Foreign Policy

Nikita Khrushchev
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Born in Ukraine on the 17 April,1894. He was the son of a miner, part of the working class. At the age of 15 he worked as a pipe fitter, because of this job he didn’t have participate in WWI. He joined the worker’s struggle before the revolution and later the Bolsheviks(communist party). He worked in the Red army and fought against Poland. Later because of been member of the red army he became secretary of the soviet school’s communist party. Khrushchev, rapidly rose in the communist party, and in 1935 became the first secretary of Moscow.
He managed several programs in the agriculture sector. The Virgin Lands Project, a program that tried to develop agriculture in places like Siberia and Kazakhstan where it was hard to cultivate. However, he was not successful when he tried to collectivize Ukraine,as a result Stalin fired him, but he was later called in again. He controlled the local leaders given the fact that he was the leader of the Moscow city party. This control was what allowed him to get the power in the party. In 1955, Khrushchev had full the total control in the USSR.
As a leader of the communist party many things changed. He released many political prisoners , changed the secret police from NKVD to KGB the changed was done to decrease the secret police power.

Khrushchev had a policy of destalinization which let him to policies with the satellites estates and the democratic nations of detente and peaceful coexistence. Khrushchev was going to change those old policies that created brutal violence. At the beginning he tried to negotiate with those anti-communist movement that were present in some satellite states. In 1956 Khrushchev found a peaceful solution to the crisis in Poland. Which showed that the the USSR had a new foreign policy. However this was not the case of Hungary in 1956 the same year that the Polish crisis the USSR sent the army to crush the revolution. Therefore, the USSR showed the use of brutal violence.

His policies and actions were not what the communist party was used to, as a result in 1964 he was “asked” to resigned. In 1971 he died.
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** pa/ei/pix/b/eur/79059.htm** Nikita-Khrushchev-1960

Policy of Peaceful Coexistence

"You do not like Communism. We do not like capitalism. There is only one way out – peaceful co-existence."
~ Khrushchev speaking on a visit to Britain in 1956.

A new attitude was emerging in the Soviet Union as a result of the “Khrushchev Thaw” of the 1950’s and 60’s. The consequence of this thaw for the Soviet Union’s foreign policy was the pursuit of a policy of peaceful coexistence with other nations.
This policy emphasizes a desire to reduce the hostilities with capitalist nations, most importantly the United States.
However, even though Khrushchev voiced his desire for a system of peaceful negotiation and agreement, his actions could much more easily be defined as desire for “peaceful competition” due to the fact that tensions escalated dramatically during his time in power.

Initially, many were optimistic that his new policy would mean the end of the cold war. But the contradictory nature of Khrushchev’s policy was then clearly seen as actions were taken to build up Russian power on the world stage.

These included visiting weaker nations such as Burma and Afghanistan and offering economic aid in exchange for political support, the participation in both the space race (1953) and the arms race (1957) with America, as well as the propaganda war, and the establishment of the Warsaw Pact to retaliate against NATO.

These actions under Khrushchev provoked the United States to reflect the efforts with their own policies, thus causing significant escalation to the cold war tensions rather than promoting “peaceful coexistence.”



Relations with other Communist States

Sino-Soviet Split

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The sino-soviet split was not just one treaty but a number of treaties which were done through long period of time. However, the spit began when China and the USSR had different ideas of what to do with the west. In other words what typed of policies would had to be applied. When Khrushchev was in power he decided to carryout a policy of peaceful coexistence, detente and opened the talks with the USA. On the other hand, Mao disagree with this foreign policy that Khrushchev had. Also in 1960 technical advisers given by the USSR to China were withdrew and in 1961 the Khrushchev had some problems with Albania which was an ally of China. On the other had the most important factor for this split was the fact that the USSR had the idea of -socialism in one country- which meant that those countries outside of the USSR that were communism had to be subject to the interest of the USSR , they had to put the USSR interests over their domestic interests. The USSR controlled them.


While in Yugoslavia, Khrushchev’s attitude may be summarized with his statement:
You have our blessings in marching along your own road to socialism, but never allow it to lead you to cause disunity within the international Communist movement, as has been the case with the Chinese, with their specific road."

talin had a very restricted view on what could be perceived as “socialist ideology”, and thus when Tito’s independently liberated “socialist” nation emerged after the Second World War after defeating the Axis armies within their own borders, he had made many attempts to restrict it and confine it so that it would respect the soviet model of Communism.

Khrushchev denounced this attitude and held that, as long as there was unity in the international communist movement, there was no need to suppress or restrict any particular branch of communism of socialism.


The Cuban- Missile Crisis
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One of the best demonstrations of an aggressive policy under Khrushchev was his idea of placing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba as a means of countering an emerging lead of the United States in developing and deploying strategic missiles. He saw this as a way to protect Cuba from more American aggression such as that which had occurred as a part of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
Cuba was critical to the communist sphere, thus Khrushchev was willing to make a negotiation in which the USSR would withdraw its weapons from Cuba in exchange for the guarantee that the U.S would not attempt another invasion.

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Hungarian Revolution
The Hungarian Revolution

Photograph:A crowd gathering around a toppled statue during the 1956 Hungarian uprising in Budapest.
Photograph:A crowd gathering around a toppled statue during the 1956 Hungarian uprising in Budapest.
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It started as a spontaneous Hungarian revolt, which was not base in democracy versus communist but about the government and the policies that were imposed by the USSR in Hungary. Started in October 23, 1956 at first was a simple student demonstration but it soon became much more as people joined. People march to the Parliament and central Budapest. In order to control the people; the stated security police fire at many people. While this occurred the news spread and more people got involved both in the capital and in other part of the country. At the end the government fell.
Later the new government said that they wanted to get out of the Warsaw pact and also planed to have free elections. However, on the 4 of November of the same year the Soviets invited the capital, but the Hungarians resisted a little bit more until the 10 of November. The revolution was crush. Many were arrested others killed and some were able to escaped.

The next government imposed by the soviets in Hungary; made sure to controlled the opposition. This soviet actions did not only stop the revolution but also gave an example to the other satellites states.


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Warsaw Treaty Organization

Warsaw treaty Organization

Is also called the Warsaw Pact, which was the military alliance that was signed by the satellites states, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, East Germany and the USSR. This organization was the same thing that NATO with the USA and democratic nations. The treaty was signed for 20 years. There was a military command in Moscow, which became a way for the USSR to controlled all of the satellites states.
1968, when the Czechoslovakians took steps to become a democratic nation, this military force of this organization occupied the country; it was sent to stop this moments. In 1991 this military organization got dissolved.

Relations with the West

Summit Conferences
It became clear that Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence was ridden with contradictions. On one hand, Khrushchev was determined to increase communication with the west; therefore he met with western leaders at many ‘summit’ meetings. Some ideas discussed at these meetings include the American proposal for an "open skies" inspection plan which permitted Americans and Soviets to conduct aerial reconnaissance over one another's territory and a Soviet proposal to mutually withdraw forces from Europe.
Neither of these proposals had any significant advances, but the increased communication was a welcome result of Khrushchev’s policies.
However, regardless of this promising start. It soon became evident that the USSR was willing to establish what can be seen as aggressive policies in order to “build up” and maintain dominance along side the United States.
This can be seen in Khrushchev’s statement to Nixon during the Moscow “Kitchen debate.” :

The kitchen debate

America has been in existence for 150 years and this is the level she has reached. We have existed not quite 42 years and in another seven years we will be on the same level as America. When we catch you up, in passing you by, we will wave to you. Then if you wish we can stop and say: Please follow up.” ~Nikita Khrushchev (kitchen debate)

Therefore the summit meetings largely served as a place where Khrushchev could voice his desires to strengthen the USSR rather than a means of coexisting with the west.
Khrushchev needed to demonstrate to Soviet conservatives and the militant Chinese that the Soviet Union was a firm defender of the communist sphere.
Thus, in 1958 Khrushchev demanded a change in the status of Berlin. Later, the West did not yield to his desires to incorporate western sectors into East Germany, consequently leading him to authorize the establishment of the Berlin Wall between the eastern and western sectors of the city in 1961.
Khrushchev canceled a summit meeting with Eisenhower in 1960 after Soviet air defense troops shot down a United States reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet territory. This was done to largely due to the fear of losing public support and national prestige after such an offence.
Eventually, mistrust over military intentions infected East-West relations. This led to the west fearing the implications of Soviet innovations in space technology, and in relation to that, the evident “missile gap” going in their favor.

Domestic Policy</span>
What option do you have when you've been voted out of office, take a lesson fom Khrushchev. "Certainty in arithmetic two and two make four. But politics are not arithmetic. They are something different." Then you're basically free to stay in office until you a literally forced to step down.

The Space Race
Khrushchev is credited with starting the lengendary "space race" between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. They were also surprisingly successful despite economic hardships. They launched the first satalite Sputnik in 1957 and then in 1961 Yuriy Gagarin became the first man in space. For the Soviet Union and the United States as well a major part of the space race was proving technological (and of course military) superiority, as with most parts of the Cold war a victory on this one front was a victory for that nations idealogy. The huge costs associated with maintaining the space race soon caught up with the Soviet Union and they were surpassed by the Americans. The space race was part of a new part of the Cold War were each side was not only lookin to get the biggest and best weapons, but now it had taken a new level of gaining the higher ground. Even today some countries still maintain the dream of launching missiles from the moon.

An extract from Khrushchev's report to the Party Congress of the Communist Party in 1961 helps to shed light on Khrushchev's goals in relation to foreign policy.
"In the area of domestic policy, our party is setting communists and the Soviet people the following tasks for the next few years:
The entire effort of the people must be directed towards the fulfillment and overfulfillment of the seven-year plan -- an important stage in the creation of the material and technical base for communism. We must continue to raise the level of material production and to keep the country's defenses up to mark. As we seize new heights in the economic development of the Soviet homeland, we should bear in mind that only steady progress will assure us complete superiority and bring closer the day of our victory in the peaceful economic competition with capitalism.
We must strive to accelerate technical progress in all branches of socialist industry without exception. We must move forward particularly in power engineering, chemistry, machine building, metallurgy and the fuel industry. We must specialize enterprises on a broader scale, see to the integrated mechanization and automation of production processes and apply the achievements of modern science and technology and the experience of innovators more rapidly in production. Steady growth of labor productivity and reduction of production costs and improvements in the quality of output must become law for all Soviet enterprises.
We must strive for a level of industrial and agricultural development that will enable us to meet the public's demand for manufactured goods and foodstuffs ever more fully. Funds that accumulate as a result of over fulfillment of industrial output plans should be channeled primarily to agriculture, light industry, the food industry and other consumer goods industries.
We must advance along the entire front of cultural and social development. There must be continuous progress in Soviet science, public education, literature and art. We must raise the working people's living standards, complete the adjustment of wages and planned measures for shortening the working day and week, maintain a rapid pace in housing construction, and improve the pension system, trade, public catering, and medical and everyday services for the working people."

Source: Mark Kishlansky, ed., Sources of the West: Readings in Western Civilization, 4th ed., vol. 2 (New York: Longman, 2001), pp.309-311

Khrushchev’s Secret Speech and it’s effect on Domestic Policy

Primary Source Document, Khrushchev's Secret Speech:

On February 24, 1956 Khrushchev delivered a speech to the Communist Parties Twentieth Congress along with observers from other communist parties. This speech is of vital importance when considering Domestic Policy under Khrushchev.

In this speech Khrushchev denounces Stalin and his reign many times, this is of vital importance due to the effect of Stalin’s governing methods on the population. In this speech Khrushchev denounces the techniques of dictatorship, and clearly states that they have no place within the communist state. After years of oppression this is a drastic change of heart caused generally a more relaxed society, role of fear and terror in the Soviet government was greatly reduced.

Many historians also agree that this document brought on a cultural “thaw” after the reign of Stalin. The best explanation of why Khrushchev allowed this to occur was that he before becoming the leader of the communist state was the son of a worker and his grandfather was a serf, his ascension to power is what is to be expected if the communist state was functioning. He was a believer that given the choice, the people within the state would choose to remain communist, that the system he lived in was by far the most advanced system of government. His belief in the system allowed for the exposure of more media and information that had been restricted during the Stalin era. The “De-Stalinization” encouraged by Khrushchev allowed many in artistic and intellectual circles to speak out against the abuses of the former regime. This policy of De-Stalinization not only resulted in the change of Domestic affairs, but this "relaxation" also spawned events concerned with Foreign Policy concerning satellite states.

In summary, the main Domestic policy under Khrushchev was in fact his continuous work with De-Stalinization. This caused massive cultural change over a relatively short period of time. In many ways, De-Stalinization was Khrushchev’s attempts to purify the communist system after Stalin. This “purification” allowed for the emergence of a “culture of dissidence” where the repressed peoples were allowed to voice their opinions through the way they lived their lives.


1.To what extent was Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence a promotion of international cooperation and the relaxation of hostilities? 2. Analyze the effects of Khrushchev's Secret Speech on Domestic Policy in Russia, it is recommended that the speech is read in order to fully answer the question. 3. What were sources of tension between Khrushchev and the American government that led to the failure of the ‘summit conferences’ in 1960? 4. What role did the space race play in furthering and ending the Cold War? 5.