How far was the Cuban missile crisis the most significant event in the years 1890-1980? If not what was?

Authors Avatar by daham45 (student)

The Cuban Missile Crisis (CMC) of 1962 was a 13 day confrontation between the two superpowers USA and USSR during the Cold War period. The crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war and as a result both superpowers tried to adopt the policy of peaceful coexistence to avoid nuclear war.  This resulting change in policy by both powers is seen as a key turning point in International Relations as it provided an alternative to nuclear war. Historian Larry Pullen stated that a thaw in the cold war came about as a result of the crisis….. and that both superpowers modified their policies so there was less chance of confrontation”. This statement by Pullen reinforces the idea that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a key turning point in International Relations because the change in policy was an attempt by the superpowers to limit the chance of nuclear confrontation. However this idea lacks support because proxy wars such as the Vietnam War still took place and both superpowers were still indirectly involved in these conflicts. In this essay there will be an attempt to look at examples of other key turning points within the period 1879-1980. These are the Reinsurance Treaty (RT) of 1887 the Nazi Soviet Pact (NSP) in 1939 and the Helsinki Accords (HA) of 1975.

The Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 was a secret alliance between Germany and Russia. The treaty resulted from the breakup of the second Dreikaiserbund in 1885. Within the period 1871-1890 Russia’s relations with Austria Hungary and Britain were deteriorating due to the unresolved conflict of the Balkans and Russia feared encirclement from these two enemies. The RT offered Russia an ally which had influence on both Britain and Austria-Hungary, reducing its fear of attack. It could be said that because of this outcome, the RT could be seen as a key turning point in international relations as Russia now had a key ally, who could later help to improve the hostile relations between Russia, Britain and Austria-Hungary. According to historian Patricia Weitsman “the treaty was providing a modicum of safety”. This statement by Weitsman reinforced the idea that the treaty was a key turning point in international relations because Russia’s fears of isolation were reduced and relations between Germany and Russia were strengthened. Because of this stability, creating in Russo-German relations as a result, the RT arguably paved the way for a new “rapprochement” policy between Austria-Hungary and Russia. Historian Hajo Holborn however disputes this that the treaty worsened instead of increased relations as it “encouraged Russian schemes for conquest of the straits” as Germany agreed to stay neutral if Russia intervened paving the way for another dispute over the Balkans to arise between Russia, Austria Hungary and Britain. This interpretation by Holborn is widely accepted by many historians and could also be seen as evidence to justify that the RT was the key turning point in international relations, since World War One was ignited by a murder in the Balkans which put Austria-Hungary and Russia on opposite sides of the conflict as they were allies of the two sides involved. Having weighed up the sources, it could be argued that the making of Reinsurance Treaty is more of a key turning point in international relations than the Cuban Missile Crisis within the period 1879-1980 because it led to a proliferation of conflict were as the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in a peaceful coexistence which arguably didn’t last very long.

Join now!

Another key turning point in international relations during the period 1879-1980 was the refusal of renewal of Reinsurance Treaty (RRT) in 1890 .When Wilhelm II took power he refused to renew the Reinsurance Treaty as he felt his personal relationship with the Tsar would be enough to guarantee further diplomatic ties with Russia. Once the Treaty had lapsed Russia allied with France so it wouldn’t be isolated and then encircled. Because of this many historians state the Kaisers refusal to renew the treaty indirectly led to World War One. And an alliance system was arguably set in motion because of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay