Kruschev’s insistence on reforms and coexistence won him the battle for leadership of the Soviet Union and it was his speech at the 20th party congress of the Soviet Union where he denounced the crimes of Stalinism brought a new era in the Soviet Union and its relationship with its satellites.
On the American side there was also more of a desire to come to the table in the wake of Korea and the disappearance of Truman. The New president Dwight D Eisenhower wanted to fight the cold War like Truman but he was unsure about the extensive rearmament programs supported by Truman. He also wanted to show to the American people that peace was possible, at the same time he wanted to maintain American strength. This led to a double position of Soviet-American thaw at the same time as maintaining their position. Move towards coexistence.
One way that intensification can be seen, with the from the maintenance of strong security policies is through the intensification of covert operations as part of the Cold War
The importance of early warning systems in preparation for attack from one side or the other, Soviet Air defence built up, the continued build up of nuclear capabilities and the crucial role of civil defence (what should be done to prevent attack).
At the same time each power ran spying activities on the other, psychological war, covert ops and propaganda, everything without provoking hot war. Several examples of this from the US side, project control in 1953 where the US sends reconnaisance planes in order to find out information about the capabilities of the Soviet military. A more intense example of this was ‘operation home run’ in 1956 where the US sent 50 bomber planes from into Northern Russia for a period of eight weeks, they contained eavesdropping and photographic equipment, ran 156 missions.
The Soviets also responded with covert operations of their own– the Soviets sent spies to the United States – the most famous of which George Blake was able to discover another US attempt to spy on the Soviets an underground tunnel between East and West Berlin constructed by the Americans. He infiltrated the British SIS who were working with the US CIA (he had been recruited in the Korean war).
Soviet agents had more freedom in the West but they did not seek to provoke uprisings as Western spies did in the East. Western spies operated in much more difficult circumstances but they support uprisings, broadcasting US propaganda, carry out food drops etc
Young says Soviet propaganda about strengthening the Soviet state, US propaganda more offensive and more ideological.
- As the decade went on more and more focus was but on the non-European world, was North Vietnam falling to Communists in 1954.
- Despite all these covert operations US-Soviet relations moved towards coexistence as the decade moved on and away from outright confrontation. Coexistence threatened by Cuba and Berlin but eventually these events strengthened it. So let’s look a bit closer at American position towards the Cold War from 1953 onwards…
At the same time as the move towards a flaw between the Soviets and the US, the American government still realised the importance of maintaining a strong security policy. The new US administation led by President Dwight Eisenhower decided to move away from aspects of US defence policy which he inherited from his predecessor President Truman. Truman and his advisors had pushed the US to a more confrontative position with the Soviet Union, in reaction to the Soviet explosion of an atom bomb in 1949, NSC memorandums but also rearmament which put large financial strains on the US populace. Eisenhower was worried about the loss of personal freedoms in the United States which would come with a move towards a military/industrial model. Eisenhower thus sought a way to defend the US way of life as well as their territory. How did Eisenhower propose this to be done. He believed first of all that a focus needed to be put on the development of nuclear weapons and their integration into US defence strategy. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles his secretary of State believed that these weapons could be used as a deterrant to warfare, the more focus was put on them, the less war would happen. They based this belief on the end of the Korean war – where the threat of nuclear weapons forced the Chinese to agree to an armistice.
There were other benefits to this focus on nuclear weapons, they were a much cheaper alternative to conventional weapons build up of NSC 68. So nuclear weapons would prevent reductions in personal liberties and prevent war (according to this theory).
Autumn 1953 – New Look – nuclear weapons an integral part of US policy, this meant the reduction of conventional forces, more emphasis put on the cost effective covert operations I was discussing before, also the United States hoped for more support from its Nato allies, instead of the US playing such a dominant role in world security.
Despite this plan there were still worries for the United States, they (and their allies) worried about the massive Soviet advantage in the field of conventional troops, West Europe knew that they would not have a chance if the Soviets invaded.
US policy thus focused on a Mixture of nuclear weapons, conventional troops and deterrence, many US diplomats, including Dulles did not believe in disarmament and co-operation (which were what the US was talking about in the public arena – we will talk about this later) wanted to take the initiative against the Soviet Union.