2. Theme 2 - Leaders and Nations (ATL)

Theme 2: Leaders and nations

This theme covers the following prescribed content:

  • The impact of two leaders, each chosen from a different region, on the course and development of the Cold War
  • The impact of Cold War tensions on two countries (excluding the USSR and the US)

Below  are some different activities that you can do for this theme for comparing the leaders of the US and USSR and studying the impact of the Cold War on nations.

Cuba as an example as a nation affected by Cold War tensions is specifically covered here:  Nations affected by Cold War tensions: Cuba  

Guiding questions:

What was the impact of the leaders of the USA and the USSR on the development of the Cold War?

Was Reagan or Gorbachev more responsible for the end of the Cold War?

What was the role of other leaders in determining the course of the Cold War?

How were nations other than the USA and the USSR affected by the Cold War?

1. What was the impact of the leaders of the USA and the USSR on the development of the Cold War?

Task One

ATL: Self-management skills

Before comparing US and Soviet Presidents, students may find it useful to complete this grids to remind themselves of the policies, actions and impact of the different presidents within each country.

Refer to the following page under Topic 16 Paper 3 for summaries of the key aims of each of the US Presidents: ATL: Containment under Truman and Eisenhower and ATL: US Foreign policy - Kennedy to Carter

Grid to complete comparing US Presidents

Grid to complete comparing Soviet Presidents

Task Two: Comparing Truman and Stalin

ATL: Thinking and communications skills

The role of Truman and Stalin need to be considered in the build up of tension up to 1949. There is an essay plan for this in the essay planning section.( Leaders and nations: Essay writing exercises and essay frames )

As a prelude to the essay, a good activity is to get students to debate this question.

This House believes that Truman is responsible for the development of tension in Europe, 1945 - 49.

The instructions for students are as follows:

There should be three speakers for each side.

The first speaker should set out the main arguments that their team will be putting forward and give some evidence for at least two of these arguments.

The second speaker should respond to any points made by the first speaker on the other side and then go on to develop at least two more points.

After the first two speaker on each side have spoken, the debate should be opened up to questions from the floor and anyone who has not given a speech should ask a question.

Finally, the last speaker on each side should speak. They should address questions that were raised from the floor as well as refuting any arguments from the other side. They should summarise their team's key points again.

Note that your teacher will be deciding which side wins and points will be given for valid arguments backed up with precise evidence. Credit will also be given for using the views of historians to support your points as well as responding to arguments from the opposing team and to questions from the floor.

Task Three: Comparing Khrushchev and Eisenhower

ATL: Thinking skills

Refer back to your notes on the 1950s and Peaceful Coexistence.

1. What was the role of each of Eisenhower and of Khrushchev in

(a) reducing tension in the 1950s

(b) increasing tension in the 1950s

2. Divide the class in half. One half should make a case that Khrushchev's policies and actions undermined peaceful co-existence in the 1950s. The other half should make the case that Eisenhower was more responsible for pursuing an aggressive policy that undermined peaceful coexistence.

Alternatively, students could take it in turn to be 'hot seated' about their actions in the 1950s.

Task Four: comparing Kennedy and Khrushchev

ATL: Thinking skills

This grid can be used to summarize the actions of Kennedy and Khrushchev at the end of this topic, or as a prelude to an essay on the role of either Kennedy or Khrushchev in this crisis.

Comparative grid on Kennedy and Khrushchev: how effective were they in their handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Task Five: Comparing Nixon and Brezhnev

ATL: Thinking skills

Refer back to your notes on détente.

What was the role of each leader in bringing about détente?

What was the attitude of each man towards détente?

Which man had the largest impact on (a) supporting détente  (b) undermining détente?

2. Was Reagan or Gorbachev more responsible for the end of the Cold War?

Task One

ATL: Thinking skills

Read the following extract. What is its argument as to who was most responsible for the end of the Cold War? How does it justify its conclusions? Do you agree?

US presidents played a key role in bringing about the ending of the cold War. This role, however, was clearly secondary. Reagan became more conciliatory, Gorbachev revolutionized his country's foreign policy. Bush supported Gorbachev, but his caution paled in comparison to Gorbachev's bold initiatives. The changes in Soviet foreign policy were of a much greater magnitude - and more painful- than were the changes in US policy. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, relinquished their grip on Eastern Europe, reached out to Western Europe and allowed the emancipation of the Soviet republics. Moreover, the Kremlin officials made disproportionate concessions in their quest to end the arms race. While President Reagan and President Bush sought to improve superpower relations, they certainly did not meet Gorbachev halfway.

From Beth A Fisher, 'US foreign policy under Reagan and Bush' in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, eds Melvyn P Leffler and Odd Arne Westad, pub 2010'

Task Two

ATL: Thinking skills

Students can read through these introductions before doing this essay, to facilitate discussion on what makes a good introduction. Alternatively, students could be given this essay title in class and be given 10 minutes to write their own introduction before looking at these. How do theirs compare? Are they better? Could they incorporate elements of these into their own introductions?

Note: See Leaders and nations: Essay writing exercises and essay frames for an essay plan on comparing Reagan and Gorbachev

See 2. Rivalry, mistrust and accord: Graded student examples for an essay on the extent to which Gorbachev brought about the end of the Cold War

Introductions: To what extent was Gorbachev responsible for the end of the Cold War?

3. What was the role of other leaders in determining the course of the Cold War?

Task One

ATL: Research and communication skills

Divide the class into groups. Each group should research the impact of one of the following leaders on the Cold War and then present their findings to the rest of the class.

Questions that should be considered:

Were there any Cold War crises that these leaders were involved in? If so, did they personally have any impact on the course of the crisis and its outcome? Were they allied with any one side or did they try to stay independent of the superpowers? Did they play any role in either increasing tensions between East and West, or in improving relations between East and West? How did their roles change over time?

Mao Zedong

Castro

Nasser

Willy Brandt

4. How were nations other than the USA and the USSR affected by the Cold War?

The choice of nations to study here may be affected by topic choices in other areas of the syllabus. For example, if you have chosen Mao or Castro as leaders to study in Topic 10 of Paper 2, then China and/or Cuba would be a good choices for this area of the Cold War syllabus. Alternatively, Britain, Egypt and West Germany can provide good examples of countries impacted by the Cold War.

One way to cover this area is to get students working in groups to look at the impact of the Cold War on different countries.

See this page for how Cuba can be covered as a case study as a nation affected by the Cold War: Nations affected by Cold War tensions: Cuba  

Task One

ATL: Research and communication skills

Divide the class into groups. Each group should research the impact of the Cold War on one of the following countries (you may wish to add to this list or choose other countries depending on your location, interest and which countries you are studying for other topics).

For each country consider the impact of the Cold War on a. domestic policy   b. economic policy   c. foreign policy

Prepare a presentation to the rest of the class on your findings. Also prepare 2 sides of A4 notes on your findings as a handout.

Cuba

West Germany

Britain

Egypt

China

Note that this is a graded essay comparing two countries here: Leaders and nations: Graded student examples 

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