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The Oscillation of Tensions Between the USSR and USA 1968-1991

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Abraham Lucey

on 28 May 2010

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Transcript of The Oscillation of Tensions Between the USSR and USA 1968-1991

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October 18, 1968 Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia increased tensions because it showed that Khrushchev would not hesitate to use full soviet might to maintain control of his satellite states. This showed the United States, NATO, and the West as a unit that the USSR did not desire anything less than it did under Stalin. The agression showed by Khrushchev in his actions slowed the potential decrease in tensions because it neutralized the possibility of diplomatic solutions to strenuous situations President Nixon Extends Vietnam War into Cambodia 1970 This event showed that instead of a Détente with the USSR the US was fully ready to engage in a proxy war with Vietnam, and extend the war to neighboring countries in order to win. With this even the US proclaims that it will not follow the Détente style peaceful diplomacy, but will in fact escalate wars with the USSR's dependents in order to preserve democracy. This was a spike in tensions and is one of the points of escalation during the Cold War. 1972 S.A.L.T. 1 SALT refers to Strategic Arms Limitation Talks which was a series of bilateral agreements between the USSR and the USA involving nuclear armament control. In SALT I, there was a large emphasis on freezing the number of ballistic missiles in both these countries. Thus both countries came to an agreement that no country could make new missiles, but could replace their old ones. This ultimately made drastically eased the tensions between the USSR and USA as there was no longer a looming threat that either of these countries would overwhelm the other with the sheer number of missiles in their possession. This also showed that there was a diplomatic option available between these two countries. 1972: Yom Kippur War: This 20 day battle drastically increased tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. In this war, Israel who was backed by the U.S. was attacked by a coalition of Arab countries including Egypt and Syria who were backed by the U.S.S.R. This war ultimately showed that even with peace talks over nuclear weapons, wars would still occur in which these two superpowers backed opposite sides. It also showed that neither of these superpowers was willing to back down and not be involved in this war, it was deemed absolutely necessary to maintain allies that shared similar ideas and massive military hardware and monetary funds were provided to both sides. This could be considered as another proxy war between the U.S.S.R and the U.S. 1975: End of the Vietnam War 1977: S.A.L.T. II SALT II was a series of negotiations between Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev. Unlike its predecessor, SALT II actually focused on the reduction of nuclear arsenals rather than maintaining a set amount of these weapons. With the introduction of new delivery technologies that could drop large payloads of thermonuclear warheads, both countries felt greatly threatened by the other. Thus Brezhnev and Carter agreed to ban new missile programs which would stop both these countries from developing even further technologies regarding missiles. However, although these negotiations started off in the right direction and had the signatures of Carter and Brezhnev, the United States Senate never truly ratified the treaty because of Soviet military action in Afghanistan. Thus, although the treaty never truly went into affect, it showed that Russia and the US could collaborate and could potentially ease the tension between the two of them. 1979: Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan Perestroika literally means restructuring which refers to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system. Ultimately this would incorporate democratic ideals into the government, as the introduction of multicandidate elections for the local Communist Party started to occur in the same year. Not only were multicandidate elections introduced, but Perestroika also gave enterprises the freedom to sell their product as they saw fit, which included aspects such as price and supply and demand, after they had fulfilled the state’s own orders of goods. This later helped incorporated the Law on Cooperatvies, which allowed private ownership of businesses. This ultimately can be seen to have eased tensions, because as Russia slowly started to ease away from their command economy and over to the capitalist system, it showed that the communist system was not working, and that Russia was not as threatening as it once was. 1987: Gorbachev introduces perestroika reform in the USSR: 1988: Gorbachev introduces glasnost reform in the USSR Like Perestroika, Glasnost was a fundamentally new idea to the USSR, as instead of focusing on the government controlling the people; it ultimately gave the Russian people new freedoms. Among these freedoms, the most important can be seen as free speech, and less censorship being used by the government. This ultimately allowed the media to expose severe problems in the USSR, such as food shortages, increasing alcoholism, and poor housing. Ultimately, the USSR slowly began to fall apart as this new freedom to information swayed the Russian people to vote against Russians constituent republics. Like Perestroika, Glasnost also eased tensions, as once again, Gorbachev’s reforms weakened USSR drastically. The end of the Vietnam war resulted in a mild decrease in tension between the USSR and USA. The direct proxy war had ended, however the descalation of tensions was marred by the fact that the Soviets were considered by many to be a main reason for the North Vietnamese victory. As with many main events during the Cold War, the main action had ended but the action left the populace of the loser jaded and slowed diplomacy. 1989: Berlin Wall Falls The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan can be considered one of the greatest proxy wars between the two superpowers.The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in order to support a fledgling communist movement and coup. The United States along with its allies supported the mujahadeen and the government that was in place prior to the Soviet invasion. This was a great escalation of tension between the two superpowers as the United States was officially assisting in the repulsion of the army of the USSR. The Soviets were repulsed and the embarassment that resulted was considered the sole fault of the United States and its allies by the Soviet government. The United States president Ronald Reagan issued his famous proclamation"Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!" on June 12, 1987. The wall was officially torn down beginning on November 9th 1989. It represented the ultimate thawing of relations between East Germany and West Germany, and on a grater scale the thawing of the East-West/Soviet-American relations as a whole. Initially 10 checkpoints were opened in broken down sections of the wall between the two Germanys, with more opened as more sections of the wall were torn down. The tearing down of the Berlin wall marked the end of the deliniation between the halves of Europe.
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