Crises of the Cold War and Detente 1960-1980

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  • Created by: remybray
  • Created on: 05-06-16 10:58

How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The U2 Crisis 1960

  • As part of his policy of peaceful co-existence, Kruschev had visited the USA in 1959 and it was agreed to hold a Summit Meeting of the leaders of the USSR, USA, Britain and France in 1960. There were high hopes that the USSR would sign a peace treaty with Germany and there would be an end to the Cold War. 
  • These hopes were shattered when, just before the Summit Meeting was due to start, an American U2 plane was shot down over the USSR.
  • The Americans had been using U2 planes successfuly for four years to spy on the Soviets.
  • On 1 May 1960, an American pilot, Gary Powers, took off from a US airbase in Pakistan and flew over the USSR, taking photos of military sites in the USSR for the CIA.
  • The U2 was hit by a Soviet missile and Powers was forced to eject from the plane. He was captured by the Soviets, the plane was recovered and the photos developed, so Kruschev now knew that Powers had been on a spying mission.
  • At first, Kruschev simply announced that an American plane had been shot down over the USSR.
  • The Americans immediately began to cover up the truth. They announced that one of their weather planes had gone missing over Turkey and must have gone off course.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The U2 Crisis 1960

  • The Americans did not know that Powers had been captured and that he had admitted to spying. Also, the Soviets had proof: the photos that had been found on the U2.
  • Kruschev announced this to the world, demanding an apology from the USA and a promise to stop any future flights and punish those responsible.
  • Eisenhower refused to apologise. He claimed that the USA had to use spying missions to protect itself.
  • Kruschev condemned the American response, stormed out of the Summit Meeting and withdrew his invitation to Eisenhower to visit the USSR.
  • The Paris Summit and the thaw in relations between the superpowers were at an end.
  • The U2 crisis ended the Paris Summit Meeting and the progress towards a solution to the Cold War. There was no Test Ban Treaty and the problem of Berlin remained.
  • Peaceful co-existence was at an end.
  • It was a propaganda victory for Kruschev and the USSR.
  • The mistrust created by the U2 crisis was partly responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • The Chinese felt that it proved their belief that the USA could not be trusted so peaceful co-existence could never work.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Berlin Wall

  • Stalin's attempt to gain control of West Berlin in 1948-49 had been defeated by the Berlin Airlift. Kruschev had also demanded that the West gave up West Berlin in 1958, but backed down when he realised that the Americans would oppose any attempted takeover.
  • The Marshall Plan meant that living standards in West Berlin were much better than in the East.
  • Many reacted to this by crossing the border and living in the West. Over 2 million people defected from East to West Berlin between 1945 and 1961. Many of these were educated people and skilled workers whom the East could not afford to lose.
  • This was a severe embarassment to Kruschev and to Communism. In 1961 he decided to put a stop to this movement of citizens.
  • When the new American President, John F Kennedy, refused to give up West Berlin in 1961, Kruschev decided to close the border.
  • Overnight on 13 August 1961 the city was cut into two by barbed wire and the crossing points were either sealed or guarded with Soviet tanks.
  • The USA took little action about this other than to issue a protest.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Berlin Wall

  • Kennedy sent his Vice President, Lyndon B Johnson, to Berlin with some additional troops. There was a small confrontation of tanks at the main crossing point, Checkpoint Charlie, in October, but no shots were fired and the tanks withdrew.
  • On 17 August the barbed wire was replaced with a stone wall 45km long and 3.6m wide. It was built slightly inside the borders of East Germany so that there was no attempt to extend the boundary into West Berlin.
  • Soldiers guarded the border with orders to kill anyone who attempted to defect to West Berlin.
  • Families and friends were separated. Around 60,000 commuters who had travelled daily from East to West Berlin for work were no longer allowed to travel to West Berlin.
  • More than 40 Germans were killed trying to cross into West Berlin in the first year of the wall.
  • Eventually, eight border crossings were set up, one of which was Checkpoint Charlie. Visits from West Germany to East Berlin were allowed, but only if you obtained a permit. It was more difficult to get a permit if you wanted to travel from East to West Berlin.
  • It reduced the number of defections from East Berlin. There were around 5,000 successful escapes from East Berlin after the wall compared to over 3 million before the wall.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Berlin Wall

  • It ended up as a propaganda victory for the Americans. The shooting of people attempting to defect added to this as the Americans criticised the tyranny of communist rule, which had to use walls and force to stop its citizens from escaping.
  • It stabilised the economy of East Germany. The government of East Germany gained grater control of its citizens.
  • It was settled peacefully: Kennedy's reaction showed that he did not want to go to war over Berlin. 
  • Plans for a united Berlin and Germany were ended. The USA no longer feared a repeat of the Berlin Blockade of 1948. The USSR had clearly given up all hope of taking control of West Berlin.
  • It removed a likely area of conflict between the superpowers.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

  • Until 1959 Cuba was ruled by the corrupt dictator Batista, who was friendly with the USA.
  • In 1959 Batista was overthrown in a revolution led by Fidel Castro. Castro became the leader of Cuba and wanted to get rid of all foreign influence in the country. He seized all the land owned by Americans and nationalised American businesses.
  • In retaliation, the USA refused to buy the Cubans' main export, sugar cane, so Castro arranged to sell it to the USSR. Castro was believed to be a communist and the USA feared any expansion of Communism. Also, the USSR now had an ally close to the USA.
  • Before Kennedy came to power, there was a plan to invade Cuba and link up with the opponents of Castro on the island. Kennedy was advised by the CIA that Castro could be overthrown if the USA supported a group of Cuban rebels. With American support, a force of around 1,400 rebels landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. They were trapped on the beach by Castro's forces and unable to link up with the rebels on the island. They were easily defeated by Castro's forces.
  • This was a disaster for Kennedy. Many in the USA blamed him. 
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

  • The Americans still had a naval base in Cua and Castro feared that they would attack Cuba again, so he turned to the USSR for help. He announced that he was a communist and Kruschev began to provide him with weapons and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that would be able to shoot down any attacking American planes.
  • Kennedy's action made Kruschev think that Kennedy was weak, so Kruschev tried to take advantage of this by supplying Cuba with long-range missiles that could be fired at the USA.
  • A base in Cuba would enable the Soviets to threaten the Americans. Kruschev saw the missile bases in Cuba as an answer to the American bases in Turkey.
  • The USA suspected that these missile bases were being set up but, when challenged, Kruschev denied it and claimed that the USSR had no intention of placing missiles on Cuba.
  • On 16 October 1962, an American U2 spy plane took photos of launch pads that were being built for long-range missiles on Cuba. Kennedy had to take action to prevent most cities in the USA being destroyed.
  • Kennedy was faced with a difficult decision. If he ignored the missiles on Cuba he would appear weak. If he launched an attack on Cuba it would involve loss of life. If it was a nuclear attack it could provoke a nuclear war with the USSR.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

  • On 22 October President Kennedy anncounced a blockade of Cuba. The sea within 800km of Cuba would be placed in quarantine and no ships carrying weapons would be allowed through the US navy.
  • Soviet ships carrying rockets approached Cuba. On 24 October, when in sight of the blockade, the ships turned round.
  • U2 photos showed that the missile sites on Cuba were nearly finished. Soviet bombers were also being assembled. Kennedy demanded that the Soviets remove all their sites and missiles from Cuba.
  • On 26 October Kennedy got a letter from Kruschev. Kruschev agreed to consider dismantling the sites if Kennedy lifted the blockade.
  • The next day, Kennedy received another letter from Kruschev demanding that the USA remove its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviet removal of missiles in Cuba.
  • Kennedy ignored this second letter and replied to the one of 26 October agreeing to lift the blockade if Kruschev dismantled the missiles. Kennedy threatened to invade Cuba if Kruschev had not replied by 29 October.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

  • Kruschev accepted Kennedy's offer. The blockade was lifted and the Soviets began to dismantle the missile sites in Cuba.
  • Nuclear war had been avoided. It was the most tense moment of the Cold War.
  • The Soviets now had a communist ally near the USA, which started to balance out the allies that the USA had near to the USSR.
  • Kennedy's reputation was increased: he was seen as strong because he had stood up to Kruschev and forced him to back down over the missiles.
  • Kruschev had successfully protected Cuba and claimed that he was the peacemaker who had listened to the appeal of the UN to avoid war and seek peace.
  • Both leaders understood how close they had come to war and realised that this was due to their policies of brinkmanship. This led to a thaaw in the tension of the Cold War. A telephone link between Washington and Moscow was set up so the leaders of the two superpowers could talk to each other directly. A Disarmament Conference was held in 1962, which resulted in the signing of a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that banned the testing of nuclear weapons.
  • Kennedy secretly agreed that he would withdraw missiles in Turkey a few months later.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

Czechoslovakia, 1968

  • Czechoslovakia had applied for Marshall Aid from the USA but Stalin prevented this. From 1948 to 1968 it had been ruled by Novotny, who was loyal to the USSR. Czechoslovakia had been a democracy from 1919 to 1938 and objected to the control that the Soviets placed on it. 
  • The Czechs wanted more freedom in their lives and wider trade. In January 1968 Novotny was forced to resign and replaced by Alexander Dubcek.
  • Dubcek believed in Communism but introduced a more relaxed version - 'Communism with a human face'. 
  • Censorship of the press and radio was rremoved and the powers of the secret police reduced. Government control of industry and agriculture was reduced and trade unions were given greater powers. The borders with the West were opened: Czechs were permitted to trade with the West and travel there.
  • Dubcek remembered what had happened in Hungary in 1956 and constantly stressed to the Soviets that Czechoslovakia was still communist and had no intention of withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact.
  • The reforms were known as the Prague Spring.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

Czechoslovakia, 1968

  • The Soviet leader, Brezhnev, was worried that the introduction of free speech in Czechoslovakia would lead to demands for more freedom in the USSR and its satellite countries. Brezhnev was worried that Czechoslovakia would look more to the West than to the USSR, causing a gap in the Iron Curtain.
  • On 20 August 1968 Soviet tanks and troops from the Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia.
  • Remembering what happened in Hungary in 1956, the Czech government did not resist, so there was no fighting, only passive resistance by the people of Czechoslovakia.
  • There were demonstrations against the invaders and some Soviet tanks were attacked with homemade bombs or covered in whitewash. Street cartoons appeared criticising the Soviet invasion.
  • Dubcek was recalled to Moscow and replaced by Husak. The reforms of the Prague Spring were withdrawn.
  • The Brezhnev Doctrine was the name given to the statement to explain Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. This speech made it clear that any country which attempted to break away from Soviet control would be regarded as a threat to all the Warsaw Pact countries.
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How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

Czechoslovakia, 1968

  • The suppression of Dubeck's reforms and the Brezhnev Doctrine sent a clear signal to the rest of the satellite countries that the USSR would resist any attempt to break away from Soviet-controlled communist countries.
  • It ended all attempts to reform Communism from within.
  • The West disapproved of Soviet action, but did nothing. Relations had been better with the USSR since Cuba and the USA realised that any action on behalf of Czechoslovakia would ruin this. 
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

Reasons for Detente

Great Power motives for detente:

USA:

  • To drive a wedge between the Soviet Union and China.
  • This would be to America's advantage in the fight against communism in Vietnam.
  • America's leaders - President Nixon and Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger - were keen to set up realistic working relations with Moscow and Peking.

The Soviet Union:

  • President Brezhnev was keen to extend Kruschev's idea of peaceful co-existence
  • Brezhnev saw detente as a way to increase Soviet trade with the West and so develop the Soviet Union's economy in order to improve living standards in the Soviet Union
  • To decrease defence spending
  • To persuade the West to accept the post-war situation in Eastern Europe.
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

China:

  • Her motives were forced upon her by the actions of the other two Great Powers.
  • America had been hostile to China - her policy in South East Asia first over Korea, then Vietnam worried China.
  • Ever since the 1960 split with the Soviet Union, China feared the Soviet Union. China looked to America for friendship to isolate the Soviet Union.
  • China's leaders wanted to modernise the country. Increased trade with the West would help to modernise China more quickly.
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

The progress of Detente

  • In 1969 America and the Soviet Union began SALT talks (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks).
  • The aim was to slow down the arms race by limiting the construction of new middle-range nuclear weapons.
  • SALT was signed in 1972.
  • The Helsinki Agreement happened in 1975.
  • 35 states, including America and the Soviet Union, agreed that the frontiers of post-1945 Europe should be permanent.
  • It was also agreed that all states should respect human rights, such as freedom of thought and religion.
  • By this, the West hoped that people in Communist countries would be given more freedom to express their views, without fear of arrest or imprisonment.
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

The Soviet involvement in Afghanistan

  • In 1979 a Soviet-backed communist group came to power in Afghanistan. The communist government started to introduce Soviet-style communist reforms, which were directly opposed to the culture and traditions of the people of Afghanistan.
  • The government of Afghanistan, which was being advised bu the USSR, was becoming more and more unpopular with the people of Afghanistan.
  • At the end of the 1970s, this opposition turned into open rebellion and a civil war broke out in Afghanistan. All opposition was dealt with severely by the Afghan government, using the army.
  • In 1979 large numbers of the army began to desert. The opposition to the government was getting stronger. From early 1979, before the Soviet invasion, this opposition was being financed by the USA. 
  • The opposition to the communist government in Afghanistan was led by a Muslim group called the mujahidin, who objected to what they saw as an attack on their religion by the communist government. They believed they were fighting a jihad (holy war) and received funds from the USA and a wealthy Saudi, Osama bin Laden.
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

The Soviet involvement in Afghanistan

  • This opposition forced the Afghan government to ask the USSR for help.
  • Tanks and weapons were sent by the USSR and then, at Christmas 1979, around 80,000 Soviet troops entered Afghanistan.

Why did the USSR invade Afghanistan?

  • To preserve the communist government in Afghanistan.
  • In January 1979 a Muslim revolt had overthrown the pro-American ruler of Iran and set up a Muslim government, which could spread to Afghanistan. 
  • There were 30 million Muslims in the USSR who could be encouraged to rebel if another Muslim state were set up in Afghanistan.
  • The USSR wanted to expand its influence in Asia to balance that of the USA and China.
  • Afghanistan would bring the USSR closer to the Middle East and the Soviets could put pressure on the oil supply route from the Middle East to Europe and the USA.
  • The USSR was worried that the President of Afghanistan was becoming too friendly with the West.
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

The Soviet involvement in Afghanistan

  • The US President, Jimmy Carter, immediately condemned the Soviet invasion as an act of interference and a threat to world peace.
  • In January 1980 the General Council of the UN voted 104 to 18 in favour of a resolution condemning the invasion. 
  • Brezhnev dismissed this criticism and argued that the UN did not have the right to involve itself in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
  • The Americans were uncertain of the aims of the USSR in the area and feared that it wanted to obtain access for its navy to the Arabian Sea. This could interfere with the oil route from the Middle East to the West.
  • Carter sent a US force to the Arabian Sea to protect the oil routes, stating that the USA would resist any attempt by an opposing force to gain control of the Persian Gulf.
  • Trade between the USA and USSR in certain goods was suspended.
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Why did Detente develop and collapse in the 1970s?

The failure of SALT II

  • Carter told the Senate not to ratify the SALT II agreement.
  • The Americans led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which was supported by 60 other nations.
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