Peaceful coexistence

by Brett Michum

When Nikita Khrushchev took over the Soviet Union, he gradually implemented a foreign policy that became known as peaceful coexistence. Khrushchev was not the first of Stalin’s successors that believed in this type of foreign policy. Georgy Malenkov was actually the first to suggest it. Malenkov once said, “At the present time, there is no dispute or unresolved question that cannot be settled peacefully by mutual agreement of the interested countries.” A few examples of things that resulted from Malenkov’s policy include: diplomatic relations being re-established with Greece, Yugoslavia, Israel, as well as the end of the Korean War.

 Khrushchev started to show his desire for a peaceful coexistence to exist between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. when he met President Eisenhower, British Prime mister Eden, and French Prime Minister Fuare at The Geneva Summit in 1955 in order to reduce international tensions between the communist and capitalist blocks. In 1956, during the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev formally announced his commitment to the foreign policy of maintaining a peaceful coexistence between the Soviet Union’s Communist bloc and America’s Capitalist bloc. Khrushchev was trying the best that he could to not start a nuclear war with the United States. At one point in 1959, Khrushchev said, “We may argue. The main thing is to argue without using weapons.” Khrushchev even visited President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Camp David in 1959, in a further attempt to cool international relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.

 Many westerners, who were watching Khrushchev de-Stalinize the U.S.S.R. and promote his peaceful coexistence policy, believed that they were witnessing a “Thaw” in the cold war. There were, however, several times during the mid to late 1950’s when Khrushchev backed away from his policy of peaceful coexistence. One such event was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, in response to the formation of NATO. Another example of Khrushchev reversing his policy of peaceful coexistence happened during the Hungarian revolt in 1956. The Soviet army crushed the Hungarian Revolution, resulted in many casualties.

 Over half of a decade of peaceful coexistence was seemingly put to rest after the U-2 incident in 1960. This incident resulted in the cancelation of the Paris Summit that was scheduled later that same year. The Bay of Pigs Invasion, construction of the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis did not only slam the door shut on Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence, they also heightened international tensions so much that a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed inevitable.

 Overall, Khrushchev’s policy of trying to maintain a peaceful coexistence between capitalism and communism failed miserably. Both the United States and the U.S.S.R. never tried hard enough or trusted each other enough to make it work. The one thing that Khrushchev was able to accomplish with his foreign policy was to create a slight thaw in the Cold War, this just before a Siberian freeze ended up taking place.