Cold War - Brezhnev Era - Revision Notes - 5/6


The Brezhnev Era, 1972-85


  • Nixon 1969-74 / Ford 1974-77 / Carter 1977-81 / Reagan 1981-
  • Brezhnev
  • Mao / Xiaoping 1976-
  • Thatcher 1979-90

Key Dates

1972 - February: Nixon visits China 

            July: SALT I signed

1973 - January: Ceasefire in Vietnam between NV and USA

1974 - August: Nixon resigns

1975 - April: NV defeats SV

1976 - February: Soviet and Cuban forces install Communist government in Angola

1979 - January: US and China establish diplomatic relations. 

            July: SALT II

            November: Shah of Iran overthrown: Iranian Hostage Crisis

            December: Soviet forces invade Afghanistan.

1980 - August: Polish Solidarity Union formed. Leader Walesa elected as head of Solidarity

1983 - Reagan proposes Strategic Defence Initiative

           October: US troops invade and overthrow regime in Grenada

1985 - Gorbachev becomes leader of USSR, installs campaign of glasnost and perestroika.

  1. The USA and SE Asia: The ending of the Vietnam War

Nixon under pressure

  • Diplomacy and forced used by Nixon in 1968-70 had failed to achieve a settlement.
  • He insisted on Thieu maintaining power but Hanoi objected. 
  • 1971 Nixons approval ratings dropped to 31%.

The Spring Offensive

  • Nixon faced pressure after the PAVN staged a March Offensive using artillery and tanks against the South.
  • 1972, ARVN crumbled, this was election year.
  • Nixons policy of Vietnamisation seemed like it was failing. 
  • Nixon responded by heavily bombing and mining Haiphong.
  • Nixon also meanwhile gave hints to the USSR that the US would accept a coalition with the communists. And during the Moscow Summit 1972, he suggested that the PAVN would be allowed to stay in SV.
  • Hanoi was now more open to discussion, due to Nixon and due to their sieges of cities failing and continuous bombing from USA.

The negotiations 

  • October 1972, settlement seemed close, but Nixon was stalling. Some advisors felt an early settle before the elections would look bad for Nixon’s ratings/results. Also Nixon didn’t want to seem as though he was cowering to anti-war protests.

Christmas bombing

  • December 1972, Without explanation, USA bombed and mined Haiphong again.
  • Over 1,000 Vietnamese died as well as 93 Americans.
  • Intentions behind bombing was unclear, but could’ve been to reassure Theiu of USA’s continued support.


  • January 1973, Paris, Settlement was finally reached, the same settlement which was proposed in October 1972. Nixon told Theiu he would sign it even if Thieu refused. 

The following was agreed:

  • Ceasefire in Vietnam, but not Laos and Cambodia.
  • Exchange of Prisoners of War
  • US withdraw remaining troops
  • PAVN remain in South, but wouldn’t exploit ceasefire. But its said that Nixon agreed the NV would wait two years from the settlement to invade SV and takeover.
  • Theiu remained in power and the Committee for National Reconciliation was established to oversea free elections.
  • Nixon secretly promised aid to Hanoi for its reconstruction.

Peace with honour?

  • Despite settlement, fighting continued in Vietnam.
  • Nixon


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