U.S.-Soviet Tension Builds

U.S.-Soviet Tension Builds

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On February 28, 1946, Secretary of State James Byrnes addresses the Overseas Press Club to discuss the purposes of the United Nations. In his speech, Byrnes makes an indirect reference to the Soviet Union when he declares that the United States is prepared to "act to prevent aggression."

U.S.-Soviet Tension Builds - HISTORY

Moral Purposes and Policy Choices

This is an important anniversary. A year ago today, on October 8, came the breakthrough in the Paris negotiations which led soon afterward to the end of American military involvement in Viet-Nam. It is strangely difficult now to recapture the emotion of that moment of hope and uncertainty when suddenly years of suffering and division were giving way to new possibilities for reconciliation.

We meet, too, at a time when renewed conflict in the Middle East 2 reminds us that international stability is always precarious and never to be taken for granted. Pacem in Terris remains regrettably elusive. However well we contain this crisis, as we have contained others, we must still ask ourselves what we seek beyond the management of conflict.

The need for a dialogue about national purposes has never been more urgent, and no assembly is better suited for such a discussion than those gathered here tonight.

Dramatic changes in recent years have transformed America’s position and role in the world:

—For most of the postwar period America enjoyed predominance in physical resources and political power. Now, like most other nations in history, we find that our most difficult task is how to apply limited means to the accomplishment of carefully defined ends. We can no longer overwhelm our problems we must master them with imagination, understanding, and patience.

—For a generation our preoccupation was to prevent the cold war from degenerating into a hot war. Today, when the danger of global conflict has diminished, we face the more profound problem of defining what we mean by peace and determining the ultimate purpose of improved international relations.

—For two decades the solidarity of our alliances seemed as constant as the threats to our security. Now our allies have regained strength and self-confidence, and relations with adversaries have improved. All this has given rise to uncertainties over the sharing of burdens with friends and the impact of reduced tensions on the cohesion of alliances.

—Thus, even as we have mastered the art of containing crises, our concern with the nature of a more permanent international order has grown. Questions once obscured by more insistent needs now demand our attention: What is true national interest? To what end stability? What is the relationship of peace to justice?

It is characteristic of periods of upheaval that to those who live through them they appear as a series of haphazard events. Symptoms obscure basic issues and historical trends. The urgent tends to dominate the important. Too often goals are presented as abstract utopias, safe havens from pressing events.

But a debate, to be fruitful, must define what can reasonably be asked of foreign policy and at what pace progress can be achieved. Otherwise it turns into competing catalogues of the desirable rather than informed comparisons of the possible. Dialogue degenerates into tactical skirmishing.

The current public discussion reflects some interesting and significant shifts in perspective:

—A foreign policy once considered excessively moralistic is now looked upon by some as excessively pragmatic.

—The government was criticized in 1969 for holding back East-West trade with certain countries until there was progress in their foreign policies. Now we are criticized for not holding back East-West trade until there are changes in those same countries’ domestic policies.

—The administration’s foreign policy, once decried as too cold war oriented, is now attacked as too insensitive to the profound moral antagonism between communism and freedom.

One consequence of this intellectual shift is a gap between conception and performance on some major issues of policy:

—The desirability of peace and détente is affirmed, but both the inducements to progress and the penalties to confrontation are restricted by legislation.

—Expressions of concern for human values in other countries are coupled with failure to support the very programs designed to help developing areas improve their economic and social conditions.

—The declared objective of maintaining a responsible American international role clashes with nationalistic pressures in trade and monetary negotiations and with calls for unilateral withdrawal from alliance obligations.

It is clear that we face genuine moral dilemmas and important policy choices. But it is also clear that we need to define the framework of our dialogue more perceptively and understandingly.

The Competing Elements of Foreign Policy

Foreign policy must begin with the understanding that it involves relationships between sovereign countries. Sovereignty has been defined as a will uncontrolled by others that is what gives foreign policy its contingent and ever-incomplete character.

For disagreements among sovereign states can be settled only by negotiation or by power, by compromise or by imposition. Which of these methods prevails depends on the values, the strengths, and the domestic systems of the countries involved. A nation’s values define what is just its strength determines what is possible its domestic structure decides what policies can in fact be implemented and sustained.

Thus foreign policy involves two partially conflicting endeavors: defining the interests, purposes, and values of a society and relating them to the interests, purposes, and values of others.

The policymaker therefore must strike a balance between what is desirable and what is possible. Progress will always be measured in partial steps and in the relative satisfaction of alternative goals. Tension is unavoidable between values, which are invariably cast in maximum terms, and efforts to promote them, which of necessity involve compromise. Foreign policy is explained domestically in terms of justice. But what is defined as justice at home becomes the subject of negotiation abroad. It is thus no accident that many nations, including our own, view the international arena as a forum in which virtue is thwarted by the clever practice of foreigners.

In a community of sovereign states, the quest for peace involves a paradox: The attempt to impose absolute justice by one side will be seen as absolute injustice by all others the quest for total security for some turns into total insecurity for the remainder. Stability depends on the relative satisfaction and therefore also the relative dissatisfaction of the various states. The pursuit of peace must therefore begin with the pragmatic concept of coexistence—especially in a period of ideological conflict.

We must, of course, avoid becoming obsessed with stability. An excessively pragmatic policy will be empty of vision and humanity. It will lack not only direction but also roots and heart. General de Gaulle wrote in his memoirs that “France cannot be France without greatness.” By the same token, America cannot be true to itself without moral purpose. This country has always had a sense of mission. Americans have always held the view that America stood for something above and beyond its material achievements. A purely pragmatic policy provides no criteria for other nations to assess our performance and no standards to which the American people can rally.

But when policy becomes excessively moralistic it may turn quixotic or dangerous. A presumed monopoly on truth obstructs negotiation and accommodation. Good results may be given up in the quest for ever-elusive ideal solutions. Policy may fall prey to ineffectual posturing or adventuristic crusades.

The prerequisite for a fruitful national debate is that the policymakers and critics appreciate each other’s perspectives and respect each other’s purposes. The policymaker must understand that the critic is obliged to stress imperfections in order to challenge assumptions and to goad actions. But equally the critic should acknowledge the complexity and inherent ambiguity of the policymaker’s choices. The policymaker must be concerned with the best that can be achieved, not just the best that can be imagined. He has to act in a fog of incomplete knowledge without the information that will be available later to the analyst. He knows—or should know—that he is responsible for the consequences of disaster as well as for the benefits of success. He may have to qualify some goals, not because they would be undesirable if reached but because the risks of failure outweigh potential gains. He must often settle for the gradual, much as he might prefer the immediate. He must compromise with others, and this means to some extent compromising with himself.

The outsider demonstrates his morality by the precision of his perceptions and the loftiness of his ideals. The policymaker expresses his morality by implementing a sequence of imperfections and partial solutions in pursuit of his ideals.

There must be understanding, as well, of the crucial importance of timing. Opportunities cannot be hoarded once past, they are usually irretrievable. New relationships in a fluid transitional period—such as today—are delicate and vulnerable they must be nurtured if they are to thrive. We cannot pull up young shoots periodically to see whether the roots are still there or whether there is some marginally better location for them.

We are now at such a time of tenuous beginnings. Western Europe and Japan have joined us in an effort to reinvigorate our relationships. The Soviet Union has begun to practice foreign policy, at least partially, as a relationship between states rather than as international civil war. The People’s Republic of China has emerged from two decades of isolation. The developing countries are impatient for economic and social change. A new dimension of unprecedented challenges—in food, oceans, energy, environment—demands global cooperation.

We are at one of those rare moments where through a combination of fortuitous circumstances and design man seems in a position to shape his future. What we need is the confidence to discuss issues without bitter strife, the wisdom to define together the nature of our world, as well as the vision to chart together a more just future.

Détente With the Soviet Union

Nothing demonstrates this need more urgently than our relationship with the Soviet Union.

This administration has never had any illusions about the Soviet system. We have always insisted that progress in technical fields, such as trade, had to follow—and reflect—progress toward more stable international relations. We have maintained a strong military balance and a flexible defense posture as a buttress to stability. We have insisted that disarmament had to be mutual. We have judged movement in our relations with the Soviet Union not by atmospherics but by how well concrete problems are resolved and by whether there is responsible international conduct.

Coexistence, to us, continues to have a very precise meaning:

—We will oppose the attempt by any country to achieve a position of predominance either globally or regionally.

—We will resist any attempt to exploit a policy of détente to weaken our alliances.

—We will react if relaxation of tensions is used as a cover to exacerbate conflicts in international trouble spots.

The Soviet Union cannot disregard these principles in any area of the world without imperiling its entire relationship with the United States.

On this basis we have succeeded in transforming U.S.-Soviet relations in many important ways. Our two countries have concluded a historic accord to limit strategic arms. We have substantially reduced the risk of direct U.S.-Soviet confrontation in crisis areas. The problem of Berlin has been resolved by negotiation. We and our allies have engaged the Soviet Union in negotiations on major issues of European security, including a reduction of military forces in central Europe. We have reached a series of bilateral agreements on cooperation—health, environment, space, science and technology, as well as trade. These accords are designed to create a vested interest in cooperation and restraint.

Until recently the goals of détente were not an issue. The necessity of shifting from confrontation toward negotiation seemed so overwhelming that goals beyond the settlement of international disputes were never raised. But now progress has been made—and already taken for granted. We are engaged in an intense debate on whether we should make changes in Soviet society a precondition for further progress or indeed for following through on commitments already made. The cutting edge of this problem is the congressional effort to condition most-favored-nation ( MFN ) trade status for other countries on changes in their domestic systems. 3

This is a genuine moral dilemma. There are genuine moral concerns on both sides of the argument. So let us not address this as a debate between those who are morally sensitive and those who are not, between those who care for justice and those who are oblivious to humane values. The attitude of the American people and government has been made emphatically clear on countless occasions in ways that have produced effective results. The exit tax on emigration is not being collected, and we have received assurances that it will not be reapplied hardship cases submitted to the Soviet Government are being given specific attention the rate of Jewish emigration has been in the tens of [Page 89] thousands, where it was once a trickle. We will continue our vigorous efforts on these matters.

But the real debate goes far beyond this: Should we now tie demands which were never raised during negotiations to agreements that have already been concluded? Should we require as a formal condition internal changes that we heretofore sought to foster in an evolutionary manner?

Let us remember what the MFN question specifically involves. The very term “most favored nation” is misleading in its implication of preferential treatment. What we are talking about is whether to allow normal economic relations to develop—of the kind we now have with over 100 other countries and which the Soviet Union enjoyed until 1951. The issue is whether to abolish discriminatory trade restrictions that were imposed at the height of the cold war. Indeed, at that time the Soviet Government discouraged commerce because it feared the domestic impact of normal trading relations with the West on its society.

The demand that Moscow modify its domestic policy as a precondition for MFN or détente was never made while we were negotiating now it is inserted after both sides have carefully shaped an overall mosaic. Thus it raises questions about our entire bilateral relationship.

Finally, the issue affects not only our relationship with the Soviet Union but also with many other countries whose internal structures we find incompatible with our own. Conditions imposed on one country could inhibit expanding relations with others, such as the People’s Republic of China.

We shall never condone the suppression of fundamental liberties. We shall urge humane principles and use our influence to promote justice. But the issue comes down to the limits of such efforts. How hard can we press without provoking the Soviet leadership into returning to practices in its foreign policy that increase international tensions? Are we ready to face the crises and increased defense budgets that a return to cold war conditions would spawn? And will this encourage full emigration or enhance the well-being or nourish the hope for liberty of the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? Is it détente that has prompted repression—or is it détente that has generated the ferment and the demand for openness which we are now witnessing?

For half a century we have objected to Communist efforts to alter the domestic structures of other countries. For a generation of cold war we sought to ease the risks produced by competing ideologies. Are we now to come full circle and insist on domestic compatibility as a condition of progress?

These questions have no easy answers. The government may underestimate the margin of concessions available to us. But a fair debate [Page 90] must admit that they are genuine questions, the answers to which could affect the fate of all of us.

Our policy with respect to détente is clear: We shall resist aggressive foreign policies. Détente cannot survive irresponsibility in any area, including the Middle East. As for the internal policies of closed systems, the United States will never forget that the antagonism between freedom and its enemies is part of the reality of the modern age. We are not neutral in that struggle. As long as we remain powerful, we will use our influence to promote freedom, as we always have. But in the nuclear age we are obliged to recognize that the issue of war and peace also involves human lives and that the attainment of peace is a profound moral concern.

The World as It Is and the World We Seek

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly two weeks ago, 4 I described our goal as a world where power blocs and balances are no longer relevant where justice, not stability, can be our overriding preoccupation where countries consider cooperation in the world interest to be in their national interest.

But we cannot move toward the world of the future without first maintaining peace in the world as it is. These very days we are vividly reminded that this requires vigilance and a continuing commitment.

So our journey must start from where we are now. This is a time of lessened tension, of greater equilibrium, of diffused power. But if the world is better than our earlier fears, it still falls far short of our hopes. To deal with the present does not mean that we are content with it.

The most striking feature of the contemporary period, the feature that gives complexity as well as hope, is the radical transformation in the nature of power. Throughout history power has generally been homogeneous. Military, economic, and political potential were closely related. To be powerful, a nation had to be strong in all categories. Today the vocabulary of strength is more complex. Military muscle does not guarantee political influence. Economic giants can be militarily weak, and military strength may not be able to obscure economic weakness. Countries can exert political influence even when they have neither military nor economic strength.

It is wrong to speak of only one balance of power, for there are several, which have to be related to each other. In the military sphere, there are two superpowers. In economic terms, there are at least five major groupings. Politically, many more centers of influence have emerged [Page 91] some 80 new nations have come into being since the end of World War II, and regional groups are assuming ever-increasing importance.

Above all, whatever the measure of power, its political utility has changed. Throughout history increases in military power, however slight, could be turned into specific political advantage. With the overwhelming arsenals of the nuclear age, however, the pursuit of marginal advantage is both pointless and potentially suicidal. Once sufficiency is reached, additional increments of power do not translate into usable political strength, and attempts to achieve tactical gains can lead to cataclysm.

This environment both puts a premium on stability and makes it difficult to maintain. Today’s striving for equilibrium should not be compared to the balance of power of previous periods. The very notion of “operating” a classical balance of power disintegrates when the change required to upset the balance is so large that it cannot be achieved by limited means.

More specifically, there is no parallel with the 19th century. Then the principal countries shared essentially similar concepts of legitimacy and accepted the basic structure of the existing international order. Small adjustments in strength were significant. The “balance” operated in a relatively confined geographic area. None of these factors obtain today.

Nor when we talk of equilibrium do we mean a simplistic mechanical model devoid of purpose. The constantly shifting alliances that maintained equilibrium in previous centuries are neither appropriate nor possible in our time. In an age of ideological schism the distinction between friends and adversaries is an objective reality. We share ideals as well as interests with our friends, and we know that the strength of our friendships is crucial to the lowering of tensions with our opponents.

When we refer to five or six or seven major centers of power, the point being made is not that others are excluded but that a few short years ago everyone agreed that there were only two. The diminishing tensions and the emergence of new centers of power have meant greater freedom of action and greater importance for all other nations.

In this setting, our immediate aim has been to build a stable network of relationships that offers hope of sparing mankind the scourges of war. An interdependent world community cannot tolerate either big-power confrontations or recurrent regional crises.

But peace must be more than the absence of conflict. We perceive stability as the bridge to the realization of human aspirations, not an end in itself. We have learned much about containing crises, but we have not removed their roots. We have begun to accommodate our dif[Page 92]ferences, but we have not affirmed our commonality. We may have improved the mastery of equilibrium, but we have not yet attained justice.

In the encyclical for which this conference is named, Pope John sketched a greater vision. He foresaw “that no political community is able to pursue its own interests and develop itself in isolation” for “there is a growing awareness of all human beings that they are members of a world community.”

The opportunities of mankind now transcend nationalism and can only be dealt with by nations acting in concert:

—For the first time in generations mankind is in a position to shape a new and peaceful international order. But do we have the imagination and determination to carry forward this still-fragile task of creation?

—For the first time in history we may have the technical knowledge to satisfy man’s basic needs. The imperatives of the modern world respect no national borders and must inevitably open all societies to the world around them. But do we have the political will to join together to accomplish this great end?

If this vision is to be realized, America’s active involvement is inescapable. History will judge us by our deeds, not by our good intentions.

But it cannot be the work of any one country. And it cannot be the undertaking of any one administration or one branch of government or one party. To build truly is to chart a course that will be carried on by future leaders because it has the enduring support of the American people.

So let us search for a fresh consensus. Let us restore a spirit of understanding between the legislative and the executive, between the government and the press, between the people and their public servants. Let us learn once again to debate our methods and not our motives, to focus on our destiny and not on our divisions. Let us all contribute our different views and perspectives, but let us once again see ourselves as engaged in a common enterprise. If we are to shape a world community we must first restore community at home.

With Americans working together, America can work with others toward man’s eternal goal of a Pacem in Terris—peace abroad, peace at home, and peace within ourselves.

After World War I, many nations needed to have tanks, but only a few had the industrial resources to design and build them. During and after World War I, Britain and France were the intellectual leaders in tank design, with other countries generally following and adopting their designs. This early lead would be gradually lost during the course of the 1930s to the Soviet Union who with Germany began to design and build their own tanks. The Treaty of Versailles had severely limited Germany's industrial output. Therefore, in order to circumvent Germany's treaty restrictions, these industrial firms formed a partnership with the Soviet Union to legally produce weapons and sell them, and along with other factors built up an infrastructure to produce tanks which later made the famous T-34 and other Soviet tanks.

Imperial Russia had flirted with some designs such as the Tsar Tank which was scrapped, and the Vezdekhod ( Вездеход ) which did not, however, progress further than a pre-production model, due to problems in the design.

The final tank designs in World War I showed a number of trends such as in the US and British produced Mark VIII tank for heavy tanks. However, the French Renault FT set the pattern for almost all tanks that followed it these tanks generally had lower track profiles and more compact hulls, and mounted their weapons in turrets. Following the Great War, Britain continued its technical dominance of tank design, and British designs, particularly those from Vickers-Armstrong, formed the basis for many Soviet tank designs of the 1930s, including the T-26 and BT series. Designs such as the Vickers Medium Mk II brought to the forefront the fully rotating turret on top and dual-use 3-pounder gun (that could fire both high-explosive and anti-tank shells), while the Vickers Carden-Lloyd machine gun carriers influenced the tankette concept such as the Soviet T-27.

Another notable design that influenced the Soviets was the Vickers A1E1 Independent, a large multi-turreted heavy tank built in 1925. Its design influenced the Soviet T-35 heavy tank.

The Spanish Civil War showed that tank-versus-tank engagements and tank-versus-towed antitank gun engagements would now be a major consideration. It became clear that future tanks would need to be heavily armoured and carry larger guns.

The Soviet Union's efforts in tank design and production must be understood in the context of the experience of the Russian Civil War and the growth of Soviet industry. During the civil war, the use of armoured trains and artillery trains was common. This tended to lead to a greater interest in tanks and armoured cars compared to some western nations. The rapid growth of heavy industry in the USSR under the Five-Year plans made a large tank fleet possible. The Soviets also spent tens of millions of dollars on U.S. equipment and technology to modernise dozens of automotive and tractor factories, which would later produce tanks and armoured vehicles. Joseph Stalin's enthusiasm for industrialisation and mechanisation drove an aggressive military development program, resulting in by far the largest and broadest tank inventory of all nations by the late 1930s.

In the U.S., J. Walter Christie had developed a series of fast tanks, based on his revolutionary Christie suspension system. This was combined with very high power-to-weight ratios achieved by fitting large aircraft engines in his tanks. Some of his prototypes were purchased by the Soviet Union, and were to be developed into the BT tanks and eventually, on the eve of World War II, the famous T-34. The BT series in turn influenced the British cruiser tank designs such as the A-13 Cruiser Mk IV, Crusader, and others.

The French pioneered manufacturing methods in the use of very large castings to form gun mantlets, turrets and eventually, entire tank hulls. The widespread use of casting turrets was copied by the USSR, and led the way in rationalizing designs for fast production, eliminating unnecessary components or manufacturing steps that added little value, which later was to be incorporated in the mass production of their tanks such as the T-34.

Russian Civil War Edit

In Soviet Russia, the so-called armoured forces (броневые силы) preceded the Tank Corps. They consisted of the mechanized armoured units (автобронеотряды) made of armored vehicles and armored trains.

The country did not have its own tanks during the Civil War of 1918-1920, but their forces did come across the Mark V tanks. A number of the Mark V tanks saw service in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War on the White Russian side. Most were subsequently captured and used by the Red Army in the Russian Civil War. Three were reactivated in 1941 for use in the Battle of Stalingrad. [1] In January 1918, the Red Army established the Soviet of Armored Units (Совет броневых частей, or Центробронь), later renamed to Central Armored Directorate and then once again to Chief Armored Directorate (Главное броневое управление).

During the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920, the Nizhny Novgorod Machine Factory built armored trains, armoured carriages, and weapons for the vessels of the Volga Military Flotilla. In 1920, the factory remanufactured fourteen burnt-out French Renault FT tanks for the Red Army, the Russkiy Renos, and assembled a single new copy, named 'Freedom Fighter Lenin'.

Interwar period Edit

Initially, the tanks and armoured cars in Soviet hands were a mix of captured Renault FTs and a few British tanks and British-built Austins left behind in the civil war. The first conventional Soviet tank, the T-18 (sometimes called MS-1), was a fairly close copy of the French Renault FT, but with improved suspension and a larger turret.

In 1926, under a secret annex to the Treaty of Rapallo, the Soviet Union and Germany set up a joint tank school at Kazan in the west of the Urals, which was illegal under the Treaty of Versailles. Both countries learned much about tank design and tactics in this co-operative venture. The Germans provided advice on mechanisation of Soviet heavy industry, and helped develop a sense of professionalism in the Red Army. In 1928, the Soviet Union began the production of the MS-1 tanks (Малый Сопровождения -1, where M stands for "small" and S for "convoy"). In 1929, it established the Central Directorate for Mechanization and Motorization of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. Tanks became a part of the mechanized corps at this point. From 1929, an experimental Mechanised Brigade was formed, training and developing combined-arms tactics with foreign tanks, armoured cars, tractors, and lorries.

A tank design bureau was established at the Kharkov Locomotive Factory (KhPZ) in Kharkiv, Soviet Ukraine, in 1928. The first tank project of the factory was the T-12 (or T-1-12). This was a larger version of the T-18, with a more powerful engine. It seemed to have been done in parallel to the T-19 light tank which was also based on the FT. The project was re-designated T-24, work was completed fixing problems with the transmission and fuel system, and a larger turret was designed. Initial trials were conducted, during which performance was found satisfactory, although the prototype's engine caught fire, and the turret had to be transferred to a T-12 prototype for further testing. Only a total of twenty-four were built during 1931. The T-24s were originally armed only with machine guns, until the 45 mm guns were installed in the following year.

The T-24 was found unreliable, and was used only for training and parades. Although the T-24 tank was a failure, it gave the KhPZ its initial tank design and production experience, which was applied much more successfully in adopting production of modified U.S. Christie tanks as the BT tank series, starting in 1931.

Based on a mixed force of foreign tanks and imported prototypes, the Soviets developed a large domestic design and production capability. The T-26 light tank was based on the Vickers E (as were many other tanks of the period), chosen after it beat a Soviet FT derivative in trials. In spring 1930, the Soviet buying committee, under the direction of Semyon Ginzburg, had arrived in Great Britain to select tanks, tractors and cars to be used in the Red Army. The Vickers 6-ton was among four models of tanks selected by Soviet representatives during their visit to the Vickers-Armstrongs Company. According to the contract signed on 28 May 1930, the company delivered to the USSR 15 twin-turreted Vickers Mk.E (Type A, armed with two 7.71 mm water-cooled Vickers machine guns) tanks together with full technical documentation to enable series production of the tank in the USSR. The ability of the two turrets of the Type A to turn independently made it possible to fire to both the left and right at once, which was considered advantageous for breakthroughs of field entrenchments. [2] Several Soviet engineers participated in assembly of the tanks at the Vickers Factory in 1930. [3]

The Vickers-built 6-ton tanks had the designation V-26 in the USSR. Three British tanks were successfully tested for cross-country ability at the small proving ground near Moscow on Poklonnaya Hill in January 1931. One tank hull was tested for gunfire resistance in August 1931. Kliment Voroshilov ordered the creation of the "Special Commission for the Red Army (RKKA) new tanks" under the direction of S. Ginzburg to define the tank type suitable for the Red Army. The T-19 8-ton light infantry tank, developed by S. Ginzburg under that programme at the Bolshevik Factory in Leningrad was a theoretical competitor to the British Vickers 6-Ton. The first prototype of the complex and expensive T-19 was not finished until August 1931. Because both tanks had advantages and disadvantages, S. Ginzburg suggested developing a more powerful, hybrid tank (the so-called "improved" T-19) with the hull, home-developed engine and armament from the native T-19, and the transmission and chassis from the British Vickers 6-ton. [2] [4] On 13 February 1931, the Vickers 6-Ton light infantry tank, under the designator T-26, officially entered service in the Red Army as the "main tank for close support of combined arms units and tank units of High Command reserve". [2] [4]

More than 50 different modifications and experimental vehicles based on the chassis of the T-26 light infantry tank were developed in the USSR in the 1930s, with 23 modifications going into series production. The majority were armoured combat vehicles: flame tanks, artillery tractors, radio-controlled tanks (teletanks), military engineering vehicles, self-propelled guns and armoured personnel carriers. Flame-throwing tanks formed around 12% of the series production of T-26 light tanks. [5] The abbreviation "OT" (Ognemetniy Tank which stands for Flame-throwing Tank) appeared only in post-war literature these tanks were originally called "KhT" (Khimicheskiy Tank which stands for Chemical Tank), or BKhM (Boevaya Khimicheskaya Mashina Fighting Chemical Vehicle) in the documents of the 1930s. All chemical (flame-throwing) tanks based on the T-26 chassis (KhT-26, KhT-130, KhT-133) were designated BKhM-3. The vehicles were intended for area chemical contamination, smoke screens and for flame-throwing.

The Soviets purchased some U.S. Christie M1930 tank prototypes, from which they developed the BT series of fast tanks. They also developed the heavier multi-turreted T-28 medium tank and the massive T-35 (also multi-turreted), which followed the design premise of the experimental Vickers A1E1 Independent produced by Vickers for the British but not adopted. The T-28 was also greatly influenced by the A1E1 Independent. The Kirov Factory in Leningrad began manufacturing the T-28 tank in 1932. The T-28 tank was officially approved on August 11, 1933. The T-28 had one large turret with a 76.2 mm gun and two smaller turrets with 7.62 mm machine guns. A total of 503 T-28 tanks were manufactured over a period of eight years from 1933 to 1941. The Soviets also built a variant of the Carden Loyd tankette, bought under license from the United Kingdom in 1930, as a reconnaissance vehicle.

The Soviets were not fully satisfied with the Carden Loyd design and made a number of changes before putting it into mass production under the designation of T-27. Compared with the British original, the hull was larger, the running gear was improved and the weapon mount was modified to take a Soviet-built 7.62 mm DT machine gun. The tankette was accepted into service on February 13, 1931 and the principal use of the T-27 during its service life was as a reconnaissance vehicle and was used in the Soviet republics of Central Asia during the 1930s, where the tankettes were used in campaigns against basmachis. However, they fairly quickly became obsolete due to the introduction of more advanced tanks. The tankette was also intended to be air-mobile. In 1935, the Soviets experimented with transporting T-27s by air, by suspending them under the fuselages of Tupolev TB-3 bombers.

In April 1931, Vickers-Armstrongs conducted several successful tests of light, floating tanks in the presence of the press. Those early models were developed into prototypes by Carden-Loyd Tractors, Ltd., which attracted the attention of the Department of Motorization and Mechanization of the RKKA (UMMRKKA), because the small tank suited well to the new armament policies of the Red Army, as well as possibly being able to replace the older T-27 tankette. Soviet engineers went over the prototype and later were able to purchase some and the "Selezen’" ("Drake", Ru. "Селезень") program was established in order to construct a similar amphibious tank with a layout based on that of the British prototype. The T-33, was built in March 1932 and showed good buoyancy during testing. However, the T-33 did not perform satisfactorily in other tests. They continue the development for a more suitable amphibious tank, and they designated their latest model as the T-37. Even before the end of 1932, the high command of the Red Army was planning to order 30 T-37As as they were now designated, but problems plagued production, and only 126 T-37As had been produced by 1 January 1934. The tank was mass-produced starting in 1933 up until 1936, when it was replaced with the more modern T-38. Overall, after four years of production, 2552 T-37As were produced, including the original prototypes. In the Red Army, they were used to perform tasks in communication, reconnaissance, and as defence units on the march, as well as active infantry support on the battlefield. The T-37A were used in large numbers during the Soviet invasion of Poland and in the Winter War against Finland. Also the T-41 amphibious tank was also produced, with the chassis, in part, borrowed from the T-33, and the caterpillar tracks entirely from the T-27 tank.

The multi-turreted T-35 heavy tank also showed flaws Soviet tank designers started drawing up replacements. The T-35 conformed to the 1920s notion of a 'breakthrough tank' with very heavy firepower and armour protection, but poor mobility. The Spanish Civil War demonstrated the need for much heavier armour on tanks, and was the main influence on Soviet tank design just prior to World War II.

Of the tanks produced between 1930 and 1940, 97% were either identical copies of foreign designs, or very closely related improvements. Significantly, the major improvement the Soviet designers made to these foreign designs was an increase in firepower.

By 1935, the Red Army ". possessed more armoured vehicles, and more tank units than the rest of the world combined." [6] But from 1937 to 1941, the Red Army's officer corps, the armour design bureaux, and leadership of the factories were gutted by Stalin's Great Purge. Approximately 54,000 officers were repressed. Military knowledge completely stagnated and armoured vehicle production dropped drastically (though still remaining the world's largest). Training and readiness dropped to very low levels. This repression continued until the eve of the war.

The Soviet–Japanese border conflicts (1935-1939) over the border in Manchuria gave the Soviets a chance to employ tactics with their armoured forces which were to prove useful in the coming war, when General Georgy Zhukov deployed approximately 50,000 Soviet and Mongolian troops of the 57th Special Corps to hold the center of the line on the east bank of the Battle of Khalkhyn Gol, then crossed the river on with BT-7 tanks and armoured units, massed artillery, and air cover. Once the Japanese were pinned down by the advance of the Soviet center units, the tanks and armoured units swept around the flanks and attacked the Japanese in the rear, [7] achieving a classic double envelopment, allowing the two wings of Zhukov's armoured units to link up, surrounding and trapping the Japanese 23rd division. [8] [9] [10] The battle ended with the complete destruction of the Japanese forces, using tactics that Zhukov would employ later with his tanks against German forces.

However, during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, BT tanks proved vulnerable to Japanese close quarter teams [11] (tank killer squads [12] ) which were armed with "Molotov cocktails" [13] (fire bottles). The Soviet BT-5 and BT-7 light tanks, which had been operating in 100-degree-plus heat on the Mongolian plains, easily caught fire when a Molotov cocktail ignited their gasoline engines. [14] General Zhukov made it one of his points when briefing Stalin, that his ". BT tanks were a bit fireprone. " [15] [16]

One of the main competing designs of the T-35 tank was the SMK, which lowered the number of turrets from the T-35's five to two, mounting the same combination of 76.2 mm and 45 mm weapons. When two prototypes were ordered though, it was decided to create one with only a single turret, but more armour. This new single-turret tank was the KV. The smaller hull and single turret enabled the designer to install heavy frontal and turret armour while keeping the weight within manageable limits.

World War II Edit

The participation by Soviet 'volunteer' tank units in the Spanish Civil War was decisive in forming Soviet tank designs for World War II. Soviet tanks dominated their foreign rivals in Spain due to their firepower, but their thin armour, in common with most tanks of the period, made them vulnerable to the new towed antitank guns being supplied to infantry units. This finding led directly to a new generation of Soviet tanks. In 1939 the most numerous Soviet tank models were the T-26 light tank, and the BT series of fast tanks.

On the eve of World War II, the Red Army had around 8,500 T-26s of all variants. The T-26 was a slow-moving light tank intended for infantry support, originally designed to keep pace with soldiers on the ground. The BT tanks were fast-moving light tanks designed to fight other tanks but not infantry. Both were thinly armoured, proof against small arms but not anti-tank rifles and 37 mm anti-tank guns, and their gasoline-fuelled engines (commonly used in tank designs throughout the world in those days) were liable to burst into flames "at the slightest provocation." (Zaloga & Grandsen 1984:111) Development of various tank designs to find a replacement was begun, such as the T-50 light tank which was intended to replace the T-26 infantry tank. In prewar planning, the T-50 was intended to become the most numerous Soviet tank, operating alongside the BT light tank. The sophisticated T-50 was developed keeping in mind the experience gained in the Winter War and Soviet tests of the German Panzer III tank. But because of technical problems, only a total of 69 T-50 tanks were built (only 48 of them armed), and the much simpler T-60 light tanks replaced it. In the meantime, a replacement for the BT light tanks was being designed which would develop into the very capable and economical T-34 medium tank.

In 1937, the Red Army assigned the engineer Mikhail Koshkin to lead a new team to design a replacement for the BT tanks at the Kharkiv Komintern Locomotive Plant (KhPZ) in Kharkiv. The prototype tank, designated A-20, was specified with 20 millimetres (0.8 in) of armour, a 45 mm (1.8 in) gun, and the new model V-2 engine, using less-flammable diesel fuel in a V12 configuration. The A-20 incorporated previous research (BT-IS and BT-SW-2 projects) into sloped armour: its all-round sloped armour plates were more likely to deflect anti-armour rounds than perpendicular armour. [17] Koshkin convinced Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to let him develop a second prototype, a more heavily armed and armoured "universal tank" which could replace both the T-26 and the BT tanks.

The second prototype Koshkin named A-32, after its 32 millimetres (1.3 in) of frontal armour. It also had a 76.2 mm (3 in) gun, and the same model V-2 diesel engine. Both were tested in field trials at Kubinka in 1939, and the heavier A-32 proved to be as mobile as the A-20. A still heavier version of the A-32 with 45 millimetres (1.8 in) of front armour and wider tracks was approved for production as the T-34. Resistance from the military command and concerns about high production cost were finally overridden by anxieties about the poor performance of Soviet tanks in Finland and the effectiveness of Germany's Blitzkrieg in France, and the first production tanks were completed in September 1940, completely replacing the production of the T-26, BT, and the multi-turreted T-28 medium tank at the KhPZ.

The T-28 medium tank was deployed in the Invasion of Poland and later during the Winter War against Finland. In the course of these operations it was found that the armour was inadequate and programs were initiated to upgrade it. According to Russian historian M. Kolomietz's book T-28. Three-headed Stalin's Monster, over 200 T-28s were knocked out during the Winter War. Frontal plates were upgraded from 50 mm to 80 mm and side and rear plates to 40 mm thickness. With this up-armoured version, the Red Army broke through the main Finnish defensive fortification, the vaunted Mannerheim Line. The Soviets thus began to upgrade their T-28 tanks for the coming war with Germany, but many were still lost during the first two months of the invasion, when the Germans invaded in June 1941. [18]

When the Soviets entered the Winter War, the SMK, KV and a third design, the T-100, were sent to be tested in combat conditions. The heavy armour of the KV proved highly resistant to Finnish anti-tank weapons, making it more effective than the other designs. It was soon put into production, both as the original 76 mm-armed KV-1 heavy tank and the 152 mm howitzer-mounting assault gun, the KV-2 Heavy Artillery Tank. The Soviets also committed the T-38 amphibious scout tank, which was a Soviet light amphibious tank and a development of the earlier T-37, based in turn on the French AMR 33 light reconnaissance tank. The tank served with the Red Army in the Winter War with Finland in 1940, but was unsuccessful due to its light armament and thin armour, which was easily penetrated by rifle and light machine gun fire. In the confined terrain of Finland, the tank was a death trap. As a scout tank, the T-38 had the advantages of very low silhouette and good mobility, due to its ability to swim. However, the thin armour and single machine gun armament made the tank of only limited use in combat while the lack of radios in most T-38s was a serious limitation in a recon vehicle. The T-38's limitations were recognized, and it would have been replaced by the T-40, but the outbreak of the Second World War meant that only a few T-40s were produced. The T-38 was rarely seen in direct combat after Germany attacked in 1941 and was mostly relegated to other roles such as artillery tractor, and the main amphibious scout vehicle of the Red Army became the Ford GPA amphibious jeep, an open unarmoured vehicle provided through Lend-Lease.

By the eve of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Soviet Union had some of the world's best tanks (including the T-34 and KV-1, which were basically a generation ahead, coming as a shock to the Wehrmacht). However, it still had many older tanks in its front-line armoured forces, with the T-26 forming the backbone of the Red Army's armoured forces during the first months of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. In overall tanks, however, the Soviet numerical advantage was considerable as the Red Army had a large quantitative superiority. It possessed 23,106 tanks, [19] of which about 12,782 were in the five Western Military Districts (three of which directly faced the German invasion front). However, maintenance and readiness standards were very poor ammunition and radios were in short supply, and many units lacked the trucks needed for resupply beyond their basic fuel and ammunition loads.

Also, from 1938, the Soviets had partly dispersed their tanks to infantry divisions for infantry support, but after their experiences in the Winter War and their observation of the German campaign against France, had begun to emulate the Germans and organize most of their armoured assets into large armour divisions and corps. This reorganization was only partially implemented at the dawn of Barbarossa, [20] as not enough tanks were available to bring the mechanized corps up to organic strength. Tank units were rarely well-equipped, and also lacked training and logistical support. Maintenance standards were very poor. Units were sent into combat with no arrangements for refuelling, ammunition resupply, or personnel replacement. Often, after a single engagement, units were destroyed or rendered ineffective. The poor training and readiness status of most Red Army units led to a catastrophic defeat of the enormous Soviet Mechanised Corps during the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa, Germany's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. Despite their generally good equipment, the Red Army's operational capabilities and motorised logistic support were very inferior. The Soviet numerical advantage in heavy equipment was also more than offset by the greatly superior training and readiness of German forces. The Soviet officer corps and high command had been decimated by Stalin's Great Purge (1936–1938).

The German Wehrmacht had about 5,200 tanks overall, of which 3,350 were committed to the invasion. This yields a balance of immediately available tanks of about 4:1 in the Red Army's favour. The best Soviet tank, the T-34, was the most modern in the world, and the KV series the best armoured. The most advanced Soviet tank models, however, the T-34 and KV-1, were not available in large numbers early in the war, and only accounted for 7.2% of the total Soviet tank force. But while these 1,861 modern tanks were technically superior to the 1,404 German medium Panzer III and IV tanks, the Soviets in 1941 still lacked the communications, training and experience to employ such weapons effectively.

The Soviet Union had also built some of the best amphibious tanks as amphibious capability was important to the Red Army, as evidenced by the production of over 1,500 amphibious tanks in the 1930s. It built the T-37 and T-38 tank light amphibians and then the T-40 which was intended to replace them. The T-40 was a superior design, armed with a 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun, a much more potent weapon than the 7.62 mm DT machine gun mounted on the T-38. But due to the pressures of war, the Soviets favoured the production of simpler tank designs, and only a small number of T-40s were built.

The T-40 entered production just prior to the outbreak of war, and was intended to equip reconnaissance units. As the need for large numbers of tanks became critical, a secondary non-amphibious variant was designed on the T-40 chassis. This design became the T-60. The T-60 was simpler, cheaper, and better armed, and could fulfil most of the same roles. Under the stress of war, production of the T-40 was halted in favour of the T-60. Despite that, T-40 with thicker armor and TNSh cannon, unable to float, was produced along the T-60 in smaller numbers for more smooth conveyor belt transition, this tank was also named as T-60, but is often referred to as "T-40" T-60 to avoid confusion. Thus only 356 T-40s were issued, compared to 594 "T-40" T-60 and over 6,000 true T-60s. Although at first intended to carry a 12.7 mm machine gun like the T-40, the "T-40" T-60 scout tank armament was later upgraded to the 20 mm TNSh cannon, a tank version of the ShVAK, "true" T-60 had TNSh from beginning.

By 1942, light tanks such as the T-60 were considered inadequate by the Red Army, unable to keep up with the T-34 medium tank and unable to penetrate the armour of most German tanks, but they could be produced by small factories which were unable to handle the large components of medium and heavy tanks. The T-70 was an attempt to remedy some of the shortcomings of the T-60 scout tank, which had very poor cross-country mobility, thin armour, and an inadequate 20 mm gun. The T-70 light tank had a 45 mm L/46 gun Model 38 with forty-five rounds carried, and a coaxial 7.62 mm DT machine gun and was used by the Red Army to replace both the T-60 scout tank for reconnaissance and the T-50 light infantry tank for infantry support.

The T-70 was then replaced with the T-80 light tank, a more robust version of the T-70 with a two-man turret. But there was enough lend-lease equipment available to fulfil the reconnaissance role of the light tanks, and armoured cars were better suited for light scouting and liaison. All light tank production was cancelled in October 1943, after only about 75 T-80s were built. No further light tanks would be built during the war. In November 1943 Red Army tank units were reorganized: light tanks were replaced by the T-34 and new T-34-85, which started production the following month.

At the outset of the war, T-34 tanks amounted to only about four percent of the Soviet tank arsenal, but by the war's end, they comprised at least 55% of the USSR's massive output of tanks (based on figures from [21] Zheltov 2001 lists even larger numbers). During the winter of 1941–42, the T-34 dominated German tanks through its ability to move over deep mud or snow without bogging down, where German tanks could not. The Panzer IV used an inferior leaf-spring suspension and narrow track, and tended to sink in deep mud or snow. [22] However, by the time the T-34 had replaced older models and became available in greater numbers, newer German tanks, including the improved Panzer V "Panther", outperformed it. In early 1944, an upgraded tank, the T-34-85, gave the Red Army a tank with better armour and mobility than German Panzer IV and Sturmgeschütz III, but it could not match the Panther in gun or armour protection. To the Soviet advantage there were far fewer Panthers than T-34s, and the T-34-85 was good enough to allow skilled crew and tactical situations to tip the balance.

1. Difference Between Political Ideologies – Communism Vs Democracy

The first reason for that tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was the ideological difference.

Actually, on one side Soviet Russia was a Communist nation, where there was no democracy existed (Only one political party ruling system and it was CPSU) but on the other hand, the United States of America was a fully democratic country.

Due to this ideological difference, these two big countries never believed each other.

Russian Communist party always blamed the US that they were trying to spare democratic ideologies in their country same way the US also blamed Russia as an expansionist totalitarian power.

They also neglected Communist rule as the rule of Demon.

The United States and its Western allies believed that Communism was a major threat to human beings’ natural rights (Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness).

Even to prevent Communism’s expansion in Europe, the United States widely funded countries like Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, West Germany, Norway, etc.

2. The USA’s Secrecy of Nuclear Weapon From Soviet Union

During World War 2, the USA and Soviet Union together fought as a part of allied forces.

By the very end of the war, America attacked Japan with atomic bombs, which caused mass destruction in two important Japanese cities Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

But the interesting fact was the US never informed the Soviet Union about they had Nuclear weapons.

However, except for Russia other allied nations like Great Britain and French were well informed about it.

Other hand, Russian leader Joseph Stalin was thinking that they would force Japan to surrender by attacking earlier than the Americans but even before the Russian invasion, the US attacked Japan with Nuclear weapons and forced them to surrender.

It was so difficult for Russian leaders to accept this thing with ease.

These disputable actions from western countries made the Soviet Union more cautious.

They considered it a major betrayal to them.

[ Fact: It Is Still In Controversy, Wheather USSR Knew About Americans To Attack Japan With Atom Bombs or Not Some Say They Did Inform It Before And Some Say They Didn’t]

3. Soviet Spies In America

This was another important reason what raised the tensions between the Soviet Union and the US after the war.

After the end of the Second World War, many Soviet spies started working in the USA with the direction of Moscow.

They mainly worked there to steal information about the atomic bomb, American security issues, and spare communist ideologies.

Soviet spies also sent a number of facts to Moscow by collecting samples of uranium from America. Resulted on 29th August 1949, Moscow tested its first Atom bomb.

The US went very angry due to these actions of the Soviet Union.

This test became the milestone from where these two powers started involving in an arms race, which lasted for the next forty-two years duration.

4. Cancellation of Loans For The Soviet Union Given By America

Because of World War II, the economy of the entire world completely devastated.

Especially, almost entire Europe again (after WW1) transformed into a carcass. The USSR faced massive losses due to the operation of Barbarossa, executed by Axis forces.

At that time, the US started paying loans for financial aid to its allied nations.

Due to Soviet Russia fought battles from allied power’s side, initial days they also got some benefits from the United States.

But because of tensions rising between these two nations suddenly the US stopped all the plans for providing loans to them.

This sudden action from the United States’ side caused a heavy economic crisis in Moscow. The Soviet Union deeply offended by this task of American leaders.

They also blamed them that they were trying to destroy Russia’s economy and make them weaker.

[ Fact: Did You Know The USSR Was The Nation In World War 2, Who Faced Highest Numbers of Its Military And Civilian Casualties? Their Total Death Was 42 Million People. Here 19.4 Million Were Military Personals And Other 22.6 Million Were Civilians]

5. Race of Destructive Weapons – Especially Nuclear Weapons

Most of the dangerous weapons in the modern world were manufactured in the Cold War era.

In 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear bomb. This incident leads the United States of America and other Western countries to be more alert.

They realized it would be a huge danger for them in the upcoming days.

For this reason, on 3rd October 1952, the United Kingdom tested its first atom bomb and became the third nuclear-powered nation similarly, on 13th February 1960, France also acquired nuclear capability.

Especially the US came into full action to be one step ahead of than Soviets.

Hence, they started manufacturing more and more destructive weapons.

The race continued till 1991.

According to various research documents, the United States and the Soviet Union had built so many nuclear weapons in the Cold War era that the entire earth could be destroyed by more than 200 times.

Communism VS Capitalism

6. Economic Causes – Communism Vs Capitalism

Another reason for the growing tension between the Soviet Union and the United States was economic opposition.

All the Western nations under the leadership of America supported the capitalist order in their economies.

In this system, the nation does not keep control over the economy of the country.

But on the other side, the Soviet Union and its other associate countries supported communist ideology in their economies, where the government of the country takes full control of its economy.

After the war, many countries of Asia and the African continent became independent.

These two superpowers tried to influence the economy of these newly independent countries with their ideologies.

On one hand, where the US and other Western countries tried to influence them with Capitalist ideology similarly, the Soviet Union and other Communists nations also tried to influence them with communist economic ideology.

However, most of these countries acquired mixed economic ideologies instead of depending upon only one.

7. Misunderstanding Over Peace Treaties

After the war, many disputes also arose between the two superpowers over the peace treaties in many countries of Eastern, Central, and Western Europe.

These countries were mainly Italy, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, etc.

In countries like Bulgaria and Romania, when the US and other capitalist countries refused to accept the reputed Communist governments by showing some unrealistic reasons, the Soviet Union openly opposed it.

On the other hand, it was difficult for the US to accept the direct intervention of the Soviet Union in these countries.

Even in many times Soviet authority directly intervened with their military power in these nations to abolish uprisings against Communism.

8. Formation of Military Alliances

On April 4th, 1949 under the leadership of the US many countries of Europe formed a military alliance named ‘NATO’.

At that time NATO’s members were Belgium, UK, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and a few others.

The Soviet Union and other Communist nations considered this military alliance as a major threat to their existence and national security.

As a result, they also signed a pact of the collective military alliance in 1955 on the 14th.

This was the ‘Warsaw pact’, signed in the capital Poland.

A total of eight members first joined this military agreement.

They were Albania, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union.

These two powerful military agreements also fueled up raising tensions between these two superpowers.


Common name Soviet Union United States
Official name Union of Soviet Socialist Republics United States of America
Area 22,402,200 km 2 (8,649,538 sq mi) 9,526,468 km 2 (3,794,101 sq mi) [1]
Population 286,730,819 (1989) 248,709,873 (1990)
Population density 13.0/km 2 (33.6/sq mi) 34/km 2 (85.5/sq mi)
Capital Moscow Washington, D.C.
Largest metropolitan areas Moscow New York City
Government Federal Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic Federal presidential constitutional republic
Political parties Communist Party of the Soviet Union Democratic Party
Republican Party
Most common language Russian English
Currency Soviet ruble US dollar
GDP (nominal) $2.659 trillion (
  • 41,580 tanks
  • 8,840 ATGM launchers
  • 45,000 BMP/BTR
  • 24,000 tanks
  • 63 ballistic missiles submarines
  • 72 cruise missiles submarines
  • 64 nuclear attack submarines
  • 65 conventional attack submarines
  • 9 auxiliary submarines
  • 6 aircraft carriers
  • 4 battle cruisers
  • 26 cruisers
  • 52 destroyers
  • 33 frigates
  • 200 corvettes
  • 35 amphibious warfare ships
  • 425 patrol crafts
  • 33 ballistic missiles submarines
  • 93 attack submarines
  • 13 aircraft carriers
  • 4 battleships
  • 4 command ships
  • 22 mine warfare
  • 6 patrol boats
  • 43 cruisers
  • 57 destroyers
  • 99 frigates
  • 59 amphibious warfare ships
  • 137 auxiliary ships
  • 435 bombers
  • 5,665 fighters/attacks
  • 1,015 reconnaissance
  • 84 tankers
  • 620 transports
  • 327 bombers [11]
  • 4,155 fighters/attacks [12]
  • 533 reconnaissance
  • 618 tankers
  • 1295 transports [9]
  • Albania (until 1968)
  • Bulgaria
  • Czechoslovakia
  • East Germany
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania

Soviet Republics seat in the United Nations:

Other Soviet Socialist Republics:

  • Russian SFSR
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Georgia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Lithuania
  • Moldavia
  • Latvia
  • Kirghizia
  • Tajikistan
  • Armenia
  • Turkmenia
  • Estonia
  • Karelia (until 1956)
  • Afghanistan (1978–1991)
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Bangladesh (1972–1976)
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burma
  • Cape Verde
  • China (1949–1961)
  • Congo
  • Cuba (from 1959)
  • Egypt (until 1973)
  • Ethiopia (1974–1987)
  • PDR Ethiopia (1987–1991)
  • France (NATO-aligned, part-time ally)
  • Ghana
  • Grenada (1979–1983)
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • India
  • Indonesia (until 1965)
  • Iraq
  • Kampuchea (1979–1989)
  • Laos (from 1975)
  • Libyan AR (1969–1977)
  • Libya (from 1977)
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Mexico (part-time ally)
  • Mongolia
  • Mozambique
  • Nicaragua (from 1979)
  • North Korea
  • Palestine (from 1988)
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia (until 1977)
  • South Yemen
  • Syria
  • Vietnam (North Vietnam until 1976)
  • Yugoslavia (until 1948)
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • West Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus (in-exile)
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • China (1979–1989)
  • Colombia
  • Cuba (until 1959)
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt (from 1974)
  • Ethiopia (until 1974)
  • Indonesia (from 1966)
  • Iran (until 1979)
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Democratic Kampuchea (in-exile)
  • Kenya
  • Khmer Republic (1970–1975)
  • Kuwait
  • Laos (until 1975)
  • Liberia
  • Libya (until 1969)
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua (until 1979)
  • North Yemen
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland (in-exile)
  • Qatar
  • Romania (Warsaw Pact-aligned, part-time ally)
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Somalia (from 1978)
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • South Vietnam (1955–1975)
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Ukraine (in-exile)
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uruguay
  • Yugoslavia (after 1948, part-time ally)
  • Zaire

Leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States from 1917 to 1991.

Pre-World War II relations Edit

1917–1932 Edit

After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in the October Revolution, Vladimir Lenin withdrew Russia from the First World War, allowing Germany to reallocate troops to face the Allied forces on the Western Front and causing many in the Allied Powers to regard the new Russian government as traitorous for violating the Triple Entente terms against a separate peace. [14] Concurrently, President Woodrow Wilson became increasingly aware of the human rights violations perpetuated by the new Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and opposed the new regime's atheism and advocacy of a command economy. He also was concerned that Marxism–Leninism would spread to the remainder of the Western world, and intended his landmark Fourteen Points partially to provide liberal democracy as an alternative worldwide ideology to Communism. [15] [16]

However, President Wilson also believed that the new country would eventually transition to a progressive free-market democracy after the end of the chaos of the Russian Civil War, and that intervention against Soviet Russia would only turn the country against the United States. He likewise advocated a policy of noninterference in the war in the Fourteen Points, although he argued that the former Russian Empire's Polish territory should be ceded to the newly independent Second Polish Republic. Additionally many of Wilson's political opponents in the United States, including the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Henry Cabot Lodge, believed that an independent Ukraine should be established. Despite this the United States, as a result of the fear of Japanese expansion into Russian-held territory and their support for the Allied-aligned Czech Legion, sent a small number of troops to Northern Russia and Siberia. The United States also provided indirect aid such as food and supplies to the White Army. [14] [17] [15]

At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 President Wilson and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, despite the objections of French President Georges Clemenceau and Italian Foreign Minister Sidney Sonnino, pushed forward an idea to convene a summit at Prinkipo between the Bolsheviks and the White movement to form a common Russian delegation to the Conference. The Soviet Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, under the leadership of Leon Trotsky and Georgy Chicherin, received British and American envoys respectfully but had no intentions of agreeing to the deal due to their belief that the Conference was composed of an old capitalist order that would be swept away in a world revolution. By 1921, after the Bolsheviks gained the upper hand in the Russian Civil War, executed the Romanov imperial family, repudiated the tsarist debt, and called for a world revolution by the working class, it was regarded as a pariah nation by most of the world. [15] Beyond the Russian Civil War, relations were also dogged by claims of American companies for compensation for the nationalized industries they had invested in. [18]

Leaders of American foreign policy remain convinced that the Soviet Union was a hostile threat to American values. Republican Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes rejected recognition, telling labor union leaders that, "those in control of Moscow have not given up their original purpose of destroying existing governments wherever they can do so throughout the world." [19] Under President Calvin Coolidge, Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg warned that the Kremlin's international agency, the Communist International (Comintern) was aggressively planning subversion against other nations, including the United States, to "overthrow the existing order." [20] Herbert Hoover in 1919 warned Wilson that, "We cannot even remotely recognize this murderous tyranny without stimulating action is to radicalism in every country in Europe and without transgressing on every National ideal of our own." [21] Inside the U.S. State Department, the Division of Eastern European Affairs by 1924 was dominated by Robert F. Kelley, a zealous enemy of communism who trained a generation of specialists including George Kennan and Charles Bohlen. Kelley was convinced the Kremlin planned to activate the workers of the world against capitalism. [22]

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and other European nations were reopening relations with Moscow, especially trade, although they remain suspicious of communist subversion, and angry at the Kremlin's repudiation of Russian debts. Outside Washington, there was some American support for renewed relationships, especially in terms of technology. [23] Henry Ford, committed to the belief that international trade was the best way to avoid warfare, used his Ford Motor Company to build a truck industry and introduce tractors into Russia. Architect Albert Kahn became a consultant for all industrial construction in the Soviet Union in 1930. [24] A few intellectuals on the left showed an interest. After 1930, a number of activist intellectuals have become members of the Communist Party USA, or fellow travelers, and drummed up support for the Soviet Union. The American labor movement was divided, with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) an anti-communist stronghold, while left-wing elements in the late 1930s formed the rival Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The CPUSA played a major role in the CIO until its members were purged beginning in 1946, and American organized labor became strongly anti-Soviet. [25]

Recognition in 1933 Edit

By 1933, old fears of Communist threats had faded, and the American business community, as well as newspaper editors, were calling for diplomatic recognition. The business community was eager for large-scale trade with the Soviet Union. The US government hoped for some repayment on the old tsarist debts, and a promise not to support subversive movements inside the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the initiative, with the assistance of his close friend and advisor Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and Russian expert William Bullitt, bypassing the State Department. [26] [27] Roosevelt commissioned a survey of public opinion, which at the time meant asking 1100 newspaper editors 63 percent favored recognition of the USSR and 27 percent were opposed. Roosevelt met personally with Catholic leaders to overcome their objections. He invited Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov to Washington for a series of high-level meetings in November 1933. He and Roosevelt agreed on issues of religious freedom for Americans working in the Soviet Union. The USSR promised not to interfere in internal American affairs, and to ensure that no organization in the USSR was working to hurt the U.S. or overthrow its government by force. Both sides agreed to postpone the debt question to a later date. Roosevelt thereupon announced an agreement on resumption of normal relations. [28] [29] There were few complaints about the move. [30]

However, there was no progress on the debt issue, and little additional trade. Historians Justus D. Doenecke and Mark A. Stoler note that, "Both nations were soon disillusioned by the accord." [31] Many American businessmen expected a bonus in terms of large-scale trade, but it never materialized. [32]

Roosevelt named William Bullitt as ambassador from 1933 to 1936. Bullitt arrived in Moscow with high hopes for Soviet–American relations, his view of the Soviet leadership soured on closer inspection. By the end of his tenure, Bullitt was openly hostile to the Soviet government. He remained an outspoken anti-communist for the rest of his life. [33] [34]

World War II (1939–45) Edit

Before the Germans decided to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941, relations remained strained, as the Soviet invasion of Finland, Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet invasion of the Baltic states and the Soviet invasion of Poland stirred, which resulted in Soviet Union's expulsion from the League of Nations. Come the invasion of 1941, the Soviet Union entered a Mutual Assistance Treaty with the United Kingdom, and received aid from the American Lend-Lease program, relieving American-Soviet tensions, and bringing together former enemies in the fight against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers.

Though operational cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union was notably less than that between other allied powers, the United States nevertheless provided the Soviet Union with huge quantities of weapons, ships, aircraft, rolling stock, strategic materials, and food through the Lend-Lease program. The Americans and the Soviets were as much for war with Germany as for the expansion of an ideological sphere of influence. During the war, President Harry S. Truman stated that it did not matter to him if a German or a Soviet soldier died so long as either side is losing. [35]

The American Russian Cultural Association (Russian: Американо–русская культурная ассоциация) was organized in the US in 1942 to encourage cultural ties between the Soviet Union and the United States, with Nicholas Roerich as honorary president. The group's first annual report was issued the following year. The group does not appear to have lasted much past Nicholas Roerich's death in 1947. [36] [37]

In total, the U.S. deliveries through Lend-Lease amounted to $11 billion in materials: over 400,000 jeeps and trucks 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks, about 1,386 [38] of which were M3 Lees and 4,102 M4 Shermans) [39] 11,400 aircraft (4,719 of which were Bell P-39 Airacobras) [40] and 1.75 million tons of food. [41]

Roughly 17.5 million tons of military equipment, vehicles, industrial supplies, and food were shipped from the Western Hemisphere to the Soviet Union, with 94 percent coming from the United States. For comparison, a total of 22 million tons landed in Europe to supply American forces from January 1942 to May 1945. It has been estimated that American deliveries to the USSR through the Persian Corridor alone were sufficient, by US Army standards, to maintain sixty combat divisions in the line. [42] [43]

The United States delivered to the Soviet Union from October 1, 1941 to May 31, 1945 the following: 427,284 trucks, 13,303 combat vehicles, 35,170 motorcycles, 2,328 ordnance service vehicles, 2,670,371 tons of petroleum products (gasoline and oil) or 57.8 percent of the high-octane aviation fuel, [44] 4,478,116 tons of foodstuffs (canned meats, sugar, flour, salt, etc.), 1,911 steam locomotives, 66 diesel locomotives, 9,920 flat cars, 1,000 dump cars, 120 tank cars, and 35 heavy machinery cars. Provided ordnance goods (ammunition, artillery shells, mines, assorted explosives) amounted to 53 percent of total domestic production. [44] One item typical of many was a tire plant that was lifted bodily from the Ford's River Rouge Plant and transferred to the USSR. The 1947 money value of the supplies and services amounted to about eleven billion dollars. [45]

Memorandum for the President's Special Assistant Harry Hopkins, Washington, D.C., 10 August 1943:

In War II Russia occupies a dominant position and is the decisive factor looking toward the defeat of the Axis in Europe. While in Sicily the forces of Great Britain and the United States are being opposed by 2 German divisions, the Russian front is receiving attention of approximately 200 German divisions. Whenever the Allies open a second front on the Continent, it will be decidedly a secondary front to that of Russia theirs will continue to be the main effort. Without Russia in the war, the Axis cannot be defeated in Europe, and the position of the United Nations becomes precarious. Similarly, Russia’s post-war position in Europe will be a dominant one. With Germany crushed, there is no power in Europe to oppose her tremendous military forces. [46]

Cold War (1947–91) Edit

The end of World War II saw the resurgence of previous divisions between the two nations. The expansion of communist influence into Eastern Europe following Germany's defeat worried the liberal free market economies of the West, particularly the United States, which had established virtual economic and political primacy in Western Europe. The two nations promoted two opposing economic and political ideologies and the two nations competed for international influence along these lines. This protracted a geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle—lasting from the announcement of the Truman Doctrine on March 12, 1947 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991—is known as the Cold War, a period of nearly 45 years.

The Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear weapon in 1949, ending the United States' monopoly on nuclear weapons. The United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a conventional and nuclear arms race that persisted until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Andrei Gromyko was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, and is the longest-serving foreign minister in the world.

After Germany's defeat, the United States sought to help its Western European allies economically with the Marshall Plan. The United States extended the Marshall Plan to the Soviet Union, but under such terms, the Americans knew the Soviets would never accept, namely the acceptance of, what the Soviets viewed as, a bourgeoisie democracy, not characteristic of Stalinist communism. With its growing influence on Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union sought to counter this with the Comecon in 1949, which essentially did the same thing, though was more an economic cooperation agreement instead of a clear plan to rebuild. The United States and its Western European allies sought to strengthen their bonds and spite the Soviet Union. They accomplished this most notably through the formation of NATO which was essentially a military agreement. The Soviet Union countered with the Warsaw Pact, which had similar results with the Eastern Bloc.

Détente Edit

Détente began in 1969, as a core element of the foreign policy of president Richard Nixon and his top advisor Henry Kissinger. They wanted to end the containment policy and gain friendlier relations with the USSR and China. Those two were rivals and Nixon expected they would go along with Washington as to not give the other rival an advantage. One of Nixon's terms is that both nations had to stop helping North Vietnam in the Vietnam War, which they did. Nixon and Kissinger promoted greater dialogue with the Soviet government, including regular summit meetings and negotiations over arms control and other bilateral agreements. Brezhnev met with Nixon at summits in Moscow in 1972, in Washington in 1973, and, again in Moscow in 1974. They became personal friends. [47] [48] Détente was known in Russian as разрядка (razryadka, loosely meaning "relaxation of tension"). [49]

The period was characterized by the signing of treaties such as SALT I and the Helsinki Accords. Another treaty, START II, was discussed but never ratified by the United States. There is still ongoing debate amongst historians as to how successful the détente period was in achieving peace. [50] [51]

After the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the two superpowers agreed to install a direct hotline between Washington D.C. and Moscow (the so-called red telephone), enabling leaders of both countries to quickly interact with each other in a time of urgency, and reduce the chances that future crises could escalate into an all-out war. The U.S./USSR détente was presented as an applied extension of that thinking. The SALT II pact of the late 1970s continued the work of the SALT I talks, ensuring further reduction in arms by the Soviets and by the U.S. The Helsinki Accords, in which the Soviets promised to grant free elections in Europe, has been called a major concession to ensure peace by the Soviets.

Détente ended after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which led to the United States boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Ronald Reagan's election as president in 1980, based in large part on an anti-détente campaign, [52] marked the close of détente and a return to Cold War tensions. In his first press conference, President Reagan said "Détente's been a one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its aims." [53] Following this, relations turned increasingly sour with the unrest in Poland, [54] [55] end of the SALT II negotiations, and the NATO exercise in 1983 that brought the superpowers almost on the brink of nuclear war. [56]

Resumption of the Cold War Edit

End of Détente Edit

The period of détente ended after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which led to the United States boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Ronald Reagan's election as president in 1980 was further based in large part on an anti-détente campaign. [52] In his first press conference, President Reagan said "Détente's been a one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its aims." [53] Following this, relations turned increasingly sour with the unrest in Poland, [54] [55] end of the SALT II negotiations, and the NATO exercise in 1983 that brought the superpowers almost on the brink of nuclear war. [56] The United States, Pakistan, and their allies supported the rebels. To punish Moscow, President Jimmy Carter imposed a grain embargo. This hurt American farmers more than it did the Soviet economy, and President Ronald Reagan resumed sales in 1981. Other nations sold their own grain to the USSR, and the Soviets had ample reserve stocks and a good harvest of their own. [57]


Concrete is a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement (cement paste) that hardens (cures) over time. In the past, lime based cement binders, such as lime putty, were often used but sometimes with other hydraulic cements, such as a calcium aluminate cement or with Portland cement to form Portland cement concrete (named for its visual resemblance to Portland stone). [2] [3] Many other non-cementitious types of concrete exist with other methods of binding aggregate together, including asphalt concrete with a bitumen binder, which is frequently used for road surfaces, and polymer concretes that use polymers as a binder. Concrete is distinct from mortar. Whereas concrete is itself a building material, mortar is a bonding agent that typically holds bricks, tiles and other masonry units together. [4]

When aggregate is mixed with dry Portland cement and water, the mixture forms a fluid slurry that is easily poured and molded into shape. The cement reacts with the water and other ingredients to form a hard matrix that binds the materials together into a durable stone-like material that has many uses. [5] Often, additives (such as pozzolans or superplasticizers) are included in the mixture to improve the physical properties of the wet mix or the finished material. Most concrete is poured with reinforcing materials (such as rebar) embedded to provide tensile strength, yielding reinforced concrete.

Concrete is one of the most frequently used building materials. Its usage worldwide, ton for ton, is twice that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminum combined. [6] Globally, the ready-mix concrete industry, the largest segment of the concrete market, is projected to exceed $600 billion in revenue by 2025. [7] This widespread use results in a number of environmental impacts. Most notably, the production process for cement produces large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions, leading to net 8% of global emissions. [8] [9] Significant research and development is being done to try to reduce the emissions or make concrete a source of carbon sequestration. Other environmental concerns include widespread illegal sand mining, impacts on the surrounding environment such as increased surface runoff or urban heat island effect, and potential public health implications from toxic ingredients. Concrete is also used to mitigate the pollution of other industries, capturing wastes such as coal fly ash or bauxite tailings and residue.

The Soviet-American Arms Race

John Swift examines a vital element of the Cold War and assesses the motives of the Superpowers.

The destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American atomic weapons in August 1945 began an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. This lasted until the signing of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty of November 1990. An entire generation grew up under the shadow of imminent catastrophe. There were widespread fears that humanity could not survive. A single reckless leader, or even a mistake or misunderstanding, could initiate the extinction of mankind. Stockpiles of fearsome weapons were built up to levels far beyond any conceivable purpose, and only seemed to add to the uncertainty and instability of the age. Did Cold War leaders act irrationally through fear and distrust? Or was there a degree of rationality and reason behind the colossal arms build-up?

A New Superweapon?

The rapid surrender of Japan in 1945 certainly suggested that the United States possessed the most decisive of weapons. Indeed there is reason to suspect that the real purpose in using them was less to force a Japanese defeat than to warn the Soviet Union to be amenable to American wishes in the construction of the postwar world. As an aid to American diplomacy, however, the possession of atomic weapons proved of little value. The Soviet leadership quickly realised their limitations. The Americans, it was clear, would use them in defence of Western Europe in the face of a Soviet invasion – a step Joseph Stalin never seems to have seriously contemplated – but no American government could justify their use in order to force political reforms on Eastern Europe. Arguably Right: The test explosion of an American nuclear bomb in the Marshall Islands. John Swift examines a vital element of the Cold War and assesses the motives of the Superpowers. Soviet leaders became even more intransigent in negotiations, determined to show they would not be intimidated. Also, it was certain that the Soviet Union would develop atomic weapons of their own, and as rapidly as possible. This, the Americans assumed, would take between eight and 15 years, given the wartime devastation the Soviet Union had suffered.

This left the Americans to ponder the problems of security in an atomicallyarmed world. A single weapon could destroy a city. Also wartime experience had shown that there had been no defence against German V2 rockets. If, therefore, a warhead could be mounted on such a rocket, it would surely provide instant victory. Additionally, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had taught that the surprise attack was the tool of aggressors. Peace-loving democracies would be terribly vulnerable. In consequence, some thought was given to international controls, under the auspices of the United Nations, to prevent any nation possessing these weapons. This was the basis of the Baruch Plan.

In 1946 American financier, and presidential adviser, Bernard Baruch proposed the dismantling of American weapons, international prohibition on the production of any more, and international co-operation in developing atomic energy for peaceful use under the strict supervision of an international body. But the Soviet Union would have to submit to that inspection regime, and the United States would not share its weapons technology. It is unclear how seriously president Harry S. Truman and his administration took these proposals. They sounded pious, and when the Soviet Union rejected them, which they did, the Americans scored considerable propaganda points – which may have been the whole point of the exercise.

Without international controls, the only defence seemed to be to threaten retaliation in kind if an atomic attack was ever made on the United States or its allies. As it proved extremely difficult to develop long-range missiles that were sufficiently reliable and accurate, initially that deterrence was provided by B36 bombers stationed in Britain and the Far East. But the Soviet Union tested its first atomic weapon in 1949, far earlier than had been expected. The shock of this made American stockpiles of nuclear bombs seem unconvincing. Truman, therefore, authorised the development of thermonuclear weapons, or hydrogen bombs. These yielded explosions of ten megatons (equivalent to 10,000,000 tons of TNT, whereas the bomb used on Hiroshima yielded the equivalent of 12,500 tons). But by 1953, the Soviet Union had caught up again. Meanwhile the United States began building its first effective long-range missile force. These included the Atlas and Titan ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), the Jupiter and Thor IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles) and the Polaris SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). The Americans maintained a technological lead over the Soviet Union, but this did not always appear to be the case. In October 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite. This shocked the American public, who were unused to the thought of being within range of Soviet weapons, which they now seemed to be.

The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, made much of his nation’s technological prowess. In fact the technological lead and the strategic balance remained very much in America’s favour – but that did not prevent the American public believing in the existence of a ‘missile gap’ in favour of the Soviet Union. This in turn led John F. Kennedy, when he became president in 1961, to expand American missile forces much further. Kennedy’s presidency also saw the world stand on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuba Missile Crisis of October 1962. In its wake his Defence Secretary, Robert McNamara, moved to the strategy of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). This was intended to provide a degree of stability by accepting the complete destruction of both sides in an atomic exchange. Nothing could be done to prevent a devastating nuclear attack but the retaliation would still be launched, and both sides would suffer equally. This idea of mutual deterrence did have some advantages. If ICBMs were dispersed to hardened silos, and the SLBM fleet sufficiently undetectable, then enough would survive to retaliate. A surprise attack would benefit nobody. Also it would render it unnecessary to keep building ever more missiles, just to retain a degree of parity. It would thus surely make some form of negotiated limits on missile numbers possible.

Criticism of Mutual Deterrence

There were aspects of MAD that many found objectionable. Future president Ronald Reagan felt it was defeatist, and held that the United States should be defended, whereas proponents of MAD insisted it could only work if deterrence was mutual and both sides remained equally vulnerable. Peace campaigners had other concerns. MAD seemed to offer only a perpetual threat of war. They feared that in such circumstances, war could not be avoided permanently. Despite the best intentions of political leaders, a mistake or an accident must at some point push the world over the edge. Also there were arguments that deterrence did not keep the peace, but caused war. Deterrence required not only ability (the possession of the weapons), it also needed the perception of resolve (the other side must believe in the willingness to actually launch the missiles if necessary). This in turn required both sides to show resolve. The best way to show willingness to launch death and destruction on a world scale, was to launch it on a smaller scale. Thus many of the wars of the Cold War, it was argued, such as Vietnam and Afghanistan, were caused, at least in part, by the deterrence strategy.

Peace campaigners were also among those who addressed the question of how much deterrence was needed. During the Cuba Missile Crisis, Kennedy had the option of launching air-strikes to destroy the missiles in Cuba. But when he learned that a handful of them were likely to survive, he rejected that option for fear they might be launched. A little deterrence obviously can go a long way. Yet by the mid 1970s peace research groups, such as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, were variously reporting that enough atomic weaponry had been stockpiled to exterminate humanity 690 times. At the same time, work on chemical and biological warfare (CBW) was making rapid progress. Diseases such as anthrax and glanders, which could kill virtually everyone who contracted them, could easily be spread. Other biological agents could target livestock or crops to cause famine. The risks of an epidemic destroying its originators merely added to the inherent horrors of such weapons.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)

That some form of agreement over missile numbers would have to be found was obvious. The greater the stockpiles of weapons, the more horrifying the potential consequences of escalating confrontations became. Even the development of small-yield, tactical, or battlefield nuclear weapons did little to suggest that even a limited nuclear engagement would be less than catastrophic. In the 1950s the United States Army undertook military exercises, such as operations Sage Brush and Carte Blanche, to see if such weapons could be used to defend West Germany from Soviet invasion. The conclusion reached was that they might – but only after West Germany had virtually ceased to exist. As early as the mid 1950s it was generally accepted that in a nuclear war the concept of a victory was ludicrous. There developed a widespread pessimism that in a post-nuclear war world, suffering destruction, chaos, nuclear fallout, famine and disease, the survivors would envy the dead.

Some steps to ease tensions had been taken. Badly shaken by their nearness to disaster during the Cuba Missile Crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev had installed a hotline (in reality a teletype line connecting the Whitehouse and the Kremlin, so that both leaders could act quickly to diffuse crises). They also agreed on a Partial Test Ban Treaty, moving test detonations of nuclear weapons underground, which did something to reduce atmospheric radioactive contamination from such tests. Furthermore they agreed not to station nuclear missiles in space or on the seabed, which neither had the technology to do anyway. Also, to prevent those countries that did not already possess nuclear weapons gaining them, in 1968 the Non Proliferation Treaty was signed. By this, nations who either lacked the technology or the desire to own them, agreed not to build nuclear weapons and to allow international inspection of their nuclear facilities – providing, that is, that the nuclear powers undertook to completely disarm at the earliest opportunity. Other nations who had (or hoped to gain) the technology, and had the will, such as North Korea, Israel, Pakistan and India, either refused to sign or subsequently withdrew from it. All soon gained nuclear weapons that threatened to begin regional arms races.

But a solid agreement between the two main Cold War protagonists limiting the stockpiles of nuclear weapons proved very difficult to find. President Eisenhower, in 1955, had urged an agreement on ‘open skies’. By this, both sides would be free to over-fly each other’s military bases. This would allow the verification that both were adhering to a future arms control agreement. The Soviets promptly rejected the idea. They did not possess the aircraft to over-fly US bases, and saw it as an American attempt to legitimise spying. To the Americans, strict verification of Soviet compliance remained fundamental to any agreement. Herein lay a basic problem. Both sides were convinced of their own moral superiority. It was the other side who could not be trusted, and they reacted with astonished outrage when their own good intentions were questioned.

But simply building ever more weapons was futile, costly and dangerous. By 2000 it is thought that there had been over 30 ‘broken arrows’, or accidents involving nuclear weapons, and perhaps six warheads had been lost at sea and never recovered. Also during the 1960s a new technological development arose that threatened whatever stability MAD offered. This came from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system. This defensive system was designed to intercept and destroy ICBMs in flight. Despite being in its infancy and having very limited reliability, it might tempt a reckless leader to gamble on surviving retaliation and launch a surprise attack. Deterrence would only work if it was mutual, and if both sides were sure the other could not survive a nuclear exchange. Yet ABM would require sophisticated radar systems and its missiles would have to be deployed in huge numbers to defend a nation, and it promised to be impossibly expensive. It would also result in a new surge in constructing missiles in order to have the ability to swamp the enemy ABM system. By 1967 therefore US president Lyndon Johnson and Soviet premier Alexey Kosygin were ready to open negotiations.

The American position was that both sides should agree to abandon ABM systems, so that both would remain defenceless and deterrence would continue to be mutual. This was not easy for the Soviet negotiators to accept. They felt they had a duty to defend their citizens, and that defensive weapons were moral, while offensive weapons were immoral. It took five years to negotiate the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I). The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to limit themselves to two ABM sites each, when there was only one, around Moscow, in existence. This was subsequently reduced to one each, and the Soviets chose to defend Moscow, while the Americans defended an ICBM site. It was further agreed there would be no new land-based ICBMs beyond agreed numbers and no new missile submarines beyond those under construction.

Superficially this might have seemed a considerable step forward, but the agreement was reached as newer technology was being deployed. With the introduction of Multiple Independentlytargeted Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV), a single missile could carry several warheads and attack several separate targets – up to 12 in the case of some American missiles. There was no limit on modernising or replacing existing missiles to carry MIRV (and later MARV, or Manoeuvrable Re-entry Vehicle, which could change target in flight.) In fact SALT I allowed for a major expansion of nuclear weapons, and the signing of SALT II in 1979, which was ultimately to lead to a limit of 2,250 delivery systems (missiles, aircraft and submarines), did little to alter this. Even then the US Congress refused to ratify the latter Treaty, arguing that the Soviet Union had gained too much advantage in the agreement. Both sides, however, indicated they would adhere to the terms, as long as the other did. Even then, the development of cruise missile technology, which produced cheap, easily transportable and concealable weapons, opened new problems for verification measures.

Excesses of the Nuclear Arms Build-Up

The question addressed by peace campaigners, of how much deterrence was needed, was addressed by government and military institutions on both sides. An American study considered how many 100 megaton thermonuclear weapons would be needed to utterly destroy the Soviet Union. It found that after 400 or so detonations there would be nothing left worth attacking. Further detonations would be ‘making the rubble bounce’, or targeting isolated shepherds. Unquestionably the Soviets performed a similar study and reached a very similar conclusion. Of course the situation was a little more complicated. Some missiles would be destroyed in a surprise attack. Others would be intercepted or simply miss their targets. Others would fail to launch or be undergoing routine servicing. A degree of redundancy was needed, say four-fold. By this logic, neither side needed to go beyond the expense and inherent risks of producing more than 1600 warheads. But by 1985 the United States could deliver nearly 20,000 and the Soviet Union well over 11,000. Why did such an irrational state of affairs come about?

From the 1970s there was a considerable amount of research studying this question, and a number of factors have been suggested that might explain this degree of overkill. One is the competition between and within the armed services of a state. Any major arms programme carries with it prestige and resources and also secures careers for the service responsible for it. With nuclear weapons obviously intended as the mainstay of American defence strategy for decades, if not generations to come, all services campaigned to win a role in their deployment. Thus the United States Navy insisted on the superiority of the SLBM to prevent the United States Air Force gaining a monopoly over missile deployment. The United States Army, for its part, clamoured for battlefield nuclear weapons so as not to be excluded. Also within the army, for example, different sections demanded either nuclear artillery shells or ground launched cruise missiles.

All services lobbied government for a larger slice of the pie. But this does not necessarily explain why the size of the pie kept growing. Governments were not obliged to concede every demand made upon them by their own military. A similar argument can be used when addressing the issue of bureaucratic politics, where a similar process of competition for the resources, prestige and careers made available by the arms race existed between government agencies and departments.

Another possible factor explaining the nuclear build-up lies within the nature of the political and social systems involved. The fears and uncertainties of a nation can be exploited. Governments, it has been suggested, used the arms race to fuel fears of a foreign threat to enhance patriotism, national unity and their own authority. The arms race could be seen as a cynical exercise in social control. Both Soviet and American observers often accused their Cold War opponents of such squalid motives. But it remains a conspiracy theory based on intuition rather than fact, and should be treated with considerable caution.

A similar degree of caution should be used when ascribing the arms race to the military-industrial complex. This assumes that the arms manufacturers have a common interest in fostering a climate of fear to increase sales to the military. They are assumed to foster moral panics of the kind that followed the launch of Sputnik, so that the public will clamour for military expansion.

In the United States most major weapons systems are produced by about eight large corporations. Between them they represent a huge investment in productive capacity and expertise. They are seen as vital and irreplaceable national assets, and cannot be allowed to go bankrupt. If in trouble, the US government will always be tempted to bail them out with hefty orders. Also, within research laboratories, the development of new weapons had become the norm, and the arms race had developed a measure of organisational momentum. They represent great investments that make it difficult to justify halting. But how does this work in the Soviet Union, where the profitability of arms manufacturers was no great issue?

Electoral politics can, perhaps, supply another explanation. The claim that the nation was in danger, and that the incumbent administration was imperilling the United States by allowing a ‘missile gap’ to develop was certainly used to great effect by Kennedy in the 1960 presidential elections. It was a simple message, easily grasped by the electorate, accompanied by a simple solution – spend more money on defence. Once in office Kennedy found there was no ‘missile gap’, but expanded America’s missile forces in part, at least, to prevent a future opponent levelling similar accusations against him. At a lower level, congressmen of constituencies where warships, for instance, are constructed will constantly stress the Soviet naval threat. The more warships built, the more local jobs, and the more votes that might be won. This is perhaps a more convincing argument. But how could it be applied to the Soviet Union? As an explanation it is at best only partial.

Also, it is simply logical to respond to the actions of a potential enemy to negate any possible advantage they might gain. Thus if deterrence was to be the strategy, then the risk posed by ABM needed to be countered by MIRV and then MARV, to swamp or outfox it. Furthermore there was always the tantalizing possibility that research might find the ultimate weapon, or the impenetrable defence. As the arms race progressed the chances of this happening became increasingly unlikely. But could a state take the risk of ignoring the possibility? When in 1983 Reagan unveiled his Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), which envisaged a network of orbiting lasers, particle beams and intercepting darts to destroy ICBMs in flight, it was widely treated with derision in the United States, where the press jeeringly referred to it as ‘Star Wars’, after the science fiction film. But could the Soviet Union afford to assume it would never work and ignore it? It certainly caused Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev considerable anxiety.

Added to this was the simple fact that, in the arms race, the United States had the much stronger economy. Part of the logic of proceeding with SDI was that, eventually, the arms race would cripple the Soviet economy. This is in fact what was happening. By the 1980s the strain of keeping abreast in the arms race was causing unsustainable strains on the Soviet Union, paving the way for a complete re-alignment of East-West relations.

A final, perhaps even more attractive, point comes if the arms race is viewed as a measure of political will. The fact that it existed was not necessarily a sign that war must come, but simply proof that both sides were competing. It might even be seen as a relatively low risk form of competition. Competing by building weapons is, after all, a much better than competing by using them. But it must be said, even from such a perspective, had some error or mishandled crisis ever led these weapons to be used, the consequences for the world would have been too terrible to contemplate. Arguably by confining their competition to the sports field, or not competing at all, both sides would have served humanity far better.


Due to the cohesive forces a molecule is pulled equally in every direction by neighbouring liquid molecules, resulting in a net force of zero. The molecules at the surface do not have the same molecules on all sides of them and therefore are pulled inward. This creates some internal pressure and forces liquid surfaces to contract to the minimum area. [1]

There is also a tension parallel to the surface at the liquid-air interface which will resist an external force, due to the cohesive nature of water molecules. [1] [2]

The forces of attraction acting between the molecules of same type are called cohesive forces while those acting between the molecules of different types are called adhesive forces. The balance between the cohesion of the liquid and its adhesion to the material of the container determines the degree of wetting, the contact angle and the shape of meniscus. When cohesion dominates (specifically, adhesion energy is less than half of cohesion energy) the wetting is low and the meniscus is convex at a vertical wall (as for mercury in a glass container). On the other hand, when adhesion dominates (adhesion energy more than half of cohesion energy) the wetting is high and the similar meniscus is concave (as in water in a glass).

Surface tension is responsible for the shape of liquid droplets. Although easily deformed, droplets of water tend to be pulled into a spherical shape by the imbalance in cohesive forces of the surface layer. In the absence of other forces, drops of virtually all liquids would be approximately spherical. The spherical shape minimizes the necessary "wall tension" of the surface layer according to Laplace's law.

Another way to view surface tension is in terms of energy. A molecule in contact with a neighbor is in a lower state of energy than if it were alone. The interior molecules have as many neighbors as they can possibly have, but the boundary molecules are missing neighbors (compared to interior molecules) and therefore have a higher energy. For the liquid to minimize its energy state, the number of higher energy boundary molecules must be minimized. The minimized number of boundary molecules results in a minimal surface area. [4] As a result of surface area minimization, a surface will assume the smoothest shape it can (mathematical proof that "smooth" shapes minimize surface area relies on use of the Euler–Lagrange equation). Since any curvature in the surface shape results in greater area, a higher energy will also result.

Water Edit

Several effects of surface tension can be seen with ordinary water:

  1. Beading of rain water on a waxy surface, such as a leaf. Water adheres weakly to wax and strongly to itself, so water clusters into drops. Surface tension gives them their near-spherical shape, because a sphere has the smallest possible surface area to volume ratio.
  2. Formation of drops occurs when a mass of liquid is stretched. The animation (below) shows water adhering to the faucet gaining mass until it is stretched to a point where the surface tension can no longer keep the drop linked to the faucet. It then separates and surface tension forms the drop into a sphere. If a stream of water were running from the faucet, the stream would break up into drops during its fall. Gravity stretches the stream, then surface tension pinches it into spheres. [5]
  3. Flotation of objects denser than water occurs when the object is nonwettable and its weight is small enough to be borne by the forces arising from surface tension. [4] For example, water striders use surface tension to walk on the surface of a pond in the following way. The nonwettability of the water strider's leg means there is no attraction between molecules of the leg and molecules of the water, so when the leg pushes down on the water, the surface tension of the water only tries to recover its flatness from its deformation due to the leg. This behavior of the water pushes the water strider upward so it can stand on the surface of the water as long as its mass is small enough that the water can support it. The surface of the water behaves like an elastic film: the insect's feet cause indentations in the water's surface, increasing its surface area [6] and tendency of minimization of surface curvature (so area) of the water pushes the insect's feet upward.
  4. Separation of oil and water (in this case, water and liquid wax) is caused by a tension in the surface between dissimilar liquids. This type of surface tension is called "interface tension", but its chemistry is the same. is the formation of drops and rivulets on the side of a glass containing an alcoholic beverage. Its cause is a complex interaction between the differing surface tensions of water and ethanol it is induced by a combination of surface tension modification of water by ethanol together with ethanol evaporating faster than water.

A. Water beading on a leaf

B. Water dripping from a tap

C. Water striders stay atop the liquid because of surface tension

D. Lava lamp with interaction between dissimilar liquids: water and liquid wax

E. Photo showing the "tears of wine" phenomenon.

Surfactants Edit

Surface tension is visible in other common phenomena, especially when surfactants are used to decrease it:

    Soap bubbles have very large surface areas with very little mass. Bubbles in pure water are unstable. The addition of surfactants, however, can have a stabilizing effect on the bubbles (see Marangoni effect). Note that surfactants actually reduce the surface tension of water by a factor of three or more. are a type of colloid in which surface tension plays a role. Tiny fragments of oil suspended in pure water will spontaneously assemble themselves into much larger masses. But the presence of a surfactant provides a decrease in surface tension, which permits stability of minute droplets of oil in the bulk of water (or vice versa).

Physical units Edit

Surface tension, represented by the symbol γ (alternatively σ or T), is measured in force per unit length. Its SI unit is newton per meter but the cgs unit of dyne per centimeter is also used. For example, [7]

γ = 1 d y n c m = 1 e r g c m 2 = 1 10 − 7 m ⋅ N 10 − 4 m 2 = 0.001 N m = 0.001 J m 2 .

Surface area growth Edit

Surface tension can be defined in terms of force or energy.

In terms of force Edit

In terms of energy Edit

This work W is, by the usual arguments, interpreted as being stored as potential energy. Consequently, surface tension can be also measured in SI system as joules per square meter and in the cgs system as ergs per cm 2 . Since mechanical systems try to find a state of minimum potential energy, a free droplet of liquid naturally assumes a spherical shape, which has the minimum surface area for a given volume. The equivalence of measurement of energy per unit area to force per unit length can be proven by dimensional analysis. [9]

Surface curvature and pressure Edit

If no force acts normal to a tensioned surface, the surface must remain flat. But if the pressure on one side of the surface differs from pressure on the other side, the pressure difference times surface area results in a normal force. In order for the surface tension forces to cancel the force due to pressure, the surface must be curved. The diagram shows how surface curvature of a tiny patch of surface leads to a net component of surface tension forces acting normal to the center of the patch. When all the forces are balanced, the resulting equation is known as the Young–Laplace equation: [10]

  • Δp is the pressure difference, known as the Laplace pressure. [11]
  • γ is surface tension.
  • Rx and Ry are radii of curvature in each of the axes that are parallel to the surface.

The quantity in parentheses on the right hand side is in fact (twice) the mean curvature of the surface (depending on normalisation). Solutions to this equation determine the shape of water drops, puddles, menisci, soap bubbles, and all other shapes determined by surface tension (such as the shape of the impressions that a water strider's feet make on the surface of a pond). The table below shows how the internal pressure of a water droplet increases with decreasing radius. For not very small drops the effect is subtle, but the pressure difference becomes enormous when the drop sizes approach the molecular size. (In the limit of a single molecule the concept becomes meaningless.)

Δp for water drops of different radii at STP
Droplet radius 1 mm 0.1 mm 1 μm 10 nm
Δp (atm) 0.0014 0.0144 1.436 143.6

Floating objects Edit

When an object is placed on a liquid, its weight Fw depresses the surface, and if surface tension and downward force becomes equal than is balanced by the surface tension forces on either side Fs , which are each parallel to the water's surface at the points where it contacts the object. Notice that small movement in the body may cause the object to sink. As the angle of contact decreases, surface tension decreases. The horizontal components of the two Fs arrows point in opposite directions, so they cancel each other, but the vertical components point in the same direction and therefore add up [4] to balance Fw . The object's surface must not be wettable for this to happen, and its weight must be low enough for the surface tension to support it. If m denotes the mass of the needle and g acceleration due to gravity, we have

Liquid surface Edit

To find the shape of the minimal surface bounded by some arbitrary shaped frame using strictly mathematical means can be a daunting task. Yet by fashioning the frame out of wire and dipping it in soap-solution, a locally minimal surface will appear in the resulting soap-film within seconds. [9] [12]

The reason for this is that the pressure difference across a fluid interface is proportional to the mean curvature, as seen in the Young–Laplace equation. For an open soap film, the pressure difference is zero, hence the mean curvature is zero, and minimal surfaces have the property of zero mean curvature.

Contact angles Edit

The surface of any liquid is an interface between that liquid and some other medium. [note 1] The top surface of a pond, for example, is an interface between the pond water and the air. Surface tension, then, is not a property of the liquid alone, but a property of the liquid's interface with another medium. If a liquid is in a container, then besides the liquid/air interface at its top surface, there is also an interface between the liquid and the walls of the container. The surface tension between the liquid and air is usually different (greater) than its surface tension with the walls of a container. And where the two surfaces meet, their geometry must be such that all forces balance. [9] [10]

Where the two surfaces meet, they form a contact angle, θ , which is the angle the tangent to the surface makes with the solid surface. Note that the angle is measured through the liquid, as shown in the diagrams above. The diagram to the right shows two examples. Tension forces are shown for the liquid–air interface, the liquid–solid interface, and the solid–air interface. The example on the left is where the difference between the liquid–solid and solid–air surface tension, γlsγsa , is less than the liquid–air surface tension, γla , but is nevertheless positive, that is

In the diagram, both the vertical and horizontal forces must cancel exactly at the contact point, known as equilibrium. The horizontal component of fla is canceled by the adhesive force, fA . [9]

The more telling balance of forces, though, is in the vertical direction. The vertical component of fla must exactly cancel the difference of the forces along the solid surface, flsfsa . [9]

Since the forces are in direct proportion to their respective surface tensions, we also have: [10]

  • γls is the liquid–solid surface tension,
  • γla is the liquid–air surface tension,
  • γsa is the solid–air surface tension,
  • θ is the contact angle, where a concave meniscus has contact angle less than 90° and a convex meniscus has contact angle of greater than 90°. [9]

This means that although the difference between the liquid–solid and solid–air surface tension, γlsγsa , is difficult to measure directly, it can be inferred from the liquid–air surface tension, γla , and the equilibrium contact angle, θ , which is a function of the easily measurable advancing and receding contact angles (see main article contact angle).

This same relationship exists in the diagram on the right. But in this case we see that because the contact angle is less than 90°, the liquid–solid/solid–air surface tension difference must be negative:

Special contact angles Edit

Observe that in the special case of a water–silver interface where the contact angle is equal to 90°, the liquid–solid/solid–air surface tension difference is exactly zero.

Another special case is where the contact angle is exactly 180°. Water with specially prepared Teflon approaches this. [10] Contact angle of 180° occurs when the liquid–solid surface tension is exactly equal to the liquid–air surface tension.

Because surface tension manifests itself in various effects, it offers a number of paths to its measurement. Which method is optimal depends upon the nature of the liquid being measured, the conditions under which its tension is to be measured, and the stability of its surface when it is deformed. An instrument that measures surface tension is called tensiometer.

    : The traditional method used to measure surface or interfacial tension. Wetting properties of the surface or interface have little influence on this measuring technique. Maximum pull exerted on the ring by the surface is measured. [13] : A universal method especially suited to check surface tension over long time intervals. A vertical plate of known perimeter is attached to a balance, and the force due to wetting is measured. [14] : This technique is ideal for measuring low interfacial tensions. The diameter of a drop within a heavy phase is measured while both are rotated. : Surface and interfacial tension can be measured by this technique, even at elevated temperatures and pressures. Geometry of a drop is analyzed optically. For pendant drops the maximum diameter and the ratio between this parameter and the diameter at the distance of the maximum diameter from the drop apex has been used to evaluate the size and shape parameters in order to determine surface tension. [14] (Jaeger's method): A measurement technique for determining surface tension at short surface ages. Maximum pressure of each bubble is measured.
  • Drop volume method: A method for determining interfacial tension as a function of interface age. Liquid of one density is pumped into a second liquid of a different density and time between drops produced is measured. [15]
  • Capillary rise method: The end of a capillary is immersed into the solution. The height at which the solution reaches inside the capillary is related to the surface tension by the equation discussed below. [16]

Liquid in a vertical tube Edit

An old style mercury barometer consists of a vertical glass tube about 1 cm in diameter partially filled with mercury, and with a vacuum (called Torricelli's vacuum) in the unfilled volume (see diagram to the right). Notice that the mercury level at the center of the tube is higher than at the edges, making the upper surface of the mercury dome-shaped. The center of mass of the entire column of mercury would be slightly lower if the top surface of the mercury were flat over the entire cross-section of the tube. But the dome-shaped top gives slightly less surface area to the entire mass of mercury. Again the two effects combine to minimize the total potential energy. Such a surface shape is known as a convex meniscus.

We consider the surface area of the entire mass of mercury, including the part of the surface that is in contact with the glass, because mercury does not adhere to glass at all. So the surface tension of the mercury acts over its entire surface area, including where it is in contact with the glass. If instead of glass, the tube was made out of copper, the situation would be very different. Mercury aggressively adheres to copper. So in a copper tube, the level of mercury at the center of the tube will be lower than at the edges (that is, it would be a concave meniscus). In a situation where the liquid adheres to the walls of its container, we consider the part of the fluid's surface area that is in contact with the container to have negative surface tension. The fluid then works to maximize the contact surface area. So in this case increasing the area in contact with the container decreases rather than increases the potential energy. That decrease is enough to compensate for the increased potential energy associated with lifting the fluid near the walls of the container.

If a tube is sufficiently narrow and the liquid adhesion to its walls is sufficiently strong, surface tension can draw liquid up the tube in a phenomenon known as capillary action. The height to which the column is lifted is given by Jurin's law: [9]

  • h is the height the liquid is lifted,
  • γla is the liquid–air surface tension,
  • ρ is the density of the liquid,
  • r is the radius of the capillary,
  • g is the acceleration due to gravity,
  • θ is the angle of contact described above. If θ is greater than 90°, as with mercury in a glass container, the liquid will be depressed rather than lifted.

Puddles on a surface Edit

Pouring mercury onto a horizontal flat sheet of glass results in a puddle that has a perceptible thickness. The puddle will spread out only to the point where it is a little under half a centimetre thick, and no thinner. Again this is due to the action of mercury's strong surface tension. The liquid mass flattens out because that brings as much of the mercury to as low a level as possible, but the surface tension, at the same time, is acting to reduce the total surface area. The result of the compromise is a puddle of a nearly fixed thickness.

The same surface tension demonstration can be done with water, lime water or even saline, but only on a surface made of a substance to which water does not adhere. Wax is such a substance. Water poured onto a smooth, flat, horizontal wax surface, say a waxed sheet of glass, will behave similarly to the mercury poured onto glass.

The thickness of a puddle of liquid on a surface whose contact angle is 180° is given by: [10]

  • h is the depth of the puddle in centimeters or meters.
  • γ is the surface tension of the liquid in dynes per centimeter or newtons per meter.
  • g is the acceleration due to gravity and is equal to 980 cm/s 2 or 9.8 m/s 2
  • ρ is the density of the liquid in grams per cubic centimeter or kilograms per cubic meter

In reality, the thicknesses of the puddles will be slightly less than what is predicted by the above formula because very few surfaces have a contact angle of 180° with any liquid. When the contact angle is less than 180°, the thickness is given by: [10]

For mercury on glass, γHg = 487 dyn/cm, ρHg = 13.5 g/cm 3 and θ = 140°, which gives hHg = 0.36 cm. For water on paraffin at 25 °C, γ = 72 dyn/cm, ρ = 1.0 g/cm 3 , and θ = 107° which gives hH2O = 0.44 cm.

The formula also predicts that when the contact angle is 0°, the liquid will spread out into a micro-thin layer over the surface. Such a surface is said to be fully wettable by the liquid.

The breakup of streams into drops Edit

In day-to-day life all of us observe that a stream of water emerging from a faucet will break up into droplets, no matter how smoothly the stream is emitted from the faucet. This is due to a phenomenon called the Plateau–Rayleigh instability, [10] which is entirely a consequence of the effects of surface tension.

The explanation of this instability begins with the existence of tiny perturbations in the stream. These are always present, no matter how smooth the stream is. If the perturbations are resolved into sinusoidal components, we find that some components grow with time while others decay with time. Among those that grow with time, some grow at faster rates than others. Whether a component decays or grows, and how fast it grows is entirely a function of its wave number (a measure of how many peaks and troughs per centimeter) and the radii of the original cylindrical stream.

Thermodynamic theories of surface tension Edit

J.W. Gibbs developed the thermodynamic theory of capillarity based on the idea of surfaces of discontinuity. [22] Gibbs considered the case of a sharp mathematical surface being placed somewhere within the microscopically fuzzy physical interface that exists between two homogeneous substances. Realizing that the exact choice of the surface's location was somewhat arbitrary, he left it flexible. Since the interface exists in thermal and chemical equilibrium with the substances around it (having temperature T and chemical potentials μi ), Gibbs considered the case where the surface may have excess energy, excess entropy, and excess particles, finding the natural free energy function in this case to be U − T S − μ 1 N 1 − μ 2 N 2 ⋯ N_<1>-mu _<2>N_<2>cdots > , a quantity later named as the grand potential and given the symbol Ω .

For sufficiently macroscopic and gently curved surfaces, the surface free energy must simply be proportional to the surface area: [22] [23]

As stated above, this implies the mechanical work needed to increase a surface area A is dW = γ dA , assuming the volumes on each side do not change. Thermodynamics requires that for systems held at constant chemical potential and temperature, all spontaneous changes of state are accompanied by a decrease in this free energy Ω , that is, an increase in total entropy taking into account the possible movement of energy and particles from the surface into the surrounding fluids. From this it is easy to understand why decreasing the surface area of a mass of liquid is always spontaneous, provided it is not coupled to any other energy changes. It follows that in order to increase surface area, a certain amount of energy must be added.

Gibbs and other scientists have wrestled with the arbitrariness in the exact microscopic placement of the surface. [24] For microscopic surfaces with very tight curvatures, it is not correct to assume the surface tension is independent of size, and topics like the Tolman length come into play. For a macroscopic sized surface (and planar surfaces), the surface placement does not have a significant effect on γ however it does have a very strong effect on the values of the surface entropy, surface excess mass densities, and surface internal energy, [22] : 237 which are the partial derivatives of the surface tension function γ ( T , μ 1 , μ 2 , ⋯ ) ,mu _<2>,cdots )> .

Gibbs emphasized that for solids, the surface free energy may be completely different from surface stress (what he called surface tension): [22] : 315 the surface free energy is the work required to form the surface, while surface stress is the work required to stretch the surface. In the case of a two-fluid interface, there is no distinction between forming and stretching because the fluids and the surface completely replenish their nature when the surface is stretched. For a solid, stretching the surface, even elastically, results in a fundamentally changed surface. Further, the surface stress on a solid is a directional quantity (a stress tensor) while surface energy is scalar.

Fifteen years after Gibbs, J.D. van der Waals developed the theory of capillarity effects based on the hypothesis of a continuous variation of density. [25] He added to the energy density the term c ( ∇ ρ ) 2 , ,> where c is the capillarity coefficient and ρ is the density. For the multiphase equilibria, the results of the van der Waals approach practically coincide with the Gibbs formulae, but for modelling of the dynamics of phase transitions the van der Waals approach is much more convenient. [26] [27] The van der Waals capillarity energy is now widely used in the phase field models of multiphase flows. Such terms are also discovered in the dynamics of non-equilibrium gases. [28]

Thermodynamics of bubbles Edit

The pressure inside an ideal spherical bubble can be derived from thermodynamic free energy considerations. [23] The above free energy can be written as:

For a spherical bubble, the volume and surface area are given simply by

Substituting these relations into the previous expression, we find

which is equivalent to the Young–Laplace equation when Rx = Ry .

Crises, Alerts, and DEFCONS, 1961-1976 – Part II

President John F. Kennedy meeting with Supreme Allied Commander Europe [SACEUR] and Commander-in-Chief European Command [CINCEUR] General Lauris Norstad at the White House on 2 February 1961, before the Berlin situation had heated up. To Norstad’s left is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer. Kennedy and his advisers would soon diverge with Norstad over the role of conventional forces and nuclear weapons if an East-West confrontation over access to West Berlin unfolded. Norstad also served as director of Live Oak, the top secret tripartite [U.S.-France-United Kingdom] and later quadripartite [with West Germany] organization which developed contingency plans for a Berlin crisis. (Photo from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

Lt. Commander Gerry McCabe, assistant naval aide to the President and officer in charge of the White House Situation Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He routed information to the President and NSC staffers about the status of DEFCONs and other critical information during the crisis. (Photo by Robert Knudsen, White House Photographs, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

“Chrome Dome” and “Hard Head” airborne alert routes flown by SAC nuclear-armed B-52s during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The airborne alert involved one-eighth of the total fleet, with over 2,000 launchings, and 65 B-52s kept in the air continuously. Owing to logistical problems, the greatest numbers of sorties occurred on the “Chrome Dome” Southern Route, which required coordination with the Spanish Government so that more KC-135 refueling tankers could be deployed at Moron and Torrejon air bases. (Map attached to memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance to the President, "Strategic Air Command airborne alert indoctrination program for FY 1965,” 4 May 1964 (From DNSA)

As the Cuban Missile Crisis Defcon 3 was concluding, President John F. Kennedy inspected Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, 26 November 1962, one of the Continental Air Defense Command bases that participated in the crisis operations. At Homestead Kennedy presented citations to the units that had participated in the alert. Chief among these was the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing whose RF-101’s can be seen in the distant right background. In Kennedy’s immediate sight, and to whose pilots he was waiving, are F-102’s of the 325th and 326th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. One of the pilots was wearing his full pressure suit. To Kennedy’s left is Commander-in-Chief Tactical Air Command Walter Sweeney, whose forces would have spearheaded an attack on missile sites in Cuba. (Photo and information from The Jive Bomber, courtesy of William Stein)

On 30 October 1973, a few days after the Defcon 3 alert, President Nixon and Henry Kissinger met at Camp David with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobyrnin, who complained, “What kind of a relationship is this … where one letter produces an alert?” (Photo from Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

U.S. Army engineers cutting down a disputed tree at the Korean Demilitarized Zone in “Operation Paul Bunyan,” 21 August 1976, with South Korean and U.S. forces standing by and B-52 bombers and fighter bombers flying in the distance. Days earlier, on 18 August 1976, North Korean soldiers had killed two U.S. Army officers and attacked others when they and other allied military personnel were trying to trim the tree, which had blocked the line of sight at the DMZ. (Image from U.S. Army Korea 2 nd Infantry Division, The Indianhead Vo. 43, 15 September 2006)

Washington, D.C., April 8, 2021 – The United States and its European allies disagreed over the advisability of using nuclear weapons to signal resolve and deter war if a serious crisis with Moscow over West Berlin broke out, according to a review of declassified records posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive.

During a July 1962 Allied discussion of contingency planning, published today for the first time, a French diplomat argued that nuclear demonstration shots would send a message to the Soviets without triggering “all-out war.” Doing so “would bring to bear in Moscow the idea that their next move may be their last.” A West German official took a similar position.

Suggesting that early nuclear use could amount to a last move, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze demurred, pointing to the terrible risks: the “dangers of preemption will multiply” once “nuclear bargaining” had begun. The Allies would be on “very unpredictable ground when we have gone this far.”

Just weeks after this discussion, Moscow and Washington found themselves on the verge of a dangerous confrontation over missile deployments in Cuba that brought U.S. strategic forces to DEFCON 2, the highest level of force readiness short of a decision to go to war.

The substance of the July 1962 discussion is one of the revelations in today’s publication, the second of a two-part collection documenting U.S. crisis responses during the 1960s and 1970s when U.S. strategic forces were alerted or when strategic bombers and aircraft carrier task forces were used for shows of force.

Such military operations amounted to business as usual for a global power with worldwide security and economic interests and a range of alliance commitments. The collection begins with the Berlin Crisis of 1961-1962 and concludes with the 1976 confrontation with North Korea over a deadly tree-trimming incident at the Demilitarized Zone.

Crises, Alerts, and DEFCONS, 1961-1976 – Part II

By William Burr

The tensions in East Asia and the Middle East, and elsewhere that led to crises, alerts, and shows of force during the 1950s continued into the 1960s and 1970s. One of them, the Berlin Crisis, vexed two presidents from late 1958 into the early 1960s while it never broke into open conflict with Moscow, it had worrisome potential to turn into a nuclear conflagration. As the crisis unfolded, the U.S. and its European allies disagreed over whether using nuclear weapons could signal resolve and deter war in a crisis over access to West Berlin. During a discussion of contingency planning published today for the first time, a French diplomat argued that nuclear demonstration shots would send a message to the Soviets without triggering “all-out war.” Doing so “would bring to bear in Moscow the idea that their next move may be their last.” A West German official took a similar position.

Suggesting that early nuclear use could be close to a last move, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze pointed to the terrible risks: the “dangers of preemption will multiply” once “nuclear bargaining” had begun. The Allies would be on “very unpredictable ground when we have gone this far.”

An out-of-control Berlin Crisis was what no one wanted to happen, not least Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. But only weeks after this July 1962 discussion, Moscow and Washington were in a dangerous confrontation over missile deployments in Cuba. This prompted the first major use of the United States’ DEFCON system. During the missile crisis, most U.S. forces were on a higher state of alert, at DEFCON 3, but with the approval of top civilian authorities, U.S. strategic nuclear forces went to DEFCON 2, the highest level of force readiness short of a decision to go to war.

This publication on alerts and DEFCONs, the second of a two-part collection, documents crises during the 1960s and 1970s when U.S. strategic forces were alerted or when strategic bombers and aircraft carrier task forces were used for shows of force. Such military operations amounted to business as usual for a global power with worldwide security and economic interests and a range of alliance commitments. The collection begins with the Berlin Crisis of 1961-1962 and concludes with the 1976 confrontation with North Korea over a deadly tree-trimming incident at the Demilitarized Zone.

The experience of the Cuban Missile Crisis made tangible the grave danger of nuclear confrontations and decreased their frequency. The U.S. has never gone above DEFCON 3 since 1962 and the Missile Crisis was the last such direct U.S.-Soviet military confrontation. The Berlin situation remained a problem, but it never turned into a crisis. Subsequent crises, alerts, and shows of force were over developments in other areas, from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula, some of them involving Soviet clients and allies, but there were no direct confrontations with the Soviet Union – or with China, for that matter. Indeed, after Cuba, SAC worldwide alerts were rare.

After Cuba, the only worldwide DEFCON occurred during the 1973 Middle East tensions, as a show of force to discourage an (unlikely) Soviet intervention. Another nuclear alert was a secret one during October 1969, designed to pressure the Soviet Union to induce North Vietnamese compliance in the peace negotiations. The tactic did not work, but it remains a prime example of Richard Nixon’s questionable use of the madman theory to influence diplomatic outcomes.

Shows of force came into play in confrontations with another player, North Korea, whose highly nationalist regime went far in mounting adventurist attacks on U.S. forces and military personnel. North Korea’s 1968 seizure in international waters of a U.S. spy ship, the U.S.S. Pueblo, produced movements of B-52 and aircraft carriers to back U.S. diplomatic moves, but the White House quietly ruled out the actual use of force. One use of the DEFCON system, localized to U.S. forces in South Korea, was called in August 1976 in response to the killing of U.S. Army officers at the DMZ, when they tried to trim a tree that was blocking the line of view. Instead of attacking the Koreans, the White House limited military actions to a higher alert posture and B-52 operations, while U.S. military personnel finished trimming the tree. Whether U.S. shows of force gave any impetus to Pyongyang’s interest in a nuclear weapons capability may be worth considering.

With archives and declassification shut down during the current COVID pandemic, several flash points in which U.S. naval power played a critical role are undocumented here. One is the 1971 South Asia crisis when a U.S. Navy task force steamed into the Bay of Bengal, apparently as a sign of opposition to India during its war with Pakistan. (See Part I of this posting series, Document 3). A study prepared by the Center for Naval Analysis (CAN) on U.S. and Soviet naval diplomacy in that crisis remains to be declassified and released.[1]

The activities of the Sixth Fleet during the Six Day War in the Middle East and the 1970 Jordan Crisis are also covered in the CNA chronology in Part I, Document 3 of this posting.[2] During the Jordan Crisis, Richard Nixon (perhaps looking back at Suez in 1956 and Lebanon in 1958) saw naval deployments and other shows of military force as an important element of the U.S. threat posture, especially if they involved Moscow. As Nixon explained in what was supposed to be an off-the-record press briefing, it was to U.S. advantage if the Soviets believed that he could take "irrational or unpredictable action.” Disclosing a key element of the madman approach that he had taken in October 1969, Nixon declared that “the real possibility of irrational American action is essential to the U.S.-Soviet relationship." Henry Kissinger took a similar approach in October 1973 when he approved a DEFCON 3 posture for U.S. forces in the Middle East War.[3]

Other incidents beyond the scope of this compilation involved another local DEFCON 3 in South Korea (when President Park Chung Hee was assassinated in 1979). Also relevant are the numerous naval deployments (and even bombardments) in the Middle East, such as in Lebanon during 1982 and 1983, when aircraft carriers and other 6 th Fleet forces supported Marine Corps units that were deployed for peacekeeping activities and then made a show of force when the Marines barracks were blown up in October 1983.

U.S.-Soviet Tension Builds - HISTORY

In relations with the Soviet Union, President Reagan's declared policy was one of peace through strength. He was determined to stand firm against the country he would in 1983 call an "evil empire." Two early events increased U.S.-Soviet tensions: the suppression of the Solidarity labor movement in Poland in December 1981, and the destruction with 269 fatalities of an off-course civilian airliner, Korean Airlines Flight 007, by a Soviet jet fighter on September 1, 1983. The United States also condemned the continuing Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and continued aid begun by the Carter administration to the mujahedeen resistance there.

During Reagan's first term, the United States spent unprecedented sums for a massive defense build-up, including the placement of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe to counter Soviet deployments of similar missiles. And on March 23, 1983, in one of the most hotly debated policy decisions of his presidency, Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) research program to explore advanced technologies, such as lasers and high-energy projectiles, to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles. Although many scientists questioned the technological feasibility of SDI and economists pointed to the extraordinary sums of money involved, the administration pressed ahead with the project.

After re-election in 1984, Reagan softened his position on arms control.

Moscow was amenable to agreement, in part because its economy already expended a far greater proportion of national output on its military than did the United States. Further increases, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev felt, would cripple his plans to liberalize the Soviet economy.

In November 1985, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed in principle to seek 50-percent reductions in strategic offensive nuclear arms as well as an interim agreement on intermediate-range nuclear forces. In December 1987, they signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty providing for the destruction of that entire category of nuclear weapons. By then, the Soviet Union seemed a less menacing adversary. Reagan could take much of the credit for a greatly diminished Cold War, but as his administration ended, almost no one realized just how shaky the USSR had become.

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