The Cold War and Post War European History

Chapter 3: (Part 1) The “Big Game” and the Bombing of Cambodia, December 1968–March 1969 :: Nixon’s Nuclear Specter: The Secret Alert of 1969, Madman Diplomacy, and the Vietnam War Jeffrey P. Kimball

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “negotiations alone, Kissinger observed, were “also a very time-consuming strategy, and time is not on our side””
  • “Proposals for an actual or feigned nuclear escalation in Vietnam appeared in some of the very first planning papers of the administration in February 1969, but the road to the secret nuclear alert of October would nonetheless be long and tortuous, passing through Cambodia, Laos, North Korea, Subic Bay, Moscow, and Haiphong.”
  • “the destruction or withdrawal of all NVA units in South Vietnam, the destruction, withdrawal, or dissolution of all (or most) VC [Viet Cong] forces and apparatus, the permanent cessation of infiltration, and the virtually unchallenged sovereignty of a stable, non-Communist regime …, with no significant Communist political role except on an individual, ‘reconciled’ basis.”
  • “the credible threat, explicit or tacit, of unrestricted bombing or limited invasion of the DRV might well cause the Politburo in Hanoi to accept our conditions for victory immediately.”
  • “a coalition government> … [and] mutual withdrawal [of US and NVA forces] or cease-fire … as part of an agreed overall settlement.”10 A formal settlement was preferable to a tacit one, for “there would be a clear expression, politically useful both for the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, also known as South Vietnam) and the United States, that the main purpose of the US involvement had been accomplished—hence US withdrawal was appropriate.”
  • “We might end up with a [diplomatic] settlement of some type without a formal agreement, a sort of mutual accommodation in which either side is not deprived of the hope of ultimate success.… The mix of actions should be something like this. We talk hard [with the Communist Vietnamese side] in private but with an obvious peaceful public stance, seeking to gain time, initially giving the South Vietnamese a chance to strengthen the regime and add to the pacification effort while punishing the Viet Cong. Within three or four months, bring home a few troops unilaterally as a separate and distinct action from the Paris negotiations and as a ploy for more time domestically, while we continue to press at the negotiating table for a military settlement.”
  • “I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no way to win the war. But we can’t say that, of course. In fact, we have to seem to say the opposite, just to keep some degree of bargaining leverage.”
  • “The situation in South Vietnam which we inherited on 20 January is well described in Secretary Laird’s memorandum to you: “General Abrams has made remarkable progress in achieving a measure of military superiority throughout South.… But none of our officials, either military or civilian, is under any illusion that the battle in South Vietnam can be brought to a military conclusion within six months, a year or even several years. Options, over which we have little or no control, are available to the enemy for continuing the war almost indefinitely, although perhaps at a reduced intensity.””
  • “In 1969, the long-term goal of Nixon and Kissinger was to provide Thieu’s government with a “decent chance” of surviving for a “decent interval” of two to five years after a US and NVA exit from South Vietnam.”
  • “Priority objectives for the next several months would be mutual withdrawal, the reestablishment of the demilitarized zone and the restoration of the seventeenth parallel as a provisional boundary line, the release of US and allied prisoners of war, and an eventual cease-fire with international guaranties and supervision.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe what the author intends by using the phrase the “Big Game”
  • Describe the public domestic events in the United States from December 1968 – March 1969
  • Describe the “Carrots” of Diplomacy in the Southeast Asian negotiations in during this period
  • Describe the “Sticks” of Military action in Southeast Asian negotiations during this period
  • In what ways did Hanoi react to and understand the political change in the United States between Johnson and Nixon
  • How did Hanoi come to its understanding of political changes occurring in the United States during this period
  • Explain and Expand: “negotiations alone, Kissinger observed, were “also a very time-consuming strategy, and time is not on our side””
  • Explain and Expand: “Negotiations with Hanoi would have to be facilitated, they believed, by other methods.”
  • Describe “The RAND Options Paper” and the positions of “Group A” and “Group B”
  • How did the “The RAND Options Paper” and the positions of “Group A” and “Group B” impact the course of negotiations in Southeast Asia
  • Who are Daniel Ellsberg and Fred Iklé
  • Explain and Expand: “Rather unrealistically, they maintained that the American public would accept the costs”
  • Compare and Contrast: Diplomatic Solutions and Political Solutions in the early Nixon administration in Southeast Asia
  • Explain and Expand: “look threatening … but actually may not occur”
  • Explain and Expand: “I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no way to win the war. But we can’t say that, of course. In fact, we have to seem to say the opposite, just to keep some degree of bargaining leverage.”
  • Explain and Expand: “leave the political side to the Vietnamese”
  • Explain and Expand: “recognition of what was pragmatically possible if the goal was to preserve US honor and credibility, which Nixon and Kissinger believed it was.”
  • Explain and Expand: “We had to give the South Vietnamese time to replace American forces without catastrophe.”
  • Describe the 1967 Operations Pennsylvania
  • What was the significance of “Nixon and Kissinger tenaciously concealed their true motives, goals, and strategies from the public, Congress, cabinet heads, and even their staffers—with the occasional exception of such trusted, like-minded aides as Alexander Haig and H. R. Haldeman.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The public format immediately proved unworkable.”
  • Explain and Expand: Détente, Linkage, Triangular Diplomacy, and the China Card

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

The Cold War and Post War European History

Chapter 5 – The Coming of the Cold War :: Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “This war is not as in the past; whoever occupies a territory also imposes upon it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach. It cannot be otherwise.”
  • “It’s quite clear— it’s got to look democratic, but we must have everything in our control.”
  • “On September 15th the Bulgarian Peace Treaty officially came into force and four days later the USA offered to extend diplomatic recognition to the government in Sofia. Within 96 hours Petkov was executed, his sentence having been delayed until the official American announcement. With Petkov judicially murdered, the Bulgarian Communists need fear no further impediments.”
  • “For many months, based on logical analysis, I have felt and held that war was unlikely for at least ten years. Within the last few weeks I have felt a subtle change in Soviet attitude which I cannot define, but which now gives me a feeling it may come with dramatic suddenness.”
  • “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.”
  • “If you open that Pandora’s Box, you never know what Trojan ’orses will jump out”
  • “Here the ego is at half- pressure; most of us are not men and women but members of a vast, seedy, overworked, over- legislated neuter class, with our drab clothes, our ration books and murder stories, our envious, strict, old- world apathies— a care- worn people. And the symbol of this mood is London, now the largest, saddest and dirtiest of great cities, with its miles of unpainted, half- inhabited houses, its chopless chop- houses, its beerless pubs, its once vivid quarters losing all personality, its squares bereft of elegance . . . its crowds mooning around the stained green wicker of the cafeterias in their shabby raincoats, under a sky permanently dull and lowering like a metal dish- cover.”
  • ‘‘it is rarely possible for the English, in their parliamentary debates, to give utterance to a principle. They discuss only the utility or disutility of a thing, and produce facts, for and against.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the events the Eastern European nations experienced during the consolidation of Soviet power
  • How did the Soviet strategy succeed and fail in Western Europe and Greece regarding working with local Communists? and Socialists?
  • What were the main reasons the Soviets were unable to successfully work with local Communists and Socialists in Western Europe and Greece
  • Compare and Contrast: The relationship between Eastern European nations and Russia in Pre-War Europe and Post War Soviet Occupied Europe
  • In what ways did the Soviets use pre-war and wartime allies in post-war Soviet occupied Europe?
  • Why did the Soviets reject existing Communist / Socialist leadership and structures in Eastern Europe?
  • Who was Mátyás Rákosi and how was he representative of and dissimilar from other leaders in Soviet occupied Europe
  • Explain and Expand: “it is perhaps worth emphasizing that neither Stalin nor his local representatives were in any doubt as to their long- term goal. Coalitions were the route to power for Communist parties in a region where they were historically weak; they were only ever a means to this end.”
  • Explain and Expand: ” The Communists’ stated objective in 1945 and 1946 was to ‘complete’ the unfinished bourgeois revolutions of 1848”
  • Affirm or Refute: “The result was that Communist parties adopted instead a strategy of covert pressure, followed by open terror and repression. In the course of 1946 and into 1947 electoral opponents were maligned, threatened, beaten up, arrested, tried as ‘Fascists’ or ‘collaborators’ and imprisoned or even shot. ‘Popular’ militias helped create a climate of fear and insecurity which Communist spokesmen then blamed on their political critics.”
  • Explain and Expand: “overwhelmingly rural eastern Europe, its allegiance was traditionally Socialist, not Communist. Thus since the Socialists could not easily be beaten, the Communists chose instead to join them.”
  • Define: “Socialist”, “Communist”, “Stalinist”, “Leninist”, “Marxist”
  • Compare and Contrast: “Socialist”, “Communist”, “Stalinist”, “Leninist”, “Marx”
  • In light of pre-war Nazi appeasement, React and Respond: “either in the innocent belief that everyone would benefit, or else in the hope of moderating Communist behavior.”
  • In light of the pre-war Nazi takeover of power, React and Respond: “with some help from violent assaults on their remaining opponents, intimidation at polling stations and blatantly abusive vote counts.”
  • Compare and Contrast: “Communism” and “Fascism”
  • Compare and Contrast: “Socialism” and “Fascism”
  • In what ways did post war Soviet occupation government define themselves in relation to Fascism? How did they use this to assume legitimacy?
  • In what ways were Finland and Yugoslavia exceptional in their post war relations with the Soviet Union?
  • React and Respond: “Communism had lost its revolutionary edge and become, deliberately, part of a broad anti- Fascist coalition.”
  • Describe the process that established West Germany and the reaction in the Soviet Union
  • Explain and Expand: “Accordingly, when the blockade failed, the Soviet leader changed tack.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The Berlin crisis had three significant outcomes”
  • What was “The Brussels Pact”? What was the “1951 Paris Treaty”? How did these form the first stage of NATO and the EU?
  • Describe the process that established NATO
  • React and Respond: “Hence the famous bon mot of Lord Ismay, who took up his post as NATO’s first Secretary General in 1952: the purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was ‘to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.’”
  • How did the option of German neutrality impact the formation of post war Europe?
  • In what ways did domestic politics in post- war Britain impact the formation of post-war Europe?
  • React and Respond: “It was queues for everything, you know, even if you didn’t know what you were queuing for . . . you joined it because you knew there was something at the end of it.”
  • Explain and Expand: “This is something which we know, in our bones, we cannot do.”
  • What were the priorities of France in post war Europe?
  • React and Respond: “The French duly did what the British might have done in other circumstances and made ‘Europe’ in their own image, eventually casting its institutions and policies in a mould familiar from French precedent. At the time it was the continental Europeans, not the British, who expressed regret at the course of events. Many prominent European leaders deeply wanted Britain to join them.”

Week 7 :: The Cold War, Chapter 7: The Triumph of Hope and Epilogue 

Thought Questions

  • Compare and contrast the process and results of the French Revolution and the Russian February / October Revolution. 
  • How do governments that base their legitimacy on inherited right or ideological foundations differ from governments that base their legitimacy on a constitutional framework? 
  • In what ways does a government based on a constitutional framework create stability and how do governments based on inherited rights or ideological foundations create instability? 
  • What are the results of the above mentioned stability / instability for people and societies that are effected by those systems? 
  • How did the Cold War come to a “conclusion” and what lessons does the author draw from it about “what did it all mean”? 
  • What does the author mean when he says war became an “anachronism”? 

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “The French Revolution was a Utopian attempt to overthrow a traditional order—one with many imperfections, certainly—in the name of abstract ideas, formulated by vain intellectuals, which lapsed, not by chance but through weakness and wickedness, into purges, mass murder and war. In so many ways it anticipated the still more terrible Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.”
  • “One of the questions the Gorbachev Foundation wrestled with, but never resolved, was: what did it all mean?”
  • “war itself—at least major wars fought between major states—had become a health hazard, and therefore an anachronism.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Week 6 :: The Cold War, Chapter 6: Actors

Thought Questions

  • How was the personality of Pope John Paul significant in the course of the Cold War?
  • What factors contributed to the collapse of Détente? 
  • How did the arms control process change during and after Détente?
  • What were the “Basic Principles” adopted by Nixon and Brezhnev?
  • How did events in the Middle East and East Africa effect the Cold War powers? 
  • What were the principle agreements of SALT I and SALT II? 
  • How did events unfold in Poland in the era of Solidarity? 
  • How did the Reagan administration’s approach to the Cold War evolve and how did this effect the Soviet Union? 
  • How did the Soviet Union’s perspective on the Cold War evolve and how did the domestic circumstances and the changing perspectives of Reagan and Gorbachev effect this? 
  • What was the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and how did the United States and the Soviet Union view it differently? 

Thought / Response Quotes 

  • “The West won’t contain communism, it will transcend communism. It won’t bother to . . . denounce it, it will dismiss it as some bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.”
  • “From Stettin in the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than 30 years to establish their legitimacy. But none—not one regime—has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.”
  • “This event also changed Gorbachev. It revealed “the sicknesses of our system . . . the concealing or hushing up of accidents and other bad news, irresponsibility and carelessness, slipshod work, wholesale drunkenness.” For decades, he admonished the Politburo, “scientists, specialists, and ministers have been telling us that everything was safe. . . . [Y]ou think that we will look on you as gods. But now we have ended up with a fiasco.””

Primary Sources

Articles and Links

Week 5 :: The Cold War, Chapter 5: The Recovery of Equity

Thought Questions

  • What does the author mean by The Recovery of “Equity”?
  • How did the downfall of President Nixon effect the American course during the Cold War?
  • How did idealism and pragmatism factor into the Cold War from the perspective of the United States, the British-Franco empires, Russia, its eastern and southern empires and various “non-aligned” powers?
  • How did United States support for ideologically opposite regimes effect the United States?
  • How did the debate over “guns and butter” reflect the recovery of equity in the United States?
  • What was the significance of NSC-68?
  • What were the “Pentagon Papers” and how did it effect the course of the Nixon administration?
  • What was the War Powers Act and how does it represent the recovery of equity? 
  • What events occurred in Chile that represent the idealogical conflict in the United States?
  • How did Détente effect the recovery of equity in the United States? 
  • How did a cold war counter culture effect the Soviet Bloc in the same ways as the United States?

Optional Supplemental Viewing and Listening

Primary Sources

Articles

 

Week 4 :: The Cold War, Chapter 4: The Emergence of Autonomy

Thought Questions

  • What is the significance of the opening quotes from Jonathan Schell and Nikita Khrushchev?
  • How was Euro-American Colonialism related to the Cold War? 
  • How was European Colonialism different from American Colonialism and how was this difference related to the Cold War? 
  • What was the reasoning behind the “Domino Theory”? How was it supported and how was it flawed? 
  • What was the non-alignment movement and how was Yugoslavia and Egypt involved? 
  • How did small powers use soft power to influence the major powers in the Cold War? 
  • How was Mao and China/Taiwan symbolic of autonomy from the Great Powers and how did it show the limits of this world position? 
  • How did East and West Germany and France display major power autonomy from the super powers?
  • How did demographic changes in Europe effect the course of the Cold War? 
  • Describe how Nixon and Mao are examples of autonomy shifting the balance in the Cold War? 
  • What was the Brezhnev Doctrine and how did it start the beginning of the end of the Cold War?

 

Week 2 :: The Cold War, Chapter 2: Lifeboats and Deathboats

Thought Questions

  • What purpose does the author have in creating the fictional narrative at the beginning of the chapter? 
  • Describe the circumstances under which Korea was divided and the start of the Korean War
  • How did views on nuclear weapons evolve at the beginning of the Cold War?
  • How did Harry Truman set precedents for policy regarding nuclear weapons?
  • Describe the development of Soviet nuclear weapons at the start of the Cold War?
  • What does Gaddis mean when he says “they were canaries in the most dangerous mineshaft ever”? 
  • How did Truman and Eisenhower approach the issue of nuclear weapons from differently?
  • How did Kennedy and Eisenhower approach the issue of nuclear weapons from differently? 
  • What was the “BRAVO” test and why is it significant? 
  • Describe the events around the Hungarian revolt in 1956 and the Suez Crisis?
  • What did Khrushchev mean when he said “Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze on Berlin.”?
  • What was the “Open Skies” proposal?
  • Describe the events around the downing of Francis Gary Powers U-2 plane 
  • What role did fear play in the opening of the Cold War? 

Articles and Primary Sources

 

Week 1 :: The Cold War, Chapter 1: The Return of Fear

Thought Questions

  • In what ways was the beginning of the Cold War a “return of fear” and how was this experienced differently in different nations and political groups? 
  • How did unintentional and intentional misunderstandings effect the beginning of the Cold War?
  • Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of the American alliance and Soviet bloc. 
  • What did the United States want at the end of World War II? What did the Soviet Union want? 
  • How did leadership changes effect the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War?
  • Describe the process of determining “Spheres of Interest” at the end of World War II
  • What was the process Germany went through from being an occupied nation to a West-East division?
  • What were the different “security dilemmas” at the beginning of the Cold War? 
  • Who is George F. Kennan and what was the “Long Telegram”? 
  • What was the Truman Doctrine and how did it effect security at the beginning of the Cold War?
  • What was the Marshall Plan and how did it effect the development of Europe after World War?
  • How did Yugoslavia break from the normal eastern European mold? 
  • What was the Berlin Blockade?
  • How did Korea come to be a divided nation and how did the Korean War begin? 

Articles and Primary Sources

 

American Empire by Joshua Freeman – Chapter 9: Apocalypse Now

Thought Questions

  • How did the war in southeast Asia accelerate the process of social change in the United States?
  • How did the North and South Vietnamese each differ from the United States on how they conceived the war and its purpose? 
  • How did the legacy of French colonialism impact the war in South and North Vietnam?
  • How did American policy towards Vietnam evolve from Eisenhower to Kennedy, then Johnson and finally Nixon? 
  • In what ways did American culture clash with Vietnamese culture and aspirations? 
  • How did the Anti-War movement effect domestic civilian opinion and veterans in or returning from Southeast Asia? 
  • How did age, class and education effect Americans views and actions toward authority in general and the war specifically?
  • Describe the events of the Tet offensive, its development and the impact it made on the war
  • How did political violence effect the United States during the war? 
  • Describe the atmosphere of the 1968 American elections

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “When the last American troops left Vietnam in early 1973, silence settled in. After years of bitter debate over the war, few people seemed to have much interest in coming to a reckoning with what had occurred.” 
  • “The bizarre juxtaposition of American consumer culture and gruesome warfare required the United States to send a flood of arms and material into Vietnam, overwhelming its infrastructure.” 
  • “After New York Times reporter David Halberstam wrote in August 1963 that in spite of nearly two years of American military buildup, “South Vietnam’s military situation in the vital Mekong Delta has deteriorated in the past year”” 
  • “Political murder seemed to be becoming normalized, eliminating key African American leaders and helping determine who sat in the White House.” 

Primary Sources

Articles

Optional Supplemental Viewing

Optional Supplemental Reading

American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading

 

American Empire by Joshua Freeman – Chapter 4: National Security State Nation 

Thought Questions

  • How did the Korean War effect the United States domestic and international policy? 
  • How did the national security state and the early Cold War effect the cultural and social life of Americans? 
  • How many Americans were killed in the Korean War? 
  • How many Americans were wounded in the Korean War?
  • How many Koreans were killed in the Korean War? 
  • How many Koreans were wounded in the Korean War?
  • How did decolonialism effect the international situation and how did Korea develop into North and South? 
  • How did misunderstanding between the United States, China and the Soviet Union effect the Korean War?
  • How did the Korean War unfold and resolve into stalemate? 
  • In what ways did the Korean War effect the balance of power between Congress and the President in the area of foreign and military affairs? 
  • How did the Korean War effect post war Japan and Germany? 
  • In what ways did the Cold War effect science, education and the economy in the United States? 
  • How did the anti-communistism and anti-LGBT forces unite in the 1950s?
  • In what ways did the government increase involvement the personal beliefs and lives of Americans in the 1950s because of the Cold War? 
  • Who was Alger Hiss? 
  • Who was Joe McCarthy and what was McCarthyism and Red Baiting? 

Optional Supplemental Viewing

Optional Supplemental Reading

Primary Sources

American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading

 

American Empire by Joshua Freeman – Chapter 2: Cold War 

Thought Questions

  • In comparison with the traditional European great powers what ways was the United States in a different international position at the end of World War II? 
  • How and why did the United States change its orientation towards the world after the war? 
  • In what ways did the United States use economic development to create stability at home and abroad? 
  • What international and domestic conditions existed that limited the effectiveness of American led post war international reforms? 
  • How was American Internationalism expressed differently in Europe, Japan and the developing world?
  • How was the new “American Internationalism” superficially different from “European Imperialism” and how did these differences shape misconceptions about post war American Imperialism? 
  • How did the post war American national security establishment grow out of World War II?
  • What is the concept of “Country Club Racism” and how did it effect post war American foreign policy? 
  • What international organizations were formed after World War II and how did their formation reflect American military and economic power? 
  • In what ways did the period after the end of World War II reflect the period after the end of World War I? What were the most significant differences? How did the Atlantic Charter reflect Wilson’s Fourteen Points?
  • What idea was the metaphor “Iron Curtain” intended to convey?
  • How did misconceptions in the United States and Soviet Union about each other contribute to the development of the Cold War? 
  • What was the Potsdam Declaration and how was it related to the beginning of the Cold War? 
  • Describe the development of the Western and Eastern division of Europe in the early Cold War 

Primary Sources

Articles

Optional Supplemental Viewing

Optional Supplemental Reading

American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading