History - Controversy B: End of the Cold War

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Did Social Factors end the Cold War?

For

  • It is argued that the moral bankruptcy and illegitimacy of the Eastern Bloc seriously weakened the USSR. Under Brezhnev's leadership a highly privileged and frequently corrupt communist elite emerged in the USSR. They would enjoy these privileges while the normal people were in severe poverty. Privileged, corrupt. Brezhnev 1962-1984. Society was divided between 19m Communist Party members, and the remainder.
  • Communism had failed to delived 'socalist utopia' which Karl Marx had envisaged in 1848. They enjoyed trappings of office at local, regional, national level - luxury holidays, cars, private supplies of Western goods, private medical centres.
  • Ordinary Communist worker, 160 roubles per month compared to 900 for high end CPSU worker. CPSU, nomenklatura pocket bribes, embezzle government funds, whilst nepotism was also a characteristic of the party elite.
  •  Chernenko backed by majority of Politburo following Andropov's April 1984 death, as a strategy to preserve the CPSU's traditional authority. 
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Did Social Factors end the Cold War?

For

  • Alienated population - poorly stocked shops, long working hours, low-grade housing, shortages of basic foodstuffs, consumer goods, lack of amneties. Social problems, alcholism (x4) - much of Soviet industry was on a 3 day week. Weekend began on Friday, and didn't recover until Tuesday. Suicide, mental illness. Intense pollution. 
  • USSR signed the Helsinki Accords which encouraged dissidents to speak out against human rights abuse from behind the iron curtain. Abuse of Human Rights ------ (Andropov as head of KGP and then General Secretary put dissidents in mental hospitals, subsequently, Soviet Union is suspended as a member of the World Psyciatric Association from 1984-89)This provided the West with a powerful ideological and moral weapon to use aginst the communist regimes.
  • April 1986 - Chernobyl. 2 days to come out, Sweden discovered radiation cloud. Symbollic of everything wrong with the Soviet Union - government culture of secrecy, conspirarcy, discrepency between CPSU and rest of the population. Health authorities, government showed astonishing incompetency in relation to aftermath of radiation sickness. Hastened Glasnost (openness)- perhaps the real cause of the fall of the Soviet Union. (economic cost $8 billion.)
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Did Social Factors end the Cold War?

Against

  • Until Gorbachev came to power, Soviet leaders continued with conventional Cold War policies even though the problem of 'loss of legitimacy' was becoming more acute. Without Gorbachev allowing the protests to happen, they would have been crushed at this factor would have made no difference, suggesting that Gorbachev is the main factor.
  • The normal Soviet citizens had been living in very bad conditions for a long time, so if this factor really did end the Cold War, we would have expected it to have happened sooner, as these problems had always been there.
  • USA was not going to force the USSR to end the Cold War just because of Moral Bankruptcy as they didn't believe it was an important enough factor.
  • This wasn't such a large problem as the economy was.
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Did People Power end the Cold War?

For

  • Popular pressure played an important role in ending the Cold War. Growing disillusionment in the satellite states culminated in widespread protests and demonstrations, breaking the Communist regimes' monopoly of power and dismantling the Soviet bloc.
  • The speedy and largely peaceful removal of all the satellite regimes indicated an almost total collapse of popular legitimacy. Popular pressure pushed the process much further than Gorbachev wanted - he envisaged a liberalised socialist commonwealth of E. European states.
  • Developing trade links with the West during detente in the 1970s made citizens of the satellite states aware of higher Western living standards and encouraged many of them to take an interest in free market capitalism.
  • The appointment of Polish Pope, John Paul II in 1978 had an impact because it: sharpened public resentment of state communist anti religious policies; galvanised Polish Catholics and boosted support for the Solidarity movement in Poland.
  • Another factor was the growth of nationalism in Eastern Europe, especially East Germany which challenged the satellite states 'official' loyalty to the USSR and the international doctrine of communism.
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Did People Power end the Cold War?

For

  • Hungary, free elections in January 1989, Non-Communist PM by April 1990. Hungarians opened the border to Austria. By March 1985, Hungary was the most economically advanced country in the Eastern Bloc and was experimenting with ideas of political liberalisation. Younger reformers forced Kadar to retire in 1988. An official commision is made into the Hungarian Uprising. Concluded that it was a 'popular uprising against an oligarchic system of power which had humiliated the nation.' Nemeth - refuses to fund barbed wire. Hungarians flock over it. 
  • 10,000 leave East Germany in September 1989 alone. 150,000 overall. Sparks crisis for Honecker, similar to Ulbrict's in the late 1950s. They flock to Prague (3000), demanding Asylum to West Germany and also, go to Budapest. Demonstrations in Leipzig, Oct and Sept. Tear down wall on 9th November 1989. Symbolic, Germany is reunified on 2nd October 1990.
  • Poland, Solidarity August 1980. Gdansk. Martial law introduced December 1981, 200 000 arrested. Remerges 1988, strikes. June 1989 free elections.
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Did People Power end the Cold War?

For

  • In the space of just a few weeks in November 1989, the Communist system in Czechoslovakia was brought to its knees. Massive protests on the streets of Prague - often several hundred thousand strong - forced the resignation of the hard-line Communist Party leadership in what became known as "the velvet revolution."

Against

  • Without Gorbachev's crucial intervention, events in the Eastern Bloc would have turned out very differently. Gorbachev abandoned the Brezhnev doctrine and advocated 'freedom of choice' which served as a signal to Eastern Europe to protest. Gorbachev urged the Polish and East German communist regimes not to use force against protestors.
  • In 1956, the Hungarian Uprising - protests have already happened in the past, but had previously had no effect.
  • Regan's militarised counter revolution meant the Cold War was already coming to an end.
  • Economic factors --> Soviets could not afford to carry on helping these states. The weak economy was one of the things that caused the protests in the first place.
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Did Economic Factors end the Cold War?

For

  • By the 1980s the USSR faced mounting economic problems due to the inefficiency of centralised state planning, the financial burden of maintaining the Soviet bloc, and the spiralling cost of the nuclear arms race.
  • Throughout the Cold War, Soviet propaganda predicted that the USSR would overtake the developed capitalist economies of the West, In reality, the Soviet economy had been stagnating since the early 1970s due to: massive costs of thr arms race; unrealistic Five Year Plan production targets; an over concentration on heavy industry; poor infrastruture and corrupt Soviet elite.
  • Between 1967 and 1980 the annual growth rate for Soviet industrial output declined from 5.25% to 2%. The average increase in Soviet national income fell from 3.4% to 1.1%. A dowturn in world energy prices, hit the USSR's oil and gas export industries.
  • Technologically the USA was far more more advanced and it took steps to stay superior. A coordinated Western technology embargo, imposed on USSR in 1974 when the USA banned the sale of advanced computers to the USSR and their allies.
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Did Economic Factors end the Cold War?

  • The Soviet state restricted the use of personal computers and photocopiers in order to maintain its grip on power. By the 1980s the US had 30 million PCs, while the USSR had only 50,000. This inferiority in computing placed the USSR at a significantly military disadvantage.
  • The USSR was economically drained by its efforts to maintain the Soviet empire. The satellite states recieved Soviet energy supplies and raw materials at significantly reduced prices and in return they supplied the USSR with poor quality industrial and consumer goods.
  • Cuba and Vietnam recieved a total of $4 billion and $6 million respectively in Soviet aid.
  • USA 7% of GDP was spent on military. For Soviets, it was 25% of GDP and 40% of state budget.                                                   Against
  • Until Gorbachev came into power, Soviet leaders continued with Cold War policies even though economic problems were mounting.
  • Reagan's overspend policy appeared to have little effect on Soviet behaviour between 1981-85.
  • Such an approach underestimates the relative importance of Gorbachev and Reagan in brining about superpower accomomdation after 1985.
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Did Reagan end the Cold War?

For

  • Reagan's hard line approach to the USSR in the early 1980's imposed enormous economic and military pressure on the Soviet Union - as a result the USSR couldn't compete with the US defence spending and thus had to abandon the arms race and the Cold War.
  • Reagan's successful anti communist policies included: a 53% increase in US defence budget led to stealth bombers, neutron andtrident bomb. Example of militarised counter revolution.
  • The announcement of SDI could intercept Soviet missiles and exploited Soviets backwardness in computer technology, was used to scare the Soviets into surrender.
  • Uncompromising anti-Soviet 'Evil Empire' rhetoric which demonstrated hostility to Soviet Union - "a country that runs against the tides of history by denying human freesom and human dignity while unable to feed its own population.
  • The implimenting of the Reagan Doctrine e.g. Nicaragua given military aid; Grenada sent troops to invade Grenada and disposed left wing government; Afghanistan by 1987 US provided $687 million to fight the Soiviet backed government.
  • The deployment of cruise and perishing 11 missiles in Europe.
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Did Reagan end the Cold War?

Against

  • Reagan's hard line approach impact is exaggerated. From 1982-84, Reagan's uncompromising stance failed to get concessions from Andropov it merely prolonged the Cold War.
  • Reagan's offer to share SDI technology with the USSR contradicts the argument.
  • Soviet scientists concluded that the SDI was impratical, so it imposed limited pressure on the USSR.
  • Reagan and Bush's policy of constructive engagement with Gorbachev produced much more significant results.
  • It underestimated the role of Gorbachev's 'New Thinking', the long standing internal Soviet problems and growing popular discontent in Eastern Europe.
  • A hard line stance against Communism had proved in-effective when applied to Vietnam.
  • Korean air line shot down may have been due to Reagan's hard line approach.
  • Sinatra Doctrine: He genuinely believed that the Cold War needed to end.
  • Gorbachev's personality was the thing that drove the Summits.
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Did Thatcher end the Cold War?

For

  • She reinforced Reagan's anti communist rhetoric.
  • In November 1983, she also permitted the USA to deploy cruise missiles in Britain, a key part of Reagan's plan to pressure the USSR.
  • She promoted US policy to other West European governments.
  • She acted as an effective diplomatic link between Gorbachev and Reagan.

Against

  • The 'Iron Lady' pursued less confrontational policies which contradicted her 'Cold War Warrior' image  e.g. she invited Gorbachev to talk in London and established a good working relationship with him.
  • She wasonlt a secondary player in the Cold War and thus couldn't have much of an impact.
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Did Summits end the Cold War?

  • Geneva Summit (Nov 1985): Reagan and Gorbachev met. Little was decided, but it was important to form a rapport between them. Gorbachev realised that Reagan found detail hard to grasp and ensured discussions focused on general principles. Laid foundations for the future.
  • Reykjavk Summit (Oct 1986): Gorbachev proposed phasing out nuclear weapons and offered a series of ever increasing concessions that took the US leadership by surprise. Reagan was not prepared to put SDI on the negotiating table and no agreement was reached.
  • The INF Treaty (Dec 1987): At this summit the deadlock was broken. The INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) agreement was signed, leading to the scrapping of all immediate range ballistic missiles. It was the first time superpowers had agreed to arms reduction.
  • Moscow Summit (1988): At this meeting Reagan and Gorbachev signed agreements on the more complex details of the INF Treaty. In December, they met again in New York and announced further cuts in Soviet arms. Gorbachev also met George Bush.
  • Malta Summit (1989): It was the first full summit between Gorbachev and Bush as they made a good working relationship. No new agreements were made but both leaders agreed that the Cold War was over.
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Did Gorbachev end the Cold War?

For

  • He abandoned the Brezhnev Doctrine. First leader to abandon the traditional Soviet approach to the Cold War (e.g. Summits e.g. INF and START agreement which reduced their nuclear arsenal to 30%.
  • He built good bonds with Thatcher and Reagan e.g removed objection to SDI's.
  • De-ideological the Cold War e.g UN speech 1988 - swept away SS20s, ended war in Afghanistan and financial aid in Third World.
  • New Thinking (glasnot) transformed relations.
  • Gorbachev acted on the structual pressures he faced.
  • Encouraged political reform in E. Europe and dissolution of Soviet Bloc.
  • Informed E. European leaders they would have to govern without Soviet support --> people's protests.
  • In 1989, Gorbachev urged the Polish and East German government regimes not to use force aginst protestors e.g. Honecker.
  • Compared to Gerontocracy (Brezhnev, Andropov and Cherneko) Gorbachev was willing to accept demands in Eastern Bloc (e.g. Poland, Solidarity was legalised).
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Did Gorbachev end the Cold War?

  • Economic Reforms (Perestroika): Efforts to increase labour efficiency through anti-alcohol and health campaigns; 1987 industrial production fell by 6%; food queues lengthened.
  • Glasnot: Explosion of Chernobyl and the cover up convinced Gorbachev that major reforms were needed; implied freedom of speech, information and press; restrictions on religious groups were lifted and Stalin's worst crimes were exposed.
  • Political Perestroika: Gorbachev introduced democratic reforms into the party stucture - attempted to strengthen the party by making officials more accountable to the public and introduced multi candidate elections which began to form groups e.g Democratic Union.

Against

  • The process was complex and went beyond one person's control.
  • This approach underestimates the role of Reagan as it can be argued that Gorbachev caved into the West by the US campaign of subversion.
  • Structual factors - Put pressure on Gorbachev and he had no choice ('We can't go on living like this'). Did he set out to end the Cold War or was he swept along by events?
  • People power dismantled USSR leading to the end of the Cold War, which he hadn't expected.
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