To What Extent Was the Arms Race a Stabilising Factor in the Cold War Between 1949-1963?

1229 Words Jul 15th, 2014 5 Pages
From the period of 1949 to 1963, the Arms race was a period were there which saw two superpowers the USA and the USSR increasing their nuclear technology developments. The arms race ultimately prevented tensions from escalating into an actual fully fledged war. On the other hand there were de-stabilising factors that put both countries on the brink of nuclear warfare and the world at risk of annihilation, such as the pressure of domestic politics, hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the Cuban missile crisis. Regardless of these factors the war remained a Cold war. This is because the arms race created the most important stabilising factor which was mutually assured destruction. Both superpowers realised the devastating capability of Nuclear …show more content…
The US development of the H-bomb caused the Russians to develop their own. As each side upgraded developments, their opposition followed suit. This is shown through the growing number of atomic bombs, ICBM's, and surveillance mechanisms that were built during the period. By 1962 relations were as tense as ever due to the arms race creating a multiplier effect of pressure as technology developed. This was a de-stabilising aspect of the cold war because it put the superpowers on the brink of war. An example of this was Eisenhower's policy of Brinkmanship which risked nuclear war if the Soviets felt threatened enough to strike first. Ultimately the arms race was a stabilising factor because when both Eisenhower and Khrushchev were in power they both wanted to avoid conflict. Evidence to support this is Eisenhower's condemnation of nuclear weapons in personal accounts and Khrushchev's pursuit of peaceful co-existence.
Both superpowers aimed to avoid conflict but faced immense strain from domestic politics. Whilst the arms race helped to deter leaders from conflict. Kennedy faced massive military pressure from Generals such as Curtis LeMay, Walter Sweeney and Marshall Carter to attack Cuba during the Cuban Missile crisis. This was a de-stabilising factor because they almost convinced Kennedy to authorise an airstrike on Cuba as a form of retaliation. The Cuban missile crisis took place as a retaliation of Khrushchev due to the ICBM's in Turkey. It…

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