A2 Cold War, Unit 3 Cold War Revision Guide a world Divided: Superpower relations, 1944-90 Contents

How far did Sino-Soviet relations influence US policy?

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How far did Sino-Soviet relations influence US policy?

1. Both China and USSR fearful of having 2 enemies, therefore they both attempted to improve relations with US, which meant hat the US could gain concessions from them

2. US needed to solve Vietnam so they could use the SS Split to their advantage to solve US needs (think what other needs US had at the time)

Causes of Détente

Fear of War

  • Cuban Missile Crisis had drawn attention to the threat of nuclear conflict

  • More sophisticated weapons & delivery systems adding to tensions

  • By 1969 USSR and USA evenly matched – each could destroy the other country sing nuclear weapons

Needs of USSR

  • Brezhnev continued with policy of Peaceful Coexistence started by Khrushchev, compromising ideological beliefs for sake of national security

  • USA perceived to be weaker during Vietnam War

  • USSR was reaching parity with US in terms of numbers of weapons and could negotiate from a position of strength

  • USSR fearful of USA starting a new technology race

  • Need to stabilise the situation Eastern Bloc & gain acceptance it was part of Soviet sphere of influence

  • Sino-Soviet split

  • Improve domestic economy & standards of living

  • Access to new technologies, e.g. micro computers

Needs of USA

  • Failures in Vietnam War led to re-evaluation of foreign policy

  • Domestic costs – high inflation & budget deficit

  • Western criticism of US foreign policy, e.g. 1966 DeGaulle withdrew France from NATO

  • Right-wing Republican politics on the decline, dented by failures in Vietnam allowing Détente to prevail

  • Growing social unrest, e.g. 1968 riots, drew attention to need to divert funds from military to social reforms

  • European powers catching up on US in commerce & financial services

European needs

  • Political instability, e.g. Prague Spring, student riots in Paris (1968)

  • Billy Brandt, West German Chancellor forged new links with East, known as ‘Ostpolitik’, e.g. between East & West Germany

  • Growing perception that there was more to be gained economically & politically from negotiation rather than conflict

Successes of Détente

  • SALT I: Nixon’s visit to China (1972) helped to accelerate the talks

  • Agreement reached on anti-ballistic missile systems – 2 systems each, 1 for their capital cities and 1 for their main nuclear site

  • Limits placed on no. of ICBMs & SLBMs (Submarine-launched ballistic missiles) of 1054 and 740 respectively

  • offensive nuclear weapons

  • Code of conduct :USA pledged to ‘do their utmost to avoid military confrontations’ & ‘to exercise restraint’

  • Trade was to be encouraged

  • Consideration given to US lead in the arms race, i.e. Soviets could have more weapons as their delivery systems and spying equipment was inferior to US

  • SALT II :set equal limits for missile launchers & strategic bombers

  • Dialogue channels remained open between incoming President Carter and increasingly weak Soviet premier Brezhnev

  • HELSINKI ACCORDS: attended by 33 states from NATO and Warsaw Pact; agreement reached over European borders of Warsaw Pact in return for 3 baskets: Basket one: acceptance of European borders (including East Germany); Basket two: trade & technology exchanges (similar to Geneva Summit, 1955); Basket three: respect for human rights, e.g. freedom of speech & movement; organisations set up to monitor governments & actions

Failures of Detente

  • SALT I: talks were delayed by Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia

  • Difficulty in agreeing over which weapons systems should be included as both sides had different types of weapons; tendency to focus on setting limits for existing systems, ignoring the possibility of newer more powerful technologies, e.g. didn’t include MIRVs (multiple independent re-entry vehicles); old obsolete missiles could be replaced with new ones; code of Conduct was very open-ended and little more than a statement of intent

  • SALT II: Left out cruise missiles – where the USA had a significant lead

  • Right saw SALT II as too much of a concession to USSR and allowed them to catch up with the US, obliging Jimmy Carter to renegotiate the treaty when he took over from Ford as President in 1977; Treaty was highly technical & detailed & ‘not understood by the average senator’; SALT II rejected by Congress in 1980 and treaty was never ratified

  • HELSINKI: Little substantive detail; no references to arms reductions

Why did Détente fail?

1. Trigger for failure of detente and 2nd Cold War beginning = 1979 invasion of Afghanistan

– last straw – distrust of USSR: Widespread condemnation by west – expansionism

After invasion

Carter’s language much harsher

Withdrew from SALT 2, cut off trade, boycotted Olympics in Moscow 1980

Increased arms spending and nuclear weapons, limitation over

Thatcher supported this more strident approach

1980 Presidential election centred on foreign policy – Afghanistan etc. Reagan hostile to USSR his election symbolized disillusionment with détente. Reagan increased defence spending by 13% in 1982 and by 8% in each of the next 2 yrs.

But Détente already in difficulties before this, during Carter’s administration 1976 on problems appeared
2. Successes of detente mixed – Little achieved in real terms

did not always achieve the reduction in tension desired& sometimes agreements even ignored

Human rights still an area of dispute, USSR continued to violate Helsinki

Carter tried linkage here, linking economic aid, trade to human rights e.g. to allow jews to emigrate to Israel. Deeply resented by USSR and many in US saw USSR as still trying to evade these rules therefore why still negotiate with them

e.g. other limited successes....

3. Impact on arms race minimal

Some in US objected already saying the arms talks benefitted the soviets – ussr catching up

Even becoming superior in icbms

  • SALT 2 agreed 1979 but Senate refused to accept it

4. tension not reduced in some parts of world

Actions in 3rd world seemed to indicate USSR expanding influence upsetting many in west – increasing distrust of USSR

  • US adviser Brzezinski – hardline anti Soviet (polish) “detente was buried in the sands of Ogadon” Somalia

  • 3rd World Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia, Soviet activity in supporting civil wars here fed neo-conservative demands for tough action, Carter sent weapons e.g. to El Salvador and Nicuaragua v. communists – Detente died in the deserts of the horn of Africa

  • In Yom Kippur war when Egypt invaded Israel, USA suspected that USSR had supported Egypt and known in advance despite an agreement they had signed to inform each other of any conflict which might threaten world peace

5. Domestic mood in US – election of Reagan and rise of Republican right – ideological continuity

Conflicting advice to Carter – Weinberger v Brizinski

US recovered from humiliation of Vietnam (now a couple of years away from events, less raw) & want to restore prestige in world. Detente seen as weak and giving up on principles and ideology so long fought for

Iranian hostage = humiliating for that prestige and must restore it. Carter had initially refused to negotiate to get US families out, finally released 1981, US seemed weak therefore more demands from US right to act tough.

A Return to containment and past “glories” and firm posturing, defense of ideals of democracy and freedom, hence rhetoric of Reagan and determinist approach – US preordained to fight communism good v evil

Reagan Doctrine – money to those around the world fighting communism, defence spending up – return to old policies

“human rights as soul of foreign policy” seen as “soft on communism” much as Truman had been accused of and Carter the butt of jokes.

This mirrored by view that detente and Carter had actually allowed the Soviets to make gains both territorially and strategically (arms) and that this might ultimately harm US national security – similarly critical of ostpolitik for reaching an accommodation with Eastern block rather than maintain rigidly to policy aiming to reunify Germany and fight communism.

6. USSR also some elements opposed détente

Unease over Helsinki Accord criticism from west

Soviet military wanted to increase weapons to support policy in 3rd world

  • Brezhnev very ill, Soviet decision making slow, negotiations slow, therefore easier to be hard line in talks

  • USSR always has divisions between reformers and hard liners – gerontocracy ruled so hard line approach, maintaining attitudes from 2ww, meant little change and an acceptance of the older ways of doing things. Khrushchev had lost his position because of his attempts to formulate a new type of policy but one which had become increasingly unpredictable and caused danger to the USSR. Fearful therefore of “new policies”

By end of 1970s “the complexities and contradictions of détente had become explosive” Fitzgerald The Cold War and beyond.

détente failed because there was ultimately no “paradigm” shift in the way the two sides viewed each other i.e. ideologically and in terms of national security

End of Cold War

Reagan responsible for ending Cold War
1. Increasing nuclear arms : to regain military supremacy; to push USSR to economic brink as she probably wouldn’t be able to match US thereby get concessions from USSR from a position of strength; military spending up (Congress agreed i.e public support, post Vietnam and after humiliation of US = Iran, & USSR aggression: Afghanistan, SS20s put in E Europe )

1982 defence spending increased by 13%, and over =8% in the following 2 yrs: unprecedented; New delivery systems: Stealth bombers, Trident submarines, SDI (star wars)

2. Reagan Doctrine: halt growth of Soviet influence in 3rd World; weaken the USSR “at the edges” (see map of world according to Reagan’s republicans); put Soviet economy under strain by forcing them to give more support to 3rd world; prove to USSR once again that USA would take forceful action v. communist expansion; send aid to anti-communist insurgents & governments

    • Nicaragua: arms to the Contras in Nicaragua, v. Sandanistas (the Communist Gov)

    • El Salvador: US supported an unpopular gov facing a popular revolt by left

    • Grenada 1983: US deposed the left wing gov

    • Afghanistan: stinger anti aircraft missles to mujahedeen

    • Europe: Voice of America broadcasts to encourage E bloc to revolt

    • Poland: US loans and bank credits cut and tariffs on polish goods when Solidarity banned

Advantage to US: led to few instances of US troops being involved unlike Vietnam, instead massive use of CIA operations; dDisadvantages to US: actions not always popular in wider world – US interfering in internal politics and a threat to the liberty of the people of those nations – critics in west and also in developing nations often with left wing govs. United in this view;supporting regimes which were anti-communist eg. Marcos in the Philippines criticized as had poor human rights record
3. Summits: Second Term in office from 1984 Reagan CHANGED approach and was supportive of the new USSR leader Gorbachev, less confrontational. Both men agreed on their desire to reduce or even eliminate nuclear weapons. Supporting Gorbachev build a reputation as a world statesman making it easier for him to impose change at home. 1988 Reagan went to Moscow, asked about the “evil empire” he replied “that was a different time, a different era”; Thatcher met Gorbachev and reported back that “he was a man she could do business with); 1985 Geneva Summit: Reagan agreed to meet him– a strong personal friendship resulted; 1986 Reykjavik Summit followed – Gorbachev produced suggestions for a)reduction of Intermediate Nuclear Forces drastically in Europe : eliminated Intermediate range ballistic missiles in Europe and also limit total number in world;b) get rid of nuclear weapons in 10 yrs if SDI cancelled. – Reagan would not agree to the later; 1987 Washington Summit: agreed to the INF Treaty as suggested at Reykjavik; 1988: Geneva Accords agreed to withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan; 2 more summits held before Reagan left office in 1989
4.Strong relationship and respect for Gorbachev , popular with media and therefore Presidents; Image – good relations continued under Bush Sr next President.
How important was Reagan?

  • US certainly seen as tough but morally questionable

  • Reagan more effective because had a right wing GB PM – Thatcher to support him – similar view of “evil empire” - “the iron lady” see ppt of pics on special relations

  • Thatcher agreed to have nuclear bases in UK – vital in increasing pressure & threat to USSR

  • Unintentionally, it was Gorbachev’s changes which helped USSR collapse. Ironically in trying to save the USSR Gorbachev destroyed it & Reagan’s support for him on the world stage was vital

  • Economically – put pressure on, little evidence that USSR had the ability to react but did put pressure on Gorby to find new policies to deal with pressure i.e. perestroika and glasnost.

Triumphalist” US historians or “Reagan Victory school” claim Cold War ended because of the pressure, especially economic pressure Reagan put on USSR and his “evil empire” rhetoric gave them no where to hide anymore from the fact that they could not compete with the economic might of USA. Republican right thrilled that detente ended, USSR could no longer “catch up” and a tough stance was again taken against an expansionist and ideological threat.

However other factors to remember a) Reagan changed his approach in 2nd term b) Gorbachev had to be in place & his new ideas had to attain some support at home before change could really happen c) Politburo discussions seem to show that ec pressure was not so great as they did not entirely believe in SDI as a possibility d) as a command economy they could still have put more resources towards arms, the Russian people were used to deprivation e) voices in E Europe calling for change already (Poland) so it not Reagan alone.
Gorbachev responsible for end of Cold War
Gorbachev – new leader of USSR facilitated change 1985 – New Political Thinking

Committed communist so had support from Party.

New Politburo members with similar mind sets – Shevardnadze as Foreign Minister

Confrontation with west now seen as unproductive as a) arms race b) increased insecurity

Gorbachev had to solve serious problems

  • Enormous military spending – need arms limitation talks with USA in order not to leave USSR undefended; Afghanistan shown huge cost, 15000 Red Army killed, $8 billion per annum, and no decisive result supporting 3rd world – Cuba, Vietnam even Africa approx $40 billion

  • Economic & political stagnation in USSR’s system

New policies

1. Glasnost – openness, new ideas esp after catastrophe of Chernobyl nuclear power station which seemed to prove in his first year all the failings of the Soviet system a) technology unreliable & not maintained b) secretive system – information on disaster not even given clearly to Gorbachev until after neighbouring countries contacted USSR c) reluctance from those in positions of power to change anything – vested interests would lose their privileges and fear of punishment given previous history of USSR = Gorbachev had to introduce more openness in Soviet society in order to allow economic reform to happen, otherwise kept getting blocked by those in power. His first attempts at perestroika were blocked, hence he introduced glasnost and limited democratisation

2. Democratisation – only way to get perestroika to work was to change Party officials blocking it so stimulate political change to get economic change.

  • Jan 1987 Central Committee mtg G announced members of local Soviets would now be elected by people not Party and there would be a choice of candidates

  • Direct elections also for several important Soviet posts G trying to bring in reformers

  • 1988 – changes to Gov of Soviet Union –

  • Supreme Soviet wd now consist of 400 members chosen from Congress of People’s Deputies.

  • Congress would have 2/3 of its members elected by universal suffrage & 1/3 from “people’s” organisations including the Communist Party

  • Supreme Soviet would now meet as a Parliament

  • 1988 Elections held for Congress – they were “semi free” as non Party candidates allowed

  • 88% of successful candidates from Communist Party but prominent dissidents e.g. Sakharov were elected

  • Beginning of loss of grip on power by Communist Party – seen by satellite states in Europe

Supreme Soviet (Parliament) televised sessions, exiciting viewing when reformers clashed with conservatives

even leading to elections in March 1989

More criticism of communism – encouraged push for more reform.. influenced E Europe

3. Perestroika – restructure economy – liberalise so some private enterprise

  • Law on State Enterprises (88) meant 60% of state enterprises moved away from state control & remaining 40% followed in 1989 – factories and businesses could now trade with each other and set own prices. A quota of goods produced still went to state but it was possible to sell the remainder at a profit. Small private businesses and worker’s cooperatives were set up

  • Problem – still how to set prices and measure demand – led to shortages and severe ec problems as ec dislocation during reform process – led to unrest. Cultural shift too, more aware of western goods & fashion, demands for jeans and gum. July 89 miners in Kuzbass region on strike when got no soap – strike spread to 500,000 miners, adn 160,00 from other industries. Better working conditions wanted AND a trade union and greater political freedom (similar to Solidarity in Poland in early 1980s

  • Ec reform failed: Afghanistan etc still costly & even fewer goods in shops by 1990 than in 1985

  • Incomes rose but output fell and shortages worse – basics e.g soap, salt, matches gone

  • Quality fell, queues even longer, black market flourished,

  • By 1990 25% of pop living below poverty line

  • No smooth transition to democracy so the political instability led to economic slow down (prod fell by 4% in 1990 and by 15% in 1991)

4. Ended the Brezhnev Doctrine 1985 Gorbachev made it clear he would not support socialist governments in E Europe if there was unrest against them. He encouraged the “Sinatra Doctrine” do it my (or your own) way

1989 – Gorbachev visits E Germany – after the various unrest in Poland etc clear that USSR was no longer intervening according to the Brezhnev Doctrine (brought in to crush “Prague Spring” in Czech 1968)

USSR less eager to interfere in E Europe because

a) Afghanistan indecisive & costly – disillusionment in USSR about such activities

b) Cost – Polish uprising in 1981 Andropov had thought very costly to invade

c) Gorbachev genuinely thought some liberalization necessary and he was doing so at home in the spirit of glasnost and democratisation.

d) Gorbachev even considered armed intervention morally wrong

e) with Cold war tension ending, no need for cold war reasons to maintain such control over E Europe

Instead Gorbachev focused on universal human rights to promote interests of people around world

5. Withdrew from Afghanistan – saved money, and proved to US that no longer expansionist

6. Proposed discussions to US on reduction of nuclear weapons, even with a view to their elimination which led to a series of summit meetings with Reagan who willingly supported Gorbachev enabling his reforms to take hold and for Gorbachev personally to gain prestige

    1. Geneva Summit 1985 Reagan and Gorbachev met.. friendly, but little of substance – laid foundations

    2. Reykjavik 1986: Gorbachev introduced idea of phasing out medium range nuclear weapons but wanted SDI stopped. Surprised Americans but no agreement reached.

    3. Washington Summit 1987: Intermediate Forces Treaty signed, leading to scrapping of medium range missiles – 1st agreement to reduce rather than control. Also spoke in New York at UN

    4. Moscow summit 1988: Signed even more details of INF treaty and also went on to meet in New York and agree more reductions.

    5. Malta Summit 1989: Gorbachev met new leader Bush Sr. again good relations but no agreements. Announced they had ended cold war.


  • 1990 huge economic problems in USSR, led to unrest. Hardliners thought USSR lost power and prestige. Critical situation but G refused to declare state of emergency in 1991

  • Coup – G on holiday in Crimea – hard line old guard took over in Moscow and put him & family under house arrest. Boris Yeltsin (President of Russian Soviet Republic) became hero of hour, demanded return of G and arrest of old guard. Protests in Moscow but on massive scale. Army decided not to act, key

How important was Gorbachev?
Gorby returned and little seemed to change

  • But he found Communist Party had lost its authority

  • Yeltsin hero of the hour (who tore up his Party card & even banned Russian Communist Party after coup

  • 25 Aug 1991 Gorbachev resigned as Gen Sec of CPSU

  • Dec 1991 USSR had ceased to exist Ukraine, Russia, Belarus formed the Commonwealth of Independent States

  • Nationalism was unleashed by Gorbachev’s reforms – no longer a black and white cold war of communism v capitalism

  • Historians – Gorbachev as an individual credited with ending Cold War for bringing in new policies – being a of a new generation

  • But his role inextricably linked with economic weakness of USSR under Brezhnev and command economy system And also the “bankruptcy of socialism” as an ideology as more and more esp in E Europe criticised the system

  • So Gorbachev + economic system + end of ideological system + E Europe all combine but all ultimately need the new generation of Gorbachev to come about with the new ideas before change could really happen.

Failures of Communism responsible for end of Cold War
1. E. Europe: Economic problems

  • Prosperity less than W Europe

  • Inefficient state controlled industry – quality and quantity

  • Heavy industry prioritized over consumer – restless people, clothing, housing in short supply

  • Privileged groups in society – managers, party members etc – resentment

  • Little innovation no incentives

  • Oil prices increase in 1973 head meant difficult to get credit for foreign exchange and investment

  • Technology increasingly out of date – slow to get computers, robots etc

  • Growth rates declining, almost stagnant by 1980s – bureaucracy seemed a brake on development

  • TV stations received in E Europe – showed the western prosperity, western music, cinema and fashion being taken note of in east – mass consumer society in sharp contrast to drab misery of east.Capitalism seemed attractive

  • Prices rises eg. Poland 1976 60%, 1988 av rise 48%, debt to west $25 mill 1980, loans made dependent on reform. All led to protests by workers

2. Harsh repressive rule led to increasing demands for political reform

a) Leadership often hardliners, older generation, many convinced communists. But they were an older generation, of 2ww mentality. Their reluctance to change annoyed younger generation in a different context

  • Bulgaria: Zhivkov, who had heroically resisted Hitler & brought in communism. No longer appropriate Hungary: been in power since 1956

  • Czech leader since 1968, Jakes (Stalinist) took over 1987 Husak

  • E Germany : Honecker – increasingly out of touch, even Gorbachev noted that during his visit Oct 1989, crowd shouted Gorby i.e. preferred his way to Honecker’s. Honecker’s intransigence to change led to frequent public protests e.g. the Monday protests in Leipzig. He wanted to use force against them which led to pressure on him to resign and then the fiasco of the opening of the Berlin Wall Nov 9th 1989.

  • Roumania Ceaucescu, authoritarian, dictarorial & harsh rule, primitive economy

b) Secret police hated

  • E Germany, “Stasi” (secret police) v. efficient, files on all the people and informers. Honecker not liked, nor respected by people. His regime relatively secure as people merely accepted it but hated oppression of Stasi

  • Romania – “Securitate” crushing opposition. Censorship, registration of all typewriters annually Ceausescu – paranoid, entrenched – one of most repressive. Harsh policies, including demolision of villages etc. by 1985 he had alienated virtually all pop. And many were also going hungry.

d) Martial law (military rule) imposed by some in desperation to keep control:

Poland 1981 – discontent threatened to get out of hand – economic problems

Illegal Trade Union set up Solidarity by Lech Walesa (a devout Catholic) encouraged by visit of Pope John Paul 11 in June 1979

General Jaruzelski new leader declared martial law 1981 and used army to quell unrest – did so as feared USSR might invade otherwise

Solidarity abolished but continued underground (USA withdrew all bank loans, and credits in protest)

e) local campaigns for reform

  • Poland – Solidarity – mainly arose for ec reasons onto which political added

  • Czechoslovakia – protesting for free speech since 1968 Prague Spring. During 1970s many political campaign groups e.g. Charter 77, VONS & pop groups e.g. Plastic People of the Universe, John Lennon Peace Group, intellectuals like playwright Havel. Strong tradition of wanting pol freedom, inspired by Gorb and finally fall of Berlin Wall, led to Velvet Revolution, Husak resigned and Havel became new leader.

  • E Germans many protest groups & could watch TV banned in other E European countries – esp during Gorby’s time so aware of changes.

  • Also environmental issues strong in E. Germany – pollution a serious issue – inefficient machinery – 4x as much sulphur dioxide as in W Germany & focus for protestors esp after Chernobyl in 1986 e.g. Gov irritate by posters put up by protestors “Ride a bike, don’t drive a car” – Lutheran Church also joined protestors

3. Some E European Gov led political change, new leaders, new generation willing to encourage change, possibly inspired by Gorbachev

  • Hungary – 1989 Hungary adopted a multi party system – non communist gov elected leader did not repair barbed wire between Hungary and Austria, allowed many in E Europe to cross into Western Europe, particularly E Berliners who took advantage of this in 1989. Gorbachev congratulated election winners!

  • Czech: Velvet Revolution – gov simply resigned in face of enormous public protest after fall of wall.

  • Poland

  • United front, workers, intelligentsia, students

  • Reform movement been around even if suppressed since late 1970s ie a decade

  • Czechoslovakia

  • Workers took a long time to convince, well looked after by state, many critical of VONS & Charter 77.

  • Nov 1989 – late on workers joined demands for reform

  • E Germany

  • Dissent stopped by Stasi

  • Hungary and Austria border opened, movement of refugees began chain reaction that led to protests in E Germany which gov could no longer control

  • Visit of Gorbi demonstrated to E German gov that it was alone i.e. external influence stronger here than in Poland or Czech.

Other individuals – Pope John Paul II
Polish himself gave him influence over predominantly catholic pop

1979 visit to Poland & speeches gave encouragement to those living under communism to stand up for human rights Yet role of church can be overstated, Catholics strong in Poland but elsewhere other religions and most opposition groups actually had no religious affliation.

Historians & commentators: Jonathon Kwitny, (biographer of Pope) Man of the Century: Life & Times of Pope John Paul II

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