Why Did The Cold War End? 1970-91


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  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 02-06-12 17:34

Events of Detente 1970-76

1970: economic problems in USA and its allies peaked when high employment and high inflation caused depression. Also, the arms race was very costly. they both saw how this money could of been spent on poor aided countries or improving conditions of own people at home.

1972: Americans withdraw from Vietnam

1972: Salt 1 Treaty- Brezhnev and Nixon signed the nuclear arms limitation treaty.

July 1975: High hand shake! US astronauts and Soveit cosmonauts met up and shake hands in space.

August 1975: Helsinki Conference

1976: Biggest ever anti-nuclear protest march took place in bilbao, spain. There were anti-nuclear movements in many Westerm Countries.

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Salt 1 Treaty 1972

It outlined three main areas:

  • Each side was allowed 100 anti-ballistci missile defences, some for the capital and some to protect nuclear missiles.
  • Interim Treaty: limits of number of ICBM's- 1618 for USSR and 1054 for USA.  Submarine launch- 740 for both. The USSR were allowed more because they had a greater capacity in other areas, eg: Strategic bombers.
  • Basic Principles agreement: USA and USSR to do their best to prevent military conferentation.
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Helsinki Conference Treaty 1975

All countries recognised the borders et out for WW2, including the division of Germany. They agreed to respect human rights, eg: freedom of speech and freedom to move from one country to another. 

35 states, USA, Canada and Europe (except Albania and Andorra) signed decleration to improve relation between communist block and the West.

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Collapse of Detente

Human Rights:

Jimmy Carter the USA president of 1977-81 criticised the USSR for arresting and imprisoning of dissidents (people who criticised the Governement)

Nuclear Weapons:

SS20 and Cruise: In 1977 the USSR began replaing new SS20 medium range nuclear missiles in Eastern Europe. They said that they were just replacing out of date missiles however the USA accused them for preparing for a nuclear war. In the new arms escalation President carter alloed the US military to develop new medium range missiles of their own called Pershing and Cruise.

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The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan 1978

The Government of Afghan was overthrown by a group of Russin trainned army officers. They began a modernisation programme including land reforms and education of girls but met opposition from Muslim leaders.

Soon a civil war broke out between communists and the Muslim leaders - 'Fighters of Gods' (mujaidin). The Afghan communists appealed to Moscow for help but the Soviet leader, Brezhnev and his military advisers were reluctant to get involved.

However, the USSR were fearful of the rise of militant Islam and when Afghan Government began to make approaches to the USA, the USSR felt like they must act.

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Iran 1979

The shah (ruler) of Iran was overthrown by popular rising leading by the Ayatollahs (Muslim leaders) This Islamic Revolt was to change middle Eastern and world politics in short term and long term, how the the superpowers react?

  • The shah had been a US ally and the new regime was very anti-westerm. US embassy was held captive for 14 months.
  • But because communism is anti-religious, the new regime was anti-communist too. Indeed the USSR were worried about the impact of new militant Islam on its subject republics: Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Kazakstan and Kirghizstan (whose people were all Muslim)
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Olympic Boycotts 1980

Folling the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end on 1979, Carter pressured the US competitors to not take part in the 1980 Olympic games, due to be held in Moscow that summer.

The USA and its allies, Canada, Japan, China, West Germany and Kenya boycotted the Games.

In retaliation the USSR and Soviet allies boycotted the Olympics in LA in 1984.

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Ronald Reagan 1981-89

If the last few years of Carter being President was a cooling between the USA and the USSR, then the arrival of Reagan in 1981 marked a rapid decent in to another Cold War.

He was a 70 year old Hollywood film actor and did not hide his hostility to Communism and the USSR.

He regarded negotiation with the USSR as a sign of weakness and set out to defeat them.

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Impact Of Reagan

Within 2 weeks of being in power he increased weapon spending by $32.6 billion. In the next 4 years increased US weapon spending by 50% y cutting welfare for poor Americans. By 1985 7% of GDP of the richest nation was being spent on weapons.
The US military was told to prepare to wage and win a nuclear war against the USSR. While some of his defence chiefs may of thought this war was going to hapen, many of his advisers did not.
They were intent with setting out a new arms arce, one which the USA knew the USSR could not cope with. 

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Reagan's Policy on Afghanistan

The USSR were finding that the mountains of Afghan were impossible to win a war. The Red Armys attempt to wage a conventional war brought only hit and run raids on their convoys.
Mujahidin massacerd Soviet troops in the mountain passes. By the end of 1982, 5000 Red Army soldiers had been killed. He was willing to give Mujahidin any money and weapons that they needed.
The USA supplied routes through Pakistan which got more in return. They spent $2 billion on this war.  Osama bin Laden was one of the men who went to fight with the Mujahidin

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Star Wars

This was announced after the new Soviet leader Andropov called for a non-aggression pact, that the Warsaw Pact and NATO don't attack each other. Reagan reacted by making even more hostile remarks about the USSR and leaders and then announced SDI.

This was a futuristic plan, never completed, to create a shield of lasers which would detect and destroy any coming missile while it was still in space. If the plan would, this would lead to the end of MAD as the USA would be able to attack the USSR without fear retaliation.

This made Reagans talk of rolling back Communism seem like a real threat. Soviet forces were put on special alert.

In 1983, a nuclear war seemed more likely than any time since the Cuban Crisis.

Worsened the relationship between the Superpowers as it showed Reagan was unwilling to co-operate, increased tension as a nuclear war became more likely, and increased spending on both sides on nuclear and conventional weapons.

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Mikhail Gorbachev 1985-1991

He became leader of the USSR when the country was in crisis because the economy was stagnant. It was spending far too much on the arms race and the unwinable war in Afghan. The USSR had plentiful of supplies of raw materials and lots of fertile land, yet shortages of all foods and goods. Managers did not manage and workers did not see the point in working hard. Life expectancy of Soviet men fell from 67 in 1964 to 62 in 1980 and one major cause was alcohol. Gorbachev was a life long communist and was willing to make the system work to save the Soviet people. He set out to reform it through:

  • Glasnost- which means openess, particularly freedom of speech.
  • Perestroika- which means re-structuring, particularly a freedom markets in goods and jobs.

He knew the arms race was crippling the economy and knew if he wanted change, he had to do something about it. 

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The Soviet Defeat

By 1986 conditions were changing in the USSR. There was less restriction on the media and they were being reported more accurately. The Government began to recieve letters from families demanding a withdrawal for Afghan. Early 1987 Moscow pulled out its forces. It had been a long war with a terrible cost:

  • 15,000 Soviet dead and around 37,000 wounded.
  • An estimated financial cost of $20 billion the the USSR
  • Over 1 million Afghans killed and around 5 million displaced

It was a humiliating defeat for the USSR but it was another example showing how the USSR was prepared to change its politics. the man behind this was Gorbachev.

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The Four Summits of 1980

Geneva - November 1985: First summit meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev did not start well. Reagan attacked the USSR's human rights record. Gorbachev blamed the USA for the arms race. The 2 leaders went for a walk and found that they got on well and stated that the arms race was a bad idea and that they should meet again.

Reykjavik - October 1986: Gorbachev raised the stakes at this summit meeting by proposing that they remove all nuclear weapons from Europe and cut inter-continental missiles by half. Reagan agreed to the proposal but not to Gorbachev's insistence that the USA the Star Wars. A historic agreement had almost been reached.

Washington - Dec 1987: two sides kept talking however in 1987 Gorbachev withdrew his condition that Star wars had to be included. This cleared the INF treaty to be signed at this summit, all missiles in Europe SS20's pershing and Cruise were dismantled.

Moscow - June 1988: Gorbachev pushed for joint troop reductions in Europe but Reagan put him off.

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Solidarity- a new free trade union 1980

There were protests in Poland because of food prices, wages and to imrpove the general standard of living. However in the 70's things were good. The Polish were better off, it was easy to buy what they wanted and the standard of living was good. 

This was because they hit economy crisis in 1976-79. Workers were angry because of the Government's propaganda, they said Poland was good when it was not. So the Polish workers set up Independent trade Union. It consisted of 3.5 million members, the leader Lech Walesa.

The Government finally gave in to solidarity because:

  • It was stronger than the Government industries (ship building)
  • Was not seen as an alternative to communism party
  • It gained support from West and Catholic Church
  • Very popular as 95% of people said they trusted it.

Brezhnev then suspended it and Walesa and 10,000 members were put in prison.

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Solidarity Continued

The reasoning of the Soviet Union were that:

  • Solidarity was going to set up a provisional gov', not communist
  • Unemployment was increasing, turning in to chaos and the situation had gone too far.

Solidarity members are released but they are harassed and murdered. However Solidarity manages to grow strong by:

  • Threatened to call a nation wide strike on prices
  • Co-operate with Catholic Church and boycott Polish elections
  • Big officials looked on Lech as being a leader and they spread views about the gov' on the radio.

Lech then became a symbol of Eastern European Countries fighting communism and in 1983 won the right to free imprisoned Solidarity leaders. The new Soviet leader, Gorbhchev, supported Solidarity and made Eastern European Countries to listen to their people, the days of communism in Poland were outnumbered. It nearly won all the seats contested and it gave Polish their freedom of speech back.

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Collapse of Communism 1989

May 1989, Hungary: barbed wire fence between Hungary and non-Communist Austria was dismantled.

June 1989, Poland:  Free elections are held for the first time since WW2. Solidarity wins almost all seats and eastern Europe gets its first non-communist leader, President Lech Walesa.

Autumn 1989, East Germany: Thousands of East Germans were fleeing through Austria. Massive demostration took place in East German cities when Gorbachevs visited the country. He told the unpopular East German leader Erich Honeacker to allow reforms. He responded by telling his troops to fire on demonstrators but they refused and he was forced the resign. On 10th of November 1989, thousands of Easter Germans marched to the Berlin Wall and even the guards joined the demonstators in pulling it down

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Collapse of Communism Continued

November 1989, Czechoslovakia: Huge demostrations in Prague, the police tried to stop the demonstations but Dubcek and the playwright Havel re-appeared and inspired the demonstrations to continue. The Czech government opened its borders to the West. The communist leader was replaced by Havel and free elections were held in 1990.

December 1989, Hungary: The communist government under Imre Pozsgay accepted the need for change and led reforms in Hungary. Other political parties were allowed and the communist party was renamed the Socialist party and allowed free elections in 1990.

December 1989, Romania: There was a short and bloody revolution in Romania. The hated communist dictator Ceausescu and his wife were executed and a new goverment were set up.

December 1989, Bulgaria: The communist leader resigned under incresing pressure and free elections were held in April 1990.

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Collapse of Communism Continued 2

March 1990, The Baltic States:  Latvia , Lithuania and Estonia declared themselvs independent and held free elections.

Gorbachev was bankrupt from the arms race and Afghan war so could not sen in tanks to stop the Solidarity event in Poland.

With the wall down, west German Chancellor Helmut Kohl proposed a reunification of Germany. Gorbachev was less enthusiastic as he expected a reunited Germany to be more friendly with the West than the East.

After many negotiations, Gobachev accepted the Germany reunification and even that the new Germany could be a NATO member.

On the 3rd of October 1990, Germany became a united country once again.

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