Political map of North America & the Caribbean 22 December 1989 (End of the Cold War): The US funded the Nicaraguan Contras (Contras) partly through secret arms sales to embargoed Iran, causing a political scandal (Iran%E2%80%93Contra affair) when uncovered. However the importance the US placed on the Central American wars was soon to fade. By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union was facing economic woes (Brezhnev stagnation) and a costly war in Afghanistan (Soviet war in Afghanistan), while the US threatened it with a high tech arms race (Strategic Defense Initiative). The new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev (Mikhail Gorbachev), responded with huge reforms (Glasnost) and in 1989 allowed (Sinatra Doctrine) elections and revolutions to overthrow the communist regimes in eastern Europe (Revolutions of 1989). The Cold War was over.