How far did peaceful coexistence ease Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the USA in the years 195361?

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How far did ‘peaceful coexistence’ ease Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the USA in the years 1953–61?

      Peaceful Coexistence was the term given to the new foreign policy adopted by the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death in 1953. Lavereti Beria, the first member of the Politburo to assume leadership after Stalin’s death did not give this name to his new approach immediately, but he still saw that negotiation and conciliation with the West was the best way for the Soviet Union to make progress without having to spend too much money on arms production. But it was Malenkov, who took over leadership after Beria, that introduced the term Peaceful Coexistence when he introduced his New Course which, like Beria, advocated for improved relations with the West as confrontation not longer seemed inevitable. And when Nikita Khrushchev outmanoeuvred Malenkov and assumed leadership, he made Peaceful Coexistence a fully fledged foreign policy approach to relations with the West. This new foreign policy helped ease tensions between the USSR and the West, but it cannot be seen as the only factor that helped produce what historians called the Thaw in superpower relations. Other factors include the change in leadership in America, namely the foreign policy adopted by Dwight Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles which was called the ‘New Course’, and successively the ‘Flexible Response’ foreign policy advocated by President Kennedy when he became president in 1960. In addition, there were the various summits attended by these leaders, which also lead to an improvement in relations between the superpowers. But the Soviet actions in Hungary and Berlin showed the West that despite the new foreign policy, the Soviets would allow their influence in the communist bloc to be undermined. The extent that Peaceful Coexistence had on easing superpower relations may be seen as follows.

    Firstly, the policy of ‘Peaceful Coexistence’ could not be ushered in were it not for the death of Stalin in 1953. To the West, Stalin’s paranoia and shrewd nature is what orthodox historians cite as the reason that relations between the superpowers could not improve after the end of WW2. Stalin’s death therefore gave the West some hope that the new Soviet leadership may be more conciliatory and trustworthy than Stalin had been, and these hopes were made true by the new policy of ‘Peaceful Coexistence’. As mentioned above, this policy was first mentioned by Malenkov and then put into action by Khrushchev when he assumed leadership of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev saw that confrontation with the West was no longer necessary, and that continued aggression would be costly for the Soviet Union. But in reality, the Soviets saw that because the downfall of capitalism was imminent, they did not have to make this downfall happen rapidly, as it would come on its own; therefore, with this notion in mind, the Soviets saw negotiation and conciliation where necessary as a better way to deal with the West than with aggression. This is perhaps why the Soviet Union finally pushed Kim Il Sung, the North Korean leader, to agree to a ceasefire in 1953, one that had been called for by the West since 1951. And to follow this conciliation was the actions of the Soviets regarding Austria and Finland, which further showed the West that the Soviets were ready to improve relations as per their new foreign policy.

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    Like Germany and Berlin, after WW2 Austria was divided into four zones of occupation between the Allies(USA, Britain, France and the USSR). But by 1953, Khrushchev felt that this division was no longer necessary, and he called for a reunified, neutral Austria. The Austrian State Treaty made this reunification a reality, and after it was signed, all the Allied soldiers left the country. Another country that had been suffering from post war agreements was Finland, which had been under Nazi control during WW2. After an armistice was signed in Paris in 1947, it was agreed that Finland ...

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