Presentation on theme: "The Space Race: A Reflection of Overarching, Fluctuating Cold War Tensions Isabel IBHL2 European History Ms. Gifford."— Presentation transcript:
The Space Race: A Reflection of Overarching, Fluctuating Cold War Tensions Isabel IBHL2 European History Ms. Gifford
THESIS STATEMENT The Cold War is characterised as a state of suspended tension, this tension comprising heightened competition for superiority in political and academic fields, increased public anxiety, opinion, and influence, and a gap between the perceived importance between military and civilian sectors. All these tensions were exacerbated and illustrated by the Space Race (at heart, structured by inherently opposing ideological differences). Further Cold War themes, also self- evident in the Space Race, include those of ethical parameters, the importance of political personality, brinkmanship, Perestroika, Glasnost, and détente.
ORIGINS OF THE SPACE RACE: To understand how and why the Space Race is such an apt example of overarching Cold War tensions, we must first examine its origins. Borne out of the dregs of WWII thermonuclear technological advances Space Race = competition for assured security Both nations want scientific + military superiority -> only achievable through Space technology supremacy Proxy wars (I.e. Nicaragua, Korea) used to assert dominance of one ideology over another = same idea with the Space Race
COMPETITION FOR POLITICAL AND ACADEMIC SUPERIORITY: The Space Race implicitly assumed the title of political superiority. As ideologies attempting to contain each others’ spread, a universally accepted political dominance carried heavy weight; thus, the subsequent prioritization of winning such a scientific competition. Sputnik 1 first satellite in space - USSR begin the Race “Space victories could have been of greater importance in politics than the threat of a club with a nuclear bomb on its end” Media underlines idea; “success or failure will bring equal headlines; that is one price of greatness” Vanguard satellite is a massive failure, humiliation for USA Importance of maintaining the image of advantage/superiority; Khrushchev declines joint space program because it would reveal that they have no true Space Race advantage
HEIGHTENED PUBLIC ANXIETY AND (SUBSEQUENT) OPINION AND INFLUENCE: With the rapid influx of information and technology development, all of which was publicized, the general populations of both Soviet and American nationality became heavily invested in the Race; specifically, in the form of heightened public anxiety. Soviet and American populations heavily invested in Race US citizens fall victim to McCarthyism, scared by knowledge of ICBMs, etc. USSR citizens learn about U2 spy Gary Powers, scared by Capitalism
Perhaps the most remembered line, “[…]”, reveals not only the ethos behind JFK’s diction, but also its ability to frame the Space Race as more an academic endeavor than militaristic competition - an important factor, considering the ‘60s were a time when rampant public opinion oftentimes sharply affected foreign policy, and even more so considering the Cold War is one based on the premise of a majority ideology, or set of principles and beliefs. Attempts to ease previously mentioned anxieties by changing what is considered militaristic to civilian, scientific “We Chose the Moon” - JFK sets goal for Space Race ∴ IMPORTANCE OF PERCEPTION OF WHAT BELONGS TO MILITARY AND CIVILIAN SECTORS GROWS
STRATEGIC DEFENSE INTIATIVE (SDI) AND THEMES OF POLITICAL PERSONALITIES, ETHICAL PARAMETERS Thatcher’s role in alleviating tensions and increasing assurance played a huge role in convincing Reagan that Gorbachev was a man reasonable enough to permanently alter the atmosphere of not only the Space Race, but of the Cold War as a whole. Controversy; is it right to militarize outer space? SDI frightens Soviets, elevates anxiety Positive political personalities and friends coalesce to change Cold War atmosphere; “an intellectual breakthrough in relations” Because of mutual respect, Immediate Nuclear Forces Treaty is signed
The Space Race: A Reflection of Overarching, Fluctuating Cold War Tensions CONCLUSION (BRINKMANSHIP, PERESTROIKA, GLASNOST, DÉTENTE) Had it not been for the amicable political personalities of Thatcher, Gorbachev, and Reagan, the relations between the three nations might not have been as positively affected. This speaks to the importance of politician relations; it is through this that the easing of tensions brought the Space Race through times of Brinkmanship (the armament race, the thermonuclear and ICBM technologies and such), Perestroika and Glasnost (initiatives sprung by Gorbachev in an attempt to revitalize USSR economy and political system), and, eventually, détente. Though the Space Race was but an glimpse of the entirety of the Cold War, it did serve to reflect the latter’s overarching tensions – heightened superiority competition, increased public anxiety, opinion, and influence, and a gap between the perceived importance between military and civilian sectors – as well as themes of ethical parameters, political personality compatibility, brinkmanship, Perestroika, Glasnost, and détente.