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Cold War Trials Notes


Origins of the Cold War 19451953

1945 conferences and the emergence of the superpowers
The 1945 Conferences
o Yalta Conference In February 1945 Winston Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met at the Yalta
Conference. At this conference it was decided that Germany would be divided into four allied sectors
after the war; that the Soviet Union would join the war against Japan; free elections would be held
throughout Eastern Europe and the Lublin Committee, provisional Polish government, would no
longer consist of just Communists. However, the Soviet Union did not adhere to these terms and
instead; Stalin began to install communist governments in other Eastern European countries. Each
leader had different concerns at Yalta:
o Churchill believed the issue of Poland was the most urgent reason for the Yalta convention
o Stalin had negotiated from a position of military strength. He made it clear that Polands future was
to be determined by security of USSR.
o Roosevelts concerns appeared to be global, and he was determined to not let UN fail.
o In July 1945 the leaders of the USSR (Stalin), the US (Truman) and Britain (Atlee) met at the Potsdam
Conference. It was decided that the German capital, Berlin, would also be divided into four
occupation zones; reparations were discussed and agreed upon; the reshaping of Poland was
concluded upon; and Truman told Stalin that Stalin that the US now possessed the atomic bomb.
Churchill and Roosevelt were not impressed with Soviets creating their own sphere of influence.
The agreements made at the Yalta and the Potsdam conferences created a situation in Europe that
contributed significantly to tension between the US and the USSR.
o Tehran conference (1943)
Mapping of post-war world,
Stalin + Soviet Union distrust Western allies
o Soviet union would gain Outer Mongolia and Manchuria, would declare war on Japan after defeating
West would open 2nd front in Europe in 1944
o No agreement on Poland and the Balkans
o Poland suffered with borders that it would not accept and given German territory
Ensured that it would be part of Soviet influence
US vision
o UN established in Jan 1945 with agreement from both powers
o USA + Britain create IMF and capital for World Bank
o Stalin sees this as capitalist plot against communism

The Pursuit of Military Superiority

Since 1945 the United States and the Soviet Union had been the global superpowers. This
meant that in the 1940s and 1950s they created a bipolar world in which most of the nations
in the world were allied to either one of these superpowers. This idea of a bipolar world was
reinforced through the creation of the NATO and Warsaw Pact. NATO stands for the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation and was a multinational defence pact developed by the US
designed to contain communism in Europe. The Warsaw Pact was a grouping in which the
communist countries of Eastern Europe agree to a mutual defence under the control of the
Soviet Union. The Warsaw Pact was established in 1955 in response to NATO.
America sought a dominant position for itself and so it opposed any one power being dominant
in the Eastern Hemisphere, Europe, or Asia. However, the United States was far ahead of the
Soviet Union in terms of economic and military strength. The United States therefore
concentrated on maintaining and enhancing its military edge against the USSR in order to
secure its interests. After learning that the US used the atomic bomb against Japan, the Soviet
Union expected the US to share this technology. However, the US didnt and this had a negative
impact on their relationship as the US now wielded even more power than the USSR and

Stalins distrust of the Americans increased. Due to Americas advance in the production of
nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union would have felt threatened and therefore, they would have
felt the need to keep a large standing army in Eastern Europe to counter the US nuclear power.
However, the Soviet Union caught up after 1949 and the nuclear strategy of both powers
changed to one of deterrence.
Changes in Leadership
While a change of leadership in America does not alone explain the reasons for the Cold War, it
was yet another factor influencing the breakdown of US and Soviet Union relations. This is
shown by the differences in Harry Trumans leadership. Harry Truman was inexperienced in
foreign policy, had no personal relationship with Stalin and felt that Stalin had gotten away
with too much at the Yalta Conference. Truman also didnt understand the Soviet Unions need
to guarantee their security in Eastern Europe, and felt that Americas approach should be
tougher. Therefore, on the 5th of May 1945 Truman cut Lend Lease aid to the USSR but it was
later restored. This alerted Stalin to the fact that Truman was prepared to use economic
The Problems Associated with Germany
The Soviet Union and the US differed in their opinion of how Germany should be treated after
the war. The US and Britain opted for a more lenient treatment of Germany because they did
not want to make the same mistakes as they did last time. However, the Soviet Union wanted
Germany to be dealt with harshly due to the suffering that the Germans had posed on the
Soviets and wanted to be reassured that Germany would never pose a threat to the Soviet
Union again. In order to resolve this issue, Germany was split up into four different regions:
one for the USSR, one for the US, one for the French, and one region was for the British. The
Americans, British and French agreed that Germany would have to be revived in order to
become a prosperous nation again, so in 1947 these three nations joined their zones; leaving
out the Soviet Union.
Differences in economic interests
There was economic competition between the USSR and the US as they tried to outspend each
other, they built up their stockpiles of weapons and spent large amounts of money aiding
countries they believed may be on their side. They also competed in supplying financial aid to
underdeveloped countries. This economic competition also worked as propaganda since both
sides wished to show whose system was best by producing better weapons and by trying to
lead the way into space. The USA coped with this type of competition better than the Soviet
Union as their economy was able to handle this financial strain.
Differences in Objectives and Ideology
There were ideological disputes between the US and the USSR. The US system of government is
based on democracy and the rights of the individual. Whereas, the Soviet system of
government believes in the communist ideal that the state is more important than the
individual. USSR ideology also involved the encouragement and promotion of communist
revolutions wherever possible. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin said that As long as capitalism and
socialism exist we cannot live in peace: in the end, one or the other will triumph a funeral
dirge will be sung either over the Soviet Republic or over world Capitalism
Internationalist aims were central to American policy. Isolationism was no longer an option for
the United States after 1945. The US wanted Eastern Europe to be democratic and the USSR
was convinced that the western countries would try to destroy Marxism and their country.
This was a major reason for the cold war as the USSR failed to accept Americas internationalist
values. American determination to begin this conflict with the USSR and communism in
general, stemmed from their assumption that they were being threatened by world
communism. Stalin believed that the capitalist system was flawed and considered the
advancement of world communist ideology.

The arms race stemmed from this superpower conflict and was sustained by political and
ideological conflict. Distrust between the superpowers received impetus from the clashing
ideologies of capitalism and communism.

The Truman Doctrine and its consequences

o In early 1947 Britain announced that it could no longer afford to resist the spread of communist
influence in Greece and Turkey. Therefore Truman announced that the US would provide aid to
anti-communist forces in these areas. This policy of containment is known as the Truman Doctrine.
o The Truman Doctrine makes it clear that the US would provide economic and military aid in order
to contain the spread of communism.
o The Truman Doctrine was also formed in a reaction to the domino theory which stated that if one
region came under communist influence than the surrounding nations would follow in a domino
o The Truman Doctrine was evidence of a move from a policy of isolationism to one of containment.
o Some of the consequences of the Truman Doctrine were:
- The creation of the Marshall Plan: This plan offered American economic aid to any
European nation. This was based on the ideas that it would make the idea of capitalism more
attractive than communism, and that this could combat communism since poverty increased
the appeal of communism.
- That it ensured that there would be a policy of collective security and NATO was
established: The NATO alliance was a diplomatic and military form of containment which
promised that member countries would help one another if they were ever threatened.
- It inflamed the tensions of the Cold War.
- (American) NSC 68 Policy for massive arms spending and military aid to anti-communist
groups: This was an example of the arms race and military containment.
- It became the justification for American intervention to prevent communist victories in
other countries: The need to justify to economic cost of containment led to US presidents
over dramatising the Soviet threat; the Americans saw the need for an unprecedented
peacetime military build-up which helped to contribute to the arms race; and the US found
themselves propping up corrupt dictatorships just because they were anti-communist.
- The USSR retaliated by: Rejecting the Marshall Aid and refused to let their satellite states
participate in the Marshall Plan, they also set up COMECON which was designed to give
economic aid to communist countries in Eastern Europe.

Impact of the early crises: the Berlin blockade and airlift, China becoming communist in 1949 and the
Korean War

The Berlin Blockade (1948-1949)

Berlin had been divided into four occupation zones, as decided at the Potsdam Conference in
1945. The three Western powers prepared the way for a capitalist economic system and a
democratic government, whereas the USSR was planning for Communism to be established in
their zone. All food and supplies had to be brought into Germany through Soviet-occupied
territory and so in 1948 when relationships between the US and the USSR had deteriorated,
the Soviet Union decided to close all road and rail links into Berlin, in an attempt to get the
Western powers, particularly the USA, out of Berlin.
This meant that the people in the British, US and French occupational zones might starve. The
Americans saw the Berlin Blockade as a test of their commitment to their new containment
policy, and as a symbol of democratic resistance to communism. While the US did not want to
abandon Berlin they also did not wan to risk military confrontation and so in the winter of
1948 to 1949, the US launched a massive airlift which provided these zones with food and
supplies. All this blockade did was give American great international acclaim and the Soviet

Union was condemned for their policy; so they called off the blockade. The Blockade ensured
that the US and Soviets came to the realisation that they were fighting for world domination
and thus the arms race began.
China Becoming Communist in 1949
Outline: Following 3 years of civil war, the Communists took Beijing in 1949 and created the
Peoples Republic of China. It was a separate communist state from the USSR but it received
economic support from the Soviets. This was seen by the US as an example of the spread of
communism. Although initially the US refused to trade with China, China eventually began
trade again with the West.
Impact: The US had a special interest in China and had provided military and financial aid to
them. Therefore the loss of China to communism was a severe blow. Eisenhower chastised
Truman during the election for allowing China to fall to communism. The fall of China to
communism resulted in the Truman administration embarking on an arms build up to counter
a situation where communism seemed to have gained the upper hand and had made rapid
advances. This basically set the scene for intervention in Vietnam as there was fear created by
the Domino Theory.






American troops had liberated the South of Korea, so the country was
formally divided, with a communist North and a non communist democratic
South two separate countries set up
Most of the wealth was in the South so the North wanted to reunite this
opportunity came when the Marshall Plan focused on Europe
North Korean troops invaded South Korea in June 1950
The USA saw the invasion of South Korea as an act of communist aggression
and a Soviet plot to extend their sphere of influence into Asia.
American military aid was immediately sent to South Korea.
By October 1950 the US led UN force had pushed the North Koreans back
into North Korea, but General MacArthur and Truman did not want to end
the war they saw the chance to unite the two Koreas and extend their
China shared a border with Korea and saw the American plan as a direct
threat to their new regime they sent in Soviet troops and the UN forces
were pushed back far into South Korea.
This was an example of a proxy war The USSR backed the Communist
Koreans and Chinese who were fighting the US, but avoided getting involved
In 1951 Truman wanted a ceasefire.
Peace talks began in June 1951 and in 1953 an armistice was signed
The US had contained the spread of communism but it had not achieved
rollback a hostile stalemate was the result
This tense border between the two sides remains as an anachronistic
remnant of the Cold War
Political leaders, e.g. Truman, had recoiled from the prospect of world war
involving nuclear weapons (nevertheless, the nuclear arms race continued)
The US redoubled efforts to consolidate a worldwide anti-communist
alliance peace treaty signed with Japan and restoration given; US signed
ANZUS treaty with Australia and New Zealand; SEATO (South East Asian
Treaty Organisation) formed between the US, Britain, France, Australia,
New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines
The Korean War confirmed US commitment to the policy of containment in

2) Development of the Cold War to 1968

- Policy of containment, domino theory and the emergence of peaceful co-existence

Policy of Containment- Devised after the US realised that Soviet domination of Eastern Europe could
prevent or limit access to crucial raw materials and foodstuffs
- The policy of containment is the notion that, if the US contained communism within the borders of the
already communist nations and halted it spreading to other countries, that it would not only limit the
Soviet Unions tactical options but the whole concept of communism would eventually become
stagnant and die out
- Truman Doctrine an example of this
- Main characteristics:
o Maintain strong enough military forces to resist any Soviet attack
o Provide economic support to those countries that were so poor that communism would look
attractive to their people
o Keep Russia diplomatically isolated
- Domino Theory
- Notion that if one country is communist, the pressure that is applied to all countries in the
immediate area is too great and thus each individual nation will submit and also fall to
communism in a domino-like fashion
- Theory primarily used to justify the Vietnam and Korean Wars where US intervention was
vehemently opposed they said if communism wasnt controlled in Asia then the whole of Asia
could fall like dominoes
Relationship between the policy of containment and the Domino Theory
- Policy of containment based on the Domino Theory the West foresaw two sources of danger:
1. internal subversion people within a country turn it communism, or by spies
2. external aggression non-communist countries would be invaded by communist forces
- Marshall Plan was a way to reduce home-grown communism in European countries
- US intervened Civil Wars e.g. Vietnam
- NATO established to support armed resistance to communist forces in Western Europe
- SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Organisation) established to support armed resistance to
communist forces in Asia and the Pacific (also ANZUS)
- USA blockaded Cuba (Soviet ally) prevent Soviet missile bases
The Emergence of Peaceful Co-Existence
O In 1953 Joseph Stalin died and was replaced as Soviet leader by Nikita Khrushchev softening in the Soviet
attitude. In 1960 Khrushchev spoke of the possibilities of peaceful co-existence the challenge, he argued, was to
avoid confrontation between the groups of countries in which the two systems reign supreme You do not like
communism. We do not like capitalism. There is only one way out peaceful coexistence
O He asserted it was never Soviet intention to conquer the world or impose its system by force but believed he was
free to compete for influence in neutral countries, this involved:
1. Vigorous pursuit of the arms race
2. The continuation of the propaganda war.
3. Prolonged campaign to gain influence in areas outside the two main power blocs (Third World)
O Peaceful coexistence did not amount to allowing any greater freedom to the nations of Eastern Europe which were
under Soviet domination.
O Khrushchev was aware that the Soviet Union needed time to rebuild to effectively challenge the US, and the
looming threat of Nuclear holocaust and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction made it clear that a
compromise had to be made.

O The fact that the arms race was picking up made Khrushchev realise if the Soviets wanted to have any chance of
competing with the US and hold face in their own country they had to have period where they could successfully
compete without threat of war. The USA liked the move away from nuclear war and realised they could now
change their foreign policy to a less openly hostile version and concentrate on pressing domestic issues
O Both nations continued to do what they thought was in their best national self interest, and supported their allies,
tried to convince other countries that their system of government was the best, and defended their spheres of
O During this period, nuclear and weapons technology also went through of its greatest changes. The development
of the hydrogen bomb, ICBMs and nuclear submarines made both sides aware of the risks and expense involved in
the arms race. Nuclear proliferation spread of nuclear weapons, meant that there was a greater risk that someone
would use this technology.
- Superpower rivalry: the arms race and space race




Geneva Summit


Paris Summit


Nuclear Test Ban 1963


Between Khrushchev and Eisenhower

Significant points of disagreement; the USA rejected Khrushchevs
proposal to disband both NATO and the Warsaw pact, while the
Soviet Union dismissed Eisenhowers suggestion that both sides
allow aerial reconnaissance of military installations.
However, both sides agreed to the reunification of Austria.
Between Khrushchev and Eisenhower
Discussed Berlin, East Germany and peaceful coexistence
Meeting disrupted by U2 crisis.
Kennedy and Khrushchev
Banned nuclear testing in space, in the atmosphere and underwater
Led to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty limited nuclear
weapons to those countries that already had them
Ironically, as the two superpowers built up their stores of nuclear
weapons, peaceful coexistence became more possible as long as
they knew they could impose damage on the other the relationship
could remain stable.

Superpower Rivalry in the Third World

o As each superpower tried to increase its influence with the Third World governments, they offered
economic aid, trade assistance and weapons.
o Aspects of the Cold War in the third world included:
- The USs support for anti-communist regimes in South Korea and South Vietnam, both
leading to military intervention
- The USSRs economic assistance to Egypt for the building of the Aswan Dam in the mid 1950s
subsequently, with the USSR backing the Arab states and the US backing Egypt, superpower
rivalry became a factor in the Middle East conflict
o There were a number of reasons for superpower rivalry in the third world: Ideological component
either supporting democracy or seeking Marxist revolutionaries; in the Middle East, oil wealth
was at stake; US goal of containment; Soviet Leaders were building an empire of influence simply
to match the US reckless and wasteful adventures

Arms Race

August 1945 49

Arms race came into being.


USA developed and tested the Hydrogen Bomb

After Korean War

The USA established military bases in countries around the world e.g. Australia,
Morocco, New Zealand
USA increased its supply of arms for itself and its Western allies

Both sides made

conscious efforts to
increase military

Changes in the leader

of the arms race

The US was expanding its armed forces by over one million troops and
dramatically increasing production of aircraft, ships, combat vehicles and
other conventional weapons (Painter, D) The US wished to continue the
arms race through countering the Soviet conventional superiority in central
Europe and as a result consolidating US freedom of action across the globe.
The Soviet Union countered this, with a massive recruitment program, adding
three million troops to the Red Army.
In response to the Warsaw Pact the US developed ICBMs rockets able to drop
explosives on the opposing nation.
Lead in the arms race changed in 1957 when the Soviets successfully tested an
ICBM gave them the facility of striking numerous targets in both the US and
Western Europe
Under the leadership of Eisenhower the US deployed missile facilities in
Western Europe which were a close enough proximity to the Soviet Union to
ensure there was a capability to strike

US catches up

The USAs first ICBM went on in October 1959 major step towards the theory
of mutually assured destruction (MAD) and enough to give the US the upper
US surged ahead in the contest with JFK convincing Congress to increase
military funding by 15%


Arms race takes a particularly sinister turn when the USA discovers Soviet
missile bases in Cuba

The US surges ahead

while the Soviets

The Soviets under Khrushchev favoured cutting back military spending to

focus on internal economic problems but still claimed that the USSR was
churning out ICBMs like sausages. This only increased US spending and
forced the Soviets further behind in the arms race

1980 1986

The US defence budget more than doubled

1983 arms race

moves into space

President Reagan announced the Strategic Defence Initiative or Star Wars.

The idea was to develop a defensive canopy based on satellites that could
destroy Soviet missiles in flight

Space Race

Early 1950s


Soviet Union attempted to send a satellite into space

Americans spent billions on research and development

October 1957

Start of the space race

American U2 spy plane

In reply to Sputnik 1
February 1958

18th December 1958

Sending the first man into


The next step



After 1969

1950 the American Congress set up the National Science Foundation

After an elaborate research and testing program, Sputnik 1, an earth
orbiting satellite, was successfully launched into space by the R7 rocket
by USSR.
Caught the US by surprise - Sputnik appeared to prove that communism
worked, and that the USSR could lead the US in technology.
Signalled the official start to what has been termed the space race
US funding for National Science Foundation significantly increased
Space technology opened up unbelievable new tactical military options
and significantly boosted the morale of the specific nation such an
exciting and unfounded project proved of incalculable interest to the
general public
In the eyes of the world, first in space means first, period; second in
space is second in everything (Lyndon B. Johnson)
The U2 Spy Plane was considered a piece of technology within the space
race as it reached heights that could not be reached by anti-aircraft
defences or radar systems
Used in flyovers to take photographs to map the Soviet Union and check
any military developments within the nation
Media reaction to Sputnik was vast, and many people in the US began to
panic. First US reply to Sputnik (Vanguard) was total failure but they
managed to launch the Explorer 1 into the Earths orbit successfully.
Heightened superpower rivalry that was occurring over the space race
and intensified its activity
Looked as though the US would surpass the Soviet Union in the space
Launched the first communication satellite in the form of Project SCORE
April 1961 the USSR put the first man in space cosmonaut Yori
Brutal for the US
General public were only concerned about such actions in relation to
who completed them first as the general reception of American Alan
Shepard, whom was sent into space only 23 days after Gagarin, was
significantly reduced
Small margin between the two superpowers in the space race
Something truly groundbreaking had to happen to end the contest
Both sides had little luck with their lunar missions
It was viewed that the finish line was man on the moon (Scott, D)
Two unmanned experimental Soviet rockets, Zond 5 and 6, flew around
the moon taking scientific photographs signalled the USSRs lunar
In retaliation, two American astronauts orbited the moon in the rocket
Apollo 8 and successfully returned back to earth - psychological boost
for US
Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins landed on the moons
surface in Apollo 7
Event that all but claimed a victory over the Soviet Union in one of the
tensest superpower rivalries in the Cold War
Cooperation increased reducing wasteful competition
1975 symbolised by the docking of a Soviet machine with an American

- Nature and impact of crises: Berlin Wall 1961, Cuba 1962, Czechoslovakia 1968



- Germany and Berlin were divided into four zones at Potsdam Conference in 1945. US,
French and British zones became capitalist, democratic, allowing citizens freedom of
speech and other rights. While the Soviet zone became communist dictatorship where
government controlled all economic activity and censored the media.
- The Soviet Union believed the West had delayed the construction of a formal
settlement between East and West Germany in hope that the prosperity that West Germany
was enjoying would pull East Germany and other Eastern European states out of the socialist
- Troubles for Soviets:
o Couldnt establish feasible state within East Germany
o East German government resisted pressures for reform
o Citizens immigrated to West Germany using Berlin as a thoroughfare
o West Berlin was a propaganda symbol for the West, located deep within the communist bloc
- East Germany a vital strategic position for USSR:
o US had littered the West with nuclear missile facilities
o Also sentimental (compensation for WWII where millions of their men perished)
- Khrushchev issued a defensively motivated ultimatum:
o German peace treaty that would recognise the existence of two Germanies
o Called for the end of four-power control of Berlin
o Western sectors of the Berlin become demilitarizes and self-governing free city
o If US did not agree Khrushchev would grant the German Democratic Republic full control of
access to capitalist West Berlin
- Soviet Union withdrew their ultimatum but tensions still existed because skilled workers leaving
East Germany which ensured a deficit of quality labour
- Crisis reignited by U2 spy plane incident Soviets realised the amount of classified information
that the US were receiving from their missions
o Eisenhower took responsibility for the flights
o Khrushchev stormed out of Paris Summit and a month later renewed his ultimatum
- Kennedy said (25th July 1961) that the US would do all they could possibly do to ensure the West
was not driven out of Berlin and that the Soviets did not dictate terms in Germany
- Less than a month later the East German government sealed off all access roads between East
and West Berlin and began construction of the Berlin wall that surrounded West Berlin to
ensure that citizens of East Germany would stay in their communist territory
- A long wall of barbed wire was put up, which separated West Berlin from East Berlin, with
tanks/gunmen placed at strategic points to stop people fleeing to West Berlin. A more
permanent wall was later built out of concrete.
- End of the Cold War was heralded by the people of Berlin breaking down the wall in 1989
Symbolic of the Cold War and the dictatorial and oppressive means that the communist party
needed to employ to ensure loyalty of its inhabitants Shows the differences between the
communist world and the non-communist world
An ideological defeat of colossal proportions for the Soviet Union and world communism
(Painter, D)
Erection of the wall ended the period of instability that was plaguing East Germany long
phase of economic, social and political stability graced Europe ensured the Cold War would
not be played out on foreign shores crucial moment in Cold Wars development

3) Dtente
- Economic and political reasons for dtente
o Development from the period of peaceful coexistence it went further with the hope that the
superpowers could not only learn to live with each other, but also actively cooperate and even resolve their major

Been suggested that there were six characteristics of dtente:

1. Break in the arms race limits placed on the increase in weapons

2. Greater tolerance between the two of each others political system
3. Agreements on the Third World conflicts made
4. The leaders met more frequently at summits
5. The US wanted to avoid another Vietnam hoped that better understanding with the Soviet Union would
prevent US military action.
6. The Soviet Union began to relax some of its political controls over the Eastern bloc

Economic Reasons for the Detente:

- The USSR had achieved rough parity with the US in nuclear weapons both sides now had an interest in
seeking agreement on arms control rather than simply continuing the wasteful arms race because military spending
was draining both economies.
- Soviet Union wanted to limit nuclear weapons because it had superior conventional forces in Europe
reducing nuclear arms would give the Soviets a strategic advantage over there over NATO. Similarly, the US wanted
to limit nuclear weaponry because it had a strategic advantage in its own store of nuclear weapons and did not want
other countries to catch up.
- Stalemate in Europe had been accepted for some time and so both the superpowers had an interest in
easing tension and cooperating in trade and other areas.
- The Soviets could see many advantages in cooperation with the US - attraction of US trade and technology;
length of tension between China and USSR (fear that China was developing nuclear capability).

Political Reasons for the Detente:

- The US was desperate to extract itself from the Vietnam War Nixons peace with honour such a
withdrawal could only happen if the North-Vietnamese cooperated in peace talks Americans thought the Soviets
might be able to help influence this outcome (in return the US could offer trade deals or new technology) US
hoped to base dtente on such a cooperation
- American experience in Vietnam had led to the painful lesson that a focus on ideology would not produce
sensible policy
- It was realised that Soviet Communist Expansionism of US Cold War propaganda did not reflect reality
e.g. a split between China and the USSR was evident the Soviets did not dominate the communist world such
realisations took the heat out of the ideological dispute and encouraged a more pragmatic approach on both sides.

Brezhnev believed that peace would create the most favourable conditions for promoting communism.

- Geopolitical developments: Vietnam, Sino-Soviet split, the Middle East

Sino-Soviet Split
o 1953: Soviets signed trade agreement with China to supply machinery in exchange for Chinese raw
o The Korean War revealed that the Chinese and the Soviets could not always trust each other
o Khrushchevs Peaceful Coexistence Policy were denounced by Mao and the Chinese Communist Party
and so Khrushchev denounced Maos sweeping of peasants into communes and social reforms.

o 1959: Soviets withdrew their promise to help China develop nuclear weapons
o 1960: the USSR withdrew economic aid to China
o The Soviet Unions ties with Communist China were broken due to both interest and ideological conflict.
o Led to an improvement in relations between the USA and China.
o The bipolar world of the early Cold War had now become multi-polar.
o There was a split in the communist camp and a reduction in the power and influence of the Soviets

The Middle East

The superpowers clashed in the Middle East for both economic and strategic reasons each wanted to exploit the
resources of this region, and each also saw its potential for providing sites for military, air and naval bases. USA tried
to combat communism by sending aid to poor and undeveloped nations
aid ended up in the hands of the rich rulers and the poor remained impoverished easily attracted to communism
o Soviet Union used financial aid to support sympathetic regimes offered trade agreements and military
cooperation in hopes of friendship and cooperation in an attempt to secure loyalty
o Middle East of strategic importance to both sides:
- West: oil supplies
- Soviet Union: shared borders with Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan gave the Middle East strategic
importance; wanted naval facilities in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean
o 1948 - The Soviet Union supplied arms to the new state of Israel to help it win the first Arab-Israeli war
o 1956: The Suez Crisis - Sale of Soviet arms to Egypt prompted the USA to withdraw its economic aid from Egypt.
Policy of US aid to the Middle East began.
o 1967: The Arab Israeli War - USA backed Israel and the Soviet Union backed the Arabs. Neither superpower
wanted to escalate the conflict.
o 1973: Yom Kipper War - Arab nations placed an oil embargo on the USA. Reminded the US of how dependant
they were on Middle Eastern oil.
- Features and consequences of dtente

o US President Nixons dramatic visits to Beijing and Moscow in 1972 It was important in demonstrating
Americas willingness to ignore ideological differences and establish good relations with the communist powers

Regular meetings between US and Soviet leader followed the initial Moscow summit in 1972:

Brezhnev visited Washington in 1973

Brezhnev met Nixon in Moscow and Gerald Ford in Vladivostok in 1974

Carter and Brezhnev met in Vienna in 1979 to sign SALT II

The frequency of summits was a sign of improved relations

The signing of the SALT I (1972) and SALT II (1979) arms control agreements.

- At SALT I limits were placed on the number of offensive missiles each nation could have, it ended the race to
create a defensive anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, and missile stockpile levels of both sides were frozen at
current levels. This made deterrence more certain.
- At SALT II There was a limit put on the number of missile launchers, ICBMs and M.I.R.Vs each side could

In 1972 the Basic Treaty established normal diplomatic relations between East and West Germany

o 1971 Sea Bed Treaty banned nuclear weapons from the sea floor outside the territorial waters of each

In 1973 there was a ceasefire in Vietnam.

o In 1975 at Helsinki leaders from 35 nations agreed to accept existing European borders, seek greater
economic cooperation and respect human rights Helsinki Agreement (However, the Soviet approach to human
rights re-ignited tension between the USSR and the US)

Trade between the US and the Soviet Union increased

China was admitted to the UN

Some setbacks:
o In October 1973 the US supplied the Israelis and the USSR supplied the Arabs in the Yom Kippur War
Israelis gained the upper hand USSR threatened to intervene US put its forces on alert both supported a
o However, each side tried to see each event, conflict or crisis as a separate problem, with its own causes and
its own solutions this became the basis of the concept that Harry Kissinger (Richard Nixon secretary of state)
referred to as linkage

Advantages of dtente:

For the USSR:


Recognised as a military equal of the West

Diminished concerns over rivalry with China

Access to US trade, technology and investment

For the USA:

Soviets might influence North Vietnam to accept peace in Indochina
USSR provided a new market and area for investment
Linkage agreements could be made linked to favourable outcomes for US in other areas
Soviets might cease their competition in the Third World and assist in reducing global commitments

Opinions on dtente remain divided:

Right-wing anti-communist opinion: detente was a mistake that enabled the Soviet Union to survive for a longer
period of time
Left liberal opinion: any reduction of nuclear Armageddon is a positive outcome and the US also needed dtente
as a respite from the taxing arms race
Realist opinion: agrees that dtente-like agreements could only ever be short term because such a calm between
sovereign nation states is a deviation from the norm

-As dtente was never meant to end the war, it was successful, to an extent. It had a huge impact it eased
tensions in parts of the world, BUT promoted the USSR to start expansion in others
-It achieved success in arms limitation and European stabilisation, BUT the Soviet expansion into the Third World
brought dtente to an end.
Dtente collapsed in 1980 but it provided essential lubrication and reduced the friction in the transition from a
bipolar to a triangular Cold War (Bradley)

Signs that dtente was fading:

Neither side entirely trusted each other or at all condoned or tolerated and form of the others ideology the
signing of the treaties were a sign of enthusiasm but their relationship remained essentially competitive
Nixon was forced to resign the Soviet Union saw Nixons successors, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, as weak
and unreliable Brezhnev was particularly annoyed by Carters attacks on the Soviet Union over human rights
Brezhnev saw this as a direct interference in Soviet domestic policy and believed it was none of Carters business
Conservatives in the US began to attack SALT I, saying the US had given too much away and that it allowed the
Soviet Union to keep pace
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 dtente was well and truly dead
4) Renewal and end of the Cold War
Reasons for the Second Cold War:
o In the US there was a view amongst conservatives that the USSR had gained much more in the dtente than
the US arms control agreements, it was felt, favoured the Soviets who had moved ahead in missile numbers felt
that theyd gained most from technological exchanges and improved trade

US suffered a national crisis of confidence due to:

Withdrawal from Vietnam War Americas first defeat in a war division in American society

Watergate scandal loss of faith in Americas leadership and institutions

- American backed regime of the Shah of Iran was overthrown by Muslim fundamentalists US embassy
seized and diplomats taken captive
o Nixon replaced by Ford and then Carter replaced him Carter genuinely tried to engage the Soviets in
dtente by he was considered by conservatives as soft and he was severely undermined by the Iran hostages
crisis/failure of his calls for human rights in Soviet Union/Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Soviets resented Carters insistence that dtente be linked to improvements in human rights

o Collapse of dtente had a lot to do with America trying to restore their position in hindsight it is clear that
the real leadership crisis was in the Soviet Union Brezhnev was an elderly, sick man replaced by two more elderly
sick men USSR locked into conservative Cold War mode continued wasteful arms race/continued adventurism in
the Third World/failed to address problems within the country

Characteristics of the Second Cold War:

o There was a renewal of the fear of war: both sides openly expressed concern about the likelihood of war e.g.
American arms build up

Hostile propaganda Reagan called the Soviet Union evil, Gorbachev described Reagan as dangerous

There was little success in negotiations between the two more discussion but little achieved

o Both sides tightened controls on groups within their own society e.g. Reagan criticised peace and antinuclear groups, claiming they were helping the USSR

The fear of the Soviet threat again became the focus of US foreign policy

- US attitudes and policies under Reagan

-Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its impact


Ronald Reagan became US President in 1981 - 1989, near end of CW.

o Believed communism limited personal freedom, denied choice and killed human spirit. He said I believe
that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last-last pages even now are being written

Strongly opposed to dtente, which he believed strengthened USSR/weakened US.


Reagan implemented economic reforms/raised living standards. These included:

Increasing worker productivity

Lowering taxes

Reducing govt. regulations of industry/employment.

Other factors which helped increase productivity:

Post-WWII generation (baby boomers) came to maturity, helping workforce grow 55% in period 1965-85

More women entered workforce

More foreign workers allowed into US.

o However, reforms incurred rising debt; when came to power in 1981, national debt $908.5 billion; when
left office in 1989, debt $2.7 trillion.

Reagans economic policy also caused 1987 Wall Street Crash.

o Reagan believed growing military power of USSR was a threat to US and wanted to limit influence of Soviets
in 3rd world countries. Reagans response to the expanding power of Soviets was to begin the largest US military
build-up of CW, including expensive development of Strategic Defensive Initiative (SDI or Star Wars where
satellites could destroy incoming missiles and could protect the US from nuclear attack this worried Soviets,
Europeans and nuclear protestors because it suggested the possibility that the US could launch a first strike
nuclear attack without the fear of retaliation), which cost $1.5 trillion.
o SDI was seen as expensive and unnecessary, received much criticism; some believed that if nuclear war
started, very little could be done to stop total annihilation (e.g. MAD) of both sides, and that SDI was wasting
o US citizens were concerned about the rising anti-Soviet rhetoric from the White House and feared that a
nuclear war was imminent. Protests grew when 1 million Americans, in June 1982, protested across the country
public support plummeted

Things that created support for SDI:

Events in Afghanistan, Central America and Africa

The assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II who supported the US

- STARTs discussions on nuclear arms reductions, intermediate-range weapons and conventional forces in
Europe ended in chaos when the Soviets walked out due to demands made by the Americans
o Reagan realised nothing would be achieved if hostile relations continued; the CW would only end through
diplomatic discussions between US/USSR. Reagan was able to negotiate with Gorbachev, with CW ending soon after
Reagans presidency.
o Reagan changed his CW rhetoric from aggressive from 1980-83 to engagement from 1984-89. With
Gorbachev in power, US realised glasnost/perestroika would continue and democracy would eventually prevail
throughout USSR.
o Embarked on a get tough approach e.g. demonstrations of US military might and purpose such as the
invasion of Grenada in 1983 (to oust a new left-wing government) and the bombing of Libya accused of sponsoring
o Reagan Doctrine: Although the US would avoid wars such as Vietnam, it would support pro-US regimes in the
Third World and back anti-communist groups to overthrow left-wing governments
o Reagan wrongly believed that an arms race would put great strain on the Soviet economy and thus bring the
nation, and in effect, communism to an inevitable demise consequence budget deficit spiralled out of control.

- Soviet attitudes and policies under Gorbachev

o Born on the March 2, 1931 in southern Russia.
o Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the CPSU on the 11th of March 1985. According to
supporters, he possessed three important qualities:
- Energy
- Party-mindedness
- Experience.
o He renewed Andropovs program to remove corruption from the CPSU.
o Gorbachev inherited many problems when he came to power; realised that something had to be done to
save USSR/CPSU. Problems:
Economy continued to shrink, becoming size of US by 1985. Soviet economy had survived from 1950searly 1980s on back of its oil reserves; by early 1980s, cessation in oil boom had drastic effect on Soviet economy.
Living standards were low. By mid-1980s, USSR resembled 3rd world country.
Infant mortality was high and life expectancy was declining.
o Gorbachev formulated new policies in attempt to combat these problems. Gorbachev's four main policies
1. Glasnost cultural freedom/reduced censorship, leading to greater openness in society and creating
potential for reform.
2. Perestroika restructuring and reform of the economy.
3. Democratizatsia spreading of democratic process through soviet institutions.
4. Novomyshlenie new foreign relations with West and an end to hostility.
o Gorbachev envisioned glasnost as an economic policy; he believed that open discussion of the USSRs
economic, ecological, and social crises would lead to perestroika.
o Gorbachev believed that to save USSR he needed to follow principles that Lenin promoted (e.g. community,
shared ownership and equality).
o Gorbachev was hailed as new thinker who would reform USSR; but decision to stay in Afghanistan showed
that Gorbachev could still employ old Soviet thinking.
o However, policy did not go as planned people started using new openness to criticise Soviet history and its
leaders. People now spoke of subjects previously banned and were also able to read literature previously banned.
o Gorbachevs New Economic Program was introduced in 1987. It established:
- New system of self-accounting which was related to profitability of state-run enterprises.

- Procedures to improve the rights of citizens, including the right to sue officials that violated their rights.
- Private enterprise cooperatives.
o Private enterprise cooperative system soon failed as 90% of all production went to the needs of the state,
and raw materials could only be purchased from state-sanctioned suppliers. This made private enterprises not
o Black markets sprang up as consumers struggled to survive on their meagre wages. Inflation increased and
labour unrest became way for citizens to proclaim their frustration.
o Even with this Gorbachev popularity reached its zenith in 1988; Reagan stated he no longer considered USSR
an evil empire and supported glasnost/perestroika. This increased support in USSR for Gorbachevs policies.
o Despite this, USSRs economy continued to spiral downward despite an impressive harvest in 1989, the
Central Committee on the Sept. 8 admitted a number of consumer items had disappeared from shelves,
medicine/food were in short supply and shops had long queues for goods. Communism proved to be failed system,
and glasnost/perestroika could not save it.
o Gorbachevs critics have labelled his failures as:
- Inability to solve the economic crisis.
- Handling of the nationalist movements.
- Ongoing war in Afghanistan.
o Gorbachev was hailed as a hero in US, and was very popular. US citizens did not see anything in Gorbachev
which resembled any of past Soviet leaders; with this atmosphere Gorbachev and his foreign minister succeeded in
entering into disarmament talks with US.
o By attempting to save communism, he had effectively destroyed it with his reforms.
o Gorbachevs personal leadership was one of factors that led to end of CW; his promotion of
glasnost/perestroika promoted new ways of thinking which those in USSR used to destroy communism rather than
perfect it.
o His moves not only decreased the Soviet Unions ability to wage full scale war but also signalled to the US
and the world that the USSR was no longer willing to compete in the Cold War when their internal problems are in
need of such urgent attention.
o 1985 Geneva Summit Gorbachev and Reagan agreed on some issues, e.g. to improve Soviet-US relations
through ongoing dialogue and further meetings in the near future, nuclear war could never be won and must never
be fought, etc.
o 1987 INF Treaty abolished a category of nuclear weapons both sides were able to agree on a way of
supervising this process atmosphere where nuclear disarmament could finally make real progress
- Disarmament agreements 19871991

o Dec. 7, 1988 - Gorbachev announced reductions in Soviet troops by 100,000 and tanks by 10,000.
o By 1990 a number of agreements between the USSR and US removed likely possibility of
- USSR commitment to withdraw troops from Hungary and Czechoslovakia
- Gorbachev and President Bush signed agreements dealing with limitations and elimination
of chemical and nuclear weapons.
Nuclear Forces Treaty

8th December


Signed in Washington D.C.

Agreement between the US and the USSR
Allowed both nations to inspect each others military
Banned nuclear and conventional ground-launched
ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5500
By the deadline of June 1 1991, 2692 banned weapons
had been destroyed

Agreements on
notifications of missile


Aimed to reduce the risk of nuclear war as a result of

misinterpretation, miscalculation or accident

Washington Summit

May-June 1990

Meeting between Gorbachev and Bush

Conventional Forces in 19th November

Europe (CFE) agreement 1990

Signed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact

Treaty of Paris

21st November

USSR, US and 30 other nations signed

Non-aggression pact between NATO and Warsaw Pact
Bush declares Cold War is over

Strategic Arms
Reduction Talks treaty

31st July 1991

Placed limits on the number of various types of

vehicles and attributed warheads that could be
deployed by either side
ICBMs were highly regulated and identified as the
most dangerous weapons that either side possessed

- Collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR

Eastern Europe:
In the Ukraine, the native language was used more often, and even though they followed perestroika, the
Ukrainian Popular Front and other democratic organizations promoted the rights of Ukrainians
Riots broke out in the wake of perestroika in Kazakhstan as people demonstrated anger over the conditions
political movements demanded an end to nuclear testing Kazakh language became the official one
By mid-1989, the communist governments in Poland and Hungary began to collapse. Gorbachev accepted
their demise.

On June 4, 1989 Poland voted in free elections.

On Nov. 9, 1989 the Berlin wall was torn down as protestors called for the resignation of the communist
leaders. This symbol of the Cold war disappeared, instead becoming a symbol of end of the Cold War.

March 11, 1990 - Lithuania declared its independence from the USSR

Uzbekistan declared its independence in June 1990 with Ukraine and Belorussia following in July. In August,
they were followed by Turkmenistan, Armenia and Tajikistan - Gorbachev had under-estimated these nationalist
movements. It seems that by trying to save the USSR with his policies, he unwittingly caused its demise
When Gorbachev released the Eastern Bloc from Soviet control, many of those nations decided to convert to
a non-communist style government in order to escape the oppressive horrors they had witnessed behind the iron
curtain e.g. Poland buoyed on by the success of the US in the Cold War and significantly improved liberties and
conditions first non-communist power in the Eastern Bloc for 42 years others followed e.g. Bulgaria, Hungary etc.
Velvet Revolution of 1989 was when Gorbachev announced Brezhnev Doctrine would not be enforced in
eastern European states if they decided to break free from USSR and power was given to democratic govts. This was
an important factor in many nations declaring their independence. Gorbachev was unwilling to assist unpopular
communist regimes from economic, military and foreign policy standpoints.


February 1991 the Warsaw Pact was dissolved end to Soviet domination in Eastern Europe

Gorbachevs policies of glasnost and perestroika allowed underground nationalist movements to move out
into the open, voicing their anger and demands for independence from Moscow
The end of the Cold War gave Gorbachev an opportunity to reform communism without pressure from the
tensions, but the momentum of glasnost and perestroika was too great and allowed the democratization process to
ultimately destroy communism

Further demonstrating the fall of communism were events such as:

The withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary and Czechoslovakia

Soviet acceptance of German reunification on 3 October 1990 and Germanys membership in NATO.

Joining the US-led coalition to remove Saddam Husseins Iraqi military forces from Kuwait

14 March 1989 - a newly created Congress of Peoples deputies voted to end the Communist Partys control
over the government, Gorbachev was elected executive president
Unsuccessful anti-Gorbachev coup by Soviet empire supporters - August 1991 - shifted greater authority to
the Russian president, Boris Yeltsin - accelerated change
Gorbachev dissolved the Communist Party, granted the Baltic states their independence and proposed a
much looser economic federation between the remaining republics
The formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on 8 December 1991, made the Soviet
federal government redundant.

On 25 December, Gorbachev resigned as president and the USSR ceased to exist on 31 December 1991

There were eight reasons why communism collapsed:

By 1980s at least 25% of the resources of USSR (compared to 6% of US) was used on nuclear weapons.

The new information society and continuing economic stagnation.

Citizens were not required to think but only comply with the party; could not last in a global information

Growing nationalism was occurring; e.g. Afghanistan.

A totalitarian power was not flexible enough to deal with the needs of its citizens.

Communism deprived its citizens of freedom; 3 million people left the USSR after 1917 to find a more free

Afghanistan and its backlash.

The gulag system of political prisons, which were the largest concentration camps ever created. Conservative
estimates put 5 million killed from early 1920s and 5 million survived.

Why did the Cold War end?

Had to end sooner or later the old bipolar world of the superpowers was giving way to a multi-polar world
with new power centres e.g. China and Japan both superpowers were at risk of being bypassed if they didnt
address issues such as technological development
Theres a view that Reagan brought the Cold War to an end SDI meant that the Soviets would have to
match the US in technology couldnt afford it had to give up the Cold War part of a larger view that argues
American won the Cold War e.g. The West, and especially the U.S., had shown remarkable patience and had
practiced prudence in its statecraft to bring about the victory (S. E. Ambrose)

View that the end of the Cold War represented not so much a victory for one side as a matter of the other
side declining to continue to take part in the contest (D McLean) Cold War ended because the Soviet system
collapsed - not just because of Reagan failure of communism was evident for some time disguised by the USSRs
status Gorbachevs reforms revealed the extent of the problems
Gorbachev must be given credit because he had the courage and foresight to look at things in a new way and
take radical actions compromised in a way that was completely new for a Cold War leader he compromised on
long-held Soviet claims and accepted many of the premises of the US negotiating position