International relations 1945-2004 Chapter 9

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Impact of Gorbachev 1985-1991

  • Gorbachev replaced Chernenko in March 1985
  • He thought a key part of the solution of the crises was foreign policy (specifically with the USA)
  • Gorbachev replaced Foreign minister Gromyko in 1985 (replaced with Shevardnadze)
  • US Secretary of State Shultz "The contrast between him and Gromyko was breathtaking" 
  • 'New Thinking' - nuclear weapons were no guarentee of security, no defence against nuclear attack, security political rather than military, 'interdependence' 
  • 'Europe is our common home' - envisaged an end to the division of Europe 
  • There would be no need for nuclear weapons in this environment of mutual cooperation
  • Greater economic links could be forged between East and West
  • First step in Gorbachev's plan to abandon Brezhnev Doctrine
  • October 1985 - 'reasonable sufficiency' - open rejection of agression
  • Soviets committed themselves to keeping only levels of conventional and nuclear forces that were 'sufficient' and 'reasonable' 
  • For the first time Soviet leaders accepted military cuts without demanding cuts from USA
  • This was an important shift - enabled agreements to be made on intermediate nuclear forces (INF) in 1987
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Geneva summit - November 1985

  • Both Reagan and Gorbachev wanted this summit to appear successful
  • It was, in many respects - some historians refer to it as 'a watershed in relations' between the USA and SU
  • Joint statement after the summit "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought"
  • This statement went on to refer to the "importance of preventing any war between the US and USSR whether nuclear or conventional"
  • These agreements underlined the fact that Gorbachev had removed the ideological split between East and West
  • Gorbachev later wrote that March - December 1985 "was an extremely important period, marked by an intense search for new policy approaches leading to conclusions that became the core of the new thinking"
  • Reagan wanted an indication that Gorbachev would actually change Soviet attitudes
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Complications before the next summit - 1986

  • Gorbachev wanted an initiative that would give a clear impression that the SU was serious about ending the nuclear arms race even though Reagan was stubborn over SDI at Geneva
  • The 'initiative' was a declaration that nuclear weapons would be abolished by the year 2000 - the first step in the process would be a 50% cut in strategic nuclear weapons
  • Western powers howed mixed reactions - USA liked the iniative but was not prepared to abandon its SDI programme
  • Britain and France refused to discuss the proposal - PM Thatcher called it a 'pie in the sky'
  • August 1986 - New conflict between USA and SU: A Soviet employee of the UN (Zakharov) was arrested for organising spying activites against the USA
  • 23rd August - Zakharov arrested as he was about to pay an agent for classified information
  • USSR responded by arresting an American journalist (Daniloff) based in Moscow
  • Problem eventually resolved - Daniloff released and Zakharov expelled from the USA
  • Opened the way for the next summit
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Reykjavik Summit - October 1986

  • In 1990 Reagan wrote "I realised he had brought me to Iceland with one purpose: to kill the Strategic Defence Initiative... I was very disappointed - and very angry"
  • October 14th Gorbachev told the Politburo "With Reagan, we had to struggle in Reykjavik not only with a class enemy but with an extraordinarily primitive one, a feeble-mionded cave man"
  • Reagan wouldn't compromise on his destermination to continue reasearching and testing nuclear defence systems.
  • Leaders of Western Europe were mainly behind this committment to SDI, mainly because it meant the USA wouldn't accept an end to nuclear weapons
  • Thatcher & Mitterand (French President) didn't understand why Reagan hated nuclear weapons
  • Some have taken the view that a chance to create the most significant arms control agreement ever was lost at Reykjavik
  • Despite this controversial view the summit convinced Gorbachev that Reagan wanted to end the arms race 
  • He believed that Reagan regarded SDI as the means by which offensive nuclear weapons would be made irrelevent 
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Washington Summit - December 1987

  • Reagan & Gorbachev signed INF treaty - some see this as the most significant step taken to end the arms race
  • Designed by US Secretary of State Shultz & Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze
  • Treart removed all nuclear wepons carried by intermediate-range ballistic missiles - Soviets removed SS-20s, USA removed Cruise and Pershing II 
  • SU removed far more weapons (including the SS-23 with range of 400km)
  • Treaty mainly focused on missiles with 500km-2,000km ranges
  • 1st Time SU and USA had both removed a whole class of weapons
  • SU didn't make USA withdraw from SDI or try to keep 100 SS-20s to defend against China
  • SU agreed British and French weapons need not be included
  • SU essentially accepted the 'zero option' Reagan originally proposed in 1981
  • SU withdrew from Afghanistan - (announced Feb 1988, completed May 1989) they were trapped as Afghan army couldn't beat mujaheddin - by the 1980s 15,000 Soviets had died and there was an increasing economic cost that had domestic implications
  • Reagan - "I'm convinced that history will ultimately judge this summit ... on how far we moved together..."
  • For the first time it seemed an end to the Cold War was in sight
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Moscow Summit: May - June 1988

  • In some ways content was relatively unimportant - old arguments on SDI and ABM resurfaced
  • Gorbachev said SU citizens said SDI programme was going to place weapons in space
  • Reagan spoke to students at Moscow State uni about peace
  • Reagan told journalist he no longer saw SU as an evil empire - reinforced Gorbachev's support within SU itself
  • Reagan impressed by Soviet people - feeling was mutual 
  • 7th Dec 1988: Gorbachev gives speech to UN - emphasised 'New Thinking' & right of states to make own choices - effectively announced end of Brezhnev Doctrine and therefore the end to the SU's commitment to keep socialist states socialist
  • Gorbachev's announcement of major importance
  • Soviet foreign policy no longer founded on international class struggle
  • Partly motivated by the fact that Gorbachev couldn't take on reforms in the SU but prevent them in E Europe
  • This shift translated into practical outcomes when Gorbachev announced that the SU would unconditionally reduce its armed forces by 500,000 
  • Gorbachev's speech to the UN suggested that the end of the Cold War ideological conflict was in sight
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A new president - George H. W. Bush - 1989

  • Bush ordered a review of US policy towards SU - but he didn't think CW definately over 
  • He needed to ressure the right wing of the Republican Party & show that he was continuing Reagan's approach rather than merely inheriting it
  • Arms control negotiations resumed by Sep 1989
  • SU was facing meltdown in E Europe & Gorbachev's ability to negotiate from a position of strength was diminishing
  • More summits followed Bush's arrival - Malta in Dec '89 moves were made towards a closer economic relationship between SU & USA - this was the end of the CW economic conflict
  • SU slowly moving towards a market economy & away from a state controlled one
  • Less consensus over reunifying Germany - Few supported it in the short term
  • No formal agreements signed (Malta) - 6 months later they met again in Washington
  • Nov 1990 - Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) signed by Gorbachev, Bush and other European leaders in Paris
  • Gorbachev agreed to end military superiority held by the SU - limits placed on the scale of military hardware a state could possess 
  • Followed by Moscow summit in July 1991 - led to the conclusion of START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty)
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Glasnost (openness)

  • This initiative lay in Gorbachev's idea to promote principle of freedom to criticise
  • Also involved a relaxation of state controls over the media
  • Gorbachev didn't want to destroy SU by gambling that people would continue to support communism with their increased freedom to express themselves
  • For Gorbachev, Glasnost was the means by which people could support wider reforms he wanted & criticise those who stood in the way
  • Openness extended to culture - 1987, banned novel Dr Zhivago (Pasternak) was published
  • 1986 - exiled scientist Andrei Sakharov allowed to return to Moscow
  • Fundamental problem for Glasnost - exposed the dominance of communism to challenge
  • There was also no certainty that Soviet people would embrace perestroika.
  • What glasnost did was undermine the dominance of the power of the Communist Party
  • It began the unintended process of ending Communist rule in the Soviet Union
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Perestroika (restructuring)

  • Initially designed to reinforce socialism in the SU 
  • The first step was reducing the power of the Communist party
  • A new legislature (the Congress of People's Deputies) was to be created, two thirds of whose members would be directly elected 
  • The remaining third would remain in the hands of the Communist party
  • Once again, the Communist Party's power was undermined
  • One historian commented that there was "A whirlwind of free debate that scattered every known communist taboo"
  • At the same time Gorbachev wanted to ensure he held on to the reins of power and was able  to drive the reforms his way
  • He created an executive presidency which he held and for which he was not subject to elections. 
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Nationalism within the SU

  • SU more accurately the Soviet Empire - a multiethnic & multilinguic state made up of 15 republics - largely held together by force & power of the Communist party
  • Under Gorbachev, as the party's power declined, nationalist feelings that were latent for decades emerged strongly
  • In '88 a crisis developed in Azerbaijan as Armenians demanded seperation from Azerbaijan and incorporation into Soviet Armenia - Gorbachev sided with Azerbaijan - he was aware of the implications for the SU of backing seperate nationalist movements
  • Demands for Georgian independence flared in '89 - 20 pro-independence marchers killed
  • May '89 Baltic states held an assembly in Tallinn & discussed action to gain economic & political sovereignty from the SU
  • Jan '89 - Gorbachev sent troops to Vilnius (capitcal of Lithuania)- 13 were killed 
  • Aug '91 a coup to overthrow Gorbachev established as a response to Union Treaty that would have given the 15 states signifcant freedom - would have been the end of the SU
  • Coup failed but there was no return for Gorbachev
  • Dec '91 - leaders of Russia, Belarus & Ukraine met in Minsk & created the CIS
  • 26th Dec '91 - USSR Supreme Soviet dissolved itself - the next day President Yeltsin seized Gorbachev's office at the Kremlin
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Collapse of Communism in E Europe and the end of t

  • The events in E Europe summed up by Richard Crockatt: "Nothing can ... undo one's sense of the enormity of the communist collapse in 1989. Its speed and comprehensiveness was a challenge to existing theories of political change. Its effects on East -West relations were such that virtually at a stroke Cold War notions became redundant"
  • Key event that opened flood gates for opposition to communism was Gorbachev's rejection of the Brezhnev Doctrine
  • Many historians regarded Soviet control of E Europe & socialist regimes there as being at the very heart of the Cold War
  • Containment and the Truman Doctrine, the keystones of the Cold War had been introduced (according to the Americans) as a response to the real threat of Soviet ideological expansionism across Europe
  • Gorbachev's move to liberalise Eastern Europe and the consequent collapse of the communist regimes there oversimplifies the events of 1989. The process stretched back to the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the 1968 Prague Spring
  • Prehaps the most significant part of the process was the emergence of East - West detente in Europe driven by Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik from 1969. 
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The background to 1989

  • From '73 - recession in west due to rising oil prices
  • Trade between E Europe & the west declined, E Europe became more dependent on the SU
  • Useful short term but this led to long term damage & drop in ability of E Europe to export to W
  • Despite this, Western tech & capital in form of loans & investment did go to E Europe
  • This contributed to a 'Westernisation' of Eastern European attitudes
  • '79 - '82 = turning point - another recession in the West
  • Soviet economy facing Brezhnev 'years of stagnation' & the SU couldn't prop up E European countries as it had throughout the '70s
  • E Europe trapped between a stagnating SU and a Western recession
  • Between '79 & '89 Eastern economies faced recession and zero growth
  • These factors, combined with 'Gorbachev years' contributed to end of communism in E Europe & end of the Cold War 
  • Added to this, was Gorbachev's announcement that Soviet troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan
  • This confirmed that the SU had renounced its use of military force in the affairs of neighboring states 
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The era of revolution - 1989-1991

  • By the '80s it was clear the communist movement could no longer offer socialist solutions
  • Historians argue that the collapse of communism was the outcome of apathy within communist leadership - sense of hopelessness that could not be adressed
  • Aug '89 - gvmnt led by solidarity & Mazowiecki was formed in Poland - Europe's 1st non-communist PM since late '40s
  • May '89- Hungary opens border with Austria - in Sep deceides to allow E German 'holidaymakers' to escape to the W that way
  • During the summer, 200,000 E Germans holidayed in Hungary, few returned
  • Oct '89 - Gorbachev E Germany & announces aid to communists would be available
  • Growth in E Germany was 2.8% - Nov '89 Egon Krenza visited Gorbachev but did not get aid
  • 9th Nov '89 - thousands of E Germans went to Berlin Wall - Guards let them through - the wall came down
  • Peaceful transition away from communism not achieved throughout E Europe
  • Romania saw an overthrow of the regime (Ceausescue & wife executed on Christmas day 1989) - his regime characterised by corruption, inefficiency and ethnic persecution
  • Popular response came Dec '89 - clashes between ordinary citizens and State Secret Police (Securitate)
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Reunification of Germany

  • Burning question in early 90s - future of Germany
  • W German Chancellor Kohl not merely interested in the reunification of the two Germanies - he also wanted united Germany to be a member of NATO
  • Reunification formally happened Oct '90 -
  • Mid July '90, Kohl had met with Gorbachev - he was reluctant to see NATO and its military resources expand into East Germany 
  • Gorbachev eventually accepted what was inevitable - USSR was so in need of ££ that he did a deal on this issue
  • Many historians took the view that Gorbachev agreeing to German unification within NATO marked the end of the Cold War. 
  • Gorbachev agreed to remove Soviet military presence from the GDR and insist on no restrictions on German sovereignty
  • This agreement was an initiative taken by Gorbachev, didn't involve people like Shevardnadze or organisations such as the Politburo
  • With the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of communism in the SU, the Cold War ended. No longer were there communist and capitalist power blocs fighting for supremacy. The thhreat of nuclear war subsided and a new era in IR began
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