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The Cold War 1945 - 1991


Title: Australia in the Vietnam War Era Author: SRutter Last modified by: Lindisfarne Staff Created Date: 9/13/2010 11:11:51 AM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Cold War 1945 - 1991

The Cold War 1945 - 1991
The Cold War
  • Why was it cold? Because there was no direct
    fighting between the USSR and the USA just an
    awful lot of propaganda, posturing and war by

Communism Versus Capitalism
  • Communism
  • Capitalism

Phase 1 Origins and early development
The early development of the Cold War
  • By 1945 the alliance between the USA, the USSR
    and Britain to fight and defeat Nazi Germany was
    breaking apart.
  • In particular, Britain and the USA were nervous
    about the territory in Eastern Europe (including
    Germany) that the Red Army had captured as they
    drove the Germans back.
  • Their concern was that Stalin would use these
    countries as protection, by making them Communist
    countries like the USSR.
  • Stalin, on the other hand, wanted to create a
    buffer zone of countries friendly to the USSR
    to protect it from invasion (the Germans had
    already tried twice in the twentieth century). He
    didnt trust the USA or Britain, believing that
    they would have left the USSR to fight the Nazis
    alone if they could have. The delay over D-Day
    proved this to him.
  • Stalin did not have a good track record when it
    came to things like human rights
  • US President Truman believed that the democratic
    countries of Europe would need to work together
    to contain the spread of Communism. Containment
    became the focus of US policy from 1947 known
    also as the Truman Doctrine. NATO (1949) and
    the Marshall Plan (1947) were two ways they tried
    to do this.
  • In 1949, when Mao Tse Tung established a
    Communist government in China, it seemed as
    though Communism was spreading across Asia as
    well. This was the domino theory.

Europe divided by Winston Churchills Iron
Curtain (Fulton Speech, 1946)
  • The division of Europe into two blocs, each
    with its own strategic alliances NATO, (North
    Atlantic Treaty Organisation) formed in 1949 and
    the corresponding Warsaw Pact, formed in 1955.
  • Albania and Yugoslavia were non-aligned
    Communist countries and Finland was not a
    Communist state, despite being part of the Warsaw
  • Note the division of Germany this was paralleled
    by the division of Berlin as well (via the Berlin
    Wall from 1961)

The world divided into Eastern and Western
  • The world divided into two blocs.
  • The victory of Mao Tse Tungs Communists in China
    and Chinas subsequent economic and military
    development, combined with Stalins failure to
    support Mao until a Communist victory seemed
    certain, led to a split in the leadership of the
    Communist world.
  • Kissinger in particular was able to exploit this,
    a policy maintained by Nixon.

M.A.D. Mutually Assured Destruction designed to
keep the peace
  • The use of the atomic bomb by the USA on Japanese
    cities to end World War II led to a nuclear arms
    race and the threat of nuclear war and
    destruction as well as summits and agreements
    (such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and
    SALT I in 1972) to limit the development and
    deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • Arguably, Reagans push to expand the USAs
    nuclear arsenal and to develop the Star Wars
    missile defence, pushed the over-stretched Soviet
    economy into collapse. Conservative historians
    credit Reagan with ending the Cold War for this

Cold War historiography - causes
  • Traditionalists
  • Revisionists
  • Early late 1950s. Influential 1970s (aftermath
    of US failure in Vietnam)
  • Williams, Ambrose
  • Cold War blamed on the US due to the post-WWII
    power of American capitalism and its demand for
    markets and raw materials. Marshall Plan seen as
    an attempt to introduce this into Western Europe.
  • The USA was perceived as a hegemonic power and as
    establishing a form of economic imperialism.
  • The USA misunderstood Soviet foreign policy
    coming out of WWII, saw the USSR as militarily
    weaker and believed in its own omnipotence
    this led it to overplay its hand (Vietnam).
  • The USSR perceived the USA and its allies as
    untrustworthy before and during World War II.
    The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (1939) is
    seen as stemming from this.
  • Radical revisionists from the left, such as
    Chomsky, emphasise the imperialist intentions of
    the USA. Radicals from the right see the USA as
    protecting the free world from Communist
  • 1940s and 1950s influential into the 1960s
  • Schlesinger
  • McNeill
  • Blamed the Cold War on Soviet expansionism and
    Stalins desire for world domination.
  • Defenders of US policy of containment.

Cold War historiography continued
  • Post-revisionists
  • Recent historiography
  • 1970s, 1980s
  • Gaddis, Taubman
  • Focussed on the geopolitical origins of the Cold
  • Looked at the role of events, perceptions and
    misconceptions and bureaucratic decision-making
    in the development of the Cold War.
  • Identified internal contradictions within US
    foreign policy and saw this as complicating
    relations with the USSR.
  • Post-1991, with (limited) access to the Soviet
  • Graebner, Leffler, Trachtenberg, Gaddis.
  • Emphasises the conflicting ideologies of each
    superpower as the source of the Cold War and as
    influencing its subsequent development.
  • Also views the competing interests of each side,
    especially in Europe, as a contributing factor
    US national self-determination and stability
    USSR security needs and ideology.
  • Some historians argue that power was more
    important than ideology in Soviet foreign policy.
  • Others see that the issue of the Cold War was
    really about Germany and that, after 1963 when
    the status of Germany was normalised, the Cold
    War began to decelerate.

Forward defence in action
  • The Korean War
  • The Vietnam War

Phase 3 Détente
Definition of détente
  • A French word meaning a release from tension.
  • It describes a phase in the Cold War that began
    in 1969, reached its high point in 1972, began to
    decline by 1974 and was over by 1979.

Détente when the superpowers tried to live
  • Early signs of détente include Kennedys
    favourable speech about the USSR, the hotline
    installed between the Kremlin and the White House
    after the Cuban Missile Crisis (June 1963) and
    the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed in August
  • Other signs of détente are the French and West
    German policies of independent diplomacy with the
    Soviet Union, including the German policy of

Reasons for détente the USSR
  • A breakdown in relations between the USSR and
    China. This erupted into border fighting along
    the Ussuri River in March 1969.
  • The USSR had caught up in the arms race (by
  • West Germany agreed not to get nuclear weapons in
  • The USSR wanted to increase trade with the West.

Reasons for détente the USA
  • Failure in Vietnam saw Nixon wanting to improve
    relations with the USSR and China to achieve a
    peace treaty.
  • Public pressure to reduce the risk of war.
  • The USSR had caught up in the arms race.
  • The USA was concerned about a possible alliance
    between the USSR and China.
  • Nixons move away from the Truman Doctrine
    towards peaceful co-existence as the basis for US
    foreign policy.
  • Concern about Soviet support for Egypt and Arab
    Nations in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Reasons for détente - China
  • Fear of isolation.
  • In 1967 the PRC perfected the H bomb.

Common reasons for détente
  • To reduce the risk of nuclear war.
  • To reduce the costs of the arms race. Both
    countries had economic problems in the 1970s.
  • Concern over conflict in the Middle East,
    potentially affecting oil supplies.

Challenges to détente
  • The Prague Spring in 1968 was a temporary setback
    to moves towards détente.
  • Americas on-going involvement in the Vietnam War
    (until 1973).
  • The US policy of linkage in foreign policy with
    the USSR.
  • Nixons resignation over the Watergate scandal in
    August 1974.
  • Soviet and Cuban involvement in the Angolan Civil
    War (1975) and interventions in Mozambique,
    Somalia and Ethiopia.
  • The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979)

Achievements of détente
  • The European Security Conference 1973-75 (the
    Helsinki Accords).
  • Summit Conferences
  • Human rights (the Helsinki Accords).
  • Relations between the USA and China.
  • Arms control.
  • SALT I (1972) and SALT II (1979)

Phase 4 The Second Cold War
  • The belief that there was a second Cold War
    originates in the idea that détente began to
    decline from 1976 onwards.
  • Soviet interventions in Angola, Somalia and
    Ethiopia, as well as Afghanistan, gave the US the
    impression that communism was becoming
    expansionist once more.
  • This was reinforced by Brezhnevs policy of
    building the USSRs nuclear arsenal to achieve
    equality with the USA.

Origins continued
  • The USA was also seen as undergoing a decline in
    power as a result of Vietnam and the Iranian
    hostage crisis.
  • The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979
    confirmed suspicions about their expansionism.
  • When SALT II was not ratified by either side, a
    new Cold War could be seen as having begun.

The evil empire
  • Ronald Reagans election in November 1980 also
    saw a renewal of hostile rhetoric.
  • As early as 1981, Reagan spoke of the criminal,
    cheating behaviour which lay at the heart of
  • In 1982 he predicted Marxism would be left on the
    ashheap of history and described the USSR as
    totalitarian evil.
  • In 1983 he described the USSR as an evil empire.

The arms race
  • Reagan regarded the USSR as being on the brink of
    collapse but saw their growing military power and
    influence as a threat.
  • He responded with funding of billions of dollars
    for the largest US military build up of the Cold

SDI Star Wars
  • Reagan also announced the development of the
    Strategic Defence Initiative, a missile defence
  • In part, this was a response to the 1983 Soviet
    installation of a puppet government in Poland and
    the gaoling of members of Solidarity.
  • This was designed to push the Soviets into
    economic meltdown due to their commitment to
    mutual deterrence.
  • The cost was to be 1.5 trillion over five years.
  • The Soviets regarded this as a new, unacceptable

  • START stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Talks).
  • Three meetings were held between 1983 and 1984.
  • The meetings discussed reductions in strategic
    nuclear weapons, intermediate-range nuclear
    weapons and conventional forces in Europe.
  • The Soviets walked out of the talks due to
    American demands.
  • The USA looked to Gorbachev for results.

The INF and START I and II
  • In 1987 the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty
    (INF) agreed to dismantle a range of missiles.
    Gorbachev agreed to inspections to verify the
  • 1991s agreement set a target of reducing
    missiles by up to one third. It was accompanied
    by large reductions in conventional forces in
  • START II in 1993 saw further reductions in
    missile stockpiles.

Gorbachev, perestroika and glasnost
  • Mikhail Gorbachev became the President of the
    USSR in 1989.
  • Gorbachev wanted to reform and revive the USSR
    after the stagnation of the Brezhnev area.
  • His means for doing this was through increased
    democracy, improved foreign relations, glasnost
    (cultural freedom and reduced censorship) and
    perestroika (economic restructuring). These terms
    were first used in 1984.
  • Although relations with the West improved, the
    ultimate result of these policies was the end of
    communism and the collapse of the USSR.
  • By mid-1989, many commentators believed that the
    Cold War had ended.

The collapse of the Eastern bloc
  • In March 1989 Gorbachev announced the end of the
    Brezhnev doctrine. The USSR would no longer
    insist that Eastern bloc countries had
    governments favourable to the USSR.
  • Opposition movements existed in almost all
    Eastern bloc countries. The most famous of these
    was Solidarity, a Polish unionist movement led by
    Lech Walensa.

The collapse of the Eastern bloc continued
  • In 1988 Hungary saw a change of leadership and
    the following year Soviet troops were withdrawn,
    with free travel allowed to Austria and the west.
    In 1990 a non-communist government was elected.
  • Communism in Poland came to an end on August 24
    1989, after free elections won by Solidarity that
  • In January 1989, protests led to free elections
    and a change in government in Czechoslovakia.
  • In November 1989, the Bulgarian communist leaders
    resigned and free elections were held the
    following year.
  • In December 1989 a revolution in Romania saw the
    death of the dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu and his
    wife. Free elections were held.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • By autumn 1989, thousands were fleeing East
    Germany via Hungary and massive demonstrations
    met Gorbachev on a visit there.
  • When troops refused to fire on protestors, the
    East German leader, Erich Honecker, was forced to
  • On 10 November thousands of East Germans pulled
    down the Berlin Wall.
  • In 1990 Communists were defeated in elections.
  • Germany was reunited.

Why did opposition to the USSR grow in Eastern
  • One party rule, the secret police and censorship
    were all resented.
  • The economy did not produce enough for the
    population and what was produced was often of
    poor quality. Free enterprise was desired by
    many. By the 1980s there was economic decline
    throughout the eastern bloc.
  • There was a desire for religious freedom
  • Many East Germans wanted their own nation to be
    loyal to rather than Communism and the USSR.

The collapse of the USSR
  • Gorbachev was arrested on August 18 1991 by a
    member of the KGB in an attempt by conservative
    communists in the USSR to seize power.
  • The leaders of this coup announced on Soviet
    television that Gorbachev had had to resign due
    to ill health.
  • Yeltsin, Gorbachevs rival for power, led popular
    protests against the coup, which ultimately
    collapsed. Gorbachev was freed.
  • In August 1991, the rule of the Communist party
    was over and by December the USSR ceased to
    exist. Its replacement, the Commonwealth of
    Independent States, contained only 11 of the 15
  • On December 25, Gorbachev resigned as president
    of the USSR.

The collapse of the USSR continued
  • The USSR had begun to disintegrate as the eastern
    bloc collapsed, with republics like Lithuania
    being held in the Union by force.
  • Gorbachevs reforms had done little to improve
    life in the USSR. The economy continued to
  • Gorbachevs rival, Russian president Yeltsin,
    argued that there had not been enough reform.
  • Conservatives were concerned about the impact of

So who ended the Cold War?
  • Reagan did
  • Reagan pushed the USSR to economic and political
    collapse by starting a new arms race.
  • He also started a war of words which helped to
    drive the USSR to the negotiating table.
  • Gorbachev did
  • Gorbachevs reforms in the USSR and his foreign
    policy initiatives led to a new détente which
    led to the end of the Cold War.
  • By ending the Brezhnev doctrine, Gorbachev ended
    the Cold War

So who won the Cold War?
  • Democracy and capitalism emerged as the victors
    of the Cold War. Most eastern European nations
    adopted democracy and a free market economy with
    the collapse of communism.
  • Glasnost and perestroika had the unlooked for
    result of destroying both communism and the USSR.
  • The USSR did not capitulate militarily but
    continued to compete with the USA at the same
    time as pursuing arms agreements

Key issues and features
Berlin blockade and airlift as first crisis of
the Cold War
Rival spheres of interest
Fallout of the Bolshevik revolution and the Civil
The US development and use of the atomic bomb
Churchills iron curtain speech
Stalins mistrust of the Allies
Origins and development of the Cold War
The long telegram persuaded Truman of Soviet
Stalins desire for a buffer zone of friendly
USSRs support for North Korea and Cuba (Castro
becomes a Marxist)
Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
-1949) and the Comintern (Communist Information
Bureau -1947)
The Marshall Plan
Reagans evil empire
The space race
Influence of the ideologies of communism and
Churchills Iron Curtain
Re-building West/East Germany
The Warsaw Pact
Brezhnev doctrine
US involvement in Africa, Vietnam,Korea, Afghanist
Rivalry between USSR and China over leadership of
the communist world
Kennans Long Telegram
Who? USA and USSR as well as China
Where? Mostly over Europe
When? 1968 - 1979
Why ? Superpower conflict over Cuba (1962) and
the replacement of Krushchev as well as the
Prague Spring (1968)
Origins, nature and impact of detente
  • How?
  • Hotline between White house and Kremlin (1963)
  • Disarmament talks (especially SALT I 1972and
  • Visits (eg Nixon to China 1972), trade
    agreements and summits
  • Independent diplomacy by the French (with the
    USSR 1964 withdrew from NATO 1966)
  • Ostpolitik in West Germany (Willy Brandt)
  • Triangular diplomacy by the USA under Nixon
  • Relations began to chill under Ford and Carter
    (human rights abuses by the USSR a key concern
    for him linkage as a diplomatic tool).
  • Ended with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in

Truman doctrine and containment
Peaceful co-existence (Krushchev the 1950s).
Domino theory/effect (Eisenhower)
Changing policies, strategies and responses to
the Cold War
Brezhnev Doctrine
Triangular diplomacy (mostly Nixon)
Linkage over human rights for trade agreements
Perestroika and glasnost (Gorbachev) and
repudiation of the Brezhnev doctrine
The evil empire second arms race
Cuba (1962)
Berlin (1948-9 and 1961)
Korean War (1950-53)
Yom Kippur and Camp David (1973, 78)
Impact of crises on changing superpower relations
Hungary (1956)
Czechoslovakia (1968)
Afghanistan (1979)
Suez (1956)
1945 first use of atomic bomb by USA
1949 USSRs first atomic bomb
Partial Test Ban Treaty - 1963
SALT I in 1972
Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968
Salt II in 1979
The arms race and disarmament
CFE 1990
1980s- 2000s SDI system development
1991 START I
1987 INF Treaty
Reagans new arms race (especially Star Wars)
placed demands on the Soviet economy as they
struggled to compete, which led to the collapse
of the USSR. Conservative historians use this as
a reason to attribute the ending of the Cold War
to Reagan and his policies
Disarmament talks and agreements took the heat
out of Carter and Reagans new push for
containment after the invasion of Afghanistan.
Examples include the INF Treaty (1987) and START
I (1991).
Reasons for the end of the Cold War
Gorbachevs rejection of the Brezhnev Doctrine
(1989) allowed countries in the eastern bloc
East Germany and Czechoslovakia in particular -
to detach themselves from Moscow.
Gorbachevs program of glasnost (openness) and
perestroika (reform) led to improved relations
with the Western bloc, to arms agreements and,
ultimately to the collapse of the Eastern bloc.
Gorbachevs reforms are seen by many historians
as the reason for this and therefore the end of
the Cold War.