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The last of the Potsdam programmes looks at the changes that have taken place in the International system since 1945 and at the origins of the Cold War, It shows how the division of Europe and the ...decline of Britain as a Great Power led to the growing importance of the United States in world politics. At the same time the emergence of the Soviet Union as a great power and the development of nuclear weapons were to precipitate a new phase in international relations that came to be known as the Cold War. Again leading politicians and commentators present their views and the programme is linked and presented by Professor Fred Northedge of the London School of Economics.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: D233, World politics
Item code: D233; 04
First transmission date: 12-05-1981
Published: 1981
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:23:35
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Producer: Carol Haslam
Contributors: Daniel Yergin; German Rosanov; Vladimir Petrov; Nick Ross; Gav Alperovitz; F. S. Northedge; Charles Mee; Con O'Neill
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Cold War; Diplomacy; Politics; World War
Footage description: Archive film of Atomic bomb explosion. The narrator describes the impact of the bomb on the Potsdam Conference. Daniel Yergin argues that the initial aim of the conference was to bring Russia into the Pacific War. The explosion of the atomic bomb made that aim redundant. German Rosanov states that the United States used the bomb to pressurise the Soviet Union, this led to the unfolding of the Cold War after the bomb was dropped on Japan, American diplomacy went into high gear and they attempted to change Soviet plans for Eastern Europe at the London conference of 1945. Professor Northedge introduces a proposition from the set book for the course. This is that in important respects the system as a whole conditions the behaviour of the state members participating in it. This proposition is assessed against the changing international climate after the Second World War. Daniel Yergin describes the collapse of the European-centred balance of power. Charles Mee argues that this was because Britain was ruined by the War. Sir Con O'Neil describes British fears that the Americans would demobilise immediately after the end of the war. Charles Mee argues that Churchill played up the animosity between the U.S. and USSR to encourage the U.S. to stay in Europe and support British aims in Europe. Professor Northedge describes Churchill's analysis of the decline of Europe. Archive film of Churchill making his 'iron curtain' speech at Fulton Missouri 1946. Vladimir Petrov argues that this speech, from the Soviet point of view, introduced the concept of a world divided between East and West. Professor Northedge argues that U.S. fears for Europe lay not in the possibility of invasion but in the indigenous communist parties of Western Europe. W. Averell Harriman states that Stalin was reluctant to commit Soviet troops to battle. He never thought Stalin would invade Europe. Professor Northedge argues that the Americans concept of their security had changed after Pearl Harbour. Daniel Yergin gives examples of how the Americans strategic view changed after Pearl Harbour. Professor Northedge argues that the U.S. now favoured the balance of power system in Europe, which they had formerly despised. Their moat-like view of security changed to a hemispheric view and they allied themselves to Western Europe. Daniel Yergin describes how the atom bomb gave the U.S. a great feeling of power, and yet they soon realised that it was not a great diplomatic tool. Demobilisation of American troops left American leaders feeling weak as they faced the Russians. Gav Alperovitz argues that in 1945 and 1946 the Americans did not see Russia as a military threat in Western Europe. These years were spent trying to roll the Russians back out of Eastern Europe. Vladimir Petrov assesses how Soviet leaders reacted to the development of nuclear weapons. Once the U.S. nuclear arsenal had reached sizeable proportions, by 1950, the Soviets had to accept that these weapons altered the strategic balance in the world. Professor Northedge argues that nuclear weapons imposed a rigidity on the international system. Sir Con O'Neil states that nuclear weapons transformed diplomacy. Professor Northedge states that although these weapons did not determine the structure of the international system they did force the U.S. and the Soviets to accept the idea of co-existence. The commentary now relates this analysis back to the proposition that changes in the international system conditioned the behaviour of the U.S. and USSR. The changes were already present at the Potsdam Conference and shaped the conduct of the discussions there.
Master spool number: OU 3404
Production number: FOUD110N
Videofinder number: 116
Available to public: no