AskDefine | Define rollback

Dictionary Definition



1 the act of forcing the enemy to withdraw [syn: push back]
2 reducing prices back to some earlier level

User Contributed Dictionary



roll + back


  1. To return something to a prior state.
  2. To abandon a plan: NASA will rollback the shuttle launch due to bad weather.
  3. To force the abandonment of an intention, position, or state of affairs.
  4. To retreat.


  1. A return to a prior state.
  2. A withdrawal of military forces.
  3. An operation which returns a database, or group of records in a database, to a previous state (normally to the previous commit point).
  4. An event caused by a roller coaster failing to reach the top of a hill.

Extensive Definition

Rollback was a term used by American foreign policy thinkers during the Cold War. It was defined as using military force to "rollback" communism in countries where it had taken root.

Rollback during 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. 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 College in Missouri, warning of "an iron curtain" descending across Europe. They still remembered the Soviets as their friends and allies from the war years, and many 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 1945 with attempts in Eastern Europe, including efforts to provide weapons to independence fighters in the Baltic States and Ukraine. The most elaborate effort was against Albania in 1948, following the defeat of Communist forces in the Greek Civil War that 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 Philby and 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 Administration effectively 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 Crisis in 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 Foundation and other influential conservatives, began to channel weapons to anti-communist resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Nicaragua and 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 war got 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 effect of the retreat, but rather as a consequence of Gorbachev's liberalization. Violence broke out between the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic and 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.

See also

rollback in German: Rollback-Politik
rollback in Esperanto: Rollback
rollback in French: Rollback (politique)
rollback in Russian: Откат назад
rollback in Swedish: Rollback

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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