The Cold War and its tensions into the 1980s

Table of Contents

Brinkmanship Breaks Down

Throughout the presidencies of Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson led to crisis after crisis. The crisis that had appeared in the United States had also been present due to the idea of nuclear war being in the future. In 1961, because of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of all-out nuclear war. Events like these is what outlined brinkmanship's history as a diplomatic tool.

John F. Kennedy
As the 35th president of the United States, Kennedy used nukes as a strategic threat against the USSR. Although he had possession of nukes, he only threatened to use them instead of actually following through. This strategy is what forced the USSR to back down in the Cuban Missile Crisis. This helped in preventing hostile action from USSR and helped sever tensions between the USSR and the United States.

Lyndon Johnson
Lyndon Johnson often referred to as LBJ. After about thirty years in Congress, Johnson took the title of president. He assisted John F. Kennedy in dealing with the Soviets. When John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas, Lyndon Johnson completed the rest of Kennedy's presidential terms. Under Lyndon Johnson the United States took place in the Space Race, where NASA conducted the Gemini mane space program and the Apollo project.

United States Turns to Détente
The Detente is the easing of strained relations, especially in political situations. This was used mainly during the Cold War in which there were great tensions between The Soviet Union (USSR) and The United States of America. Detente was known in Russian as loosely meaning relaxation discharge. At the start of the 1970s, the Soviets had caught up to America in a nuclear arms war. This fostered Soviet confidence creating a real opportunity for mutual arms control. The detente ultimately eased tensions for a period of time for the United States and the Soviets.

Realpolitik refers to politics/deplomacy that focused primarily based on power and on practical and material factors and considerations rather then ideological notions or moralistic or ethical premises. Realpolitik shares the aspects of its philosophical approach with that of realism/pragmatism.

Richard M. Nixon
Richard Nixon was the 37th president of the United States. Before his presidency he was Dwight Eisenhower's Vice President from 1953 to 1961. His presidency ended because of the Watergate scandal. Richard Nixon built his early political career mainly on anticommunism. With help from his National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Nixon changed his strong anticommunist views, shocking people all over the world by wanting détente with the Soviet Union and opening diplomatic relations with Red China. Nixon created the Nixon doctrine which meant that America would relinquish some of it's military procedures. Nixon then went to China and began the reduction of arms, or détente with the Russians.

This treaty, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, limited nuclear arms on both sides of the Soviets and the United States. SALT I negotiations commenced in Helsinki, Finland 1969. SALT I led to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The negotiations of SALT I lasted from November 17, 1969 until May 1972. The first result of SALT arose in May 1971, when an agreement was over ABM systems.

The Collapse of Détente and Policy changes
The collapse of détente took place when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan occured in 1979. Ronald Reagan said of the Soviet Empire that they were the "evil empire", and that they were the reason why the nuclear arms race was escalating. The Soviet Union decided to Boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics, which were to be held in Soviet territory, Moscow. Jimmy Carter boosted the U.S. defense budget and began financially aiding the President of Pakistan to return the favor by helping fight against anti-Soviet Mujahideen fighters. The American people then saw Ronald Reagan as a hero that would not tolerate the powers of the Soviet Union.

Nixon and Gerald improve relations with China
In 1972 Nixon made a trip to the People's Republic of China and decided to open diplomatic relations with the country. Although Nixon was only in China for one week ( February 21-28, 1972) both Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong made great progress in improving the relationship between the two superpowers. Over the course of that week, Nixon visited the Great Wall, Hangzhou and Shanghai. At the end of the week the U.S. and PRC issued the Shanghai Communique, a statement of their foreign policy views and a document that has remained the basis of Sino-American bilateral relations. The United States also decided to pull all of their forces out of Taiwan. Both countries committed to work for the full normalization of diplomatic policy.

Jimmy Carter's signs SALT II
Jimmy Carter of the United States and Leonid Brezhnev both signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II on June 18, 1979 in Vienna, Austria. SALT II helped the United States discourage arming their ICBM's with MIRV's(Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles). Six months after signing SALT II, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. During that same year, Soviet combat brigade deployed to Cuba was discovered. In light of all of this, the treay would never be ratified by the United States Senate. The treaty was honored by both sides until the Reagan administration, when they accused the Soviets of breaking the pact. Other discussions took place under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Soviet invasion of Afganistan
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a nine year long conflict involving the Soviet Union and the Democratic People of Afghanistan. This invasion started on December 27, 1979 and ended on February 15, 1989. Both Soviet's and Afghan's were fighting against the Mujahideen. There was great tensions throughout the world. Eventually the United States stepped in and deployed twenty ships and two aircraft carriers into both the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. On April 14, 1979, the Afghan government requested the aid of 20 Soviet helicopters to help fight against the Mujahideen. The Soviet government also helped out by sending a deployment of tanks. The Afghans were supported by a number of other countries with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. being the biggest financial aids. U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski flew to Pakistan to talk and motivate the Mujahideen. Pakistan soon helped take financial aid to give to the Mujahideen. In January 1987- February 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev decided to cut his losses and withdraw his Soviet troops from Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The Soviet withdraw in 1987.

Reagan Takes an Anti-Communist Stance
The Reagan administration created the Reagan doctrine. This was the global opposition of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War. While the doctrine lasted less than a decade, it was the centerpiece of the United States foreign policy from the early 1980s until the final year of the Cold War in 1991. Under the Reagan Doctrine, the U.S. provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist guerillas and resistance movements in an effort to control and demolish the Mujahideen. This made the Soviets angry as this over ran the detente. The United States controlled by Ronald Reagan felt as if this was necessary because the Soviets invaded Afghanistan to fight against the Mujahideen. Ronald Reagan also wanted to fight against the Soviets as their military consumed 25% of the countries food which he thought was two large of a military for a world power.

Ronald Reagon takes office in 1981
Republican Ronald Reagan took office from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989. Ronald survived an assassination attempt on his life. Reagan became the first U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to be re-elected and serve two complete terms in office. The foreign policy of Reagan's administration was a policy that created warm relations with the Soviet Union, and put an end to the Cold War after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. The Reagan Doctrine offered financial and logistic opportunity to other countries in central Europe that were fighting against Communism and took drastic steps against fighting communist governments in Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua.
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) "Star Wars"
Tensions increased when the United States developed the SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative), AKA "Star Wars". This is a program responsible for research and development of an outer space system to help defend a nation from attack by ballistic missiles. Ronald Reagan approved of this project in March 1983. Some said the project was unrealistic. The Soviets thought America was planning for nuclear war with the USSR and that they would not be able to defend themselves as much as they thought they could. Arms experts thought that this would lead into a further more dangerous arms race between the two countries. The main objective for the SDI is to shoot lasers at the missile to destroy them and take them off their flight.

New Soviet Leadership
The Soviet leaders during the Cold War were Joseph Stalin , Georgy Malenkov, Nikita Kruchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Cherenko, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Mikhail Gorbachev was the main leader through the biggest tensions. Throughout the war, the Americans, and the rest of the world was always concerned for their safety through a mass world war, nuclear war, or anything else that is possible for the two greatest world powers. New Soviet leaders decided that living through tensions was too much to want, but to live seperate would be the best. The Soviet Union collapsed and ended the Cold War, leaving it to be history for other countries to learn from.