Peaceful coexistence? Superpower Relations, 1962 to 1979.
Timeline of Events
1962 : Conflict between the USA and the USSR reaches its highest point
with conflict in Cuba. After the blockade the superpowers decide to embark
upon a policy of détente.
How did the situation improve between 1962 and 1969 ?
In 1962, President Kennedy and President Khrushchev nearly came into conflict over Cuba Both leaders recognised that they had to co-operate with each other in order to avoid the possibility of a nuclear war. A new term DÉTENTE was spoken of. It meant a lessening of tension with the two superpowers working together to try to reduce the possibility of conflict. So what did they do ?
• In 1963 a Tele-printer was installed in the Kremlin and the Whitehouse. This allowed the leaders of the USA and the USSR to communicate with each other directly.
• In 1963, a test ban treaty was signed which stopped nuclear testing above ground. Most tests were carried out under - ground but it showed the new degree of co – operation.
• America promised that it would leave Cuba alone and that it would remove missiles from Turkey and Italy. Khrushchev agreed to remove missiles from Cuba.
• In 1968, the USA and the USSR also signed the nuclear non proliferation treaty. This was designed so that other countries were not prepared to provide nuclear technology to other countries. Both countries were too frightened to provide nuclear weapons to other countries as it could involve both of them in war.
• It is important to remember that whilst these changes were taking place both the USA and the USSR still did not trust each other. The USA was fighting a war in Vietnam (1965 to 1973) to try to stop South Vietnam from becoming communist. The USSR was busy itself trying to make sure that those countries behind the Iron Curtain remained communist. Brezhnez sent troops into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to crush an uprising.
The situation saw further improvement with the holding of the Strategic
Arms Limitation Talks.
The Vietnam War cost the American government billions of dollars which could have been used to improve the lives of blacks and others. It did not seem to matter how much money was spent, the USA is not seem to be winning over 58,000 USA soldiers had died. America wanted to end the war.
President Nixon was facing strong protest inside his own country. People saw the ways in which the USA was dropping deadly chemicals upon innocent Vietnamese people and other terrible events. In Kent State University in Ohio in 1970 had seen four students being shot dead in protest. Many middle class people, who supported the government were protesting.
The USA and USSR had developed missiles that were incredibly costly. The USSR especially was facing serious problems with her economy. There was a serious shortage of food and industry did not produce enough. Brezhnev saw it far better to spend money on sorting out the problems of the economy than wasting it on nuclear bombs.
The USA wanted to make friends with other communist countries. The USA had been very suspicious of China. President Nixon visited China and trade was set up between the two countries. China and the USSR did not get on so well. Brezhnev (USSR leader) was frightened that China and the USA might work against the USSR, so agreement with America was essential
What were the key features of the SALT talks ?