilots in it) try this one: A Perfect Spy
Perhaps today’s Olympic Hockey game between the US and Canada will help warm relations between our countries. I hope so, because I’m pretty sure that if I get up on the roof on a clear day during the Spring, I can see brown air from dry-season fires burning up there. When a plane goes overhead, I never know if it is coming down from Canada. And besides, I’m getting tired of maintaining this Victory Shelter in the basement where we keep a stash of preserved walleye. Just in case.