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The USSR in the Cold War


The USSR in the Cold War Winter of 1952-53 War in Korea a bloody stalemate New US President, Dwight Eisenhower, threatens to use nuclear weapons to achieve victory in ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The USSR in the Cold War

The USSR in the Cold War
  • The Cold War (World War III)
  • 1946-1953 Formation of the Cold War system
  • 1953-1962 Competitive coexistence
  • 1963-1978 Détente
  • 1979-1985 Cold War II
  • 1985-1991 Collapse of the Cold War system

  • Winston Churchills speech at Fulton, Missouri,
    March 5, 1946
  • http//

  • The Cold War started unexpectedly early after the
    end of WWII almost without a pause
  • It had three dimensions
  • Ideological
  • Geopolitical
  • Military

  • The ideological dimension
  • Global conflict between the two
    political-economic systems - capitalism and
  • The Three Worlds of the Cold War
  • The capitalist West, the communist East, and the
    Third World (now called the Global South)
  • East-West conflict
  • Will capitalism survive or will be replaced by
    some forms of socialism or communism?
  • In the Third World, massive struggles for
    national independence from Western colonial

  • The Global Left a broad spectrum of political
    forces which were anything but united - consisted
  • Communist states (the Soviet Union, Peoples
    Republic of China, and others)
  • Communist parties around the world, most of them
    supported by the USSR (biggest communist parties
    existing in Italy, France, and India)
  • Moderate Left forces (social democrats, labour
    movements, movements for democracy, etc.)
  • Anti-colonial forces in the 3d world

  • The geopolitical dimension
  • Before WWII, there were seven countries which
    were more powerful than the others Britain,
    France, USA, USSR, Germany, Italy, Japan
  • The end of WWII saw the rise of two superpowers
  • USA and USSR, each with a global mission of its
  • A bipolar world something unique in world
  • Challenging each other
  • Containing each other
  • Trying to control other states to follow them

  • But the two superpowers also had to cooperate
    with each other to keep their power
  • Each needed the other as The Other
  • But both wanted to survive
  • This put limits to their confrontation

  • The military dimension
  • The 2 giants never engaged each other in a
    significant direct armed conflict between them
  • They fought wars by proxy
  • But they kept preparing for total military
  • Nuclear arms
  • Conventional armies and navies
  • Military alliances NATO, the Warsaw Pact
  • Spy wars
  • New structures of militarism on both sides
  • The military-industrial complex
  • The national security state

  • 1945-49
  • Who was on the offensive?
  • Who was on the defensive?
  • Who felt threatened and insecure?
  • Who felt confident and aggressive?

Red dictators Russias Stalin and Chinas Mao,
President Harry S. Truman (in office from 1945
George Kennan, American diplomat, architect of
the policy of Containment of Communism
  • Western Fears
  • The crisis of global capitalism fear of
  • The shift to the Left in the politics of Western
    countries socialism on the agenda
  • The upsurge of anti-colonial struggles in the
    Third World
  • The emergence of the USSR as the most powerful
    state in Eurasia
  • The US steps in to contain both Soviet power and
    the growth of the Left in the West and in the
    Third World

  • Soviet Fears
  • Enormous human, social, and economic losses from
    the war
  • How to control society after the war
  • The war as school of citizenship
  • Mass exposure to European life
  • The population of new territories under Soviet
  • The legacy of terror
  • Fear of a united Western front against the USSR

  • Factors of Western self-confidence
  • The USSR is internally weak
  • The US is a powerhouse
  • US had enormous advantages in late 1940s
  • 50 of global production
  • Nuclear monopoly
  • Naval and air superiority
  • Army on a par with USSR
  • The architect of a liberal world order
  • Confidence that totalitarianism will be resisted
    by most people the West should promote freedom

  • Factors of Soviet self-confidence
  • The Soviet system passed the test of survival and
  • Soviet assets
  • Control of territory the dominant power in
  • A totalitarian system associated with progress
  • Role in the Global Left, deriving its strength
    from the crisis of capitalism
  • Capitalism is in systemic crisis
  • The rise of the Global Left - potential Soviet

  • Stalins worldview after 1945
  • Stalinism is fully vindicated
  • The USSR is a working model of socialism
  • The end of capitalism is near
  • Red imperialism promotion of communism by
    military and paramilitary means
  • Determination to control and manipulate foreign
    revolutionary forces
  • Readiness to make pragmatic deals with Western
    powers economic, diplomatic - putting ideology
  • Massive investment in military power preparation
    for new wars
  • Need for total control of society

Iosip Broz Tito, Yugoslav Communist leader who
challenged Stalin
  • The Global Left the postwar offensive
  • Yugoslavia and Albania Communists have come to
    power on their own
  • Greece, Italy, France Communist parties may
    come to power on their own
  • Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria
    defeated states in crisis Soviet presence a
    major boost to local Communists
  • Poland Soviet presence assures Communist
  • Czechoslovakia gradual Communist takeover from
    a strong domestic base, with Soviet help
  • Moderate, reformist Left makes major political
    gains in the West

  • The West was primarily concerned about survival
    and rebuilding of capitalism in Western Europe
  • USSR was primarily concerned about strategic
    control of Eastern Europe
  • The division of Europe, agreed in 1945,
    materialized both sides mostly kept their
  • The fate of Germany remained the one major bone
    of contention but even there, the lines
    established in 1945 helped stabilize the
  • In Asia, it was an open-ended continental
    struggle but not between Russia and America

Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Communist Party of
  • ASIA
  • Indochina Vietnamese Communists as the main
    anti-colonialist force, proclaim Vietnams
    independence in 1945
  • China, 1945-49 Communists defeat Nationalists
  • Korea, 1945 Communists control the North with
    Soviet help
  • India, 1947 Independence won by nationalists
    supported by communists
  • Indonesia, Burma nationalist-communist
    coalitions lead anticolonialist campaigns
  • Iran the rise of a Communist-nationalist
  • Turkey emergence of a strong Communist-led Left
  • The Mideast
  • The establishment of Israel - with Soviet support
  • The rise of Arab nationalism against Western
    colonial rule

  • What was the USSRs role in the Global Lefts
  • It set the stage by playing the main role in
    crushing the Global Right in World War II
  • It projected the image of successful socialism
  • It installed, or helped install, Communist
    regimes in a few countries
  • It served as a counterweight to the US
  • But Moscow did not control the Global Left,
    except for a few elements

  • The two mirror-image myths of the Cold War
  • Western myth of the world communist conspiracy
    directed from Moscow
  • Eastern myth of the world struggle for peace and
    socialism led by the Soviet Union
  • Stalin could control only a small part of the
    Global Left in Eastern Europe
  • He readily betrayed the Left whenever it suited
    his geopolitical goals (Greece as an example)
  • And he would try to engineer a left-wing takeover
    of a country whenever he considered it necessary
  • The postwar surge of the Global Left offered
    opportunities to Stalin and his regime but also
    posed major challenges

  • US responses to the Global Lefts offensive
  • The core dilemma suppression or cooptation? The
    range of options
  • Suppression extreme War against the USSR and the
    Global Left
  • Cooptation extreme Social-democratic reforms of
    capitalism, cooptation of the Left, accommodation
    with the Soviet Union as a status-quo power badly
    in need of healing.
  • A search for the middle ground for effective
    combinations of both
  • American elites were split foreign policy was
    heavily politicized and hotly contested the
    strategy evolved from crisis to crisis

  • US strategy of Containment of Communism
  • The state-to-state level Containment of the
    USSR. Nuclear deterrence, a chain of anti-Soviet
    alliances (NATO and others), economic attrition
    strategies, propaganda war against Communism,
  • The transnational level Containment of the
    Global Left. Revival of the global economy, the
    Marshall Plan, use of force, propaganda,
    subversion - and also cooptation, tactical
    alliances with elements of the Global Left on
    anti-Soviet platforms
  • A massive, complex, messy, costly, evolving

  • First results of containment
  • 1. It worked in Europe. Why?
  • There was a geopolitical deal between Stalin and
    the West (Yalta)
  • Successful cooptation of the moderate Left by the
  • Stalins influence on Western Communists and his
    policy of discouraging revolution
  • 2. In Asia, these conditions were absent
  • No deal
  • The US refused to co-opt the Left
  • Asian Left-wing forces were mostly out of Soviet
    control Stalin was prepared to gamble (Korea)
  • 3. Soviet totalitarianism hardens, a crackdown in
    Eastern Europe

  • By 1950, containment looked like a manifest
  • The USSR rapidly rebuilt its economy (5 years
    instead of expected 15-20 years) and went nuclear
  • Eastern Europe was firmly under Soviet control
  • China went Communist
  • North Korea invaded the South
  • The image of Communism on the march aggressive,
    brutal, cunning, unstoppable, winning
  • Revolt of the American Right against failing Cold
    War policy charges of treason

Senator Joe McCarthy (R.- Wisconsin)
  • Winter of 1952-53
  • War in Korea a bloody stalemate
  • New US President, Dwight Eisenhower, threatens to
    use nuclear weapons to achieve victory in Korea
  • Stalin prepares for war with the West, steps up
    repression, launches an anti-Semitic campaign
  • The world is inching towards nuclear war
  • http//

  • There were several moments when the world was
    within a few steps from nuclear war
  • Nuclear weapons can you use them to win a war?
  • War-fighting vs. deterrence
  • The balance of terror
  • The nuclear stalemate
  • From an uncontrolled arms race to arms control
    and disarmament
  • The era of arms control began in 1963 with the
    US-Soviet-British treaty to ban all, except
    underground, tests of nuclear weapons
  • A system of treaties was developed in the
    1960s-1990s to make nuclear war less likely

  • Stalin died on March 5, 1953
  • http//

  • Stalinism was unviable
  • --Extreme degree of state control over society
    hard to maintain, permanent emergency rule
  • --War was no longer on the horizon capitalism
    was stabilizing the challenges of peace and
  • --Communist elites needed more normal, stable
    regimes in which they would be secure from
    challenges both from the dictator and from the

  • Following Stalins death, his successors
    (Malenkov, Bulganin, Khrushchev) began to move
    away from the most extreme of Stalins policies
  • --Signaled to the West about peaceful
    coexistence and Soviet willingness to bring about
    a truce in Korea
  • --Security police was purged and put under Party
  • --The anti-Semitic campaign was terminated
  • --Release of political prisoners (estimated
    number 1.7 mln.) began the process took over 3
  • --It was the beginning of The Thaw (term was
    coined by a Soviet writer who wrote a novel with
    such a title)

Georgiy Malenkov, Premier, 1953-55
Survivors (L to R) Foreign Minister Vyacheslav
Molotov, Premier Nikolai Bulganin, Communist
Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, Geneva, 1955
Nikita Khrushchev with Stalin in 1938

Nikita Khrushchev, top Soviet leader 1953-64
  • 1953-1964 THE THAW
  • End of the Great Terror
  • Peace overtures to the West
  • First steps towards reforms in USSR and Eastern
  • 1956
  • The 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party
    Khrushchevs secret speech denounces Stalin
  • Upheaval in Poland
  • The Hungarian revolution and its suppression
  • 1957 Stalinists attempt to overthrow Khrushchev
  • 1961 Khrushchev renews his anti-Stalinist
    campaign new Party programme promises the
    beginning of full communism within 20 years
  • 1962 The Cuban missile crisis. The Novocherkassk
  • 1964 Khrushchev is deposed by conservatives

  • Western pop culture seeps in
  • http//

Leonid Brezhnev, top Soviet leader, 1964-82
  • 1964 Leonid Brezhnev becomes the head of the
    Soviet Communist Party
  • 1965
  • Limited market reforms announced in USSR
  • First public trials of dissidents
  • 1966 Hungary introduces New Economic Mechanism
  • 1968
  • Protests and repression in Poland
  • The Prague Spring and its suppression
  • 1969 The Sino-Soviet military conflict
  • 1970 In Poland, worker protests lead to the fall
    of Gomulka
  • 1971-72 The start of détente between the USSR
    and the West
  • 1979 Détente is over the Soviet invasion of
  • 1980-81 The rise of Polish Solidarity martial
    law is imposed
  • 1982 Brezhnevs death
  • 1982-85 The leadership succession crisis
  • 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary

  • The term détente was first used by French
    President Charles de Gaulle in the early 1960s
  • Relaxation of East-West tensions
  • Peaceful coexistence
  • The core idea despite the profound differences
    between the capitalist and communist systems, war
    is not inevitable, there are mutual interests
    which can be best served by cooperation in
  • Avoiding a major war pursuing arms control and
  • Joint approaches to regional conflicts
  • Trade and investment

  • In a broad sense, détente started right after
    Stalins death. Several cycles of
    tension-relaxation from 1953 to 1991
  • Important threshold the 1963 Test Ban Treaty
  • Reached a mature, institutionalized stage in
  • 1971 US recognizes the Peoples Republic of
  • 1972 Settlement of the German Question
  • 1972 The SALT-1 Treaty
  • 1973 The US-Soviet trade agreement
  • 1975 The Helsinki Final Act on Security and
    Cooperation in Europe

  • The Kitchen Debate US National Exhibition in
    Moscow, summer 1959
  • http//

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1961 Khrushchev and Kennedy meet in Vienna
  • Cuban Missile Crisis JFK addresses the nation
  • http//

  • Khrushchev and Kennedy
  • Reformers, dynamic leaders who promoted change
    and took risks
  • Ideological warriors, optimistic about their
    systems prospects
  • Almost went to war in 1962, then laid the
    foundation of the arms control system
  • Kennedy was killed in 1963, Khrushchev overthrown
    in 1964
  • Brezhnev and Nixon
  • Conservatives, preoccupied with order and
  • Less ideological, more pragmatic defensive about
    their systems
  • Building on what was achieved in the previous

  • Changes in the global balance of power
  • The nationalism-communism nexus in the Third
    World fuelled decolonization in the 1950s-1970s
  • Until the mid-1970s, the US continued to confront
    it as a major global threat in a futile struggle
  • America deadlocked, the war and domestic
    upheavals produce a profound political crisis at
    home, loss of influence abroad
  • The conservative-led USSR benefits from American
    setbacks by
  • Continuing to support radical nationalists in the
    Third World
  • Maintaining tight control over Eastern Europe
  • Building up Soviet military potential
  • And developing détente-type relations with the

  • The Nixon-Kissinger reform of US foreign policy
  • Recognize the limits of American power
    retrenchment and maneuvre
  • Vietnamization
  • Deal with the domestic crisis in the US
  • Arrange a new balance of power by recognizing
    Communist China and playing the China card
    against Russia
  • Appeal to Soviet conservatism
  • treat the USSR as a status-quo force
  • offer it incentives for acting like one
  • Arms control for containment and stability
  • Continued confrontation with the Left in the
    Third World (1973 Chile)

1972 Nixon in Moscow with Brezhnev
Brezhnev and Nixon in Crimea, May 1972
  • Things that worked
  • Arms control
  • Normalization of US relations with China
  • European security strengthened
  • Failures
  • The US-Soviet trade deal was torpedoed by US
  • Nixons authoritarianism ultimately led to his
    defeat and resignation 1974
  • US defeat in Vietnam 1975
  • Overall impression of a shift in international
    balance of power against the USA

  • Brezhnev felt confident
  • Soviet conservatism seemed to work better than US
    conservatism (Nixon lost power)
  • USSR seemed to get stronger and more influential
    in world affairs
  • High oil prices helped the Kremlin put off
    necessary reforms
  • But
  • The Soviet system was stagnant and increasingly
  • The decolonization wave in the Global South was
    coming to an end

  • But the Soviet system was in a state of deepening
  • The economy, devoid of a market mechanism, run by
    a massive bureaucracy, burdened with colossal
    military spending (at least 25 of the GDP), was
    slowing down
  • Incomes stagnated
  • Thirst for freedom and the logic of consumer
    society stimulated the rise of dissent throughout
    the USSR and Eastern Europe

Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)
  • The Carter Presidency (1977-80)
  • US tried to regain initiative against the USSR
  • Continued adherence to détente, but also
  • Raising the issue of human rights as a challenge
    to communist states
  • Growing concerns about Soviet military buildup
    and aid to Third World Left
  • By the end of 1979, Carters foreign policy was
    in shambles
  • The Iranian revolution, Soviet invasion of
    Afghanistan, and conservative revolt in the US
    buried détente. Talk of a Second Cold War

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  • Losses in the Cold War (estimates)
  • - Over 20 mln. died in local wars, mostly between
    the Global Left and the West
  • - Victims of totalitarian regimes in the Soviet
    Union (1929-1953), Communist China (1950s-1970s),
    other communist states
  • 60 mln. people died (est.) as a result of
    policies of forced modernization and political
  • Total 80 mln. lives
  • At least 80 of the human losses were civilian
  • Massive waste of resources
  • Unprecedented growth of technologies of
  • The degradation of natural environment
  • Stymied democracy and economic development
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