Chapter 3 - Cold War Stalemate

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Khrushchev & peaceful coexistence '53-'60

  • 1953- Year that opened new era of opportunity for redefining IR
  • Truman (brought in containment) had been replaced with Eisenhower - he had an opportunity to forge a new relationship with the SU & communist east
  • Opportunity more pronounced when Stalin died on 5th March 1953
  • Khrushchev replaces Stalin & soon denounces the worst of his regime
  • Soon after Stalin's death, chairman of Council of Ministers (Malenkov) called for peaceful coexistence abroad, stating "We stand as we have always stood, for the peaceful coexistence of the two systems" (Communism & Capitalism)
  • He went on to suggest to the USA that "There is no dispute or outstanding issue which cannot be settled peacefully"
  • Also in 1953, the Korean War ended, which removed a major source of international tension
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The New Look

  • Eisenhower's SOS John Dulles - hated communism & criticised Truman for a half - hearted approach to communist expansionism
  • He advocated "the liberation of these captive peoples" of Eastern Europe
  • Argued for 'Rollback' - A US policy to 'rollback' Russian occupation & dismantle Iron Curtain
  • He also introduced idea of 'massive retaliation' as a nuclear deterrent & security guarantee 
  • These two policies made up the 'New Look'
  • It was a commitment to the idea that containment couldn't allow nations to restore democracy if they were still under pro-Soviet communist regimes. 
  • Despite Eisenhower endorsing 'New Look', containment remained base of US foreign policy
  • US had opportunity to roll back communists in Hungary (1956) they only protested
  • 'Paper tiger' that did little to stop improved East-West relations 
  • As the New Look didn't really move the US from containment, there was scope to adopt a moderate, non-confrontational relationship with the SU
  • Eisenhower keen to reduce risk of nuclear war, this stimulated his willingness to consider a better relationship with the SU
  • He was aware of the implications of the Warsaw Pact (1955) in terms of its potential to deepen the Cold War. 
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Peaceful Coexistence

  • 1956 @ 20th Congress of Soviet Socialist Party - Khrushchev denounces Stalinism & emphasise that the SU should move away from confrontation & to coexistence
  • Foreign policy aims:
  • Remaining unchallanged leaders of global socialism
  • Keeping a firm grip on eastern bloc states
  • Preventing Germany from rearming
  • Expanding nuclear capability
  • Reduce spending on the military
  • Defuse international tension
  • Strategy to consolidate Soviet international power by existing in a more stable environment
  • Rationalised this by saying in 1959: "In our day, there are only two ways, peaceful coexistence or the most destructive war in our history. There is no third way."
  • First test of this mood of cooperation came in Austria
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Austrian State Treaty 1955

  • SU policy with Austria had been closely linked with that with Germany
  • Like Germany, Austria had been divided into zones of occupation after the War - SU had focused on receiving economic aid from Austria as they did from Germany
  • Austria could become as great a division as Germany
  • By 1955, SU showing serious intentions of starting negotiatios on the future of Austria
  • By May '55, the four occupying powers agreed on the Austrian State Treaty
  • Led to withdrawal of the occupying powers & the declaration that Austria would remain neutral
  • In line with USSR's willingness to accept Finland & Yugoslavia as neutral & not liable to joining the Soviet SOI 
  • Agreement showed serious intentions to proceed with cooperation between the superpowers
  • It also removed a major source of Cold War conflict
  • Agreement over Austria cleared the way to further cooperation between East & West
  • Following this agreement, the Western powers removed their occupying forces from West Germany
  • Next step was taken when it was decided summit diplomacy would be resumed. 
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Geneva summit 1955

  • One incentive that took Khrushchev to the summit was W Germany being admited into NATO in May '55
  • On the two major issues the summit discussed (Nuclear disarmament & the future of Germany) no significant outcome was reached. 
  • Eisenhower presented 'Open skies' proposal as a means to get closer to nuclear disarmament, he suggested that "Each plane would be authorised to include... one or more representatives of the nation under inspection" - Khrushchev rejects this - he has no spyplanes that compare with the US' U-2
  • Eisenhower also proposed a reunified Germany, with free elections & freeedom to ensure its own security (it would essentially be a member of NATO)
  • Khrushchev would only consider this if Germany was demilitarised & neutral
  • Khrushchev also refused to discuss Eastern bloc stats
  • Agreed on the principle of free elections but nothing was done to put it into practice
  • Summit's value not in the specific outcomes but the fact that it showed the superpowers were willing to cooperate & communicate in order to establish & maintain peaceful coexistence. 
  • Marked calm point in IR
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Problems over Berlin & Germany

  • By 1958 the future of Germany re-emerged to challenge peaceful coexistence
  • Khrushchev convinced he was ahead in missile race (Sputnik 1957)
  • Since '55 W Germany was a member of the Western Alliance through joining NATO
  • Khrushchev feared the US would put missiles in W Germany that could reach the SU - urgency to reduce Western power in Europe
  • Khrushchev also aware of diminishing Sino-Soviet relations (SU failed to support China in conflict with non-communist Taiwan in 1958)
  • To reaffirm it's position as leader of socialism, the SU showed greater support for its European allies (e.g. GDR was struggling with the loss of 188,000 trained, skilled professionals)
  • Khrushchev delcared ultimatum - W had 6 months to recognise GDR & accept W Berlin as an independent political entity & free city. If this didn't happen, the SU would relinquish its control of GDR - giving Germans control of access to W Berlin
  • West ignored these threats 
  • March '59 UK PM Macmillan proposes  summit on Berlin
  • Camp David Talks - Sep '59: Khrushchev 1st SU leader to visit the US - caused further deterioration in Sino-Soviet relations
  • Calmed German issue and led to Paris Peace summit
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Paris summit May 1960

  • Khrushchev still committed to peaceful coexistence - facing opposition from China & many within Soviet hierachy
  • Wanted a deal on Berlin & agreements to prohibit nuclear weapons in the Pacific & a ban on them in Germany
  • China refused to be bound by an agreement it had not played a part in
  • Summit collapsed when news broke of a US U-2 spyplane being shot down over the SU
  • The incident gave Khrushchev opportunity to calm opposition from China 
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New President (JFK)

NB: Book gives this info under Paris summit, I thought it made more sense to put it seperately.

  • JFK elected 1961 (Democratic Party)
  • JFK's agenda seemed to doom peaceful coexistence
  • He increased the defence budget and promised more flexible conventional forces
  • Favoured an expansion of USA's nuclear arsenal & Polaris missile submarine force
  • Khrushchev met JFK first in Vienna in June '61 - little was achieved but Khrushchev was convinced JFK was young & inexperienced & thought he could be manipulated (BOP failure reinforced this)
  • Future of Germany haunted US-Soviet relations
  • JFK's refusal to compromise on Berlin & accomodate Khrushchev's demand that Berlin should no longer be an escape route for East Germans confirmed a stalemate in Europe
  • Berlin a symbol of Cold War confrontation & a symbol of differences between the two superpowers
  • After Vienna, JFK asked Congress to increase defence spending, call up army reservists and reactivate ships due to be scrapped. 25th July '61: JFK calls for build of NATO forces
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Berlin Wall Aug 1961

  • 13th August - Soviet troops & East German police begin sealing off East Berlin from the West
  • Initial wire fences eventually replaced with a 30 mile concrete wall with only 4 recognised crossing points
  • Cold War symbolism of the Berlin Wall was immortalised when JFK visited W Berlin in June '63: "Ich bin ein Berliner"
  • The wall dramatically slowed the loss of skilled East Germans, soon stopping it completely
  • Failure for Khrushchev - propaganda disaster - only conclusion anyone could reach was that it was designed to trap East Germans in a communist state
  • West took no action to stop it being built
  • Could have encouraged Khrushchev to think he could drive a wedge through NATO in the face of this lack of resolve
  • Although the wall became an unmistakable symbol of the Cold War, it also eased tensions over the city, a kind of status quo had been established 
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Nuclear arms race 1959-1962

  • USA used atomic bombs (against Japan) in 1945 & held a nuclear monopoly until 1949
  • Nuclear technology rendered conventional forces irrelevant
  • August 1949 - SU tests first atomic bomb - US learns of it in September
  • Both sides knew the potential destruction that could occur - Truman didn't think this would stop the SU using nuclear weapons
  • 1950 strategic assessment (NSC-68) concluded that "... The existence of two large atomic capabilities in such a relationship might well act, therefore, not as a deterrent, but rather as an incitement to war"
  • By the time Truman left office in 1952, some important principles had been established:
  • The SU wouldn't hesitate to use nuclear weapons if it was to their advantage
  • An attack would come by stealth (surprise)
  • USA committed to a pre-emptive strike against the USSR (an attack made to prevent attack by the enemy)
  • Accurate intelligence gathering necessary
  • USA must devise anti-nuclear defence systems 
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Emergence of the H-bomb

  • Nov '52 - Aug '53: The US and SU developed Hydrogen bombs (also called thermonuclear weapons)
  • Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 equivalent to 12,500 tonnes of high explosive - H bomb tested by the US in Nov '52 equivalent to 10.4million tonnes of high explosive
  • Newly emerging post-Stalinist era, the idea od deterrence had become central to Soviet thinking on nuclear technology
  • The Stalinist perception that war between the capitalist West and Communist East was inevitable was rapidly fading
  • After Stalin's death, nuclear weapons seen as key to preventing future wars
  • USSR hadn't naively reached the conclusion that possessing nuclear weapons would protect them from US nuclear agression
  • SU needed to maintain balance of power with US & West to ensure it was in a position to fight a war if needed. 
  • Inevitable that the SU wouldd remain an active participant in the arms race
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USA & massive retaliation

  • Formulated through National Security document NSC-162/2 produced in 1953
  • Recognised that the death of Stalin hadn't reduced Soviet ability or determination to conduct a nuclear attack on the US
  • US intelligence suggested SU nuclear capacity was increasing
  • Report concluded the US must develop "a strong military posture with emphasis on the capability of inflicting massive retalitory damage by offensive striking power"
  • Adopted in part to keep defence costs down
  • Clear deterrent  strategy 
  • 1955 - USA and SU comparable in nuclear bomb technology but not in their delivery systems 
  • US had access to military bases in Europe & Japan which could easily target the SU
  • By 1955 the B-52 Stratofortress had been deployed
  • SU followed in '53 with the Tu-20 Bear
  • By May 1957 - SU developed what became known as ICBMs that could travel around 3,000km in about half an hour
  • They would leave the earth's atmosphere and split into multiple nuclear warheads
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Sputnik 1957

  • October '57 - SU launched first satellite to orbit earth successfully 
  • USA percieved this as an indication that the SU was ahead in the long range missile field
  • No known defence against a nuclear attack from space
  • Eisenhower (Republican) came under attack from Democrats who accused him of allowing the SU to gain an advantage just to save money. 
  • Massive retaliation under huge pressure
  • USA had to catch up in terms of missile technology
  • Before Sputnik, an NSC study was undertaken (Gaither Report)
  • The report anticipated huge expansion in Soviet Nuclear capability - findings based on assumptions rather than evidence
  • Gaither concluded the SU economy growing faster than the US' & expenditure on nuclear tech would double that of the US within 10 years
  • He suggested the SU had capacity for 1,500 nuclear weapons & they had an arsenal of short and medium range ballistic missiles that could easily intercept US missiles
  • "probably surpassed us in ICBM development"
  • Gaither suggested rapid ICBM expansion and an ABM programme
  • Report also suggested huge civil defence programme (fallout shelters)
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The position by 1962

  • SU didn't really have upper hand in arms race (SS-6 rocket used to launch Sputnik was inadequate as a missile delivery system)
  • US estimates suggested a Soviet deployment of 500 ICBMs in early 1961 and 1,000 by 1962
  • USA only had 70 ICBMs in 1962
  • Reality was that USSR only had 50 ICBMs by 61, of this number, only 4 were ready and deployed
  • Khrushchev fully aware of the disparity despite the propaganda stating the opposite
  • Under JFK the USA recognised that even though the Soviets were behind in the arms race, they still had the capacity to survive a first strike and even reply to it. 
  • Despite this, the arms race was both a contributor and consequence of the Cold War
  • By the early 1960s, the Cold War was firmly founded on mutual suspicion
  • USA still held to the view that the SU must be judged on its potential to act agressively rather than  just its ability to do so. 
  • Soviet position by early '60s was founded on the idea of preventing war but at the same time being able to engage in one effectively - defensive rather than agressive but it necessitated ensuring the SU had capacity to defend itself
  • These positions crucial in CMC
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