To what extent was the development of the post-Stalinist thaw in superpower relations between 1953 and 1962 the result of Khrushchevs policy of peaceful coexistence?

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To what extent was the development of the post-Stalinist thaw in superpower relations between 1953 and 1962 the result of Khrushchev’s policy of “peaceful coexistence”?

After 1953 there was a general improvement in Superpower relations and both sides were prepared, on occasions, to engage in constructive dialogue. There was greater stability compared to the period of 1945-52. The change in Soviet leadership produced a policy of “peaceful coexistence” and the US responded with the “New Look” and “Flexible Response” while trying to maintain US superiority. The results of these changes were to produce a thaw though the period, also seeing swift changes from conciliation with the Geneva Summit and Khrushchev’s visit to US, to confrontation: Berlin Crisis.

Peaceful-coexistence was the soviet belief that the fall of capitalism was inevitable but it did not mean that the fall would come by war but as a result of revolution. BY 1949 Europe was divided into two armed camps the NATO and Warsaw pact. With their positions secure, the superpowers were more willing to attempt negotiation (that also resulted in thaw). The development of nuclear capability by both sides made the cold war very dangerous; by 1955 both sides had the Hydrogen Bomb. Money was required to stay ahead in the arms race that seriously unbalanced the USSR’s economy were about 33% of the economy was diverted to military expenditure. Therefore money was diverted from social reform and more productive sectors of the economy in both the US and the USSR. All this meant that both sides were well aware of the new dangers and anxious to explore ways to contain military expenditure.

Stalin’s death led to a collective leadership and a struggle for power between Beria, Malenkov and Khrushchev. Peaceful Coexistence was developed out of this leadership contest as the contenders were keen to forge new policies towards the west. Beria took the initiative and offered the West a proposal of reunified neutral Germany. This alarmed East Germany as it look as if the USSR was about to abandon the East German government to capitalism. Ulbright (East German President) had already started a programme of Soviet-style industrialization which involved longer working hours and higher prices. In June 1953 there was a workers uprising in East Berlin which spread across the country. Soviet troops were used to restore order with 25,000 arrest 400 executions. These events delivered a blow to Beria’s foreign policy initiative and undermined his attempts to gain control of the soviet leadership.

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Malenkov then seized the initiative with his “New Course”. Malenkov believed that war between capitalism and communism was no longer inevitable and that resources could be redirected away from arms and heavy industry towards consumer goods and rising living standards. The new course was criticized by Khrushchev during his struggle for power. A year later Malenkov removed his position of PM, Khrushchev was to adopt and develop the New Course into a policy of Peaceful Coexistence and De-Stalinization.

Stalin’s death provided the opportunity for a rethink of US foreign policy. This was now the responsibility of Eisenhower and his secretary ...

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