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A country can, for instance, convince its opponents that an attack is so unlikely to succeed that it is not even worth the attempt: deterrence through denial. Or a country may convince its opponents that defeating it would be so costly as to be a victory in name only: deterrence through punishment. In either case, a rational adversary will decide to stay put. Through the threat of denial or punishment, deterrence has helped keep the peace among major powers for over seven decades. Even 30 years after the end of the Cold War, it remains at the heart of U. By now, that declaration has been made so many times, over so many decades, that it has become an article of faith.

Like several of its recent predecessors, the Trump administration has. This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more. Subscribe to our summer-only newsletter to get great reads in your inbox once a week during July and August. Subscribe Magazine Newsletter. Login Sign up Search. The Russians were aware that President Kennedy was scheduled to address the American people at 5pm that day. Fearing that it could be an announcement of war Kruschev decided to agree to the terms and rushed a response to reach the President before 5pm.

The crisis was over. The Russians duly removed their bases from Cuba and as agreed US missiles were quietly removed from Turkey some months later. In the summer of , negotiations on a treaty to ban above ground nuclear testing dominated the political world. The treaty involved seventeen countries, but the two main players were the United States and the Soviet Union.

Throughout the s, with the megaton load of nuclear bombs growing, nuclear fallout from tests had become a health hazard, and by the s, it was enough to worry scientists. Kennedy, in particular, was pushing for a ban and was optimistic about succeeding. It never happened.

The result of the Cuban Missile Crisis was an increasing buildup of nuclear weapons that continued until the end of the Cold War. LeMay did not see any military advantage for the U. He doubted the countries would come to an agreement and felt vindicated when the talks deadlocked by the end of the summer.

The agreement was ultimately signed the following spring, though, and remains one of the crowning achievements of the Kennedy Administration. Completely unnoticed that summer was the sailing of Soviet cargo ships bound for Cuba. With the U. But these particular ships were part of a larger military endeavor that would bring the two powers to the most frightening standoff of the Cold War.

Sailing under false manifest, these cargo ships were secretly bringing Soviet-made, medium range ballistic missiles to be deployed in Cuba. Once operational, these highly accurate missiles would be capable of striking as far north as Washington, D. An army of over 40, technicians sailed as well.

The Military as Peacemakers and Enforcers: Military Operations Other Than War in the 1990s

Because the Soviets did not want their plan to be detected by American surveillance planes, the human cargo was forced to stay beneath the deck during the heat of the day. They were allowed to come topside only at night, and for a short time. The ocean crossing, which lasted over a month, was horrendous for the Soviet advisers. The first unmistakable evidence of the Soviet missiles came from a U-2 reconnaissance flight over the island on October 14, , that showed the first of twenty-four launching pads being constructed to accommodate forty-two R medium range missiles that had the potential to deliver forty-five nuclear warheads almost anywhere in the eastern half of the United States.

Kennedy suddenly saw that he had been deceived by Krushchev and convened a war cabinet called ExCom Executive Committee of the National Security Council , which included the Secretaries of State and Defense Rusk and McNamara , as well as his closest advisers. At the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs began planning for an immediate air assault, followed by a full invasion. Kennedy wanted everything done secretly. He had been caught short, but he did not want the Russians to know that he knew their plan until he had decided his own response and could announce it to the world.

Kennedy shared his decision to pursue negotiation and a naval blockade of Cuba while keeping the option of an all-out invasion on the table with the Joint Chiefs on Friday, October Of all the Chiefs, Kennedy and his team saw LeMay as the most intractable. But that impression may have come from his demeanor, his candor, and perhaps his facial expressions, since he was not the most belligerent of the Chiefs.

Shoup was crude and angry at times. LeMay differed from Kennedy and McNamara on the basic concept of nuclear weapons. Back on Tinian, LeMay thought the use of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, although certainly larger than all other weapons used, were really not all that different from other bombs.

The Decline of Deterrence

He based this on the fact that many more people were killed in his first incendiary raid on Tokyo five months earlier than with either atomic bomb. But McNamara and Kennedy realized that there was a world of difference between two bombs in the hands of one nation in and the growing arsenals of several nations in Upon entering office and taking responsibility for the nuclear decision during the most dangerous period of the Cold War, Kennedy came to loathe the destructive possibilities of this type of warfare. McNamara would sway both ways during the Cuban Missile Crisis, making sure that the military option was always there and available, but also trying to help the President find a negotiated way out.

His proportional response strategy that would come into play in Vietnam in the Johnson Administration three years later was born in the reality of the dangers that came out of the Cuban crisis.


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Finally, Nikita Krushchev, who created the crisis, brought it to an end by backing down and agreeing to remove the weapons. As a political officer in the Red Army during the worst of World War II, at the siege of Stalingrad, the Soviet leader understood what could happen if things got out of hand. In an effort to help him save face, Kennedy made it clear to everyone around him that there would be no gloating over this victory. Castro, on the other hand was quite different in his response. There was also a feeling of letdown among the Joint Chiefs. They thought the U.

Operations Other Than War: Implications for the U.S. Army | RAND

They also did not trust the Russians to stand by their promise to dismantle and take home all the missiles. The Soviets had a long track record of breaking most of their previous agreements. LeMay considered the final negotiated settlement the greatest appeasement since Munich. It was a hollow gesture as they were scheduled to be removed already, but it allowed Krushchev to save face internationally.

Castro continued to be a thorn in the side of the United States. But ultimately, he was mostly inconsequential. Despite his Quaker roots, Nixon had a reputation as a staunch anticommunist. This plan was part of his broader theory that came to be known as the Nixon Doctrine. Nixon and Henry Kissinger first as national security adviser and then secretary of state agreed on the need to accept the world as it was—conflicted and competitive— and to make the most of it. Containing communism was no longer U. In a multipolar world—comprising the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Europe, and Japan—America could work even with communist countries as long as they promoted global stability, the new core of U.

Gone was the Truman-Eisenhower-Kennedy understanding that a loss of freedom anywhere was a loss of freedom everywhere. Nixon was most lucid about the Nixon Doctrine in his June commencement speech at the U. Naval Academy. He suggested that U. But the president spent much of his speech on what he really thought was important: making his kind of realism the basis for American foreign policy in general and Cold War policy in particular.

Because there were limits to what America could achieve and because U. The Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy team went to work, beginning with Vietnam. In four years, the Nixon administration reduced American forces in Vietnam from , to twenty-four thousand. Spending dropped from twenty-five billion dollars a year to less than three billion. In , the president abolished the draft, eliminating a primary issue of the anti-war protestors. At the same time, he kept up the American bombing in North Vietnam and added targets in Cambodia and Laos that were being used by Vietcong forces as sanctuaries, while seeking a negotiated end to the war.

An impatient Congress and public pressed the administration for swifter results and accurate accounts of the war. President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had been guilty of making egregiously false claims about gains and losses in Vietnam. Escalation of the war produced widespread student protests, including a tragic confrontation at Kent State University, where four students were killed by inexperienced members of the Ohio National Guard.

On June 24, the Senate decisively repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which had first authorized the use of U. But the Nixon Doctrine also contained elements of force. Nixon tried to exploit the open differences between the Soviet Union and Communist China, reflected in the armed clashes in March along the Sino-Soviet border. Nixon warned the Kremlin secretly that the United States would not take lightly any Soviet attack on China.

It hardly mattered that the United States could maintain aircraft carriers in South Vietnamese waters and use planes based in Taiwan and Thailand if Hanoi broke the accords. The North Vietnamese began violating the peace treaty as soon as it was signed, moving men and equipment into South Vietnam to rebuild their almost decimated forces.

The only tangible result was that in August an angry Congress cut off the funds for such bombing. In November , it passed a War Powers Resolution requiring the president to inform Congress within forty-eight hours of any overseas deployment of U. It is possible, although doubtful, that Nixon and Kissinger might have come up with a scheme to extend aid to the beleaguered South Vietnamese, but the Watergate scandal engulfed the Nixon White House, ending the reign of the Nixon Doctrine.

He acknowledged his personal defeat in August , resigning as president—the first president in U. In January North Vietnam launched a general invasion, and one million refugees fled from central South Vietnam toward Saigon. The new president, Gerald R. Ten days later, North Vietnamese forces took Saigon, and Marine helicopters lifted American officials and a few Vietnamese allies from the rooftop of the U. South Vietnam was no more. But the dominoes had only begun to fall. Between April and the beginning of , the Marxist-Leninists ruling Cambodia killed an estimated 1.

Widespread atrocities also took place in Laos, which remains under communist rule to this day. The Arab-Israeli war the Yom Kippur War , in which the Soviet Union openly supported Syria and Egypt with a massive sea and air lift of arms and supplies, also set back detente. When the Israelis turned the tide and came close to destroying Egyptian forces along the Suez Canal, Brezhnev threatened to intervene. Nixon put the U. The Carter Foreign Policy has been summarized by some analysts as good intentions gone wrong.

So he set about eliminating the causes of conflict. He negotiated a treaty turning over the Panama Canal to Panamanian control by the end of the century. He cut off U. As part of its human rights campaign, the Carter administration advised the Iranian military not to suppress accelerating pro-Islamic demonstrations and riots.

George HW Bush and the End of the Cold War: Crash Course US History #44

The shah of Iran, the chief U. Carter made the mistake of admitting publicly that he felt the same helplessness that a powerful person feels when his child is kidnapped. The renowned scholar of foreign affairs Jeane Kirkpatrick later the U. The foreign policy of the Carter administration failed not for lack of good intentions but for lack of realism about the nature of traditional versus revolutionary autocracies and the relation of each to the American national interest.

They were an historic achievement but had little impact on the Cold War. Ronald Reagan would permanently change the global picture, which looked bleak when he took office in From martial law in Poland imposed by the communist regime and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and communist rule in Mozambique and Angola, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev claimed victories for Marxism-Leninism.

Within the free world, the Atlantic alliance was strained. To counter the deployment in the late s of Soviet SS intermediate-range nuclear missiles aimed at major European cities, NATO proposed a dual-track approach—negotiations to remove the missiles and the deployment of U. Pershing II and cruise missiles aimed at Soviet cities. Reagan put the deployment of the Euromissiles at the center of his new foreign policy. Unlike the foreign policy realists who viewed all regimes through the same lens, Reagan placed regime differences at the heart of his understanding of the Cold War.

With his modest Illinois roots and biblical Christian faith learned from his mother, he emerged as a screen star and a committed anticommunist, fighting communist efforts to take over the Hollywood trade unions in the postwar period. Poor eyesight kept him stateside with the army during World War II, but his varied experiences contributed to his appreciation of the need for military strength.

Two terms as a Republican governor of California confirmed his conservative, pro-freedom political views. Reagan considered communism to be a disease and regarded the Soviet government as illegitimate. Like Truman, he believed Soviet foreign policy to be offensive by its very nature, and he saw the world as engaged in an ideological struggle between communism and liberal democracy. But unlike Truman, he sought in the circumstances of the s not merely to contain the USSR but to defeat it. Reagan had endorsed the strategy and insights of NSC 68 shortly after that key document of the Truman administration was declassified and published in , devoting several of his radio commentaries to it.

Also in the s, he called for reductions, not limitations, in U. He identified as central weaknesses of the Soviet bloc the denial of religious freedom and the inability to provide consumer goods. In a radio commentary, Reagan remarked that the pope, in his final public appearance, had invited the people to bring forward several large crosses for his blessing. Suddenly there was movement among the multitude of young people before him. Try to make a Polish joke out of that. For Reagan, as for Truman, the gravest threat to the United States and the free world came from the Soviet Union, whose continuing imperialist designs on every continent demanded a new Cold War strategy.

It approved U. To his credit, President Carter had begun helping the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan during his final months in office. But a key Reagan decision was to supply Stinger ground-to-air missiles, which the mujahideen promptly used to shoot down the Soviet helicopters that had kept them on the defensive for years. In Latin America, the Sandinistas were not only establishing a Leninist state in Nicaragua but supporting communist guerrillas in El Salvador and elsewhere. The Reagan administration directed the CIA to form an antiSandinista movement—the Contras—and asked Congress to approve funds for them.

Reagan never contemplated sending U. He believed that with sufficient military support and firm diplomatic negotiation, Nicaraguans could rid themselves of the Marxist regime. He was proved correct by the results of the democratic elections of February , when the anti-Sandinista Violeta Chamorro decisively defeated the Sandinista commandante Daniel Ortega for president. With people, funds, and weapons, the Reagan Doctrine pushed containment to its logical conclusion by helping those who wanted to win their freedom.

After months of strikes, roundtable talks began in Poland between leaders of the still-outlawed Solidarity union and the communist government. What would follow was a domino-like collapse of socialism throughout Eastern Europe and, eventually, Russia itself. The pivotal year of was later dubbed the Year of Miracles. Thousands did. In October hundreds of thousands of people began demonstrating every Monday evening in East Germany, leading to the forced resignation of Communist Party boss Erich Honecker, who had boasted in January that the Berlin Wall would stand for another hundred years.

On November 9, , a tidal wave of East Germans poured across the West Berlin border when travel restrictions were lifted, and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. The waves of liberty, however, did not reach the shores of China. In the spring of , pro-democracy Chinese students, inspired in part by the events in Eastern Europe, were demonstrating by the many thousands in Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing. They underestimated the willingness of Deng Xiaoping and other communist leaders to use maximum force to eliminate any threat to their political control.

The Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward were among the mistakes, but among the things Mao had done right were making China once again a great power, maintaining the political monopoly of the Communist Party, and opening relations with the United States as a counterweight to the Soviet Union. The most important of these was the unchallenged political authority of the Party. At the start of the year, the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern and Central Europe seemed secure, but as we have seen, radical change was sweeping across the region. In October, the spokesman for the Soviet foreign ministry was asked what remained of the Brezhnev Doctrine.

Hungary and Poland are doing it their way. We now have the Sinatra Doctrine. It also ignited a nationalist fervor within the numerous non-Russian peoples of the Soviet Union that had long been suppressed. Bush facilitated Soviet acceptance of the controversial plan Politburo hard-liners constantly referred to the twenty million Russians who had died at German hands in World War II with a grain and trade agreement and a commitment to speed up arms control negotiations.

In turn, the West German government made substantial economic concessions of many billions of dollars to the Soviets. In amazingly short order, and due in large part to the skillful diplomacy of the United States, the Treaty on German Unity was signed by representatives of East and West Germany on August 31, , and approved by both legislatures the following month. Final approval was given by the four Allied powers on October 2. The fall of the Soviet Union was a decades-in-the-making outcome of Cold War politics, but it happened quite suddenly in the late 80s and early 90s, primarily at the level of U.

Even then the end was not clear. The second summit was in May in Washington, D. Although a virtual pariah at home, the Soviet leader was greeted by large, friendly American crowds. Bush tried to help, granting most-favored-nation trading status to the Soviet Union. Gorbachev appealed to American businessmen to start new enterprises in the USSR, but what could Soviet citizens afford to buy? In Moscow the bread lines stretched around the block. The shrinking Soviet Union received another major blow when the biggest republic, Russia, elected its own president, Boris Yeltsin.

For the remaining Stalinists in the Politburo, this was the final unacceptable act.

The U.S. Air Force and Operations Other Than War

They placed Gorbachev under house arrest while he was vacationing in the Crimea, proclaiming a state of emergency and themselves the new leaders of the Soviet Union. They called in tanks and troops from outlying areas and ordered them to surround the Russian Parliament, where Yeltsin had his office. Some eight decades earlier, Lenin had stood on a tank to announce the coming of Soviet communism.

The pictures convinced President Bush on vacation in Maine and other Western leaders to condemn the coup and praise Yeltsin and other resistance leaders. When Gorbachev returned to Moscow, he found that Boris Yeltsin was in charge. Most of the organs of power of the Soviet Union had effectively ceased to exist or had been transferred to the Russian government.

He was ignored. The people clearly wanted an end to the party and him. Down with Socialism and the fascist Red Empire. A supremely confident Yeltsin banned the Communist Party and transferred all Soviet agencies to the control of the Russian republic.

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The Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia declared their independence. As the historian William H. President Bush at last accepted the inevitable—the unraveling of the Soviet Union. As a consequence of Soviet collapse, we live in a new world. We must take advantage of this new Russian Revolution. President Bush quickly sought to make Yeltsin an ally, beginning with the coalition he formed to conduct the Gulf War.

A despondent Gorbachev, not quite sure why it had all happened so quickly, officially resigned as president of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day —seventy-four years after the Bolshevik Revolution. After just six years, the unelected president of a nonexistent country stepped down, still in denial. That night, the hammer and sickle came down from atop the Kremlin, replaced by the blue, white, and red flag of Russia.

When Gorbachev reached for the pen to sign the document officially terminating the USSR, he discovered it had no ink. He had to borrow a pen from the CNN television crew covering the event. It was a fitting end for someone who was never a leader like Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan, who had clear goals and the strategies to reach them. Gorbachev experimented, wavered, and at last wearily accepted the dissolution of one of the bloodiest regimes in history.

He deserves credit if not the Nobel Peace Prize for recognizing that brute force would not save socialism in the Soviet Union or its satellites or prevent the fall of the Soviet Union. You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left. Scott Michael Rank, Ph.