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Cold War Realism

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science

POL101 Nov. 29/2010 Cold War Realism *Last 3 lectures will be used for essay question on exam; everything for multiple choice 1962 the world came close to being annihilated in a nuclear war The belief was that the missiles and bombers would come over Canada because the shortest route to the US from the Soviet Union was over the North Pole – this was the Cold War In this context developed the study of international relations as we know it today took shape Origins Cold War origins in Europe 1948 Europe was chopped up with very few exceptions By the early 1950s, Europe was divided not only according to political lines, but also by military lines to prevent an attack from the Soviets The first big test comes in Hungary in 1956: taken over by the Soviets in 1952, not apart of the Soviet Union but dominated by the Soviets Stalin dies in 1953 and the countries within the communist block attempt to establish some form of independence, although the Soviets would not let them break away completely Hungary, 1956 Under Stalin, everyone in the Communist world said Yugoslavia was bad because it was not apart of the Soviet block; when Stalin dies they try to make up Told that they did not have to follow everything according to the ways of the Soviet Union New leader comes to power, putting into power a reformed communist (still communist, but allows freedom of speech, elections) By November, the Soviets decide that they have had enough & invade Hungary In 1956, the Americans were encouraging the Hungarians to revolt; ran something called “Radio-Free Europe” (don’t follow anyone except us) The Hungarians revolted, with the Soviets invading, America did not want to start WW3 Americans did not allow them to be wiped out The test was that the US was unwilling to start WW3; the irony is that had they wanted to – they could have militarily won Germany Not only was Europe divided; but the very core of Europe (Germany) was also divided: East was communist & West was democratic Soviets threatened to take over East Berlin East & West Berlin: in 1961 East Germany was losing people, they built a wall to prevent East Germans from leaving House at Checkpoint Charlie: where Western Germans would enter, & where Americans would enter Soviet occupied areas Two states in existence under the protection of their immense power (nuclear power, military) Every once in awhile incidences would occur in which German, Soviet, French, British, etc., tanks would square off at the border of East & West Berlin (thought to be where WW3 would begin) From Confrontation to Stalemate Nuclear weapons are of a new kind; the problem is that they are too scary to be used (unlike other military power) We were put into a new world divided into 2, and where destructive weapons now existed This raised the issue that nuclear weapons were not good for defense, but deterrence Meant only to be used to stop the other side from using its nuclear weapons OR incase you were overrun They wouldn’t be used in an ordinary battle, people could not conceive of this US Monopoly: 1949-1968 was the era in which only the US had nuclear weapons: Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) US have huge superiority, but the Soviets have just enough to make themselves “scary” Basic idea was that nuclear weapons are there, but they will never be used (destruction is mutually assured) The key was not first strike capability, but second strike capability What made it stable was even if they launched theirs, you would have enough to destroy them (this doctrine lasted from the 40s through the 80s) In some ways this was a stable world because each side had its client states, and encouraged its political and social systems, gave clients weapons and backed up that weaponry with a conventional commitment to supply that regime with weapons and soldiers Proxy Wars Given the relative stalemate btw the Soviets and the Americans, military conflict became conflict by proxy (substitute for another); there were few instances in which either side was shot at
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