What do you think of President Harry Truman’s attitudes and policy toward nuclear weapons? What do you think of his leadership at this critical time? (50-55)
How did Joseph Stalin react to the U.S. monopoly of atomic weapons? (56-58) Was he being realistic?
What is your impression of Joseph Stalin to this point in the book? Again, has your perception of him changed from earlier studies?
What were the arguments for building a hydrogen bomb? (61-62) Do the arguments make sense?
How did President Dwight D. Eisenhower differ from Truman? (64,66) Why?
What dilemmas did Eisenhower and his administration face? (66-67) How did they resolve the dilemmas? (68)
What was Nikita Khrushchev like? Describe his character, attitudes, and behavior. (68-72, 78-79)
What is a Potemkin village? (72) If you don’t know, look it up!
Why were U-2 spy-plane flights and satellite photographs critical for the Americans in the late 1950s? (72-75)
Why did Khrushchev provoke the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962? (75-77) How did he behave during the crisis? (77-78)
How was the Cuban Missile Crisis resolved? (78-79)
Under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s guidance, what strategic doctrine and understandings emerged from the missile crisis? Explain MAD. (80-81)
What were these treaties and understandings based on? (81-82)
How did nuclear weapons ironically contribute to the survival of both sides in the Cold War?
Is nuclear war “irrational,” as Gaddis contends? Is “war . . . no longer . . . an instrument of statecraft”? (81)
Chapter Three: “Command versus Spontaneity”
This chapter is heavy on ideology and light on historical background. Don’t forget your notes on ideology from earlier in the year.
How did communist ideology influence people during the earlier part of the Cold War? What accounted for its strength as an ideology? (84-85)
What do the words “bourgeois,” “bourgeoisie,” “proletarian,” and “coup d'état” mean?
The Cold War was prominently a contest of ideas. What was the big issue that was implicitly debated during the Cold War? How did the communists, following Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, understand the world and the future? (84-89)
Gaddis uses President Woodrow Wilson as a contrast to communist thinkers. What kind of world did Wilson desire after World War I? (87, 91-93)
How did communists like Joseph Stalin operate in practice? (98-100)
In contrast to Stalin’s methods, how did the United States and its allies plan to restore western Germany and Japan after World War II? Why? What did American leaders believe in? (101-104)
How did Lavrentii Beria attempt to reverse the worst effects of Stalin’s rule? Was he successful? (104-106)
How did Nikita Khrushchev, Beria’s successor, continue Beria’s move away from Stalinism? (107)
What did Khrushchev want? (107) Was he successful? Why not? (108-109)
How did Mao Zedong imitate Stalin? What were the results? (109-112)
Why was Berlin such a big problem for the communists? What was Khrushchev’s solution? Did he have a choice? (112-115)
What do you see as the deficiencies of communist ideology? Why did communism fail?
What advantages did the West have over the communist East? (115-118)
Chapter Four: “The Emergence of Autonomy”
Why was Khrushchev’s “retirement” so different? What did it signify? (119-120)
What is the author’s point when he says at the bottom of page 120 that “mallets were . . . beginning to turn into flamingos, and balls into hedgehogs”?
The idea and practice of holding colonies outside of Europe (colonialism) began to collapse after World War II: what replaced it? what was the result for the Cold War? (121-124)
What is “non-alignment”? Why was it important? (124-126)
How does Egypt’s experience demonstrate this? (127-128)
What does the behavior of the Korean and Chinese demonstrate? (129-133)
How did the United States get drawn into the Vietnam War? (133-134)
How did the Germans behave during the Cold War? (135-138)
What did French President Charles de Gaulle accomplish? (139)
How did he behave? (139-140) Why?
How did China’s Mao Zedong behave toward the Soviets? What happened as a result? (141-143)
How did Mao and de Gaulle demonstrate chutzpah? (138-143)
What events characterized 1968? (144-146)
How did U. S. President Richard M. Nixon explain those events? How does Gaddis explain them? (145-147)
What was the Cultural Revolution? How did Mao respond to it? (147-148)
How did American and European student radicals respond to Mao? Why do you think they did that? Was he worth of their response? (147-148)
NOTE the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine on page 150.
What did Nixon mean when he remarked to Mao: “History has brought us together . .. .”? (150-152)
What were the motivations to seek detente (or Ostpolitik)? What did Nixon want out of it? (153-154)
What did he gain out of it? What brought President Nixon down? (155)
Chapter Five: “The Recovery of Equity”
What was the Watergate Scandal? (156-157) What was its result?
What principle played a part in President Richard Nixon’s fall? Why? (157-158)
What is the attraction of establishing the United Nations “upon some externally devised standard of justice”? (158)
Can one establish peace among nations on such a basis? Why or why not?
What strains on American morality did the Cold War place on the United States and its officials? (161-164)
How, however, did the Truman and Eisenhower administrations and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) behave in fact? (164-165)
What is a Machiavellian? (165; cf. 156) How does a Machiavellian behave? (162-167)
How does one “reconcile Machiavellian practices with the constitutionally based principle of accountability”? (166) Is there a “constitutionally based principle of accountability”? Does one owe one’s enemies the same treatment one owes one’s friends, family, and fellow citizens?
How are outright lies sometimes a sign of weakness and a recipe for failure? (168-169)
How and why was President Lyndon Johnson willing to “sacrifice the public trust”? (169)
Do Americans tolerate “plausible deniability” exercised by their leaders? Under what circumstances?
Explain the Tet Offensive of January 1968 as the turning point of the Vietnam War (170).
Why was the Vietnam War so unsettling to the American people and the American system of government? (170-171)
How did President Nixon use secrecy successfully? (171-172)
How did Nixon nonetheless blur the lines between “defensible and indefensible secrecy”? (172-175) Truman’s and Eisenhower’s secret actions
How does Gaddis present Nixon’s person and character? (172-175)
What resulted from Watergate and Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974? (175-179) How did Congress in particular react? (176-177)
What did Congress conclude regarding the CIA?
What is detente? (180-181) How was it an alternative to Mutually Assured Destruction? (181-182) What were its advantages and disadvantages? (182-184)
By 1968, what was going on in the U.S.S.R. and its allies? (185-188) E.g., how did many respond to the 1968 suppression of “Prague Spring” in Czechoslovakia?
How did Premier Leonid Brezhnev want to use detente? (187-189)
What were the unintended consequences of the Helsinki Accords (agreements) within the Soviet sphere of influence? (190-194) Who were the most prominent figures? What happened in Poland?
According to Gaddis , what principle reasserted itself within the Soviet sphere? Why might that be important?
To what developments is Gaddis referring when he says that they were “totally beyond the imagination of the Soviet leadership”? (194)
Regarding the photo montage between pp. 174 and 175:
What is the time frame of all of these pictures?
Which pictures are particularly striking or memorable?
Which do you not understand the importance of?
Which people do you recognize? not recognize?
What questions do you have about these pictures individually or as a montage?