Taking you through AQA A2 History of the Soviet Union in as little time and as little pain as possible... see you on results day!


16 June 2010, AM

5 June 2010

Themes: Foreign Policy

When talking about Foreign Policy, you must ALWAYS talk about its significance within the USSR. Talking about it as a stand-alone element is neither relevant to the course, nor analytical. So, how did it affect leaderships and perceptions of leaders? Did it bring opposition or prove weakness?

As this theme is harder to analyse, I'm providing examples of short paragraphs of analysis after the information.

This theme is going to include the war as a separate element to High Stalinism - and I should probably warn you that I'm doing this one off the top of my head...

The Great Patriotic War
- working with the Allies
- suspicion of foreign powers
- against Germany, Norway and Finland
- A-Bomb
- "Soviet Sphere of Influence"
- Potsdam and Yalta conferences - the cause of the Cold War?
- Lend-Lease

The tensions created by the beginning of the cold war lead Stalin's regime to become even more internal and to spend a lot more on military and defence, dramatically effecting the economy. The Atomic Bomb also lead to changes in policy towards scientists and mathematicians, who were given more civil liberties in order to incentivise them.

High Stalinism
- THATCHER: "aggressive foreign policy"
- Aggression over East Berlin
- Defence spending rocketed
- Comecon
- Not involved in diplomacy with the rest of the world
- Seen as trying to "take over the world"

The internal nature of Stalin's regime at this time lead to distaste and bad feeling from the West, making later easing in relations even harder. However, the "percieved menace of the West" left Stalin with a suitable excuse to become more brutal in his internal policy, and lead him to be presented as a stronger leader, something that many historians agree Russians find necessary in their leaders - especially at this time, when memories of the Tsar were still existent.

- the "thaw"
- U-2 incident
- Berlin Wall
- Start of the Vietnam War in earnest
- Warsaw Pact
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- economic aid to the third world
- alliance with China breaking down
- Sputnik and the space race
- Suez Crisis, 1956

Khrushchev's role in Soviet Foreign Policy is often seen as having been fatal because of the contradictions between the supposed "thaw" of destalinisation and the problems he caused with the West, over instances such as the building of the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact and Cuban Missile Crisis. The "thaw" made him unpopular in the USSR, and his handling of these major events presented him as weak and aggressive both at home and abroad.

The effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis were especially fatal, given that clauses of the Kennedy/Khrushchev agreement which lead to the removal of US nuclear warheads from Eastern Europe were kept secret on the international stage, making it seem as though he had backed down, and thus presenting him as weak within the USSR. This is commonly seen as having been a major cause of his downfall.

- Détente
- Helsinki
- Moscow Olympics
- Afghanistan
- Brezhnev Doctrine

Laver has argued that "Brezhnev presided over a crucial period of Soviet Foreign Policy", given that his actions provoked distaste and opposition both within the USSR and abroad; although the initial SALT treaties and détente meetings were successful in the West as well as in the USSR, the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 is often seen as having been the breaking point. Causing millions of Soviet deaths, and often being referred to as "Russia's Vietnam", the war was as unpopular at home as it was in the West, where a boycott of the Moscow Olympics was called in protest, demonstrating the regime's unpopularity abroad to dissidents at home, thus exacerbating the problem.

- popular in the West; seen as an international statesman
- membership of the UN
- ending the cold war?
- talks with Regan and Bush successful

Despite Gorbachev's vast successes in nuclear disarmament and in making the USSR acceptable on the world stage, he is often perceived within the USSR as having cared too much for Western ways of life and for PR as opposed to serious policies. Some argue that, had he spent less time on Foreign Policy, the collapse of the USSR in 1991 could have been averted.

As ever - any questions, just ask! :)

- HistGrrl x

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