History Theme 5: Before Detente 1965 - 1969


Increasing US commitment to Vietnam 1965

  • The USA began fighting a long and costly war in South Vietnam in 1965 to fight against the communist army of North Vietnam
  • Johnson escalated US military involvement which led to growing opposition from the American public 
  • (An estimate) By 1968, the Americans had lost around 208,000 soldiers out of 550,000
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Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968

  • In August 1968, the Soviet Union led Warsaw Pact troops in an invasion of Czechoslovakia to crack down on reformist trends in Prague
  • In the 1960s, changes in the leadership in Prague led to a series of reforms to soften communist doctrine within Czechoslovakia. The Czech economy had been slowing since the early 1960s, and cracks were emerging in the communist consensus as workers struggled against new challenges. The government responded with reforms designed to improve the economy
  • Soviet leaders were concerned; recalling the 1956 uprising in Hungary, leaders in Moscow worried that if Czechoslovakia carried reforms too far, other satellite states in Eastern Europe might follow, leading to a widespread rebellion against Moscow’s leadership of Eastern Europe. There was also a danger that other states might make their own demands for more liberal policies. After much debate, the Communist Party leadership in Moscow decided to intervene to establish a more conservative and pro-Soviet government in Prague
  • Given the escalating U.S. involvement in the conflict in Vietnam and past US announcements of on-intervention in the East Bloc, the Soviets guessed correctly that the United States would condemn the invasion but refrain from intervening
  • Although the Soviet crackdown on Czechoslovakia was swift and successful, small-scale resistance continued throughout early 1969 while the Soviets struggled to install a stable government
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Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968

  • The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an international treaty and its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technology in order to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It also aims towards achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament
  • The treaty recognizes five states as nuclear-weapons states: the USA, the USSR, the UK, France and China, which also happen to be the five members of the UN Security Council
  • The treaty was introduced as a result of the USSR gaining nuclear parity with the USSR
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Beginning of Ostpolotik 1969

  • Since 1955, West Germany had been following the policy of the Hallestein Doctrine, whereby West Germany would not recognise the independent existence of East Germany and would therefore not establish diplomatic relations with any state that did recognise the GDR (excluding the USSR)
  • The new leader in 1969, Willy Brandt, wished for the reunification of Germany and put his efforts as Chancellor in Ostpolitik; the name given to European detente
  • His overall objectives were to recognise East Germany and territorial changes that had occurred since 1945 and to negotiate with the USSR, settle the frontier with Poland and to negotiate with East Germany; this wouled lead to reunification
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