Chapter 29: The Cold War Era and the Emergence of a New Europe



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The United States and Détente

  • Under President Richard Nixon, the United States began a policy of détente with the Soviet union.

    • The two countries concluded agreements on trade and reducing strategic arms.

    • Despite these agreements, Soviet spending on defense, and particularly on its navy, grew, damaging the consumer sectors of the economy.

  • During Gerald Ford’s presidency (1974-1977) and the Helsinki Accords

  • Accords recognized the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe

  • They also recognized the human rights of the signers’ citizens which every government agreed to protect.

  • Despite the détente, the Soviet Union pursued an activist foreign policy throughout the world during the 1970s.

  • It financed Cuban military operations in Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia.

  • Soviet fund poured to the Sandinista forces in Nicaragua and to Vietnam.

  • Soviet government provided weapons and funds to Arab nations to use against Israel.

  • By the early 1980s, the Soviet Union possessed the largest armed force in the world and had achieved nuclear parity with the United States.

  • The Invasion of Afghanistan

    • Although the Soviet Union already had a presence in Afghanistan, the Brezhnev government, for reasons that remain unclear, determined to send in troops to ensure its influence in central Asia and to install a puppet government in Afghanistan.

    • US response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

      • The US Senate refused to sign a second Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement

      • US embargoed grain shipments to the Soviet Union

      • US boycotted 1980 Olympic games in Moscow

      • US sent aid to Afghan rebels

  • Soviet forces were bogged down in Afghanistan and could not defeat their guerilla enemies.

  • Communism and Solidarity in Poland

    • Economic conditions in Poland

      • After the events of 1956, when the Polish Communist Party came to be dominated by the Soviet Union, chronic mismanagement and shortages of food and consumer goods plagued Poland for twenty-five years.

    • In 1978, the election of Karol Wojtyla, a cardinal and archbishops of Krakow, as Pope John Paul II proved important for Polish resistance to communist control and Soviet domination.

    • In 1980, the Polish government raised meat prices, leading to the Gdansk strikes.

      • A series of strikes ensued, led by Lech Walesa, and the strikers refused to negotiate with any of the government controlled unions.

      • The strike ended when the government agreed to allow the workers the right to organize an independent union called Solidarity.

  • The state-controlled radio station broadcasted a Roman Catholic Mass for the first time in 30 years.

  • A single party continued to run Poland, but for the first time, the party congress permitted real debate within its ranks.

  • In 1981, however, General Wojciech Jaruzelski became the head of the Polish Communist Party, and the army imposed martial law.

  • Leaders of Solidarity were arrested

  • Relationship with the Reagan Administration

    • Early in his administration, Ronald Reagan relaxed the US grain embargo on the Soviet Union and placed less emphasis on human rights.

    • Reagan intensified the Cold War rhetoric when he famously described the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.”

    • Reagan’s Cold War strategy

      • Increase military spending

      • Slowed arms limitations negotiations

      • Deployed a new missile defense system in Europe

      • Proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (dubbed “Star Wars” by the press0. Involving a high-technology space-based defense against nuclear attack

  • The US Cold War policy forced the Soviet Union to spend more on its military and defense—at a time when it couldn’t afford to do so—and the subsequent financial crisis that ensued was one of the chief factors to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Section Five: Decolonization—The European Retreat From Empire

  • Section Overview

    • The transformation of much of Africa and Asia from colonial dominions into independent nations was the most remarkable global political event of the second half of the twentieth century.

    • Decolonization after 1945 was a direct result of World War II and the rise of indigenous nationalist movements.

  • After the dislocations of the war came the immediate postwar European economic collapse, which left European colonial powers less able to afford to maintain their military and administrative positions abroad.

  • The war aims of the Allies undermined colonialism

  • Major Areas of Colonial Withdrawal

    • The Dutch were forced from the East Indies in 1949 and were replaced by the independent nation of Indonesia.

    • Belgium withdrew from the Congo in 1960.

    • Portuguese Mozambique and Angola were liberated in 1974 and 1975.

    • All-white rule ended in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1979.

  • India

    • British dominance in India began in the eighteenth century.

      • India supplied the raw materials for the British cotton mills.

      • British policies pushed many Indians to migrate to British possessions in East Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

      • Ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences prevented a unified resistance to British rule in India.

    • Reform groups emerge to liberalize, or diminish British control over India.

      • Indian National Congress 1885

        • Founded by Hindu Indians

        • Their goal was to modernize Indian life

      • Muslim League 1887

        • For a time, it cooperated with the Indian National Conference, but eventually sought an independent Muslim nation.

    • Mohandas Gandhi, passive resistance, and the end of British rule in India

      • Gandhi bio

        • Studied law in Britain where he developed admiration for liberal Western ideas, like Henry David Thoreau’s concept of passive resistance.

        • He returned to India and then moved to South Africa where for over twenty years he worked on behalf of Indian immigrants.

      • Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and distinguished himself as a leader of Indian nationalism by his insistence on religious toleration.

        • He led the Indian people in passive resistance against British rule and was repeatedly arrested and jailed by the British authorities.

        • While in prison, Gandhi undertook long protest fasts during which he nearly died.

      • In 1947, the British Labuor government decided to leave India.

    • Gandhi, however, did not succeed in uniting India as it was partitioned into the states of India and Pakistan.

      • Sectarian warfare and hundreds of thousands of deaths marked the partition.

      • Pakistan was initially a nation of two parts separated geographically by hundreds of miles of Indian territory.

        • In 1971, East Pakistan broke away to become independent Bangladesh.

      • The creation of Pakistan would be important for the emergence of political Islamism.

    • The retreat of colonial powers led to new or renewed conflicts among different ethnic and religious groups.

      • Indian-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir

      • The former Portuguese colony of East Timor broke away from Indonesian domination which occupied it for twenty years after Portugal withdrew.

  • Further British Retreat from Empire

    • British decolonization sought to maintain whatever links were economically and politically possible without conflict.

    • Throughout decolonization the British hoped to oversee the creation of institutions in their former colonies that would assure representative self-government once they had departed.

    • Characteristics of former colonies

      • Political instability and poverty in Africa

      • Asia, on the other hand, has been an area of overall political stability and remarkable economic growth, challenging both the economies of the United States and Europe.

Section Six: The Turmoil of French Decolonization

  • Section Overview

    • Whereas the Labour Party in Britain guided their retreat from colonialism without conflict, the French, on the other hand, believed it needed to reassert itself as a great power.

    • France’s policy toward colonialism led to two disastrous attempts to maintain its colonial empire, in Algeria and Vietnam.

  • France and Algeria

    • Origins of French domination of Algeria

      • France had captured the pirate’s nest of Algiers in 1830 as Charles X hoped the invasion would increase support for his monarchy.

      • After 1848, thousands of French soldiers, citizens, and people from throughout the Mediterranean area settled in the colony.

      • The voting structure was rigged to give the European immigrants, known as pieds noirs (meaning “black feet), who comprised 20% of the population, as much voice as the majority Arab Muslim population.

    • In May 1945, during celebrations of the Allied victory in World War II, a violent clash broke out between Muslims and French settlers.

      • There were deaths on both sides

      • The French repressed the Muslims with considerable loss of life and these human rights violations robbed the French administration of its legitimacy.

    • In 1947, Algerian nationalists founded the National Liberation Front and utilized guerilla tactics in the civil war that broke out with France.

      • War between the Algerian nationalists and France waged until 1962.

      • Both sides carried out atrocities.

      • European settlers in Algeria pressured the French government to continue their defense.

      • Political turmoil waged in France itself over the issue and many feared civil war would erupt in France.

    • General Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), who had led the French forces in World War II and led France briefly in the months immediately following the war, was appointed president of France, which voters ratified, in December 1958.

      • De Gaulle’s conditions on taking office included the passing of legislation that would give greater powers to the president.

    • Charles de Gaulle undertook a long strategic retreat from Algeria

      • As a result, a group of military officers known as the OAS (Organisation Armee Secrete) planned a coup in Paris, but failed.

      • There were bombings, murders, and attempts on de Gaulle’s life.

    • De Gaulle issued a referendum on granting Algeria independence and the voters overwhelmingly agreed to free the former French colony and Algeria became independent on July 3, 1962.

      • Hundreds of thousands of pied noirs settlers fled Algeria for France as did many Muslims who supported the French who feared reprisals.

      • Thousands of pro-French Muslims were slaughtered in Algeria.

  • France and Vietnam

    • History of French occupation of Indochina

      • In its nineteenth century push for Empire, France occupied Indochina which included Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

      • By 1930, Ho Chi Minh (1892-1969) had turned a nationalist movement against French colonial rule into the Indochina Communist Party.

    • In September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam under the Viet Minh, a coalition of nationalists that the communist dominated and civil war broke out.

    • The creation of the Communist People’s Republic of China in 1949 alarmed the United States which led US policy makers to conclude that the French struggle in Vietnam was integral to the policy of containment.

      • France lost its last military stronghold in Vietnam, Dien Bien Phu, in 1954.

          • After suffering a crucial loss, France loss the will to fight and decided to negotiate a peace accord with the Viet Minh which divided Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel of latitude.

      • North of the parallel, centered in Hanoi, the Viet Minh were in charge.

      • Below it, the French remained in charge.

      • These borders were intended to be temporary as the elections of 1956 were to be held to reunify the country.

        • Vietnam Drawn Into the Cold War

    • Unhappy with the arrangements in Vietnam, the United States formed the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), a collective security agreement that resembled the European NATO alliance.

      • Members included the United States, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

    • In 1955, French troops began their withdraw from South Vietnam and a number of political groups wrestled for power; the United States intervened and supported Ngo Dinh Diem (1901-1963), a strong non-communist nationalists.

      • Diem established a Republic of Vietnam in the territory of South Vietnam formerly controlled by France.

          • In 1960, the National Liberation Front was founded, with the goals of overthrowing Diem, unifying the country, reforming the economy, and ousting the Americans.

      • The National Liberation Front was anti-colonial, nationalist, and communist.

      • Its military arm was called the Viet Cong and it was aided by the government of North Vietnam.

          • Diem responded to these threats to his power with repression and tyranny.

      • As a Roman Catholic, he faced criticisms from Buddhist and the army.

        • Direct United States Involvement

    • Early US policy regarding Vietnam

      • Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations continued to support Diem while demanding reforms in the government.

      • American military presence grew in Vietnam from about 600 advisors in early 1961 to more than 16,000 troops in late 1963.

      • On November 1, 1963, an army coup, in which the United States was deeply involved, overthrew and murdered Diem and the United States appointed Nguyen Van Thieu as the puppet leader of South Vietnam.

        • Nguyen Van Thieu ruled from 1966 to 1975.

      • John F Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 and his successor, Lyndon Johnson, vastly expanded commitment to Vietnam.

        • In August 1964, after an attack on an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin, Johnson authorized the first bombing of North Vietnam.

        • The land war grew until more than 500,000 Americans were stationed in South Vietnam.

      • In 1969, President Richard Nixon began a policy known as Vietnamization, which involved the gradual withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam while the South Vietnamese army took over the full military effort.

        • Peace negotiations had begun in Paris in the spring of 1968, but a ceasefire was not arranged until January 1973,

        • American troops left South Vietnam, and North Vietnam released its American prisoners of war.

      • On April 30, 1975, Saigon (renamed Ho Chi Minh City) fell to the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army and Vietnam was finally united.

      • The experience in Vietnam damaged America’s reputation.

        • Many questioned the wisdom of American policy makers.

        • Many young Europeans and Americans came to regard the United States not as a protector of liberty, but an ambitious, aggressive, and cruel power trying to keep colonialism alive after the end of the colonial era.

Section Seven: The Collapse of European Communism

  • Section Overview

    • The withdrawal of Soviet influence from Eastern Europe and the internal collapse of the Soviet Union are the most important historical events of the second half of the twentieth century.

    • The Soviet Union imploded and divided into separate successor states.

    • The events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union remain murky as there was no foreign invasion, no military defeat, and no internal revolution.

    • Suspected reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union

      • Under Brezhnev, the Soviet government became markedly more repressive at home, suggesting a return to Stalinist policies.

      • In 1974, the government expelled Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

      • The Soviet government began to harass Jewish citizens.

      • Soviet dissidents launched reform movements

        • Nobel Prize-winning physicist Andrei Sakharov (1921- 1989)

        • During the same period the structures of the Communist Party became both rigidified and corrupt, which increasingly demoralized younger Soviet bureaucrats and party members.

  • Gorbachev Attempts to Reform the Soviet Union

    • Mikhail Gorbachev (b. 1931) comes to power in 1985 after two Brezhnev’s two immediate successors, Yuri Andropov (1914-1984) and Konstantin Chernenko (1911-1985) died within thirteen months of each other.

      • Gorbachev reformed the Soviet Union

        • These reforms loosed forces that, within seven years, would force him to retire from office and would end both communist rule and the Soviet Union as it existed since the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.

    • Economic Perestroika, or “restructuring”

      • Gorbachev’s primary goal was to revive the Russian economy to raise the country’s standard of living.

      • During this process, Gorbachev reduced the size and importance of the centralized economic ministries.

      • By 1990, in a clear abandonment of Marxist principles, Gorbachev began to advocate private ownership of property and liberalization of the economy toward free market mechanisms.

      • Despite these efforts, the Soviet economy remained stagnated and Gorbachev’s policies failed.

    • Glasnost

      • Glasnost, or “openness” was Gorbachev’s policy on exposing Soviet history to criticism.

        • Workers were permitted to criticize party officials and economic policies.

        • Censorship was relaxed and free expression encouraged.

        • Dissidents were released from prison.

      • Gorbachev applies the process of perestroika to politics in the Soviet Union.

        • In 1988, a new constitution permitted openly contested elections.

        • The Congress of Peoples’ Deputies was elected in 1989.

      • After lively debate, the Supreme Soviet, another elected body dominated by communists, formally elected Gorbachev president in 1989.

        • Russia had a long history of subjugating different peoples from the days of the tsars to Stalin’s seizure of the Baltic States and people living in these regions started demanding autonomy.

        • Gorbachev proved inept in addressing these complaints and badly underestimated the unrest that internal national discontent could generate.

  • 1989: Revolution in Eastern Europe

    • Solidarity Reemerges in Poland

      • In early 1980s Poland’s government relaxed martial law, and it eventually released all Solidarity prisoners, although Jaruzelski remained president.

      • In 1988, new strikes caught the Polish government by surprise and the government was forced to recognize the legality of Solidarity as an established union.

      • Elections of 1989

        • The communists lost overwhelmingly to Solidarity candidates.

      • Jaruzelski, unable to find a communist who could forge a majority coalition in parliament, appointed the first noncommunist prime minister in Poland since 1945.

    • Toward Hungarian Independence

      • In early 1989, Hungary opened its borders with Austria, permitting free travel between the two countries and this breach in the Iron Curtain led to thousands of East Germans to move through Hungary and Austria to West Germany.

      • In May, 1989, Janos Kadar, who had been installed as the leader of the Hungarian communist state in 1956, was stripped of his position as president of the Hungarian Communist Party.

      • The Hungarian Communist Party changed its name to the Socialist Party, permitted other parties to engage openly in politics, and promised free elections by October.

    • German Reunification

      • In the autumn of 1989, popular demonstrations erupted in East German cities.

        • Gorbachev told the East German Communist Party that the Soviet Union would not use force to squash the demonstrations.

          • Consequently, the East German government resigned, and was succeeded by younger party members who remained in office for only a few weeks.

      • In November 1989, in one of the most emotional moments in European history since 1945, the government of East Germany ordered the opening of the Berlin Wall and Germany moved toward reunification.

        • Helmut Kohl (b. 1930), the chancellor of West Germany, became the leading force in moving toward full unification.

    • The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia

      • Vaclav Havel (b. 1936), a playwright whom the communist government had imprisoned, led the opposition to the Czech Communist Party.

      • In December 1989, the communist government, together with the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact states, acknowledged that the invasion of 1968 had been a mistake.

      • Shortly after, Havel’s group, known as Civic Forum, forced Gustav Husak (b. 1913), who had been president of Czechoslovakia since 1968, to resign.

      • On December 28, 1989, Alexander Dubcek became chairman of the Parliament, and the next day, Havel was elected president.

    • Violent Revolution in Romania

      • In mid-December 1989, the forces of President Nicolae Ceausescu (1918-1989), who had governed without opposition since 1965, fired on crowds that were protesting conditions in the country.

      • By December 22, Bucharest was in full revolt, Ceausescu and his wife attempted to flee, but were captured and shot on December 25.
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