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Cold War III: From "Peaceful Coexistence" to the End of the Cold War (cw4)1. "Peaceful Co-existence" (1953-1962)The new regimes (post-Truman/post-Stalin) in the US and the USSR changed their policies after 1953. The US policy had two components. The first was to maintain nuclear superiority over the Soviets and in particular to promise nuclear war should the Soviets make any move into Western Europe. This was a threat which retained credibility only as long as the US retained such superiority in nuclear forces that it could inflict far more serious losses on the USSR than the USSR could on the US in the event of a nuclear war. The second, voiced most clearly by Eisenhower's secretary of state Dulles was to add to Truman Doctrine "containment" talk of "rolling back" Communism and "liberating" Central Europe and China. While the US talked tough, however, it implicitly recognized the postwar settlement. The Cold War consensus necessary in a democracy like the US to maintain support for a massive military build-up arguably required a tough verbal stance--a bigger bark than bite. When East Germans in 1953 and Hungarians in 1956, responding in part to talk of "liberation" on the Voice of America broadcasts, rose up in revolt, the US and NATO did nothing more than verbally chastise the USSR. The post-Stalinist Soviet Union pursued the inverse course. Whereas Stalin had always spoken of the irreconcilable nature of capitalism and communism and looked to the Great Depression and the intra-capitalist conflict of World War II as evidence of capitalism’s imminent collapse, his successor Khrushchev, in his famous "secret speech" denouncing Stalin, pronounced that "peaceful coexistence" between East and West was possible. The Soviets wanted "peaceful coexistence" with the West in order to allow it to develop its economy. Soviet technological successes--the H-bomb and the sputnik--shook up the US--but helped convince the USSR that it 1
could win the economic war with the West if it could reduce its military expenditures, especially as the USSR remained well behind the US in the nuclear arms race. The Soviets did their bit for "peaceful coexistence" in helping to end both the Korean War in 1953 and the Vietnam War in 1954.Yet there was a rub. Whereas Stalin had never accepted the possibility of long-term co-existence with the West, he had maintained a spheres of influence approach to the world and had been careful not to intervene in areas outside of that sphere. Khrushchev interpreted things differently. He recognized that capitalist stabilization meant that revolution was unlikely to happen there for a long while. He turned his attention instead to the newly independent nations of the non-Western world. Khrushchev saw no contradiction between co-existing with the West and pursuing Soviet interests wherever opportunities arose throughout the world. Stalin had limited his activities to client states on the USSR borders and secondarily to relations with Communist parties around the world.