Learn how Bush and Baker contributed to ending the Cold War. The Cold War—a period of hostility between the U.S. and the Soviet Union—dominated global politics during the second half of the 20th century. When Baker was sworn in as the secretary of state, forces were aligning for the Cold War to come to an end. In 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet General Secretary, was deep in a campaign to reform communism. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the Cold War began to melt away.