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Realism: The Cold War

by: Kerrigan Unter

Realism: The Cold War PSC 1003

Kerrigan Unter
GPA 3.0
Introduction to International Politics
Olson, L

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Introduction to International Politics
Olson, L
Class Notes
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kerrigan Unter on Monday October 19, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PSC 1003 at George Washington University taught by Olson, L in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 51 views. For similar materials see Introduction to International Politics in Political Science at George Washington University.

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Date Created: 10/19/15
PSC 1003 Realism The Cold War Bipolar Systems for offensive realists who assume states will seek to maximize power bipolar systems are the most stable two superpowers who are clearly enemies compete for power in an international system where the primary national security threat some from the other super power a simpler system where interests are clearer and where the superpowers are independent George Kennan The Long Telegram In analyzing the Soviet threat after WWII Kennan argued that communisms as an ideology was irrelevant 0 As the two most powerful states in the system after WWII con ict between the US and the USSR was inevitable rather than being motivated by communism the Soviets were acting according to their national security interests defined by a history of insecurity o Invaded multiple times by the West 0 USSR was weaker than the US at the end of WWII based on these factors the Soviets would seek to hold onto Eastern Europe as a buffer zone would seek to undermine the US relationship with its Western European allies by supporting Communist Parties in the West would seek to undermine the US in the UN and would seek to expand its in uence into the Third World Soviet security was dependent on American weakness For Kennan the best way to in uence Soviet behavior was through hard power Germany after World War II the role of Germany in the postwar settlement would be a critical issue for both the US and the Soviets a united Germany on either side would create a power imbalance allowing one side to gain more relative to the other the US and the USSR balanced power by splitting Germany 0 West Germany was in the American sphere of in uence and quickly incorporate into Western alliance system 0 East Germany became part of the Soviet sphere of in uence Berlin was also divided and became a ash point for con ict throughout the early days of the Cold War Containment advocated by Kennan who stated the US should allow the Soviets to retain control of its post war gains in Eastern Europe but prevent Soviet expansion beyond those gains 0 Kennan advocated strongpoint deterrence insuring that the Soviets did not expand into Western Europe 0 Other policymakers advocated perimeter deterrence prevent Soviet expansion anywhere in the world 0 The Truman Doctrine a statement that the US would engage in perimeter deterrence coming to the aid of free peoples anywhere in the world containment using the strategy of perimeter deterrence would become the primary US respone to the Soviet action Rollback an early more aggressive alternative to the containment strategy advocated by the US officials like John Foster Dulles rejected postwar Soviet gains and argued that the US had to push the Soviets out of Eastern Europe Once the Soviets developed nuclear weapons this was viewed as too risky a strategy NATO NATO would be created in 1949 as a defensive alliance where each member would agree to come to the aid of any member attacked by the USSR 0 In reality this was a guarantee by the US that it would defend Europe against a Soviet invasion No Western European state could compete with American power so they turned to bandwagoning and buckpassing o In a bipolar system secondary powers bandwagon behind the superpower making alliances much more permanent than in a multipower system o By buckpassing secondary powers allow the superpower to provide security It is a risky strategy but it allows the secondary power to free up resources that can be devoted to other interests most Western European states were fine with this arrangement because they benefitted from the US security umbrella but Chrales DeGualle in France always rejected it and sought to pull Europe away from the US in uence Deterrence in a bipolar system the best way to confront your enemy is through deterrence deterrence requires a military buildup to increase hard power the idea is to convince your enemy assumed to be a rational actor that the cost of going to war will outweigh the benefits in essence you must convince your enemy that you can insure a war will be so destructive that the cost will be too high Nuclear Deterrence with the development of nuclear weapons the cost of con ict becomes prohibitive such that the cost of war will always outweigh the benefits a stable systems of mutual deterrence requires secondstrike capability Each side must possess nuclear weapons and possess a sufficient number such that one state cannot completely wipe out the nuclear arsenal of the other with a firststrike also hinges on the credibility of threat For deterrence to work in general each side must be able to demonstrate that it will resort to war if necessary For a system of mutual nuclear deterrence to work each side must also demonstrate a willingness to use nuclear weapons Crisis and Escalation Dominance throughout the Cold War the US and the USSR would enter into crisis situations in each crisis the credibility of threat is being tested through what is in essence a game of chicken During the crisis each side will incrementally increase the level of threat up until the point where one side is given the choice of an unacceptable escalation the use of nuclear weapons 0 At this point a rational actor will back down and withdraw o For the winner this represents a relative gain and a demonstration of the Victor s credibility both to the enemy and the winner s allies Crises during the Cold War on several occasions from the end of WWII the US and USSR would directly confront one another initiating a game of escalation dominance the first challenge would be when the Soviets blockaded Berlin in 1948 the US responds with the Berlin airlift several other direct confrontations between the US and the USSR would center on Berlin including the Berlin Crisis in 1961 where Khrushchev tested the resolve of Kennedy Kennedy would back down and the Berlin Wall would be built The Cuban Missile Crisis the most famous confrontation between the US and the Soviets during the Cold War in 1962 for realists the crisis represents a classic case of escalation dominance in response to American mediumrange missiles in Turkey the Soviets placed missiles in Cuba when the us discovered this the US responded by demanding their withdrawal and initiating a naval quarantine of Cuba promising to search and turn back any ship carrying missiles or other military resources to Cuba during the Crisis the US stopped and searched several ships and Soviet ships ran the blockade leading the US to order American ships to re on any other ship that did this Resolution of the Crisis with the eventual resolution of the crisis Khrushchev publicly disassembled and removed the missiles and the US pledged publicly that it would not invade Cuba without a direct provocation Secretly the US removed the missiles from Turkey which the American military considered obsolete for realists the represents a victory for the US and a relative gain The Soviets lose hard power advantage in return for a public proclamation by the US and the US loss of missiles that were no longer needed domestically in the Soviet Union the resolution of the crisis in the American s favor would lead to Khrushchev s ouster Proxy Wars based on the Truman Doctrine throughout the Cold War the US gave aid to anticommuinst states and forces throughout the world in an attempt to prevent the spread of Soviet in uence con ict would be high in the newly decolonized world with forces supported by the superpowers fighting for power in some instances a superpower would be directly involved 0 The US in the Vietnam War 0 The USSR in Afghanistan In both cases both the US and the USSR would suffer heavily as a result of their intervention De tente and the 1970 s for liberals detente is a significant period as it led to an easing of tensions between the US and the USSR for realists detente re ects American weakness brought on the internal economic problems exacerbated by the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 however the USSR was also weak at this time so the US The End of the Cold War with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 tensions would rise again as Reagan sought to take a much more confrontational position visavis the USSR Reagan increased military spending responded to the Soviet placement of SS20 missiles in Eastern Europe by sending Minuteman missiles to Western Europe funded research for the Strategic Defense Initiative SDI also known as Star Wars The Collapse of the Soviet Union for realists the end of the Cold War was a result of the inability of the USSR to keep up with the American military buildup because the security dilemma is in effect any increase in hard power by the US had to be met by the Soviets however the Soviet economy was weak and overtime along with the heavy losses the USSR was suffering in Afghanistan the Soviet Union were outspent Gorbachev s policies of perestroika could not resolve the problems of the Soviet economy and eventually Soviet control over Easter Europe would be unsustainable Reagan Gorbachev and the Anarchic International System for some theorists the structural constraints of the state would impose serious constrains on the ability of leaders to act Reagan personally believed that nuclear deterrence was unsustainable and would eventually lead to war 0 In negotiations with Gorbachev he advanced the idea of the zerooption the total abolition of nuclear weapons Gorbachev was amenable to this idea but the security dilemma and the constraints of the self help system made achieving the goal impossible SDI became the sticking point While it was purely theoretical American technological superiority led the USSR to believe that US could build it giving the US effective firststrike capability Reagan refused to renounce the program even offering it to the USSR once it was developed However since states must respond to the capabilities of other states the USSR did not agree and the zerooption was removed from the negotiating table


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