Alternate Paris Summit 1960


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Sep 6, 2006
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One of the most common what-ifs has intrigued me for a while and I wondered what the effects of it might be. The Paris Summit of 1960 was one of missed opportunities of the Cold War. Putting aside CIA conspiracy theories, I wondered that the effects of having the right people in the right place at the right time might have achieved.

First, what if Malenkov had maintained power as Premier of the Soviet Union alongside First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, building a government with Nikolai Bulganin as Minister of Defence and Anastas Mikoyan as First Deputy Premier appointed in February 1955. This modernising trio might be powerful enough to keep the conservative wing of the Party and Army at bay and begin the de-Stalinisation and the diversification of industry Malenkov had proposed.

The successful Vienna Summit of July 1955 with Malenkov, Molotov and Khrushchev meeting with Eisenhower, Dulles, Anthony Eden, Foreign Harold Macmillan and Edgar Faure and Affairs Antoine Pinay. Eisenhower’s Open Skies proposal would still be rejected and for Khrushchev makes his compromise proposal to allow a united Germany providing it was neutral. Complications are the recent West German entrance into NATO in May and the creation of the Warsaw Pact in response. Talks continued among lower-level diplomats until 1960, slowly working out a consensus opinion among them and warming each side to the other's proposals.

Other events would also complicated relations. The Suez Crisis would still be the low-point in Anglo-American relations. Events in Hungary would be key however. In 1955 Austria became a neutral nation and Soviet troops withdrew, raising Hungarian hopes of also becoming neutral. In June 1956, a violent uprising by Polish workers in Poznań was put down by the government. However, in October the response of the public forced the government to appoint reformist Władysław Gomułka as First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party, with a mandate to negotiate trade concessions and troop reductions with the Soviet government. On 19 October the Soviets accepted the demands and this emboldened many Hungarians to hope for similar concessions. Student uprisings led to the fall of the Hungarian government and a new government under Imre Nagy was formed. Khrushchev, Bulganin and Mikoyan felt the situation was not serious and was a protest movement rather than an anti-revolutionary revolt. Here comes the change from history as we know it, Mikoyan's reports from Budapest not to intervene militarily influences the Presidium not to remove the new Hungarian government and enter negotiations regarding Soviet troops. At the Brest meeting of Warsaw Pact leaders on 1 November the Soviets persuade the Nagy government to remain a member of the Warsaw Pact in return for sizable reductions in Soviet troops.

Other events to have an influence was the Sputnik in scare in 1957 and the shooting down of Power's U-2 on 1 May 1960.

At the Paris Summit Malenkov and Khrushchev meet with Eisenhower, Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle.
Eisenhower’s previous ‘Open Skies’ proposal is reluctantly accepted by Khrushchev, Malenkov makes the point that the recent U-2 incident proves the US cannot spy with impunity any longer, embarrassing the US but enabling an airing of the situation around syping both sides have publicly unacknowledged.
Under Open Skies Members from NATO and the Warsaw Pact would fly agreed reconnaissance sorties, to counter claims of spying all the camera films would be processed and reported in the country being observed. The areas covered were all of the United States and Canada, all of Western Europe (including the Western, Baltic and Black Sea TVDs of the USSR) and the entire Arctic coast and Siberia of the USSR from Finland to the Bering Straits.
In return the counter-Soviet plans by Khrushchev for disarmament were agreed, though not without some disagreements. Both the USSR and the USA would abide by a cap on Army manpower of 1.5 million men each, with totals of 800,000 each for Britain and France. The more contentious part of the plan was that the movement begun in Poland and Hungary should be continued; the USSR would withdraw its military forces from the Warsaw Pact nations if the US withdrew its forces from the territory of Western European NATO members. Macmillan pointed out that it would leave Britain and France essentially propping up European defence, a task neither nation could afford. De Gaulle feared West Germany would expand its military and once again become a destabilising threat. Eventually a compromise was reached, a total of 75,000 troops, 1,000 tanks and 250 combat aircraft could be stationed permanently by the USA and the USSR each in Europe, subsequent to the wishes of the NATO and Warsaw Pact host nations. Another 15,000 men, 250 tanks and 150 aircraft could be stationed for military co-operation exercises with prior notification not less than two months to the other party.

The main aim of the disarmament talks was to reduce the nuclear threat. Both the USA and the USSR agreed no IRBM and ICBMs or nuclear-capable strategic bombers should be based in NATO or Warsaw Pact nations and no nuclear warheads, or technology to make them, should be exported to allied, or any other, nation. Macmillan also contested this, but did not press the point since he did not to reveal the extent Project Emily was propping up Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. Warhead levels (of all types and uses) would initially fall to 500 each for the USA and the USSR and 50 for Britain and France by 1965 and ultimately to 150 each for the USA and the USSR and 25 for Britain and France by 1970. The IAEA would also have greater powers over international control of nuclear materials. Although deeply unpopular with the Americans who had amassed a stockpile of 6,800 nuclear weapons (also being unaware the Soviets had only just reached 500) Eisenhower and Macmillan wishing to lift the threat of nuclear annihilation agreed.

A wider summit between NATO and Warsaw Pact members in Helsinki in April 1961 led to the signing of the Helsinki Treaty on 4 May 1961.
The USSR also agreed to a Treaty abandoning atmospheric, underwater and outer space nuclear tests. The Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed in September 1961 in Moscow. These agreements ultimately led to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1965.
Early talks to classify Berlin as a demilitarised international city at the summit were scuppered just over a year later when Walter Ulbricht began construction of the Berlin Wall and the fortified Inner German Border in August 1961.

The effects of these monumental agreements were mixed and had several unintended consequences. The Hawks in the US Administration were concerned that Eisenhower had given too much away and that American power had been weakened and NATO almost destroyed. Indeed Britain was forced to commit more expensive conventional armed forces to Europe, but her nuclear weapons programme was drastically scaled back. The French had only exploded their first nuclear weapon in May 1960 and continued its programme intending to field its maximum allowed nuclear force. De Gaulle who welcomed America’s withdrawl from Europe was determined to keep Britain close to counter growing West German military and economic power and accepted Britain's application to join the EEC on 29 January 1963 and remained a core member of NATO.
On January 20 John F. Kennedy became President and although very much a moderate who was willing to complete the Helsinki Treaty, US military power moved elsewhere across the globe. In April 1961 a show of force against Cuba, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, ended in a humiliating failure. This pushed Castro towards the USSR and began the seeds of its Latin American policy and subsequent proxy wars there during the 1970s and 80s. American emphasis on strong reactions to growing Communist influence across the world led to intervention in South Vietnam which ultimately ended with an American withdrawal in 1975.
The Soviets also suffered mixed results. First in 1962 the growing rift between the USSR and China resulted in a split in relations. Malenkov by December 1961 had stopped all nuclear cooperation with China and denouncing the Paris and Vienna talks as “Submission to the capitalists” Mao severed all ties. Several small border incidents erupted during the late 1960s and in March 1970 China finally joined the nuclear powers. Both would fight to become the leading beacon of world communism. In the Eastern Bloc the reforming governments in Poland, Hungary, and increasingly in Czechoslovakia too, continued to ease restrictions and begin economic reform but Ulbricht’s GDR stuck firmly to the hard-line which frequently caused embarrassing situations and increased tensions with NATO.

My main question is, what would these kinds of proposals have on military developments on both sides?
The stocks of nuclear weapons are limited, a tri-nuclear arm of air/land/sea seems less likely but survivability of remaining warheads would be paramount. Tactical use would probably be drastically limited to field a powerful strategic force, but the navies would want some for nuclear depth-charges. No limit is placed on yield.
NATO probably comes off worst in this scenario, but emphasis on conventional warfare might throw up new ideas?
What does Britain do to maintain her nuclear programme? Skybolt and Polaris are unobtainable in this scenario, do they stay with Blue Streak or try and eke out a V-Force with a home gown ALBM?