The Cold War John Lewis Gaddis Chapter 1: The Return of Fear The United States had been

born out of struggle against tyranny, and had embraced a sociopolitical ideology that constrained power and held individual liberty as its highest virtue. The Soviet Union had been founded to unite the working classes under a highly centralized government to overthrow the exploitative capitalists. Both the U.S. and USSR believed that their ideologies were supreme and would spread to all corners of the Earth in due time. Karl Marx (in The Communist Manifesto) had theorized that capitalism would, by its nature, cause the world’s working classes to grow in size and resentment until they inevitably rebelled against their masters and seized control of the planet. However, Marx believed that capitalism was a necessary, if cruel, phase that all societies had to go through to build up the state’s technology and infrastructure to a level that would allow a peasant takeover. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wanted the Communist revolution to happen sooner rather than later to end the suffering of the masses. Hence, he and his comrades seized control of Russia, which would serve as a base from which Communism would radiate across the world. But in reality, Russia was not ideally suited for sustaining a Communist system because it was technologically and industrially underdeveloped and remained a primarily agrarian society. Stalin attempted to correct this through massive socioeconomic reorganization programs in which factories were built and agriculture modernized. The USSR suffered 90 times as many deaths in WWII as the U.S. For the West, things still looked uncertain in late 1945: -No one knew if the Great Depression would return -Americans remained reluctant to take a permanent role in European or world affairs and many just wanted to bring their troops home -Though fascism had been crushed, totalitarianism remained strong, best exemplified by the USSR. -The Red Army was massive and couldn’t be withdrawn from Europe since the USSR was part of Europe. -The USSR had managed to provide full employment during the prewar years—a feat that had obviously eluded the Depression-racked Western nations: It was still unclear whether Communism or Capitalism was the superior economic system. -Marxism enjoyed strong support in Europe; in large part due to the contributions Communist partisans had made fighting the Nazis. Stalin’s small stature and (5’ 4”) and unpretentious demeanor hid a deeply psychopathic and highly intelligent mind. By 1945, he had long since eliminated all of his rivals within the USSR and was firmly in control. While Communist doctrine stressed the unity of all Communists worldwide, Stalin was concerned with his own power above all else and saw foreign Communist movements as helpful, yet distant in importance behind the Soviet Union’s interests. Stalin and the Soviet people had the shared mentality that they were owed disproportionate postwar concessions to compensate for their disproportionate wartime contributions. The Soviets wanted to absorb Finland, the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania into the USSR. They also


wanted a strong “sphere of influence” among the ring of states bordering this. Furthermore, they wanted territorial concessions from Turkey and Iran that would give them access to warm water ports, among other things. However, Stalin did not want a new war to secure these gains and wasn’t sure that the Soviet Union could withstand such an operation anyway. He therefore needed to cooperation of the West to secure these gains and therefore focused on diplomacy following WWII to get his ends. The USSR also needed American loans to rebuild itself. Stalin’s assessments of probable postwar Western intentions were clouded by his negative misjudgments of the Capitalist mindset. Communist doctrine held that Capitalists were greedy, self-centered, and unable to cooperate for long. Communists, therefore, needed only to patiently wait for the right moment to overpower their divided enemies. History had even given this theory some vindication: WWI had been a war between Capitalists, and had given rise to the USSR. The Capitalists had pursued self-serving economic policies to try and solve the Great Depression instead of working together, and Nazi Germany rose as a result. Communism also posited that Capitalism was an inherently unstable system that needed to constantly expand its reach to find new markets to purchase its excess production (hence colonialism). Stalin believed that the Great Depression would resume following WWII, and that the Americans would give him loans in a selfish effort to open a new market. Stalin also believed that the Western powers would begin quarreling with each other soon, leaving them divided and ripe for internal Communist revolution. However, Stalin failed to appreciate the evolving postwar objectives of the U.S. The U.S. had historically championed liberal democracy while remaining isolationist. President Wilson attempted to change this relationship after WWI with the League of Nations and its mandate for greater world governance and justice, but the idea was too far ahead of its time. Roosevelt had several strategic wartime objectives: -Keep the Allied Powers unified at least until the end of the fighting -Get the Allies to agree to a postwar order that balanced power in a way designed to preserve world security. Roosevelt imagined a collective security organization that would punish nations for acts of aggression and an international economic system that would coordinate national policies to prevent another Depression. The British simply aimed to survive WWII at all costs. They accepted that this would mean subservience to the U.S., as America was Britain’s key to salvation. Further, they accepted that this relationship would need to continue after the war. They had no interest in starting a rivalry with the Americans as Stalin assumed they would. The seeds of the Cold War were sown during WWII as the Allies failed to reconcile serious disagreements: -The Second Front Early on in the war, Britain and later the U.S. were afraid that the USSR might cut a deal with the Nazis, which would have left virtually all of continental Europe under the control of hostile authoritarianism. The Western Allies thus found it in their interest to keep the Soviets supplied with enough equipment to keep fighting and avoid being forced to sue for peace. The AngloAmericans also had to satisfy the Soviets with various concessions, for instance agreeing to not challenge their eventual re-annexation of lost Soviet republics or territories gained through the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. The Anglo-Americans also agreed to open a second front against the Nazis to relieve pressure on the Russians, though the Russians seethed at the seemingly insufficient and delayed efforts at such. The Allies also recognized the basic importance of


liberating European territories with their own forces since it would ensure them a postwar military presence. The Russians had already made it clear that the Western Allies would have no role in administering Eastern European countries. As the war drew to a close, Stalin became paranoid that the West would settle a truce with the Nazis that would allow Germany to continue fighting against the USSR. -Spheres of influence Roosevelt wanted the nations of Europe to determine their own destinies after the war, which meant that Stalin would have to allow them to hold elections. Stalin acquiesced, but had no intention of honoring his promises. Instead, he wanted to create pro-Soviet satellite regimes that would form a Soviet sphere of influence. Russo-Polish animosity was especially bad because of the Soviet invasion in 1939, the Katyn Wood massacre, the failure of the Red Army to support the 1944 Warsaw uprising, and the Soviet-mandated postwar shifting of Poland’s borders. There, Stalin had to impose a friendly government. -Defeated enemies The Soviets felt cheated by the Anglo-Americans, who only started fighting in continental Europe at the eleventh hour, yet who made large territorial gains. Nowhere was this most apparent in Germany, where the Allies took the majority of the country’s land along with its most industry- and resource rich areas. The Soviets ran East Germany in a brutal manner and indulged in the mass rape of 2 million German women by 1947. East Germans quickly grew to hate their own government by association. The U.S. refused to allow the Soviets to occupy part of postwar Japan in light of the USSR’s actions in Germany. -The atom bomb The advent of nuclear weapons skewed the balance of military power in favor of the U.S., which made Stalin more paranoid and committed to hardline politics so as not to appear intimidated. [End] The Western powers were willing to allow the Soviet Union to continue to exist, but wanted selfdetermination among nations and international cooperation as means to avert another World War. Stalin, on the other hand, wanted eventual Communist domination of the globe, and felt that infighting among Capitalist nations would be an inevitable part of that. A series of crises immediately following WWII initiated the Cold War: -Iran, Turkey, the Mediterranean—and containment Stalin demanded favorable adjustments to Turkey’s border with the USSR, control of the Turkish straits, control over some ex-Italian Mediterranean colonial ports, and refused to pull its troops out of northern Iran where they had jointly occupied the country with the British. The West refused all of Stalin’s demands and took the Iran issue to the UN Security Council. American naval forces were also deployed offshore of Iran. Stalin backed down, and it was clear that he had reached the limits of what his demands alone could accomplish. Moscow Foreign Service officer George Kennan authored a seminal letter in 1946 that found aggression and expansion to be characteristic of the Soviets, and called for an American response of containment. -The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan In 1947, the U.S. took over direct military and economic assistance to Greece and Turkey as the British could no longer afford it. Truman announced that this would begin a policy of active U.S. assistance to countries that were facing [Communist] insurrection, since violence undermined the ability to pursue self-determination. Secretary of State George C. Marshall also developed the Marshall Plan that same year, which offered American reconstruction aid to all of the countries of Europe as a way to keep them from succumbing to indigenous Communism thanks to hunger


and poverty, and as a way to give the U.S. moral authority over the USSR. Stalin forbade the leaders of the ostensibly “free” eastern European nations from meeting Marshall to work out aid arrangements. -Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Berlin Blockade In September 1947, Stalin formed Cominform, which was an organization meant to enforce Communist orthodoxy in eastern Europe: In reality, it ensured allegiance to Moscow and to the USSR’s interpretation of Marxism. In 1948, Stalin had Czech communists forcefully subvert their government, which was the only remaining democracy in eastern Europe. In Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito ran a Communist government that was wildly popular and that had purely indigenous roots. He resented Russian intervention in his affairs and openly broke with the Soviets in 1948. He was soon receiving American economic assistance. Stalin also instituted the Berlin Blockade in 1948 to try and strangle West Berlin (which was rebuilding much faster than the eastern part of the city) and maybe force the Western powers out. But the West was able to ship in supplies by air, and this operation gained the admiration and trust of the Germans. Overall, Stalin’s actions badly backfired: The events in Czechoslovakia persuaded European countries that they needed a collective security network to protect against Soviet aggression, and NATO was formed. Tito showed that Communism without Soviet domination was possible. The failed Berlin Blockade made Stalin look brutal and incompetent. However, during the same period, a number of apparent setbacks to the West occurred: -The Marshall Plan and America’s entire postwar European doctrine rested on the assumption that nuclear weapons would deter the Soviets, obviate the need for an American conventional forces buildup, and allow a focus on reconstruction. The Soviet detonation of a fission bomb in 1949 happened years ahead of schedule and shattered American weapons supremacy. An arms race thus ensued: the U.S. had to increase conventional forces in Europe, build more fission bombs, and build an even more powerful fusion bomb to keep the lead. In 1949 -Mao Zedong won the Chinese civil war in 1949, and the Nationalists fled to Taiwan. Neither Stalin nor Truman had anticipated such a victory so soon. Mao failed to realize that the Americans had given up on Chiang Kai-shek long ago and were willing to deal with Communist China so long as it followed a nonaligned path like Yugoslavia. Mao instead feared a U.S. invasion of his country (impossible given America’s weakened military, commitments in Europe, and domestic attitudes) and closely allied himself with Stalin for protection and out of ideological admiration (Mao was a pure Marxist-Leninist). In late 1949, Stalin and Mao concluded a mutual self-defense treaty and, to the fears of the West, agreed to work together to spread Communism in their different regions of the world. -At exactly the same time, several high-profile cases of Communist espionage became public in America, and Senator Eugene McCarthy began his crusade. The Korean War -U.S. and Soviet troops simultaneously moved into the Korean peninsula from opposite ends during the closing weeks of WWII. The two superpowers agreed to divide the country at the 38th parallel and both honored promises to pull their own forces out by 1949. Both installed puppet governments that claimed the right to rule the entire peninsula and that threatened each other with forceful reunification. -The leaders of North and South Korea were Kim Il-sung and Syngman Rhee, respectively. -Both pressed their superpower patrons to give them the necessary support to conquer the other, and both were repeatedly turned down out of fear of starting an unnecessary and expanding war


until 1950, when Stalin became emboldened and convinced that America would not support South Korea in a war. *The U.S. had done nothing to stop the Chinese Nationalists from losing the year before. *A recently announced American “defensive perimeter” in East Asia conspicuously excluded South Korea. *Stalin realized that proxies could be used to fight the Capitalist states without directly endangering the USSR. -The U.S. response to the invasion was swift and was heavily influenced by the fact that exactly this type of naked aggression had led to WWII. -Moscow had not anticipated fast deployment of the American army in Japan to Korea and had forgotten that its own ambassador to the UN was absent in protest over the refusal to admit Communist China as a member. A Security Council resolution for action was thus easily approved. The end of WWII did not bring security to anyone and in fact merely recast the old players as new enemies. Chapter 2: Deathboats and lifeboats Some called for the use of nuclear weapons in Korea to halt the Chinese advance, but Truman rejected the idea because it risked widening the conflict and subjecting American allies to Soviet nuclear counterattack. Nuclear weapons changed the whole concept of war since a nuclear exchange could destroy entire states, leaving a horrendously damaged victor or no victor at all. Even without nuclear weapons, the World Wars had clearly shown that modern technology was making warfare increasingly destructive. Truman realized that nuclear weapons were radically different from past weapons in their effects and ramifications, so he did not allow the military to have unfettered control over their use: Only the President would be able to authorize a nuclear attack. Truman erred in keeping nuclear planning and doctrine out of the hands of the generals for so long—this interfered with the ability to create a cohesive, rational, credible nuclear strategy to deter the Soviets. The Soviet nuclear program put greater strain on the USSR than the Manhattan Project did on the U.S. The Soviets routinely used forced labor and disregarded health and environmental standards to make progress. Even though the U.S. had 300+ nukes in 1951 and Russia only had 5 at best, there were numerous reasons why we didn’t nuke Chinese forces in Korea: -The Chinese armies were spread out in the wilderness and weren’t concentrated anywhere. Nuclear blasts would therefore have had disappointing tactical effects. -Bombing Chinese cities would have had a bigger impact on Mao, but the political costs would have been severe, and the USSR might have been provoked into entering the fighting. If a U.S.Soviet war broke out over Korea, Europe would probably also become a battleground. Western Europe knew this and protested against possible escalation in Korea. -By spring of 1951, the Chinese had outrun their supply lines and were being driven back by improved UN tactics. Stalin was willing to concede all of Korea to America rather than get involved.


Both the U.S. and USSR covered up the presence of Soviet fighter pilots over Korea, who battled against American planes. The hydrogen bomb was projected to be so powerful that military planners could not conceive of a practical use for it. Truman only authorized its construction because he feared the Soviets would get it first. The Soviets had actually started their H-bomb development before the Americans and relied on their own talents instead of espionage. The first American and Soviet H-bomb tests occurred in 1952 and 1953, respectively. In early 1953, Truman left office and Stalin died. New leaders took over the reins of power. Eisenhower viewed nuclear weapons differently than Truman, and he stated that he had no qualms using them in war, even against weak adversaries like the North Koreans in distant corners of the globe. He wanted credible nuclear attack to be a cornerstone of U.S. deterrence. However, the 1954 American BRAVO test exploded a 15-megaton H-bomb that produced a huge amount of fallout that was detected around the world. It gave analysts an appreciation of the global effects of nuclear weapons, and forced them to consider the consequences of an all-out exchange of said weapons. Leaders began to realize that nuclear weapons could bring about the end of humanity, and therefore couldn’t be used. Stalin was replaced by Nikita Khrushchev. Like Eisenhower, Khrushchev was a lifelong military man who had seen combat and been of high rank during WWII. Both understood the horrors of war better than their advisors and developed an instinctive aversion to using nuclear weapons. After BRAVO, Eisenhower came to understand that nuclear war would mean the end of human life. However, he also understood that nuclear weapons could deter the USSR, so he designed the American nuclear arsenal around a doctrine of massive, non-gradated use. The Communists, whom we believed to be superior in conventional military terms, would overrun Western forces in a standard war. The only protection was to threaten massive nuclear retaliation for any attack, however minor. By 1957, Russia had long-range bombers and ICBM’s capable of reaching the U.S. They inspired great anxiety in the West, in large part because of Khrushchev’s constant declarations of their capabilities and numbers. But unbeknownst to the West, during this period, the Russians had very few bombers, and they could only reach the U.S. on one-way missions. Soviet ICBM’s were also very inaccurate and limited in number. Khrushchev was a boisterous, crude, insecure man whose own power was uncertain. During the 1956 Suez Crisis, Khrushchev publicly threatened to destroy the French/English forces with “rocket weapons” [Nasser had previously broken with the British over the longrunning Suez Canal ownership dispute and was buying huge quantities of weapons from the Warsaw Pact] unless they withdrew. Eisenhower had publicly told the French and British to withdraw or face economic sanctions. The Franco-Anglo forces did withdraw, but due to U.S. as opposed to Soviet pressure. However, it appeared to everyone else that Khrushchev’s words had done the deed. This emboldened Khrushchev, who became even more bellicose as a result and who threatened nuclear annihilation even more frequently. In truth, Khrushchev was all talk, and he was smart enough to understand that a nuclear war would wreck his own country. Khrushchev visited the U.S. for the first and only time in 1959. In 1956, the U.S. fielded the U2 spy plane, which could fly higher than the Soviets could intercept with planes or missiles. It was an invaluable tool and allowed the U.S. to finally


determine the sadly underdeveloped nature of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. The Soviets were so embarrassed by their own inability to shoot down the U2’s that they kept their protests quiet. The USSR only had six ICBM launching pads, and each ICBM took 20 hours to fuel. Therefore, assuming a Soviet first strike, Khrushchev would have been able to hit his enemies with 6 ICBM’s at best before his missile capabilities were destroyed in kind. The USSR developed an antiaircraft missile capable of hitting the U2, and used it in 1960 to shoot down Gary Powers’ spy plane. It was probably to have been the last U2 flight anyway, since the U.S. was preparing to launch its first spy satellite into orbit. Kennedy popped Khrushchev’s bubble in 1961 by making public the classified findings about the USSR’s inflated nuclear claims. The “missile gap” had never existed. Khrushchev’s leverage over the West largely evaporated once his lies were exposed. Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba was unexpected in both the U.S. and USSR. Soviet academics saw the spontaneous nature of the revolution as proof that the class struggle elucidated by Marx was indeed inevitable and part of the natural human condition. Washington’s “counterrevolutionary” efforts exemplified by the Bay of Pigs invasion, the attempts to assassinate Castro, and the economic embargo convinced the Soviets that the U.S. would stop at nothing to prevent Communism from spreading in the Caribbean. Khrushchev believed that he had to show a strong presence in that part of the world to combat American efforts and encourage more domestic uprisings. This could be accomplished by installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. This also had the practical effect of doubling the number of Soviet missiles capable of hitting America. The U.S. had installed similar nuclear missiles in Britain, Italy and Turkey during the late 1950’s to target the Soviets. Kennedy believed that allowing the nukes to stay in Cuba would have destabilized the Western Hemisphere by emboldening Communist groups and intimidating pro-U.S. governments. Medium-range missiles were in place to hit the U.S. mainland, along with short-range ones to stop amphibious landings. Local commanders were also authorized to fire the nukes to repel an invasion. Kennedy agreed never to invade Cuba again and to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey if the Soviet missiles were extracted from Cuba. So, while Khrushchev’s ill-thought-out gamble had failed to accomplish its strategic objective of fomenting Communist revolution in Latin America, it did produce some gains. Upon assuming office, Kennedy was shocked to find that Eisenhower’s sole nuclear war doctrine called for the simultaneous use of 3,000 nukes against all Communist countries. Kennedy ordered McNamara to devise a gradated and more humane strategy. McNamara believed that he could negotiate with the Soviets to create advance “ground rules” for the use of nuclear weapons against military targets only. But this was an ill-fated effort since nukes are so powerful and military facilities so frequently located near civilian populations that a nuclear exchange would inevitably kill millions of innocent people. Misses (a real concern given the poor automated guidance systems of the time) and “cheating” were also problematic considerations. McNamara gave up on his original idea and instead reverted to Eisenhower’s doctrine of guaranteed massive attack, coining it “mutually assured destruction” (MAD). This strategy was the most likely to avert a nuclear war. “War could no longer be an instrument of statecraft [‘War is the continuation of politics by other means.’]—rather, the survival of states required that there be no war at all.”


Both sides came to understand that nuclear war had to be prevented at all costs, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), various treaties were signed to pursue this end. The two came to the same logical conclusions and were united by fear more than they were divided by ideology. Chapter 3: Command versus spontaneity Of course, the Cold War was also a war of ideas, chiefly concerning the organization of society and the rights of individuals. Khrushchev often admitted that the Eastern Bloc lagged behind the West in terms of technology and standards of living, but always boasted that Communism would lead his side to inevitably surpass its enemies. This is best encapsulated in his famous statement: “We will bury you.” But by 1971, the Eastern Bloc economies had stagnated. By 1981, their life expectancies had declined, which was totally aberrant for industrialized nations outside of wartime. Karl Marx lived in England and observed the ill social effects caused by highly unequal distributions of wealth. Marx believed that Capitalism sowed the seeds of its own destruction in the form of masses of suffering, embittered workers (the proletariat) who would one day arise against their masters and divide all property equally, permanently eliminating class divisions and the resentment they caused and inaugurating a new age of human happiness. Whether they listened to Marx or not, by the turn of the century, most governments also recognized the dangers posed by such inequalities, and they chose to mitigate them by following moderate paths and creating welfare states. [All citizens are entitled to certain government services and benefits, meaning none can fall below a certain standard of living.] But WWI cast doubts on the ability of capitalist, progressive nations to preserve the peace for the sake of their citizens. Lenin differed from Marx and Engels in his determination to move from theory to action, and to accelerate the course of history. Lenin took the ongoing example of WWI as proof that Capitalism caused injustice and war. He demanded the use of authoritarianism to defeat Communism’s enemies in Russia and free the Russian proletariat from bondage. President Wilson, who was a staunch international critic of Communism from the 1917 Revolution, favored a different approach. He recognized that democracy and Capitalism, as they were practiced at the time, we unfair to many people and led to irresponsible governance and warfare. However, rather than forsaking both systems entirely as Marx desired, Wilson wanted to reform them: -Future wars could be prevented by creating an international security organization that would allow nations to work out disputes peacefully, and that would marshal many nations together to put down individuals behaving aggressively. -More people across the world could be freed from oppression through de-colonialism and democracy. -New economic policies that prevented worker abuse, unfair wages, monopolies, protectionism, and other bad practices would ease the agonies of the proletariat and make economies more stable. With these new rules in place, the worldwide proletariat would gradually gain the means to socially, economically, and politically liberate themselves rather than relying on an authoritarian government to free them. After WWI, it was unclear which system would prevail in bringing about social justice in modern industrial societies.


The events of the 1919-1945 period seemingly proved Wilson’s ideas fanciful and Marx’s more realist, and the USSR became a world power, weathered the Great Depression with full employment and economic expansion, and world totalitarianism grew stronger. The New Deal had helped ease the Depression, but only the military expenditures of WWII had ended it. As the war closed, there were real fears the economic problems would return. The pivotal event that shaped the second half of the 20th century was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Not only did it lead to America’s entry into WWII, but it forever convinced Americans— a formerly isolationist people—that geographical distance no longer guaranteed security, and that the status of the rest of the world could affect the U.S. directly. Dictatorships thus had to be resisted everywhere. After WWII, people understood the logic of Wilson’s ideas. Capitalism had to be protected from its own self-destructive influences, which led to wealth disparities and attendant social problems, followed by economic instability and collapse, which led to the discrediting of democratic governments and the search for authoritarian alternatives. To ensure stability was to obviate WWIII. Roosevelt planned to create three international bodies to ensure economic liberalization and to prevent interstate aggression: the World Bank, IMF, and U.N. Stalin was initially invited to join all three. These fulfilled two of the three main principles of Wilson’s revived Fourteen Points. The third—self-determination—would proceed in colonized areas where the U.S. had influence, but Roosevelt conceded that it would have to stall in Soviet-dominated areas to placate the USSR. Stalin joined the UN because of the Security Council vote, but didn’t want to be a part of the others once he discovered that they were meant to save capitalism and not just fund USSR recovery. Major speeches given by Stalin, Truman, and Churchill in the 2 years after WWII laid the groundwork for an ideological struggle in which the two sides demonized the other. It was made clear by high government officials that America was taking on permanent global responsibilities to fight Communism, and that assuring a stable world economy was central to keeping the masses from supporting Communism. Both capitalism and communism promised better lives for adherents. The key difference was that only the second relied upon instilling fear in the populace to maintain power and to enact changes. Europeans living in Nazi-occupied Europe were thankful for Soviet liberation, but were also made uneasy by Stalin’s reputation and by the behavior of the Red Army. Stalin wanted to instill Communist governments in Eastern Europe, but he knew that this could only be accomplished through force. At the same time, it couldn’t appear as if Communism were being forced on the people because such a thing would be bad for appearances: Pains would have to be taken to make sure that the Eastern European countries at least appeared to support indigenous Communist movements. Communism would take over Western Europe through internal movements that would seize upon capitalist disunity. Stalin did not start to calm down in old age and after the defeat of Hitler: When he died, Soviet prisons were fuller than ever, mass executions were ongoing, and Stalin had plans to deport all Russian Jews to Siberia. Post-WWII, the plan to make Germany and Japan into democracies seemed unlikely to succeed given the nature of their recent governments and the fact that democratic culture had never taken


root (democratic governments had briefly ruled both countries in the early 20th century, but failed in part because the people didn’t appreciate what they stood for). The U.S. realized that successfully rebuilding these nations would require huge infusions of American money. Soviet leaders after Stalin attempted to extricate Stalinism from Marxism, believing that Communism was fundamentally viable yet had been corrupted by Stalin. The first post-Stalin leader was Beria. While a very unsavory character, he was a definite improvement upon his predecessor. Stalin resisted the idea of formally splitting Germany into two nations, and he repeatedly sought to reunify the country on favorable terms. The formation of West Germany in 1949 dashed those hopes. East Germany was disadvantaged since it had always been an agricultural area and most of what little industry it had had been taken by the Russians as reparations. Ulbricht, the leader of East Germany, set about correcting this through a harsh and intense industrialization program, which caused highly embarrassing riots in the country and caused thousands of Germans to flee west. Beria actually proposed the idea of cutting ties with East Germany and allowing the country to reunify under a capitalist government, but he was arrested and then executed by Khrushchev for betraying Communism first. Soviet troops were then sent into East Germany to forcefully put down the riots. Khrushchev pushed aside Malenkov and Molotov to take supreme command of the USSR. In 1956, Khrushchev shocked the world by candidly denouncing Stalin and his crimes before the 20th Soviet Congress. Khrushchev honestly hoped to revive Soviet Marxism, but realized that this required the admission of past errors first. However, doing such also meant admitting that Soviet ideology could be imperfect, which was at odds with the pronouncements of Lenin and Marx. Khrushchev implied that Communism would require popular support to succeed and to rule morally, but his later actions showed a lack of commitment to this ideal. In 1956, the Poles restored an old leader who had been purged under Stalin. Khrushchev was furious, but begrudgingly accepted. Hungary next became emboldened and went into open rebellion against Moscow. The USSR responded by sending in troops, killing 20,000 Hungarians and suffering 1,500 friendly deaths. China played a major role in making Khrushchev put down the Hungarian rebellion instead of allowing them to leave the Warsaw Pact. Mao in many ways admired Stalin, though he was not subservient to him. Mao had a different take on Marxist ideology, which later combined with a cult of personality to form Maoism. Maoism did not emphasize industrialization as Stalinism did, and instead viewed the farmer peasant as the basic societal unit. Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” was an attempt both to collectivize farmers and to industrialize through cottage industries. The resulting famine killed at least 30 million people—far more than those killed by Stalin’s failed agricultural reforms. Of course, none of this was known at the time since Mao, like Stalin, censored all of his censuses and had his country closed off to outsiders and the free press. While the failures of Communism could be hidden in the USSR and China, they could not in Berlin, where the two systems were directly contrasted. West Berlin thrived thanks to generous subsidies from West Germany and America. It was surrounded by several hundred thousand Soviet troops and could have been cut off by land at any time. Airborne resupply became impossible later on thanks to growth in the city’s size.


The 1953 East German riots were largely caused by the fact that, at that time, they could travel into West Germany and view the differences in living standards for themselves. Many East Germans became angry at the failures of Communism as a result. From 1949 to 1961, 2.7 million East Germans fled west, causing the population to decline to 17 million. Most of these people were well-educated and highly skilled, and they left because of economic as much as political reasons. The idea to build the Berlin Wall had been floated by Ulbricht as early as 1952, but it was resisted by Khrushchev and other Communist leaders on the grounds that it would look terrible to the world and would hurt morale in East Germany. However, the loss of people was threatening to destroy the East German economy, and on the night of August 12-13 1961, the wall went up as a barbed wire enclosure surrounding West Berlin. While the wall was problematic, it at least solved the embarrassing emigration issue and lessened the threat from another Cold War hotspot. The 15 years following WWII were critical because they dispelled the old fears and showed that democratic capitalism had in fact been intelligently and deliberately reformed. The democratic powers were united, and their economies were booming, with no signs of instability. The lessons of history had been learned. The fundamental failure of Communism thus lies in its presumption that the original theory—of the inevitable class struggle, of the necessity for dictatorship to achieve revolutionary ends—is perfect and overrides all later considerations and developments. The system is inflexible and does not learn from its own mistakes, whereas democratic capitalism evolves with time. Communism was clearly losing the worldwide competition by 1960. Chapter 4: The emergence of autonomy Khrushchev was overthrown in a bloodless coup on October 13th, 1964. He had become a megalomaniac, was ruling incompetently, and had embarrassed the Soviet Union before the world. While the period from the late 1950’s-early 1970’s appeared to be one of bipolarity, in fact the U.S. and USSR were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain control over upstart independence movements in the Third World, and on internal factions within their nations. European colonialism was begun by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 1400’s when they found ways to transport men, guns, and (unwittingly) germs to the rest of the world. The 1905 Russo-Japanese War shattered the myth of European racial superiority. The First World War gave birth to Bolshevism and Wilson’s calls for self-determination in the colonized world. Both unleashed powerful forces in the Third World. The end of colonialism was inevitable: There was no way a group of small countries could indefinitely subjugate many times their number elsewhere. The process accelerated after WWII, when Europe was economically and militarily devastated and unable to fight independence movements. Both the U.S. and USSR wanted decolonialization. Stalin was focused on Europe and had no master plan to spread Communism across the Third World. Khrushchev was more engaged. The Korean War showed that seemingly unimportant, undeveloped emerging countries were becoming battlegrounds between Communism and Capitalism, and that, at the very least, areas


had to be defended from Communism because losing them was bad for Western morale and for world perceptions of the West’s resolve. The importance of the Third World empowered Third World leaders. The non-alignment strategy/movement meant that a country kept its allegiance ambiguous so that both superpowers would give it aid in the hopes of swaying it, and the country could threaten to switch sides if one side became too demanding. Tito pioneered this in 1948: When the U.S. offered him economic aid and dispatched a carrier group to the Adriatic as a veiled guarantee of protection, he gambled that accepting it and rejecting Stalin would pay off since Stalin wouldn’t conquer Yugoslavia for fear of dragging America into a war. The gamble worked. Thenceforth, Tito walked a tightrope, having relations with both sides, yet keeping them at a distance. In the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan—fearful of Indian ambitions—maneuvered itself into SEATO and CENTO for protection. It curried U.S. favor by being anti-communist and by offering bases on the USSR’s southern border. India chose non-alignment. China also joined the non-aligned movement. In April 1955, representatives from these nations along with Nasser of Egypt met for the first conference of non-aligned nations. Colonel Nasser had seized power from Egypt’s puppet government monarchy and had ambitions of ruling the entire Arab world (the Pan-Arab movement). He hated the Europeans and wanted control over the Suez Canal, but he was more favorable to the Americans, who were new. The U.S. funded construction of the Aswan High Dam, but cut the money to protest Nasser’s purchase of a huge volume of Czech-made arms (this somehow threatened to bring him under Soviet influence). Nasser then turned to the Soviet Union for the rest of the dam money. The 1956 Suez War broke out as the British and French sought to depose Nasser and keep the Suez Canal under their control. Eisenhower had not been told beforehand, and he was furious over how it gave the appearance of resurgent European colonialism and coincided with the Hungarian uprising, destroying Western moral superiority. The U.S. forced the invasion to end by threatening harsh economic sanctions against its allies. The real winner was Nasser, who kept the Canal, forced the outsiders to withdraw forever, and established himself as the Arab world’s most powerful player. Third World regimes that were staunchly anti-Communist or –Capitalist (like the two Koreas, Vietnam, or Taiwan) could not plausibly threaten to defect to the other side, but could still manipulate their superpower patrons by emphasizing that their governments might collapse or be subverted by the enemy. The U.S. was thus forced to support Syngman Rhee of South Korea after the war with money, arms, American troops, and a bilateral defense treaty even though he was a brutal autocrat—there was simply no alternative. Rhee could govern as he liked because he knew the Americans would only push him so far since they needed his government to be stable. The USSR had a similar experience with North Korea, where Khrushchev had to tolerate the cult of personality even though he had officially denounced it as a perversion of Communist ideology. In 1954, Chiang Kai-Shek insisted on retaining control over several small islands right off of the mainland’s coast, as potential staging areas for a future offensive to recapture the country from the Communists. He claimed that, if the islands were lost, it would discredit his regime and cause its collapse, which would lead to an uncertain future. In response, the U.S. tried to shore up his popularity with a bilateral defense treaty that covered only Taiwan itself. Mao decided to call this bluff by invading one of the islands and shelling the others. The U.S. was forced to respond by


threatening to use nukes if the biggest islands—Quemoy and Matsu—were invaded. Again, the superpower was forced to act against its interests (using nukes to protect some random islands is definitely a bad option for us) to protect a weak client state. Mao was later able to “punish” the U.S. for its 1958 Lebanon invasion by shelling the Taiwan islands, which again brought the threat of a nuclear response. The leader of South Vietnam was an American-picked puppet named Ngo Dinh Diem. Like Rhee, he was an autocrat, though even more corrupt and brutal. His rule became an embarrassment to the U.S. and led to instability within South Vietnam. Accordingly, Kennedy authorized a South Vietnamese military coup in 1963 that led to Diem’s death. America was responsible for playing up the importance of South Vietnam not falling to Communism. The U.S. was thus dragged into a broader commitment. In the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, Khrushchev had wanted to improve relations with the U.S., but the Vietnam War obliged him to help the North in light of ideological commonalities and to gain influence in Southeast Asia at the expense of China. The USSR therefore had to put its ambitions on hold because of events in the Third World. East Germany warned the USSR of its own collapse to extort raw materials and consumer goods. France and China were the biggest thorns in the sides of their superpower patrons. Both the U.S. and USSR had given France and China, respectively, generous funding to rebuild their postwar economies and had allowed them to develop nuclear weapons. But during the late 1950’s and 60’s, de Gaulle and Mao destroyed the old alliances. The French Fourth Republic (itself a revival of the fractious Third Republic) have overseen the postwar expansion of the French economy yet was incredibly unstable, with constant changes in leadership and shifts in coalitions. Clearly, a new constitution was needed to provide a new government structure that would centralize authority and make the government more decisive. De Gaulle was France’s wartime hero and the only man capable of creating such a Fifth Republic. He ended French colonialism by withdrawing from Algeria and Indochina—a move Washington applauded—but he thwarted U.S. European policies. -He refused to coordinate French nuclear doctrine with the U.S. and Britain -He vetoed British inclusion into the European Economic Community (now the EU) -He urged the Germanies towards unification even if it meant withdrawal from NATO and neutrality in the Cold War -He withdrew France from NATO and kicked out all U.S. troops. De Gaulle correctly gambled that he could rekindle France’s pride and bolster his own popularity by opposing the U.S. at little political cost since America would not forsake him as an ally considering the Soviet threat. China and Russia had historic animosities predating the rise of Communism. Mao respected Stalin and was offended when Khrushchev denounced such cults of personality. Mao and Khrushchev had a poor personal relationship. Mao thought the Soviets had lost their revolutionary edge and were not behaving aggressively enough on the world stage. He felt that the Sino-Soviet alliance had outlived its usefulness by the 1960’s, but the Soviets kept trying to keep it going. One reason the French and Chinese behaved badly was because they had become powerful enough not to need superpower support. By 1967, in both blocs, traditional authority structures were under vicious internal assault. Both Mao and de Gaulle had their palaces surrounded by young protestors and had to temporarily flee their enclaves. Never did either regain as much authority or boldness as before. Throughout


Western Europe and America, massive student protests occurred against the Vietnam War and perceptions of lingering Western imperialism. Nixon won the 1968 election because the Democrats were divided. The student protestors were of the Baby Boom generation: They were a prolific cohort. Economic prosperity and government-subsidized higher education also meant that huge numbers of them went to college where they absorbed ideas that often conflicted with authority. The massive student actions were thus to be expected. This demographic group rose in both the U.S., Europe and USSR. In China, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966 in an effort to keep the sociopolitical structure from ossifying as he thought it had in the USSR. The Red Guards—China’s young, educated elite—spearheaded the effort to reshape Chinese society. It was a disaster, millions of people died of famine, and the government ceased to function until 1969. However, none of these revolutionaries accomplished anything in the end: Old power structures stayed intact. In March of 1969, China and Russia had a border war that looked as if it might escalate to a massive confrontation. Mao realized that he was surrounded by powerful enemies (USSR, India, and Japan), and resolved to make overtures to the U.S. for an alliance. At that same time, the U.S.-Soviet missile gap closed and Brezhnev announced a new Soviet doctrine that upheld the right to intervene anywhere in the world where Communism and Capitalism were fighting for control of a country. There were real fears that the Soviets might use nukes against China in a widened war and take the country over. Nixon and Mao met in 1972 and formed an unofficial alliance against the Soviets. The 1968 Soviet operation to put down the “Prague Spring” was seen from the outside as a crushing military success, but in fact it deeply unsettled the Russians: The Soviet troops had been jeered by the Czechs and it had been very difficult to find locals willing to staff the new puppet government. Demonstrations elsewhere in the Communist world against the operation were also signs that Soviet power was diminishing. The Soviet leadership was afraid that further Czech-like operations within the Eastern Bloc would at some future point expose Soviet weakness and lead to critical levels of dissent. Furthermore, by now it realized the fundamental weakness of Communist economic policy, as evidenced by Eastern Bloc stagnation. Conflict within the Communist nations had to be avoided. Western economic sanctions as punishment for Soviet misbehavior would be crippling. Détente was necessary to maintain a stable Soviet sphere of influence. West Germany originated the idea of Ostpolitik: The carefully structured flow of ideas, people, and goods between the Communist and Capitalist spheres in the hopes that it would establish gradually increasing peace, unity, and democracy. Western leaders realized that greater engagement with the Soviets would placate many of the young protestors who had been so troublesome. The USSR, facing a hostile China and a socially and economically delicate reality within its sphere of influence, found it advantageous to seek détente and reduce military tensions with the West. (Détente would lead to arms reduction treaties) Nixon’s ending of the draft and draw downs of U.S. troops from Vietnam took much steam out of anti-war protestors. Nixon’s efforts led to a crushing victory in the 1972 elections. Chapter 5: The Recovery of Equity


Nixon was forced to resign from office because of the June 1972 Watergate break-in. The turn of events shocked him and the Soviets for its apparent disproportion, and also demonstrated that Americans valued the rule of law above all else. Both the U.S. and USSR during this period met increasing resistance to their authoritarian policies and more demands for legal rights. While it was initially hoped that the UN would function as a just and effective pseudo-world government, the veto powers given to the five Security Council members meant that justice could be preempted by power. The different ideologies (capitalist, communist, colonialist) present in the Security Council guaranteed that no common rules or principles for international conduct would be upheld. The UN was not an effective organ for constraining the great powers from acting as they pleased against their own citizens or against sovereign states. Restraint would have to instead come from the states and be self-imposed. In the postwar era, the U.S. publicly proclaimed that, since its own system was inherently superior, America need only behave well and serve as a good example to bring about the fall of Communism. But real-world exigencies demanded U.S. actions that were not in accordance with liberty, honesty, and respect for self-determination: Right after the war, the CIA organized a secret campaign to fund anticommunist politicians in Italy to ensure capitalists would maintain power over the country. Thus began a long-term, worldwide secret American campaign to fight Communism. Between 1949 and 1952, the CIA exploded in size. Common operations included secret funding of ostensibly independent, anticommunist radio stations, political groups, labor unions, organizations, publications, etc. across the world. The CIA also worked with the Air Force to fly illegal reconnaissance missions over the USSR. Legitimately elected governments were overthrown if they were suspected of being pro-communist. The seminal review of national security strategy—NSC-68—was conducted in 1950 and outlined America’s covert war against Communism worldwide. It was established that Western principles could be temporarily suspended in foreign operations a way to defend the West itself. It was also understood that these emergency measures would be proportionate and would be discontinued once the Soviet threat disappeared. The stakes were too high to tie our hands honorably. However, CIA operations to fight communism often had unforeseen side effects. The 1954 CIAbacked coup against Guatemala’s popular reformist President inspired Che Guevara and Fidel Castro to take over Cuba. CIA support for Mohammad Reza Shah also so enraged the Iranian people that they overthrew him in 1979 and installed an Islamic fundamentalist government. However, there were also noteworthy successes: A lot of valuable information was captured from the Soviets and published worldwide, to the latter’s embarrassment. American free radio broadcasts were also highly effective. Johnson promised during the 1964 election that he would not escalate the Vietnam War, and he won as a result. He then immediately went back on his word, thinking that it would be inconsequential since the war would be quickly won and soon everyone would forget. Johnson continued to lie about the war’s probable costs and progress because he believed an honest assessment would be unpalatable to the American people, and winning the Vietnam War was something he viewed as crucial to surviving the Cold War. His dishonest rhetoric (“credibility gap”) disillusioned the American people and initiated the era of widespread mistrust for the government.


Nixon took this Executive prerogative to behave dishonestly (and illegally) to safeguard America to a new extreme, and he had to resign as a result. Of course, secrecy is integral to diplomacy and military success, both within and outside of the Cold War. Even average people recognize this, and will therefore forgive transgressions so long as they are defensible (i.e.—secretly bombing North Vietnam to put pressure on them to sign a truce). Where Nixon erred was in applying dishonest means to indefensible causes. -Nixon lied about bombing Cambodia for months, and ordered falsification of Air Force records. -Nixon lied about ongoing CIA operations to oust Salvador Allende of Chile. -Nixon had the phones of White House staffers tapped because he thought some of them were leaking secrets to the press. -After the Pentagon Papers were leaked, Nixon ordered the formation of “the Plumbers”—a gang of ex-law enforcement and government agents who could commit crimes (burglaries, wiretaps, surveillance) to stop future leaks. The Watergate Crisis reasserted legal and Constitutional authority over the Presidency. In January 1973, Nixon had forced North Vietnam to accept a peace treaty, which allowed American troops to leave. While he expected the North to inevitably violate the agreement and resume the war, Nixon and Kissinger believed that there was a fair chance the North could be held at bay indefinitely by South Vietnamese ground defenses and massive American airstrikes— which would resume in the event of an attack. But Watergate destroyed Nixon’s power. In summer of 1973, Congress cancelled all funding for the Vietnam War and passed the War Powers Act. Ford was consequently unable to do anything at all in 1975 when South Vietnam was overrun. While the U.S. government had looked the other way on questionable CIA practices for 20 years —even when they hit the mainstream press—the use of ex-CIA agents among the Plumbers and unrelated media exposees about covert CIA operations during the same period led to Congressional inquiries into the CIA. The CIA overthrows of democratically elected governments in Guatemala, Iran and Chile all came to light. While the leaders of these nations were left-leaning, they were indisputably wellintentioned and no one could establish whether they definitely or even probably would have entered into the Soviet sphere of influence if left in power. This led some to believe that the CIA was behaving recklessly in its fight against Communism. Congressional suspicion of the Executive led to the passage of a 1975 law that forbade the use of CIA funds to help the anticommunist faction in the Angolan Civil War. The lapse proved inconsequential since the Soviets gained nothing from supporting the communist Angolans. Support of right-wing dictatorships and mass “hostage taking” as exemplified by MAD were highly immoral, yet necessary to American survival during the Cold War. Over time, these arrangements were accepted, and the geopolitical relationship between east and west stabilized. Of course, the Communist regimes were guilty of human rights violations far more heinous. Pursing a completely consistent and moral path would have required going to war with the Soviets at some point. This would have led to millions of deaths. It was not moral to sacrifice so many people for, say, the lives of a couple hundred people being killed by Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. At the same time, American Cold War policy could not be entirely pragmatic because that would eliminate progress and any claim to the moral high ground. All elements had to be kept in careful balance.


In 1972, Congress passed an amendment to the Trade Reform Act that cut Eximbank credits and most favored nation status to the USSR because of the latter’s enactment of a steep emigration tax to keep its residents from fleeing, and due to mistreatment of Russian Jews. Kissinger protested, saying that stable trade relations had been a condition of the delicate negotiations Nixon had concluded with the Soviets to pass SALT I. Kissinger insisted that secret diplomacy would accomplish more towards helping the Russian Jews and dealing with the tax. But Congress ignored this on moralistic grounds and due to underestimations of Soviet trustworthiness. The Act passed in 1975 and caused the end of détente. The 1968 Prague Spring and its brutal end marked the beginning of a crackdown within the Soviet sphere against liberalizing agents. It, along with the obvious economic failures, also made it clear to many on both sides of the Iron Curtain that the Marxist-Leninist idea that Communism would be naturally and inevitably supported by people the world over was wrong: Instead, it could only be applied through force. Many people began to hate Communism privately, yet outwardly were smart enough to feign approval. Brezhnev recognized that Soviet legitimacy rested on its claimed infallibility. When real-world events shattered this, the government ran into trouble. On July 30th, 1975, Brezhnev and Ford signed a document called the “Helsinki Accords” that affirmed the then-current borders of Europe. [Badly explained] Brezhnev believed that this would guarantee Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe. He made a number of important concessions, including the promise to forewarn client states of upcoming military movements, allowing states to move in and out of alliances, and recognizing the importance of human rights. American liberals criticized the agreement as an abdication of America’s moral duty to advance freedom in Eastern Europe. This issue partly led to Ford’s election loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976. However, the impact was also large in the Soviet Union. Once it was made known that Brezhnev had promised to respect human rights in Eastern Europe, the government could be held to a standard of conduct independent of its faithfulness to Communist ideology. All across Eastern Europe, groups formed to monitor adherence to the Helsinki Accords. Czech intellectual Vaclav Havel emerged as a leader of the peaceful resistance movement in Eastern Europe. He and others didn’t advocate violence or direct opposition to Communist regimes since recent history had proven that completely hopeless. Instead, they called for subtle resistance in the form of individualism and deliberate nonconformity. In 1978, the Catholic Church assigned Karol Wojtyla—a Pole who had practiced in Poland with the Communist regime’s approval—the Papacy. Brezhnev and head Communists were immediately very fearful of the effect an Eastern European native Pope would have on his people. Pope John Paul II was wildly popular in Eastern Europe and he inspired them to maintain their faith in God and to seek peace and justice—powerful antiestablishment messages for people living under Communism. Chapter 6: Actors In the 1980’s, powerful individuals on both sides of the Iron Curtain shaped events like never before. By 1980, the world had seemingly settled into a set order in which MAD enforced stability. Détente might keep the world safe forever by fostering mutual respect for the other superpower’s


sphere of influence, banning direct warfare, and even permitting each side to verify the other’s military capabilities in the interests of trust. But détente conceded large parts of the world to authoritarianism, poverty and suffering. Many people were unwilling to continue such an existence, and the Communists found it increasingly difficult to control them and their supporters. The centerpiece of détente was the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I). Signed in 1972, it capped the number of ICBM’s and SLBM’s and forbade serious missile defense systems. This legitimated the concept that security came from MAD. However, SALT I was an incomplete agreement: -While the number of missiles was capped, there was no restriction on the number of warheads that could be loaded onto each missile. Plane-delivered nuclear bombs were also not restricted. -Many Americans were upset that SALT I allowed the Soviets to keep more missiles than the U.S. -Short-range missiles and the nuclear arsenals of Britain and France were exempted. A dissatisfied Congress passed a law mandating nuclear weapons parity in any future reduction agreements. This demand, along with calls for a more open process of negotiation (Kissinger was very secretive with his dealings with the Soviets) crippled efforts at getting SALT II during Carter’s Presidency. Carter also angered the Soviets with his persistent demands that they respect human rights— something previous Presidents had avoided. Brezhnev was in poor health and turned over much of the SALT II negotiation and nuclear policy in general to the military. They were aggressive and shortsighted, disturbing the MAD-assured balance of power by starting new civil defense programs and deploying SS-20 IRBM’s against Western Europe. The latter responded by asking for deployments of Pershing IRBM’s. Carter and Brezhnev signed SALT II in June, 1979. Ratification of the treaty stalled in the Senate over Carter’s announced presence of a Soviet brigade in Cuba (embarrassingly, this had been permitted under the secret Kennedy-Khrushchev agreement that ended the Cuban missile crisis —Carter just didn’t know about it), and then REALLY stalled after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December. Nixon and Brezhnev had agreed not to interfere in each others’ spheres of influence and to tamp down proxy wars in the Third World. Anwar Sadat, angered by this seeming Soviet abandonment of his nation (also exemplified by Soviet inaction during the 1967 war) terminated his country’s relationship with the USSR and sought American patronage. Ignored, he waged the 1973 war—which he expected to lose—to get attention and to force America to act on his behalf rather than led Israel destroy him. Rather than let an anti-Soviet major Arab leader be humiliated, the U.S. indeed intervened by negotiating an immediate end to the war. During the 1979 Camp David Accords, Sadat’s plan came to fruition when he got the Sinai back along with generous American support and friendship into the indefinite future. The Soviets totally lost all influence on Egypt. The Egypt example showed the fragility of détente: One superpower could still be pressured by a third party to behave in ways that gained it a unilateral advantage in the Third World. After the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union thus continued to violate détente in places like Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. However, these places were strategically unimportant, and their Communist factions were only supported by the USSR for ideological and propaganda reasons. But this policy of supporting Communism wherever it arose was problematic because it


dragged the USSR into conflicts and internal affairs within far-flung countries it had no practical interest in protecting. In 1977, the Soviet client state of Somalia attacked Marxist Ethiopia. The USSR had to switch sides for ideological reasons in the pointless conflict between two impoverished countries. The U.S. gained from this by allying itself with Somalia and obtaining access to naval bases. Furthermore, the Soviet interference damaged relations with America, which were far more important than having a stake in the Somali-Ethiopian War. Coupled with USSR-Cuban support for the Angolan Communists, Soviet actions gave the appearance of a major initiative against Africa. The 1978 Marxist takeover of Afghanistan was a surprise for Moscow. But the new Afghan government was unpopular from the start, and came under assault from Islamic fundamentalism following the Iranian Revolution. The USSR became increasingly responsible for propping up the hated Afghan regime. Even though they knew the timing was incredibly bad (SALT II was pending approval, the 1980 Moscow Olympics were upcoming, nuclear tensions in Europe were high over the IRBM’s), and that the international community would surely respond harshly, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan on Christmas, 1979 after the Marxist government fell and there were fears that its replacement would be pro-American. Carter responded by withdrawing SALT II from Senate consideration, cutting most trade with the USSR, increasing military spending, and boycotting the 1980 Olympics. The 1970’s were certainly bad for America: -The Vietnam War was lost. -Nixon resigned in disgrace and faith in the government was deeply shaken. -The oil embargos because of the 1973 War occurred. -The economy was generally very bad. -U.S.-allied governments in Afghanistan, Iran, Latin America, and Africa were either replaced or came under assault by Communists. -The USSR surpassed the U.S. in the size of its nuclear arsenal. Many analysts believed that this marked the start of America’s decline vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. However, the Eastern Bloc was experiencing even more serious problems that it was trying desperately to cover up: -All of their economies and living standards had stagnated and even started declining by the 1960’s. Making matters worse was the fact that the Combloc economies were much smaller than their Western counterparts’. -Discontent with Communism was widespread and growing in the Eastern Bloc. -The Soviet Union was forced to permit extension of Western credits and trade into Eastern Europe to stave off economic collapse—Soviet aid was no longer sufficient. -The Soviets had to spend three times as great a percentage of their GDP on defense as the U.S. just to keep up. -Much of the Soviet economic/military power of the 1970’s and 80’s stemmed from revenues off of high oil prices. Cyclical variations in the price of oil meant their cashflow would inevitably decline. On balance then, the Eastern Bloc was declining in power relative to the West during the 1970’s. The Soviets also lacked any cohesive, long-term foreign policy strategy: -They had become economically dependent upon the West, yet continually offended it with provocative actions.


-They knew their economy was heading for disaster in the long term, yet did nothing to correct it. -They had promised to respect human rights, but refused to follow through. Deng Xiaoping -Was sent into exile twice by Mao during the 1970’s. -Mao died in 1976, and Deng consolidated power by 1978. -Like Khrushchev after Stalin, Deng proclaimed that Mao had done both good and bad things as leader: Building up the nation’s military, keeping the Communist monopoly on power, and opening relations with the U.S. were good, while Mao’s administration of the economy had been bad. -Deng allowed experimentation with Capitalism at regional levels, which in turn lead to an explosion in the size of the Chinese economy and greatly improved living standards. This contrasted with the Soviet economy (which shrank during the 1980’s) and lent popular support to the Chinese Communist Party, allowing it to survive the end of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher -Throughout her career as Prime Minister, she dismantled various aspects of the Social welfare state: Taxes were cut, state-owned industries were reformed or privatized, labor unions were opposed, and regulations were cut. -Her popularity and the success of her policies showed that Capitalism was still a very valid system. -Thatcher publicly opposed the Soviets and was a critic of détente. Ronald Reagan -Already famous as a film actor, and consistently underestimated as a result of this: Reagan was in fact a brilliant politician and a master strategist. -He could balance the simple and the complex. Détente was designed to prolong the Cold War. Ending the Cold War therefore required ending détente. -“Communism is a temporary aberration which will one day disappear from the earth because it is contrary to human nature.” –1975 -Reagan’s view: Democratic capitalism will triumph over communism in the long run, unless and nuclear war first destroys the human race. Lech Walesa -In 1980, he organized the first independent, self-governing union (of shipyard workers) in the Communist world. -His move was wildly popular among fellow Poles, and immediately gained public support from the Pope. In 1981, Bulgarian intelligence—almost certainly at the behest of the Soviet leadership—hired Turk Mehmet Ali Agca to kill Walesa and the Pope. He wounded the Pope and was captured. There were concerns that Poland was slipping out of Soviet control. Though the Soviets pressured Poland to shut down Solidarity, the Polish government continued to tolerate its existence. There were fears this would inspire other labor movements and popular resistance elsewhere in the Soviet sphere. The Soviets could not simply invade Poland as they had done to Czechoslovakia in 1968: -Their military was bogged down in Afghanistan, and a second occupation wasn’t affordable. -If Carter responded harshly to the Afghan invasion, Reagan was be even worse in response to a Polish invasion.


This shift in Soviet strategy marked the end of their willingness to use force to preserve their sphere of influence per the Brezhnev Doctrine. Solidarity also showed to the world that Communism had utterly failed to advance workers’ rights. On December 13th, 1981, the President of Poland imprisoned Solidarity’s leaders out of fear the USSR was about to invade. Reagan understood that the Soviet advantage was largely psychological, and that, through words and symbolic actions, he could call attention to their weaknesses and bring them down. While previous leaders had emphasized perpetual, peaceful coexistence with the Soviets, Reagan espoused the message that Communism was bound to collapse and had failed its citizens. Brezhnev died in 1982, and his successor, Andropov, died in 1983. This symbolized the ailing health of the entire Soviet system. Reagan began invoking religion against the USSR: The West was bound by God to fight evil. The Soviets were evil because they held the state supreme over all, including human rights, and because they openly pursued world domination. Reagan held that the Soviet regime was morally illegitimate, and therefore unrespectable in some degree. In spite of a growing anti-nuclear movement in the U.S. and Europe, Reagan put Pershing II IRBM’s in Europe to counter Soviet SS-20’s. He also began development of the SDI, in defiance of MAD. In part, this was done because he knew the Soviets were woefully behind with respect to computer technologies required for missile defense. Reagan’s commitment to SDI—which would have rendered nukes obsolete—his proposal for START I, and many of his public statements show he actually wanted to abolish nuclear weapons. Reagan knew that missile defenses were decades away, but the Soviets didn’t know how advanced our technology was, so they bought into Reagan’s SDI bluff: SDI became a bargaining chip Reagan could use as leverage against the Soviets. Andropov was intimidated by Reagan’s military buildup and firm rhetoric, and was convinced the U.S. might attempt a first strike. The Soviets were also scared when a NATO military exercise (“Able Archer”) involved higher leadership than normal and seemed to simulate an invasion of the USSR. Andropov’s successor, Chernenko, was a borderline senile geriatric who died in 1985. Mikhail Gorbachev was elected by the Politburo to next head to USSR. He was of a different character from past Soviet leaders: He was university-educated to be a lawyer, openly admitted the faults of Communism, and was warm towards foreign leaders. Gorbachev was also only 54— the youngest leader since Stalin. Gorbachev wanted to change the Soviet Union, but lacked the strength of personality and vision of Reagan, and so was often pushed around by the latter. Gorbachev, unlike Andropov, trusted that the U.S. would not attack him. The 1986 Chernobyl meltdown and the subsequent investigation showed that Soviet society was a façade where slipshod work, unprofessionalism, internal criticism (however constructive), and inferior technology had formed the rotten core of an outwardly stable system. Resulting from the disaster, Gorbachev instituted glasnost (publicity) and perestroika (restructuring). At Reykjavik in 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan met to discuss nuclear arms control. Both were willing to remove all IRBM’s from Europe and to make drastic cuts in ICBM’s, but the two differed over SDI. The meeting broke up when Reagan refused to give up SDI. Later in 1987, the two agreed to destroy all IRBM’s in Europe.


Gorbachev was also strongly influenced by Secretary of State Shultz—a former Stanford economics professor—who repeatedly went to Moscow to lecture Gorbachev and his top advisors about the need for greater Soviet openness and Capitalist reforms, lest they completely fall behind the curve economically and technologically. Gorbachev realized that Communism had to be moderated and blended with Capitalism to succeed, but he was unwilling to make the same scale of changes that Deng Xiaopeng had. The state cannot influence efficient labor anywhere near as well as markets. In the late 1980’s, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and cancelled support for worldwide Communist movements. In private, the Soviet leadership had also relinquished any real claim on Eastern Europe and was unwilling to use military force against them, yet it preserved the façade of domination, which the West believed. Gorbachev’s 1988 speech to the UN General Assembly that the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe would be cut by 500,000 men openly signaled the USSR’s concession of power over the region. Chapter 7: The Triumph of Hope 1989-1991 saw the end of the Cold War. George Bush took office that year. His and Gorbachev’s administrations were very wary of each other, and did not foresee the Cold War ending anytime soon. However, the events of the 1980’s had so weakened Communism that it would only take minute changes from seemingly unimportant leaders and individuals to bring the entire Soviet system down. Hungary had always pursued independence from the USSR. By 1989, its economy was partially liberalized and was the most advanced in Eastern Europe. Hungarian Prime Minister Nemeth visited Moscow and discussed the 1956 uprising with Gorbachev, who openly admitted that leaders should be accountable to their people and that the uprising had been a popular one. The Hungarians then initiated a public inquiry into the 1956 uprising and concluded that it had been a popular revolt against unfair rule, and its leaders were exonerated of crimes. Gorbachev did not intervene. The Hungarians were elated and went a step further by dismantling their border fence with Austria on the grounds that it was obsolete and a health hazard. Though East Germany protested, the USSR did nothing. In 1989, facing an economic crisis, the Polish prime minister allowed Solidarity to compete in elections. Everyone expected them to be rigged, but they were fair, and Solidarity actually won the majority of seats, turning control of Poland over to a non-Communist government. Gorbachev also allowed elections for the Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies. In the same year, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred as Chinese people inspired by events in Europe pressured Deng Xiaopeng to make democratic reforms. Part of what kept the Communists in power after the Cold War was their willingness to use force against their own people, something the Eastern European regimes lost stomach for. [Capitalism and a historical Chinese fear of internal disorder’s consequences were also major factors] East Germany remained the most repressive Communist regime up until the end, and in 1989, hundreds of thousands of East Germans fled across the newly opened Austro-Hungarian border. Many thousands also requested asylum at West German embassies in Prague. East Germans secretly cheered on their countrymen who escaped.


Gorbachev was popular in East Germany because of his reputation as a reformer, and during his 1989 visit to commemorate the country’s 40 anniversary, protests broke out in the country in an attempt to attract his attention. Egon Krenz—leader of East Germany—authorized the easing of some travel restrictions into West Berlin. A subordinate instructed to deliver the news to the media misunderstood Krenz’ message and instead announced that unfettered travel was authorized. Huge crowds of East Germans gathered at the border posts immediately. The guards had not received instructions, and in the confusion, opened the gates. Krenz was stuck in meetings at the time, and didn’t realize what was going on until after thousands of his citizens had already fled into West Berlin, and people were dancing on and dismantling the Berlin Wall. In November 1989, the Communist governments of Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia stepped down and free elections were promised. In December, Romanian dictator Ceausescu ordered his troops to fire on protestors, killing 97. His country went into open rebellion, and he was captured and executed on Christmas Day. Bush and Gorbachev met at Malta. Bush was respectful and promised that it would not humiliate the USSR as Communism fell in Eastern Europe, but at the same time, Bush affirmed American support for German reunification under a democratic government. Gorbachev did not argue. Hemlut Kohl was the West German chancellor at the time, and came out in favor of unification, as did the majority of Germans on both sides. Gorbachev accepted Germany’s unification and withdraw from the Warsaw Pact. An independent Germany would be more dangerous than one tied to NATO. Bush promised never to extend NATO eastwards, but Clinton broke that since the promise had been made to a later-defunct USSR. The Germanies reunified on October 3rd, 1990. While Gorbachev was wildly popular abroad, within the USSR, he was widely hated for several reasons: -The economy had remained stagnant thanks to inadequate reforms. -The USSR’s newly increased political freedoms were leading to domestic chaos. -Soviet citizens disliked their nation’s decline in military and foreign power. The USSR was composed of many different republics, many of which had large degrees of autonomy and cultural distinctiveness. As Eastern Europe was allowed the right of selfdetermination, it became increasingly clear that the same had to be applied to the Soviet republics. The Baltic states and Transcaucus states had been especially vociferous in their desire for independence. Gorbachev had hoped that economic improvements would occur fast enough to placate the republics and keep them from breaking away. The Baltic republics—which had been annexed by the USSR in 1940 and still resented it—first voted by referendum for independence in early 1991. The precedent had been set for other Soviet republics to secede. 1991 also saw the first democratic election of a Russian prime minister—Boris Yeltsin. He was a staunch anticommunist and enemy of Gorbachev. Initially, the U.S. disliked him because he undermined Gorbachev, whom we were trying to support. The Bush administration had difficulty contemplating a world without the USSR, so it did not immediately side with Yeltsin and the independence movements because it feared instability.


On August 18th, 1991, a group of hardline Communists staged a coup against Gorbachev in an effort to save the USSR. It failed thanks to outside repudiation, Boris Yeltsin’s defiance, and the lack of support for the coup within the military and among average people. By the end of 1991, Yeltsin had consolidated power, disbanded the Communist party and the old authoritarian power structures, and replaced them with a democratic government. Gorbachev was marginalized. On Christmas Day 1991, Gorbachev signed a decree officially abolishing the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was a man who wanted to reform Communism and save the Soviet Union, but he had no cohesive vision for what it would look like in the end. He allowed himself to be influenced by Western leaders while not securing any concessions. He was also totally unwilling to use force to protect his nation or its interests. Epilogue Before the Cold War, wars between the major powers were so commonplace that they were regarded as a normal condition. But during and afterwards, they were never fought. This had several causes: -Primarily, the existence of nuclear weapons made it impossible to win major wars. -The World Wars had shown that even purely conventional wars were becoming increasingly deadly. -Satellite reconnaissance made it almost impossible to mount surprise attacks that would in the past have resulted in success. The Cold War might perhaps be longest remembered for initiating the current era of peace between the big powers. The Cold War also discredited authoritarianism, Marxist-Leninism, and Communism. [Though Socialist Democracy is still viable] Democracy also boomed during and after the Cold War thanks to greater education, economic prosperity, and conscious effort from the West. The information revolution was also critical since it destroyed the state’s monopoly over the flow of information: People could learn about forbidden ideas and could also access other news sources that told them the true condition within their own countries and standing relative to other nations. Capitalism and democracy can exist separately, but only with difficulty. In fact, they are synergistic and reinforcing. Of course, the Cold War was also full of enormous waste and atrocities. “Meanwhile, communism had promised a better life but failed to deliver. Marx insisted that the shifts in the means of production would increase inequality, provoke anger, and thereby fuel revolutionary consciousness within the ‘working class.’ He failed, though, to anticipate the kinds of shifts that would take place, for as post-industrial economies evolved they began to reward lateral over hierarchical forms of organization. Complexity made planning less feasible than under the earlier, simpler stages of industrialization: only decentralized, largely spontaneous markets could make the millions of decisions that had to be made each day in a modern economy if supplies of goods and services were to match the demands for them. As a result, dissatisfaction with capitalism never reached the point at which ‘prolitetarians of all countries’ felt it necessary to unite to throw off their ‘chains.’”


-The Cold War: A New History Pg. 264 Disproportion between x and y Motives were too transparent Intensified those fears boundary adjustments at Turkey’s expense Stalin had reached the limit of what he could expect to achieve by invoking the tradition of wartime cooperation. The nation had not yet concluded that its security required transplanting its principles.