A Change in Leadership Leading to a Change in Key Ideas

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Throughout the transformations one key element remained remarkably consistent as each successive leader promised drastic changes ND reforms from the predecessor and his regime; however, from 1945 to 1985 the legacy of Stalin’s oppressive and autocratic leadership style remained unchanged. The Soviet foreign policy of security remained during both the Khrushchev and Brethren eras; both promised new reforms and committed their regimes to follow the road of peaceful coexistence, desalination and Dtenet.

However, in contrast to this both Khrushchev and Brethren were quick to reinforce Stalin’s vice-like grip on Eastern Europe and maintain his idea of a communist buffer zone across Eastern Europe. It as not until 1 985 when there finally was a change in the communist system, which had become stagnant and in desperate need of a breath of fresh air. It was Geographer who delivered this as he, like his predecessors promised radical change within the USSR and its foreign policy.

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However, in contrast to the other Soviet leaders he came through on his assurances, and for the first time in Soviet history produced sweeping reforms that led to unprecedented changes. The unintended consequence of this was that he unsettled the foundations upon which communism had been built, as the ideology aniseed from the continent over a period of 24 months. Although all changes in leadership within the Soviet Union promised a change in ideology only rarely did substantial change eventuate?

John Lewis Caddis stated “Stalin’s post-war goals were security for himself his regime, his country, and his ideology, in precisely that order’. At the end Of the Great Patriotic War Stalin believed that wartime blood and expenditures should greatly determine who got what after the war. This meant that the Soviet union would have much to gain, as World War Two had been more than devastating for Russia who had lost million lives, 70,000 homes and 0% of their industrial wealth.

With all this loss in mind Stalin sought to exact revenge and gain as much from this devastated wreck that Europe was left in, and also to increase Soviet security as they had been invaded three times in as many decades. Stalin’s goal thus was to dominate Europe much in a similar fashion to which Hitler had aspired to do in 1935. Stalin’s communication of Eastern Europe created a clear boundary between the east and the west in what Churchill described as an “Iron Curtain” which secured communism in Poland, Romania, Belgium, Hungary, Bulgaria and East Germany.

Hence, Hess countries were under strict discipline and emanating directly from Moscow. The ‘Stabilization’ of Eastern Europe tended to be a gradual process. Communist parties would gradually increase their influence especially in organs of power such as police, and the armed forces and eventually would infiltrate the organizations of non-communist parties to form popular fronts with the socialists.

These resulted in pseudo-democratic elections, which confirmed the Soviets monopoly of power these Were described as ‘salami tactics’ by Hungarian leader, Matthias Rakish. This increased tensions between he Eastern and the Western powers as Stalin had ignored the agreements made at the wartime conferences; in particular the agreements made at Potsdam in 1945 which stated that democratic elections were to be held in all countries liberated from Nazi rule and that any boundary changes should be based on what was agreed to at the Atlantic Charter.

This laid the basis to what was a long untrue;rotor relationship between Stalin and the West. Stalin only exacerbated tensions when he succeeded in securing Czechoslovakia during the ‘coup’ in February 1948. It was clear that he would to tolerate a situation where a country that shared a land border with the Soviet Union would forge a relationship with the Western powers, as Czechoslovakia had intended when they demanded to access Marshall Aid.

Thus, Czechoslovakia then became the last state to fall to communism securing Stalin’s buffer zone and therefore his security for his regime. By the end of the period it was clear that Stalin had very expansive tendencies and was very antagonistic towards the west. Stalin’s regime was only further exploited as problematic and oppressive by the manner in which he reacted to the IIS foreign policy change during the ate sass’s. In a sense it revealed the first cracks in the foundation to which was to become an ever collapsing communism.

Truman was worried about Stalin’s expansionist tendencies and reacted to this by releasing the Truman Doctrine in 1947- in this he planned to change the US foreign policy from that Of isolationism to containing the development Of communism or “containment” the doctrine stated that “it must be the policy of the west to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities” However, the first example of this containment was not by force UT rather by economic aid with the introduction of the Marshall Plan in June 1947.

This committed the United States to nothing less than the wholesale reconstruction of Europe. Caddis observed, “The Soviets would not accept such aid or allow its satellite states to, thereby straining its relationship with them. ” Thus, not only did it divide the communist and non-communist states of Europe, it also aimed to make all non-communist countries economically reliant on the USA with $13. 2 billion of aid invested into Rupee’s future. Caddis claimed that with this act of Marshall Plan, the United States could seize both the geopolitical and moral initiative in the emerging Cold War”.

Nonetheless, Stalin had fallen into a trap with the announcement of the European Recovery Program by US Secretary of State, George Marshall. Caught off guard by the altruistic proposal, Stalin was forced into responding in the manner that Keenan had anticipated; tightening his grip on the on the satellite states even further. In September 1 947 he announced the formation of Conform, which was the “latter day version of the old pre-war Commitment”. In February 1 948 Stalin approved a plan to seize power in Czechoslovakia, the only Eastern European state that had retained a democratic government.

Shortly after the coup, the body of Foreign Minister, Jan Mascara, was found in a Prague courtyard. It is still heavily debated whether he jumped or he was pushed but the only thing that is certain is that any chance of independence within Stalin’s sphere of influence also died with Mascara. During the same year Stalin undertook an even less promising scheme by provocatively enforcing a blockade of West Berlin. His motives for this are certainly questionTABLE; many believe he was trying to force the Americans, British and French out of their individual zones in Berlin.

Many also argue he was simply trying to slow down the West’s consolidation of Western Europe which had seemingly become very powerful. Whatever the purpose of the blockade, it backfired tremendously as the Allies improvised an airlift in which they supplied an average of 13,000 tones of aid per day, thereby winning the resounding gratitude of the Berliners, a triumph which also made Stalin look like a ruthless tyrant, and completely inept. After 1 1 embarrassing months, Stalin was forced to call off the blockade, knowing that is plan had failed to shake the confidence and resolve of the West.

Caddis concluded, “defensive it may have been but the offensive nature of this and other measures Stalin took in response to the Marshall plan wound up increasing, not decreasing the Soviet’s security problems. ” Tensions within Europe were increasing severely as Stalin had earlier described that “war between communism and capitalism is ineviTABLE. ” This belief laid the foundations to the arms race, which was to become a key influence in the division between the two superpowers.

In 1 949 soviets alarmed the world and, in particular the United States, when they developed heir own atomic bomb much faster than what the they had expected. This evened out the playing field for a race where both sides tried to prove to the world that their way of life was the more superior in terms of power, lifestyle and technology. Both feared one another and wanted to protect themselves and also obtain the newer and better weapons in a huge game of “one- musicianship”. Stalin believed that in order to protect his regime he needed to beat if not match the power of the United States.

Therefore emphasizing his protective and antagonistic like tendencies throughout the period. Stalin’s Death in March 1 953 allowed for a change in leadership; this had not happened in the Soviet Union since 1922. A collective leadership was formed after Stalin’s death; however, it was Nikkei Khrushchev who was TABLE to consolidate his power by February 1956. Khrushchev saw the need for political relaxation within Eastern Europe; purges were stopped and many politicians who had been previously removed were returned to positions of power in their respective countries.

In Poland Yawl’s Communal, the Deputy Prime Minister who had previously been purged in 1948 was readmitted into the communist party in 1956. He also immediately increased relations and decreased tensions with the USA by continuing Maleness’s idea of ‘peaceful coexistence’ and also ignoring the Stalinist belief that war between the two superpowers was ineviTABLE. ” A further gesture of good will towards the US was the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in May 1 955 where Austria was re-established as a sovereign state.

However, Khrushchev most shocking announcement came in February 1 956 by openly cataloguing and denouncing Stalin’s crimes during his long reign as an “abuse of personal power and self glorification” and also stated that “that there are many roads o socialism. ” These comment had widespread repercussions throughout the communist world; in particular, they stirred new intellectual ideas in the European satellites, as many hard line Stalinist had been discredited and removed from office. Khrushchev arranged the removal from power of the Hungarian Stalinist leader Mantas Rakish in July 1956.

By November, inspired by success the Polish Uprisings, the Hungarian were on the edge of a full- scale revolution. However, unlike the Polish demands for a degree of liberalizing and economic independence, Hungary decided to move against unionism and also threatened to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact. Khrushchev, under some pressure from the Chinese communist leader Mao Sedona, cracked under the pressure as he agreed that a loss in the Soviet buffer zone and sphere of influence would be too much. Hence, on the 23 October 1 956 Khrushchev ordered Soviet troops to re-enter Hungary and crush the rebellion.

This they did rapidly. Yet it resulted in the death of some 1,500 Soviet troops and 20,000 Hungarian. Furthermore, Mire Nagy who reluctantly led the revolution was arrested and later executed. As Caddis observed “such was the lesson of Hungary – to be the only way in which Marxist Leninist knew how to rule. ” Moreover, as Khrushchev told a group of Chinese in early 1 957 “being a communist is inseparTABLE from being a Stalinist,” which indicated that despite the promise of change, very little change actually materialized during his first few years in power.

Khrushchev further increased tensions with the creation of the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop the massive amounts of East Germans fleeing to West Germany. Thousands of East Germans could cross to West Germany merely by crossing from East to West Berlin. From 1949 to 1961 an estimated 2. Million out off population of 1 7 million had fled East Germany to the West, making it the only country in Europe with a declining population. By the summer of 1961 East German President Walter Albrecht persuaded the Soviets that an immediate solution was necessary and the only way to stop this problem was through the use of force.

During the spring and early summer, the East German government started stockpiling building materials for the erection of the “Anti Fascist Protection Barrier. ” 32,000 troops were used in building the wall and once their efforts were complete the border police assumed guard o prevent interference from the West and also to assist in the event of large- scale riots. The Berlin Wall quickly escalated tensions with the West as Kennedy ordered an increase in the amount of soldiers from 875,000 to approximately 1 million.

Additionally, he ordered that draft calls be doubled. The height of this tension was a tank stand off at checkpoint Charlie until the East German government backed down the crisis ended in the summer of 1962. However, a clear ideological and physical division between the east and west remained. Hence, it was clear that Khrushchev s intervention in Berlin in 961 was remarkably consistent with Stalin’s actions during the 1 948/49 Berlin Blockade. Khrushchev had made it abundantly clear that he was not about to relinquish control over Eastern Europe.

The increase in tensions between the US and the USSR was also exacerbated by Khrushchev s desire to expand the arms race; this resulted in the development and advancement of Spic’s for both sides during the 1 CSS. For the first time they could send nuclear warheads from the USA to the USSR and vice versa, which meant that the world was constantly on the threat of nuclear war. Khrushchev compounded this perspective when he reflectively announced to an American delegation in 1 957 “we are producing missiles like sausages”. The clearest example of brinkmanship by Khrushchev was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Khrushchev had been quick in seeing the strategic value of having Cuba as an ally in Central America, as he understood that it was important to “confront America with more than words, but what exactly? The logical answer was missiles. ” The US could hardly object as they themselves had intermediate range missiles in Turkey aimed straight at Moscow; Khrushchev described the situation as “giving them a little of their own medicine” . In the end, the crisis was on verge of spiraling completely out of control and Khrushchev was forced to back down.

He agreed to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba if the USA removed theirs from Turkey. The crisis was over. Hence, Khrushchev leadership certainly shaped the direction of the Cold War; in particular, in the expansion of the ideological conflict to Central America. However, his earlier promises of ‘peaceful coexistence’ and ‘desalination’ were ultimately proven to be nothing more than empty rhetoric; each foreign policy decision of Khrushchev closely mirrored that of Stalin’s. As Caddis observed, “the old dictators ghost was not so easily exorcised after all. During the late sass’s and early 1 ass’s the Soviet Union saw the leadership of Leonie Brethren like many other soviet leaders he swore to take drastic measures to allow for a significant change in the soviet system. Although he did lead Russia through the first dtenet he was also ultimately the reason for its failure as again the world saw a Stalinist regime emerge. Many People saw Khrushchev’s retreat from Cuba as a sign Of weakness and in 1 962 he was removed from leader of the world’s second most powerful state.

However, there was no bloodshed, no one was sent to prison neither to exile; Khrushchev was allowed a quiet and painfully obscure retirement. Caddis observed that “Khrushchev fate reflected, in microcosm, that of the Soviet Union and the United States during the late sass’s and sass’s and early sass’s”. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis had been cohesive to the extent that it forced both sides to realize that they had come to close to nuclear war. Directly after the crisis tensions were eased as the two superpowers developed the ‘Moline’, a direct phone link between the Kremlin, and the

White House and the Partial Test Ban Treaty had been successfully ratified by both nations. Thus, when Brethren inherited power in October 1 964 the Soviet Union was already pursuing a period of ‘dtenet’ with the West. Leonie Brethren was also committed to continuing this idea of Dtenet as he felt that the economic burden of the nuclear arms race was unsustainTABLE and also hoped that with a period characterized by a relaxation in tensions, more trade with Western Europe would be possible.

Some Soviet officials thought that a less aggressive policy could potentially detach the Europeans from heir American ally; however, many historians believe that the main reason for dtenet with America was because Brethren knew that the USSR could use it to make gains and also reduce both the ‘missile gap’ and the ‘technological gap’ which had widened between it and the United States. Brethren therefore pursued dtenet vigorously as he firstly aspired to create what was to become centerpiece of detente, which was the effort of both the Americans and the Soviets to limit the nuclear arms race.

The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks were discussed late in 1 969 and by 1972 the agreement was dad to cap the number of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles that each side could deploy. Nixon and Brethren successfully concluded it at the Moscow summit in 1972. However, it was not long before the SALT treaty received widespread criticism. Like Dtenet itself, it also evaded many crucial issues; one was that although it did freeze existing Cubism and SLIM deployments it did nothing to cut them back. Imbalance was also a key problem as the agreement left the Soviet Union well ahead of the CSS in Cubism.

Another key event that Brethren pursued for the continuation f Dtenet was the Helsinki Accords of 1975. However, Brashness motive for pursuing such an agreement about human rights would surely become a legal and moral trap for the Soviet Union as it meant recognizing the transparent Soviet injustices across Eastern Europe. Nonetheless, Brethren, like his predecessors, was more focused on gaining legitimacy for the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. Thus, even as late as 1975, it is obvious that Brethren remained committed to Stalin’s idea of “security’ and, in particular, the maintenance of Stalin’s buffer zone.

However, this was hardly a reprise, considering the manner in which he dealt with the Prague Spring. By 1969, Czechoslovakia Was a discontented nation; it had decayed after 20 years of communist rule and there had been a huge reduction in the standard of living. This discontent led to the sacking of First Secretary Antonio Novelty who was replaced by Alexander Dubbed. Dubbed eased many of the previous regulations on censorship, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other Stalinist measures. However, in April 1 968 he announced the new Czech reform plan in which he denounced Envoys government and promised wide-sweeping reforms.

Alarmed by this, the Soviets called Dubbed to a Warsaw pact meeting while also performing Soviet-polish military exercises on the Czech border. Undaunted by this intimidation from abroad, Dubbed established the Czechoslovakian National Front, which sought to further criticize communist rule in Czechoslovakia. As a consequence, on August 20th Warsaw Pact forces under Russian command crossed the Czech border. The revolution was abruptly crushed, the reforms were reversed and Dubbed was removed from power.

It was clear that the Brethren saw Czechoslovakia as a vital link in its defense chain and could not tolerate its aperture from the Soviet bloc. In justifying the invasion Leonie Brethren revealed that “When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the county concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries. ” Brashness actions provoked harsh criticism from the West who lamented the manner in which democratic freedoms were being repressed.

In 1979 Brethren again increased tensions with the West through the invasion of Afghanistan, to protect its regime from its Muslim opponents, the Munched. At this point, Carter described the invasion as “the most serious threat to world peace since the Second World War. Thus, by the end of the sass’s it was clear that dtenet was over and that Brashness rule remained remarkably consistent to his predecessors; there had been little change, but it was only a matter of time until the system would implode due to the rising discontent with communist rule from both within and beyond the Soviet Union.

During the early sass’s the Soviet leadership went through what many historians have described as a period of gerontocracy; a period characterized y inertia and stagnation. A succession of old and physically incapTABLE leaders followed Brethren when he finally died in 1 982; his physical and mental incapacity was not too dissimilar to Namedrop and Coherence who were unprepared and unTABLE to cope with the challenges of the top job.

It was not until 1985 when a long needed breath of fresh air swept through the Kremlin and resulted in a significant change to the Soviet Union’s domestic and foreign policies. Mikhail Geographer did not rise to the ranks Of the Kremlin hierarchy until 1 982 and on March the 1 lath 1 985 became the leader; at 54 he as much younger and healthier than his predecessors and was openly critical of party excesses, as he was fully aware that he had inherited in many domestic problems and an escalated Cold War.

Domestically, Geographer began to implement reforms that he hoped would improve living standards and work productivity. By adding a measure of democratic freedoms Geographer set off to achieve his new reforms, which were based on the new ideas of Glasnost (openness) which he explained as “we want to more openness about public affairs in every sphere of life,” and Perestroika (restructure) described as Overcoming the stagnation process, breaking down the broken mechanism, creating a dependTABLE and effective mechanism for the acceleration of social and economic process.

Both of these new ideas had a dramatic impact on the USSR. Geographer hoped that his new policies of perestroika and glasnost would make the Soviet economy more productive and improve living standards, but this would only occur if there was a sharp reduction in military spending. However, the most striking area of change was with human rights; between late 1986 and 1988 nearly all political prisoners were released, and during 989 this openness led to waves of strikes and protest as people made the most Of their newfound freedoms.

Perestroika opened the door to a range Of social and economic changes that would still be based on the socialist system. However, Geographer did aim to eliminate the inefficiencies that had developed within the Soviet Union, particularly the transport, storage and marketing of grain. On average over 12 per cent foods was lost due to spoilage before it was even sold. Perestroika also affected the military, as funding was cut in order to reduce the pressure on the budget and provide revises to the poor.

The army was forced to reduce in size as budget cuts for the military fell by about 50%. Nonetheless, living conditions in Russia continued to fall with about 10 percent living below the poverty line, demonstrating that Geographer was not TABLE to remedy all the problems in the Soviet economy. This discontent grew as people became impatient with the lack of progress in living standards; Geographer had raised everyone’s expectations but, in some respects, was unTABLE to deliver on the promises that he had made. Subsequently, his position and standing in the Soviet

Union became untenTABLE; some claimed that there was not enough change, others that there had been too much change too quickly. Whatever the viewpoint, every observer would agree that Cockroaches ideas of perestroika and glasnost brought significant social, political and economic change to the USSR, at a time when it was most needed. Cockroaches policies of perestroika and glasnost had a dramatic effect on all of the governments of Eastern Europe. Geographer believed that “the excessive Soviet involvement in world affairs was counter-productive.

The cost of military aid to satellites was far too expensive”. The Eastern European states were the first to take advantage of these of the newfound freedoms as Cockroaches words began to resonate throughout the region. Uprisings were seen in Poland when Solidarity and its leader, Lech Wales, were allowed to negotiate with the Catholic Church to solve the nation’s problems. More remarkably, Geographer permitted free elections in Poland in 1989, which saw Lech Wales become the first non-Communist leader Of the country in over 40 years.

For the first time in history, a Soviet buffer zone had been allowed to determine its own fate. Consequently, the precedent had been set, and animal revolutions occurred all through Eastern Europe with Hungary dismantling its ‘iron curtain’ which separated them with Austria and introducing parliamentary elections which resulted in the formation of a democratic government. In 1 989 Czechoslovakia had its ‘velvet revolution’ where independence was installed fairly smoothly.

Thus, by the end of that year, the positions of those governments that were unwilling to relent to the pressure of the masses became more precarious. Thousands of East Germans were escaping through “holes” in the iron curtain by traveling to Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Finally, on the 9th of November, the East German First Secretary’ Goon Karen announced the lifting of all travel restrictions to and from West Germany. Consequently, the Berlin Wall, which had remained a symbol of the division of the Cold War for three decades came crashing down.

By the end of 1989, the Eastern European ‘buffer zone’ had completely vanished, and the communist ideology had been relegated to the history books; Geographer had reversed what Stalin and his successors fought so hard to consolidate. There is no doubt that Cockroaches key idea of perestroika, restructuring foreign policy, and renouncing the Brethren Doctrine, brought change on an unprecedented scale for the East European satellite states which were keen to embrace a new ideology, democracy.

Cockroaches key ideas of perestroika and glasnost also had an enormous impact on international relations and the arms race, which many historians argue is what brought about an end to the tensions that had existed between the USA and USSR since the end of the Second World War. When Geographer came to power he knew that the Soviet union did not have the economic or technological capabilities to continue in the arms race. Instead, he sought to rotted the Soviet Union through building a relationship with the US and reducing both sides’ weapons and weapon expenditure through promoting mutual treaties and agreements.

Relations were improved when Geographer and Reagan met at the Geneva Conference in November 1985, although very little was agreed to Reagan walked away stating “there is a warmth in his face and style, not the coldness bordering on hatred I have seen in most soviet officials id met until then”. At the Reykjavik Conference in 1986 Geographer proposed a complete removal of nuclear weapons as long as the US did the AMA and removed their SAD program. Reagan was willing to remove the nuclear weapons; however, he refused to abandon the SAD program, as it was a defensive system.

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