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POLI 205 Introduction to International Relations Dr.

Yakub Halabi Jules de Gaulmyn Student ID: 6946631 November 25, 2013

What factors and theory explain the long peace between the US and the Soviet Union?

Unlike the First and the Second World War, the Cold War was a long period of indiret conflict between the United States of America and their allies of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (forming the NATO) and the USSR and the communist nations of the Warsaw Pact Organization (WPO). Each bloc had its ideological mission, its networks of alliances, and its arsenal of nuclear weapons. Europe was divided, with massive military forces of the United States and its NATO allies on one side and massive forces of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies on the other. Germany itself was split into two nations (East and West Germany), with three-quarters of the country (and three-quarters of the city of Berlin) occupied by the United States, Britain, and France. The remainder, surrounding West Berlin, was occupied by the Soviet Union. During more than fourty-five years (1945-1991), the World lived several political and military crisis, due to the nuclear and space races between the two nations but never saw them fight directly. However, many proxy wars -when a power financially helps an ally at a time of war without directly taking part in it - (Korea War, Vietnam War, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba Missile Crisis) were waged and always installed a period of fear coming from both blocs. However, the cold war, dominated as it was by the bipolar structure, brought a level of stability in the form of the long peace, a term first cited by John Lewis Gaddis, an historian and Yale University Professor. What were the factors that contributed to this long peace between the USSR and the United States? To what extent does the theory of realism explains the blocs self interests and their motivation in seeking more power? This essay will first analyse that the events that led to the Cold War had to do with security issues, then we will

explain the factors that prevented the two blocs from directly fighting each other through the theory of realism, which explains both the military and nuclear enforcement of the USA and USSR and the various security dilemmas that contributed to the longevity of the long peace.

It is often said that the Yalta Conference, in February 1945, gathering the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) forming the Alliance during the Second World War, was at the origin of the Cold War. Being subject of many controversies, this conference was originally held to discuss countries ravaged by the war. The United States would propose 3 years later their help with the Marshall Plan. Allied during the war, this meeting made realize Roosevelt and Stalin the ideological differences that they maintained. Yalta will also be at the origin of the European geographical division. Charles de Gaulle, left aside at the time for his non-official role as the French leader will attribute in 1958 the responsibility of this situation to Roosevelt and Stalin who, during the conference would have divided the world into two spheres of influence. After the end of World War II, one of the two poles, the American, benefited of a clear structural superiority, even if it was not always obvious for the opinions nor for the political classes: technological advance, more effective and justifiable political system in the eyes of the other world nations. On the other hand, in 1945, while many were afraid that the process of concentration of the power would be cumulative, both opponents, whose powers were artificially brought up (due to the mobilization of all the resources with the objective of the war, by the demographic and economic reduction in Europe, China and Japan) never succeeded in fully controlling their respective camps, in reducing all their allies to vassal states, in absorbing them.

Moreover, according to John Lewis Gaddis, in The United States and the Origins of the Cold War 1941-1947, World War II had produced a revolution in United States foreign policy () Americans believed that their country could best protect itself by minimizing political entanglements overseas. The historian writes that President Truman concluded that re cent actions of the Soviet Union endangered the security of the United States. This thesis could thus explain the Truman Doctrine and the start of the containment policy in order to prevent Soviet Unions expansion. In 1950, Josip Broz Tito, 1st President of Yugoslavia, and supporter of President Trumans politics, predicted that the Cold War would not even happen thanks to the new close relations between the US and Greece or Turkey. Even the President himself didnt see a Third World War coming, during a meeting at Fort-Benning, saying his politics would prevent another war. With the creation of United Nations, many western countries believed in a " collective security that the League of Nations could not provide " (Campbell Craig in Americas Cold War: the Politics of Insecurity). The creation of the UN was motivated by the idea of preventing any new war by avoiding the mistakes that had led to World War II. It could encourage the maximum possible political self-determination and economic integration, so that the causes of war as the World understood them would in time disappear. However, a conflict between two politically and ideologically opposed seemed inevitable, due to technological advancement and appropriation of the nuclear bomb by the USSR in 2949. The world witnessed, according to Gaddis, the return of fear.

Winston Churchill called in Fulton the European division the Iron Curtain , which was later represented by the border that cut Germany into two countries. This imaginary curtain

was a symbol of the indirect conflict between the United States and the USSR. The Cold War was then considered as a bipolar confrontation, unlike our modern multipolar system. Nevertheless, every event during the Cold War evokes the realist theory of International Relations. We are in the presence of what Hans Morgenthau, a leading figure in the 20 th century international relations, a politics of power in Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. This notion resulted in a security dilemma, which amplified and emphasized the term of the arms race. However, this arms race, which made the specificity of the Cold War, referred to a nuclear arms race that prevented the two blocs from confronting each other. The Cold War was especially a long non-peace and non-war period between two States. Raymond Aron, French philosopher having focused his works on international relations and the aftermath of the Cold War wrote, in Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations about an impossible war, improbable peace. Thus, it is legitimate to consider the Cold War as a long peace, if we disregard the real wars that both blocs were engaged in in the Third World (Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan) in an indirect way. Considered as ways to indirectly threaten their opponent and show off new violent weapons of combat (napalm in Vietnam, for example), those wars were seen by many as useless The ubiquitous tension in the world and the feeling of insecurity in both blocs eventually led to a dtente from the beginning of the 1960s until the middle of the 1970s. This will of dialogue, illustrated for example by Richard Nixons visit to China in 1972, a communist country then led by charismatic and influential Mao Zedong. Nixon made reference to the diversification of the communist world with, on one side, China, and on the other one, the USSR and the countries of the Warsaw Pact. He also underlined the end of the American nuclear monopoly and the

balance of terror, thus explaining the necessity of avoiding any confrontation, which could only be catastrophic for both blocs. This nuclear terror has also been an advantage for the lasting of the long peace, according to Morgenthau. In Politics Among Nations, he writes that nuclear weapons made leaders more cautious and more insecure. The nuclear arms race reduced international politics to a primitive spectacle of two giants eying each other with watchful suspicion . The detention of the nuclear bomb was thus one of the main reasons of the failed war. None of the two camps had the capicity of the first striking , meaning that neither the USA nor the USSR could entirely destroy the opponents nuclear arsenal. Both blocs could not turn to the nuclear weapon without taking the risk of being bombed themselves. The internal and international security (the United States also held a certain responsibility concerning the countries of the UN) was mostly responsible for the detente and the long peace. However, this dtente, had its limits. Behind the dialogues, the hot line between Moscow and Washington, the meetings between Kennedy and Krouchtchev, the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and other crisis put the dtente in danger. The Cold War was characterized by threats which never suceeded, explained by the game theory. Indeed, we find this theory in several crises of the war : the chicken game illustrated the crisis of Cuba, which saw a confrontation between Kennedy and Krouchtchev. The game of chicken first consisted of two drivers of cars accelerating direclty towards each other. The first driver to turn aside was the chicken , the one who gave up. In the Cold Wars particular situation, when the USA suspected USSR to plant nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962, both nations had strategies in order to not give up this tense conflict. The USAs strategies were to bloackade Cuba to stop the installation of the Soviet missiles or to attack the ones already installed. The strategies for the USSR were to withdraw the missiles

already installed or to keep them in place and continue with their installation. The USSR felt reluctant about desinstalling the missiles because, as Steven J. Brams writes in Game Theory and the Humanities : Bridging Two Worlds : The Soviets () demanded withdrawal of American missiles from Turkey as a quid pro quo for withdrawal of their own missiles from Cuba, a demand publicly ignored by the United States. Furthermore, waging a war at that time would have been terrible, as Kennedy threatened USSR with its naval army and promising to retaliate if USSR were to hit the US. During his coming to power in 1969, President Nixon named Henry Kissinger, an expert in foreign policy as assistant of National Security Affairs. The duet led the most realistic politics of the history of the United States. Kissinger took up with the traditional realism of Roosevelt by modernizing it, Nixon sharing this vision of the world : both of them pursued Trumans containment while disregarding the ideological differences. However, they did not want to finish Cold Wars conflicts as that of Vietnam on good terms, as is written by Robert Dallek in Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power : A quick withdrawal was not the answer. ()It would amount to what Nixon described as the rst defeat in our Nations history and would result in a collapse of condence in American leadership . . . throughout the world. () Fearful that they would be accused of failure in ending the war on satisfactory terms, Nixon and Kissinger refused to accept this sensible realism. In 1977, after the republican presidencies of Nixon and Ford, which were controversed due to internal and external affairs, new Democrat President Jimmy Carter restored morality in American politics, by promoting the defence of human rights in the world. It allowed for a while to restore an ideological neutrality in the USA. Wishing to join other partners, the

United States parctised a policy of openness, seduction and peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union in particular. Ronald Reagans presidency during the 1980s will illustrate a perfect definition of modern realist and idealists theories of the American foreign policy. Reagan will entail the USSR in the star wars , a titanic project which will largely contribute to burden USSRs already unstable finances. Mixing in his speeches the ideas of power and morality, Reagan managed to build a real strategic American morality : to fight for democracy, the world had to allow the conversation of the American interests as first world democracy.

The American politics became, as Ronald Reagans mandate shows, strategic while promoting democracy. Behind the will of dialogue with the rival, the Capitalist bloc counted on its financial avances to weaken the Communist bloc. Illustrated by the Dantesque project of star wars as well as the military and financial aid to the communists opponents, the Americans largely contributed to the preservation of the long peace. Marked by the indirect conflicts and the proxy wars having been particularly intense due to the security dilemma and game theory, this long peace will, paradoxally, have also been possible thanks to the nuclear race. While gaining military power, both countries were aware of the tragic damages which a nuclear war would have been able to cause to the world.


Agence France-Presse. "" Notre politique n'entranera pas une troisime guerre mondiale " dclare le prsident Truman." Le Monde (Paris), April 24, 1950. Aron, Raymond. Peace & war: a theory of international relations. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2003. Brams, Steven J.. Game theory and the humanities: bridging two worlds. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011. Craig, Campbell, and Fredrik Logevall. America's Cold War the politics of insecurity. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009. Dallek, Robert. Nixon and Kissinger: partners in power. New York: HarperCollins Pub., 2007. Gaddis, John Lewis. The United States and the origins of the cold war, 1941-1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. Gaddis, John Lewis. The long peace: inquiries into the history of the cold war. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Herman, Paul F.. Thinking about peace: the conceptualization and conduct of U.S.Soviet detente. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987. Morgenthau, Hans J.. Politics among nations; the struggle for power and peace . 4th ed. New York: Knopf, 1967.

The New York Times, "Tito sees no peril of immediate war; Predicts Cold War Will End in Year Or Two," April 8, 1950. Vaiss, Paul. Les relations internationales au temps de la guerre froide. Bern: P. Lang, 2006.