Knox Academy Higher Cold War Assignments History Department k anderson



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Knox Academy
Higher

Cold War Assignments

History Department

K Anderson

The Cold War topic is divided into six sections. The sections and the basic information required are set out below.



A study of superpower foreign policy after 1945, the growth of international tension, the development of the policy of detente, and the end of the Cold War Europe in 1989, illustrating the themes of ideology, conflict and diplomacy.


Mandatory content

Illustrative areas

1. An evaluation of the reasons for the emergence of the Cold War, up to 1955
2. An assessment of the effectiveness of Soviet policy in controlling Eastern Europe up to 1961

3. An evaluation of the reasons for the Cuban Crisis of 1962


4. An evaluation of the reasons why the US lost the war in Vietnam

5. An evaluation of the reasons why the superpowers attempted to manage the Cold War, 1962–85

6. An evaluation of the reasons for the end of the Cold War


Tensions within the wartime alliance; the US decision to use the atom bomb; the arms race; ideological differences; disagreements over the future of Germany; the crisis over Korea.
The desire for reform in Eastern Europe; differing Soviet reactions to events in Poland (1956), Hungary (1956) and Berlin (1961); domestic pressures; the international context; military and ideological factors.
Castro’s victory in Cuba; US foreign policy; Khrushchev’s domestic position; Kennedy’s domestic context; Khrushchev’s view of Kennedy; ideological differences; mistakes by the leaders.
Difficulties faced by US military; relative strengths of North and South Vietnam; failure of military methods; changing public opinion in the USA; international isolation of the USA.
The danger of Mutually Assured Destruction; dangers of military conflict as seen in the Cuban Missile crisis; economic cost of arms race; development of surveillance technology; softening of the ideological conflict through policies of co-existence and détente.
The defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; the failure of Communism in Eastern Europe; Soviet economic weakness; the role of Gorbachev; Western economic strength; the role of Reagan.

The following essay titles are typical of the kind of essays you will get in the external exam.



In class you may choose a topic with which you feel comfortable to complete an essay. However you should ensure that by November 3rd, you have at least one essay from each of the six sections.
Reasons for the Emergence of the Cold War

  • “The main cause of the Cold War was the incompatible ideologies of the superpowers.” How far do you agree with this view?

  • How important were Stalin’s security concerns in the development of the Cold War?

  • To what extent did disagreement over the future of Germany cause the Cold War?

Effectiveness of Soviet control over Eastern Europe up to 1961

  • To what extent was ideology the determining factor of Soviet policy towards Eastern Europe up to 1961?

  • “The Treaties between the Soviet Union and the individual satellite states were used more as a means to keep the Soviet allies under a watchful eye than to actually make and enforce decisions.” How valid is this view as evidence of Soviet control over Eastern Europe?

  • How important was the Soviet Union’s global reputation in influencing their dealings with their satellite states?

Reasons for the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

  • How important were the respective security concerns of the superpowers in creating the Cuban Missile Crisis?

  • To what extent was ideology a cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

  • “Kennedy laid the blame for the Cuban Crisis firmly at the Soviet Union’s door, saying that Chairman Khrushchev had to ‘halt this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace.’” How far do you agree with the view that Khrushchev and the Soviet Union were to blame for the Cuban Crisis?

Why did the USA lose the war in Vietnam?

  • To what extent were American military tactics responsible for their failure in Vietnam?

  • How important was negative public opinion in America as a reason for the USA’s loss in the Vietnam War?

  • To what extent did the American forces fail in Vietnam due to weaknesses in their South Vietnamese allies?


Why did the superpowers need to manage the Cold War 1963-1989?

  • How important was the economic cost of weapons manufacture in encouraging the superpowers to manage the Cold war after 1962?

  • How important were the ideas of ‘peaceful co-existence’ as reasons to manage the Cold War after 1963?


Why did the Cold War end?

  • To what extent did the failure of the communist governments in Eastern Europe during 1988/89 contribute to the end of the Cold War?

  • How important was the economic situation in the USSR as a factor in the end of the Cold War?

  • “Reagan won the Cold War.” How far does this view explain the end of the Cold War?

On the following pages there are some tips on how to set out essays for ‘To what extent’, ‘How important’ and ‘How valid/how far’.

How important/To what extent…?


Factor2

Factor 1


How important was…

To what extent was…



These are the most common roots for essay questions.

You would be given one factor that contributed in some way to an outcome.

Your essay would identify further factors in that outcome and analyse them all through comparison, contrast and balance.

The conclusion to your essay would decide on the relative importance or responsibility of the named factor.

Each essay should have a minimum of FIVE factors.

For example…

How important was ideology for creating the Cold War?

To what extent did the Suffragettes hinder the cause of Votes for Women?





Factor 5



Factor 3




Factor 4



These are the most common roots for essay questions.

You would be given one factor that contributed in some way to an outcome.

Your essay would identify further factors in that outcome and analyse them all through comparison, contrast and balance.

The conclusion to your essay would decide on the relative importance or responsibility of the named factor.

Each essay should have a minimum of FIVE factors.

For example…

How important was ideology for creating the Cold War?

To what extent did the Suffragettes hinder the cause of Votes for Women?





May also be phrased as; ‘To what extent do you agree with the view…’ or simply ‘Discuss’.

This type of question requires an additional step.

As before you will be discussing the impact of various factors on a particular outcome, but this time you will be arguing for or against someone else’s opinion.

For example…

‘Stalin was to blame for starting the Cold War’. How far do you agree with this view?

To what extent do you agree with the view that, ‘The threat of nuclear destruction was the most stabilising influence of the Cold War’.

‘Political Reform in Britain in the period 1867-1928 was a matter of necessity not desire.’ Discuss.




Factor 3




Factor 5

Factor 1

Factor 2



X says “…”

How far do you agree with this view?






Factor 4

Below are some examples of excerpts from essays.




How effective was Soviet Control of Eastern Europe 1948-1961? (FIRST FACTOR)

One of the strongest ties between the USSR and the satellite states was economic support. The Second World War had left behind much damage to infrastructure, plus there was the displacement of people both civilian and military. When the Soviets refused to accept Marshall Aid and ordered the satellite states to reject it as well the USSR realised that they would have to provide the monetary support for Eastern Europe. In 1947 Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) was established; this brought together all the satellite states as well as the Communist Parties of France and Italy. Cominform’s aim was to set up Soviet-style procedures and to lead modernisation of the satellite states through rapid industrialisation and collectivisation of agriculture. The members of Cominform were also encouraged to trade with each other while being discouraged from trading outside of the block. In 1949 Comecon (Council of Mutual Economic Assistance) was set up to co-ordinate the satellite states’ economic policies. In addition the Molotov Plan was set up to provide aid to the satellite states. These policies and the investment they represented were initially popular (with the exception of East Berlin) in the Eastern Block. In the years up to 1955 this investment was trumpeted by the communist governments as proof that the communist system worked. Such ties between the Soviets and the satellite states were a way of at the least influencing the countries of Eastern Europe; however historians have questioned their effectiveness. RL Hutchings for example described Comecon as ‘a paper organisation until the late 1950s’. Nevertheless the fact that committees existed to bring together the communist parties of the satellite states was significant.



To what extent did Stalin’s security concerns cause the Cold War? (INTRODUCTION)

The Cold War cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars and divided the world while it lasted. But two crucial questions for historians have always been who was to blame for the Cold War and when did it start? Some historians date the beginning of the Cold War from the Communist Revolution of 1917, others from the breakdown of the Grand Alliance in 1945. What most do agree though is that the particular challenges of the Atomic Age brought tensions between the US and the Soviet Union in to sharp relief. This essay will discuss the factors that caused the Cold War including the mutual suspicion between East and West, the apparent suspicious interpretation of each side’s actions and the conflicting aims of the US and Soviet Union as well as considering the role the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin played in causing the Cold War.





How important were the weaknesses amongst the South Vietnamese as a cause of the failure of the US in Vietnam? (CONCLUSION)

So we can see that the corruption of the South Vietnamese government did play a significant part in the USA’s failure in Vietnam. By allying themselves with the corrupt leadership of Diem the USA alienated many ordinary South Vietnamese, people who had no belief in communism but who wanted to remove Diem. By supporting Diem the USA became those people’s enemy. In addition the USA’s attempts to win over the South Vietnamese public were at best insensitive, at worst murderous; the Strategic Hamlet Program turned South Vietnamese farmers against the USA as did the indiscriminate bombing of land. However a factor such as the falling public support for the war in the USA was a much bigger influence on the decision to withdraw from Vietnam. No American President could maintain the war effort without public support.






To what extent was ideology a cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis? (INTRODUCTION)

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation in 1962. It was the only occasion during the years of the Cold War that the USA and the Soviet Union were in direct conflict with each other; that conflict very nearly became a nuclear one. The reasons for the crisis were varied; the leaders of the USA and the USSR at the time, President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev, both escalated the crisis for their own purposes – a process known as brinkmanship. In addition there were the demands of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro. However, as with many Cold War Crises, ideology played a crucial part in both creating and maintaining the tension over Cuba. This essay will discuss the extent to which ideology caused the Cuban Missile Crisis.






“Reagan won the Cold War.” How far does this view explain the end of the Cold War? (CONCLUSION)

So we can see that many factors contributed to the end of the Cold War. Moscow’s refusal to prop up the authority in each satellite state encouraged pro-democracy groups to come into the public domain and demand change. The smashing of the Berlin Wall may have been symbolic but it was also a physical act for breaking down the barriers between the communist governments and the people. In addition the problems facing the Soviet economy and the commitments that the Kremlin had overseas in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan meant that the Soviet government was almost on the brink of bankruptcy. Something had to give and it was Mikhail Gorbachev who decided that in order to save the Soviet Union, the Cold War had to end. However, there were two superpowers in the Cold War, and no matter how much Gorbachev wanted the Cold War to be over, without the agreement of the USA, it would be impossible. The fact that Ronald Reagan was so unassailably anti-communist allowed the Republicans to negotiate the end of the Cold War without being accused of being ‘soft on communism’ – an American refrain for whatever opposition party throughout the Cold War. However; it would be a gross exaggeration to claim that Ronald Reagan ‘won’ the Cold War – Reagan and his advisers reacted to other events – but Reagan’s reputation certainly allowed the Cold War to end.



How important were the ideas of ‘peaceful co-existence’ as reasons to manage the Cold War after 1963? (FIRST FACTOR)

‘Peaceful Co-existence’ was a term first used by Chairman Khrushchev on his assumption of power in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Khrushchev deliberately distanced himself from the communist line that global conflict between the superpowers of the USA and USSR was inevitable; instead Khrushchev publicly accepted that the USA’s and the USSR’s ways were different and that each had their own spheres of influence that the other should not encroach upon. However Khrushchev’s other policies; in particular placing missiles on Cuba; seemed to mean that he was as aggressive as any other Soviet leader, and so Khrushchev’s apparent promises of peaceful co-existence were never really taken seriously in the US. However by the early 1970s the idea of a ‘live and let live’ policy had more legitimacy. By the 1970s direct communication between the superpowers was available and leaders had actually visited each other’s countries. In addition negotiation had proved possible over several nuclear treaties. All of this proved that the USA and the USSR could live alongside each other without provoking each other and therefore the ideas of peaceful co-existence are a significant contributor to the reasons to manage the Cold War.




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