History - Crises of the Cold War and Detente 1960-80

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  • Created on: 17-02-15 19:04

The Berlin Wall 1961 - Tension over Berlin

-In 1958, Khrushchev threatened to hand over access routes to West Berlin to the East Germans. He also said that armies occupying Berlin should withdraw

-This would leave West Berlin powerless to avoid takeover by the East Germans

-But Eisenhower stood firm and the Russians backed down

-When Kennedy became president, the Russians again raised the question of the status of Berlin

-But Kennedy made plain that the Americans wanted no change, the Russians did not persue the matter

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The Berlin Wall 1961 - The Wall

-During the 1950s and 1960s the East Germans were very unhappy. From 1945 to 1961 over 3 million people fled to West Germany; these people included Doctors, Mechanics etc. who were valuable to the economy

-The border between East and West Germany was guarded by watchtowers, barbed-wire fences and mine-fields. But people could still pass freely from East Germany into West Berlin, and from there to West Germany

-In 1961, this route for refugees was closed by the building of the Berlin Wall. The wall became a symbol of the hatred of the two sides in the Cold War and the lack of freedom in Eastern Europe

-The Berlin Wall was built through and around West Berlin 

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Evaluation of the Berlin Wall Crisis

-Russians had built wall without notice, creating major crisis

-Liklihood of war was high as US generals wanted to knock down the wall. US troops reguarly crossed into East Berlin to find out how the soviets would react. On 27 October, direct threat of war when Soviets pulled up to checkpoint Charlie and faced the American tanks all day in a tense stand-off

-No direct threat of nuclear war, but if either side had fired on 27 October this may have lead to nuclear war, leading to the destruction of humanity

-No deaths or destruction as Americans didn't knock wall down. Kennedy said: "a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."

-So the wall stayed and over the following years became a symbol of division. The communists presented the wall as a protective shell around East Berlin . The West presneted it as a prison wall

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The Cuba Crisis 1962

-When Cuba nationalised American-owned industries, Eisenhower responded by refusing to buy Cuban suar and by helping Batista supporters to prepare for an invasion of Cuba

-Cuba got around this by drawing closer to Russia, who agreed to buy the sugar

-In 1961, Kennedy authorised an invasion of Cuba, which took place in the Bay of Pigs, but was a total disaster that was crushed in 3 days

-In August 1962, Russia sent IRBM's (Intermediate Range Ballitstic Missiles) to Cuba to help them

-Americans discovered the missiles using U2 spy planes. Their policy after discovering them was "Quarantine" (Blockade) of Cuba. No more weapons allowed in and Kennedy demanded that the missiles in Cuba be removed

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The Cuba Crisis 1962

-Russian ships bringing more missiles were steaming towards Cuba. If they had tried to break the American blockede, and the Americans had reacted by sinking then, then WW3 might have broken out

-Khrushchev justified the missiles on Cuba by saying that America had their missiles in Turkey, which is right next to Russia

-Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles if America agreed not to invade Cuba, and a sevret understanding that American missiles would be withdrawn from Turkey

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Results of the Cuba Crisis

-Victory for America and it was clear Russia had backed down. At the same time Castro remained in control of Cuba and the military leaders of America saw Kennedy as weak, piling on pressure for engagement in Vietnam

-Crisis had frightened the world as it had got far closer to nuclear war than wanted. There was pressure for the two superpowers to improve their relations

-The Hot Line, a telephone link, was set up directly between Wachington and Moscow in 1963 to allow direct consultation in time of crisis

-The Partial Test Ban Treaty (July 1963) was signed by Russia, America and Britain, banning the testing of nuclear weapons above ground and was meant to show that agreement was possible over nuclear weapons. Treaty limited as only 3 powers signed and could still test their weapons

-The defeat of the Cuba Crisis played a part in Khrushchev's loss of power in Russia (1964)

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Evaluation of the Cuba Crisis

-Threat of wider war during the invasion at the Bay of Pigs, if it had succeded

-Threat of nuclear war due to Russia stationing IRBMa on Cuba. When America discovered this they could have fired their own missiles, but this would have lead to a wider nuclear war as the Russians would have retaliated by doing something in Berlin. So Quarantine set up

-Another threat of war as Russian ships were stopped by American blockade

-Little deaths of destruction, except for one U2 pilot that was shot down over Cuba

-Long-term implications. When Khrushchev lost power it showed how Russia had changed as he was allowed to live a normal life afterwards, whereas Stalin killed people as he knew that if he had lost his power he would have been executed

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Czechoslovakia 1968

-Czech people delighted when Alexander Dubcek, First Secretary of Czech Communist party, introduced a number of changes like free speech on radio and TV; no censorship; religious freedom for Roman Catholics. This was called the Dubcek Spring or Drague Spring

-Dubcek called this "Socialism with a human face"

-Reforms criticised by other Communist leaders and they alleged that an important sector of the Iron Curtain frontier was being exposed to Western attack

-Russians were concerned and called a meeting at Cierna but Dubcek refused to abandon his policies

-Russians began to prepare for an invasion (like in East Berlin 1953 and Hungary 1956). Their main targets were Prague, Brno and Bratislava

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The Invasion of Czechoslovakia

-Five Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia on 20 August 1968 (E.Germany, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria). Russia could have done it by themselves but wanted to show they had support from other countries

-They found no armed opposition but public resented their presence. There were several ugly incidents

-Thousands fled to Austria, radio and TV keeping the outside world informed. The Russians had now precipitated a worse crisis and they settled it by taking Dubcek to Moscow and there persuading him to abandon his liberal projects

-Russians forced new constitution on Czechoslovakia in January 1969. Dubcek resigned - his attempt to liberalise a Warsaw Pact country ended in total failure

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Evaluation of Czechoslovakia

-The Americans had not made the same apparent promises of support as in Hungary

-Lesson of Hungary 1956 - Intervention too risky then, so too risky now

-Soviets were not invadingnew territory, just intervening un a state already under their sphere of influence (as in Hungary)

-Czech army did not fight: intervention not so bloody and hence not so provocative - 108 dead, 500 wounded

-USA had its hands full in Vietnam, both militarily and economically so intervention was out of the question

-Nuclear war not considered

-This lead to the Russian Brezhnev Doctrine

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The Space Race

-As with the Arms Race in the 1950s this was linked with nuclear weapons

-Russians seemed to be in the lead:

  • 1957 Sputnik 1 - the first Earth-orbiting satellite
  • 1957 - first animal is space, a dog called Laika
  • 1959 Luna 2 - first man-made object on the moon
  • 1959 Luna 3 - first pictures of far side of the moon
  • 1961 Vostock 1 - Yuri Gagarin, first man in space and first to orbit the Earth
  • 1963 - Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space

- Americans followed Russian developments and in 1961 Kennedy declared it an American aim to put man on the moon before the end of the decade.

-Although unrealistic, Apollo 11 mission in 1969 achieved this goal

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The Cold War 1972 - 80

-Two treaties signed in 1972, that were introduced to reduce tension in the world. These were:

  • Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT 1) in an effort to limit the number of missiles held by the two superpowers
  • Basic Treaty, which meant that the two Germanies patched up old quarrels and recognised each others frontiers

-Willy Brandt, the West German Chancellor had a policy called "Ostopolitik". Through this he tried to improve relations with East Germany

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Helsinki Agreements 1975

-35 countries present - all of Europe (except Albania), USSR, Canade and USA

-Here they recognised the legality of existing European frontiers and agreed to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, in order to ensure the development of friendly relations

-Brezhnev Doctrine (1968) said that "when a fraternal socialist country is under attack, it is OK for other socialist countries to lend military assisstance"

-However, the arrival of Soviet tanks and KGB forces might go against the idea of human rights and findamental freedoms agreed at the Helsinki accords

-Afghanistan had to face Russian invaders in 1979

-Brezhnev met President Carter in Vienna (1979) where they signed SALT 2

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Helsinki Agreements 1975

-Treaty was not put into practice as Soviet missiles weretargeted in Western Europe and saoviet troops had invaded Afghanistan. The US senate refused to ratify SALT 2 and in 1980 Carter stated that consideration of the treaty was now inappropriate

-Two types of missiles were to be deployed in Western Europe (Tomahawk Cruise and Pershing Rocket). Because of this, disarmers assembled to protest in the capitals of Western Europ as there was a chance of nuclear war and they were affraid of dying

-Superpowers did begin negotiations at Geneva in November 1981, but almost immediately came into conflict over the impostition of Martial Law in Poland (December 1981)


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Detente in the 1970s

-The process by which there was an attempt to improve superpower relations during the 1970s is known as Detente. It consisted of:

  • SALT 1
  • The Basic Treaty
  • Helsinki Accords 1975
  • SALT 2
  • Improved relations with China
  • Economic Problems
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Why did Detente happen? - Relations with China

-By 1970s America and Russia were worried by the growing power of China

-When China became Communist in 1949 she had good relations with Russia but the Chinese Communist leaders disagreed with Khrushchev's policy of "Peaceful Co-existence" and there was a boarder dispute that came close to violence

-President Nixon wanted to improve relations and the Chinese made the first move by inviting the American table tennis team to visit their country (giving rise to the "Ping-Pong diplomacy"

-USA then allowed Communist China to take its seat at the United Nations rather than the Taiwanese who had held it before. Nixon and Ford made successful visits to China and in 1978 Carter withdrew recognition from nationalist China (Taiwan) though this was a difficult issue

-Russians were affraid and there followed some Brezhnev-Nixon summits, producing SALT1, each time a little deal was done

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Effects of the loss in Vietnam

-American prestige and self-confidence damaged as it was the first time US had lost in war, making the Americans more willing to seek agreement elsewhere

-When it was over, its souring effects on international relations were also ended and there was some scope for improving relations

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Economic Problems 1975-81

-Economic recession occured on both sides of the Iron Curtain

-Britain was the worst, with 3 million unemployed, underlined by the riots 1980-81. France and West Germany suffered their worst unemployment since 1945, while the eastern bloc countries endured constant shotages of foodstuffs and consumer goods

-Between 1979 and 1981, Russia's harvest was dissapointing. She desperately needed to import grain from Canada, Austalia and the US - and put up taxes in order to pay for this

-This would have limited arms control as there would have been a focus on the economy rather than on nuclear weapons. Also, nuclear weapons were very expensive and so the countries would not be able to afford them as well as support the economy

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Why did Detente Collapse?

-The Soviet Unions deployment of SS-20 missiles targeted on western Europe angered President Carter and lead to the non-ratification of SALT 2

-The biggest reason was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 

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-Reasons for Russian interest in Afghanistan:

  • Control would put pressure on the Middle East - the oil lifeline to the USA and western Europe threatened
  • Political scene in Afghanistan was unstable and had got worse since spring 1979
  • This would counter American and Chinses influence in the area 
  • Muslim revolution in Iran might spread to Afghanistan so a Russian takeover would remove this threat. It would also settle Russia's own muslim population 

-24-27 December 1979 Russian troops landed at Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan

-28 December, announced that President Amin had been executed after being tried and founguilty of "crimes against the state". President Karmel took his place

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-Karmel tried to reassure the world that Afghanistan would remain a faithful member of the UN

-Afghanistan seemed firmly in the grip of Russia

-Brezhnev justified the invasion by saying that they had responded to an urgent request from the Kabul government for help

-Carter described the invasion as "gross interference...a threat to peace"

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Afghanistan - Action taken by America

-SALT 2 was not ratified and this ends Detente

-Military task force sent to protect oil routes in the Arabian sea

-Economic sanctions - Carter said that the US would halt or reduce exports to the Soviet Union, putting the Russian economy under strain and there were restraints on fishing privaleges in US waters

-Olympic Boycott - Carter threatened to withdraw America from the 1980 olympic games due to be held in Moscow. The US did withdraw

-Military aid sent to help Pakistan

-Aid to Afghan rebels - the us helped the Afghan Guerillas in their fight against Russia

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Importance of Afghanistan

-It brought Detente to an end

-The Moscow olympics were at least partly spoiled

-In the longer term, Russian difficulties in Afghanistan were to lead to the fall of Communism

-The Afghan Guerillas did very well and their successors have continued to make Afghanistan an international issue

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