AQA A Level Cold War History c1945-1991Watch
‘Peaceful co-existence failed by 1961 because neither the East nor the West was fully committed to it.’
Assess the validity of this view. (25 marks)
Peaceful co-existence was the idea that there should be peace amongst the people of the world and this idea was forwarded by Khrushchev sometime in 1956. Khrushchev and peaceful co-existence was important to him because he doesn’t want to wage war with the USA. However, does slightly take a dig at the US by suggesting that Communism had become so powerful that it would be victorious without war.
The view of the statement is incorrect. The reasons for me to believe the fact that this is false is due to the East’s intentions of trying to ease their relations amongst each other. After all it was Khrushchev’s idea to implement this to try and cooperate as much as possible with the USA. Firstly, the conference in Geneva 1955 conveyed that the two sides were on a much more respectable level in terms of collaborating with one another on agreements regarding the arms race and to address the threat of a nuclear war. Everything was going well despite no settled agreements associated with the intentions of easing relations between the superpowers. In addition, this conference had one thing that was agreed and that was to have another meeting. Further reasons to suggest that the East wanted better relations with the West and how the failure of peaceful co-existence was not down to the USSR was Khrushchev’s speech. The speech was made at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR in February 1956, where Khrushchev stated that the two superpowers must try and work together in order to stop a devastating war breaking out which would trigger the end of the world, seeing as there isn’t a third alternative to this, Khrushchev insisted that this take place. Additional reasoning to indicate that the USSR were making their efforts to try and smother hostility amongst the leaders, was by the organisation of meetings between representatives of the Grand Alliance in Geneva 1959, where it was thought that tensions would start easing, however at the meeting there was no solution agreed but another meeting was organised. Nevertheless, the reason why this fell apart mainly was because of the division of Germany which by USSR’s point of view was seen as ‘unfair’, because the USSR was given the weakest zone in terms of industry and economically. The truth behind the refugee crisis of 1947 was the fleeing of 2.7 million highly skilled citizens which destroyed the USSR’s zone even more in general. Had the zones been divided equally and not been decided on the basis of ideology then this war would not have happened had the USSR felt that the Germans were appropriately punished for their actions in World War 2. Moreover, the USA were busy creating weapons capable of mass destruction. The USSR kept making threats despite even Khrushchev knowing they would be empty threats because of the capability of the USA to make weapons of mass destruction. A nation like the USA try blame the USSR for failure of peaceful co-existence but at the same time making weapons capable of destruction.
The USSR may have had some part in failing peaceful negotiations. Instead of dividing in Berlin in 1961, he could have been a bit more mature about it and actually have peace talks with their counterpart at the time (JF Kennedy). Khrushchev must have been looking for trouble when carrying this out and reinstating his authority on a young, inexperienced President Kennedy by reintroducing the 6 month ultimatum.
One might say that the USSR was to blame for the potential success of peaceful co-existence but I don’t see how this can completely be the case, simply because why would a leader insist on making peace but then at the same time want to destroy it. This would be seen as suspect for Khrushchev had this happened because it would have made him look like someone who is trying to plan something. Even more evidence is my referral to the 20th Congress in which I believe that Khrushchev was being sincere because everyone at this time knew the threat of a nuclear war and would try and do anything to oppress its potential.