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Brezhnev Dies in 1975 - Effect on Cold War?

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  • Brezhnev Dies in 1975 - Effect on Cold War?

    It is September 1, 1975. Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev dies of a heart attack at his Black Sea vacation home. He is immediately succeeded by Yuri Andropov, the head of the KGB. How does the Cold War proceed from this point?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonid_Brezhnev

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Andropov

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_control

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helsinki_Accords

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Era_of_Stagnation

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerontocracy
    Last edited by lakechampainer; 14 Jul 16, 13:01.

  • #2
    I think that if Andropov had come to power in 1975, it would have had quite an effect on history. I think that as head of the KGB and a very smart man, he would have known that the USSR's economy was trending badly, and had to be changed. Also, he would have realized that the defense buildup had occurred at great cost and while the US was tied up in Vietnam. He would have tried to implement many of the changes that were attempted in the 80s, when it was probably too late (and Reagan and his associates were running the US).

    So essentially, the Soviet Union would have been in position to challenge the US for a longer period - for good and bad.




    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Gorbachev

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Suslov

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    • #3
      I think things would have detiorated more quickly. I think Brezhnev understood diplomacy more than Andropov. Andropov also seems to be the most influential person in pushing for military intervention in Afghanistan.
      http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB57/soviet.html

      Also Andropov was very paranoid and used up much resources and time with Operation RYAN.

      https://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2014...e-entire-ryan/

      I believe Gorbachov inherited a mess from Andropov with Afghanistan.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sgt. Rock View Post
        I think things would have detiorated more quickly. I think Brezhnev understood diplomacy more than Andropov. Andropov also seems to be the most influential person in pushing for military intervention in Afghanistan.
        http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB57/soviet.html

        Also Andropov was very paranoid and used up much resources and time with Operation RYAN.

        https://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2014...e-entire-ryan/

        I believe Gorbachov inherited a mess from Andropov with Afghanistan.

        Very interesting, Sgt. Rock. I will have to read those links in detail over time. Great find!

        I think I have to agree with you after reading quickly through the links. What I had in mind, was something along the lines of:

        1. Andropov was very heavily shaped by his experiences ad Hungarian Ambassador in 1956 - therefore he would be focused on ensuring the "proper" behavior of Warsaw Pact countries,

        2. As KGB chief, he would see the growing stagnation(esp. in USSR) and discontent (esp. in Eastern Europe), and would project trends,

        3. Therefore, his focus would be on economics and loosening strings, to the extent countries behaved politically (ie no threat the USSRs forward position in East Germany and Czechoslovakia)

        But, the Politburo seems to be like "The Wise Men" in the 60s in the US re Southeast Asia - they want to fight/influence events in a marginal area, rather than deal with more important problems and issues. Although, granted, Afghanistan bordered the USSR, whereas Vietnam etc. doesn't border the US.

        Edit - although interesting that the military seemed to not want to go in, at least the extent they felt the intervention proposed was too limited.

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        • #5
          Brezhnev with Nixon 1972 or 1973 - at or near the top of his game



          Brezhnev in 1979 after health issues - including an actual 1975 heart attack, which of course he survived




          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24th_P...e_Soviet_Union

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25th_P...e_Soviet_Union



          Grigory Romanov, Leningrad strongman and later Gorbachev rival, was a candidate member in 1975 and became member in 1976. Reasonable to assume he would have become full member in 1975 upon Brezhnev's death.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigory_Romanov
          Last edited by lakechampainer; 16 Jul 16, 19:51.

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          • #6
            I see quite a few ways things might have been different if Brezhnev had died in 1975 rather than 1982. That would have given him 11 years in power rather than 18, including the last two when he was just a shadow of himself. Of course, in the actual timeline, Brezhnev was followed by the very sick Andropov and the almost dead already Chernenko. By the time Gorbachev came in, it was rather late to try to make some changes, that were already being talked about in the mid 1970s. I think new leadership in and of itself would have contributed to change, it would have worked against bureaucratic inertia.

            Some of the changes that might have been made earlier, or things that might have been handled better if Andropov had taken over in 1975:

            1. There would have been some reforms in Agriculture, which I assume would have improved the situation quite a bit.

            2. Likewise, consumer goods would have been made more available.

            3. Defense spending would have been cut overall- the USSR had achieved parity (at least) with the US in nuclear weapons, and there was no need to have so many troops in so many layers facing both NATO and China.

            4. Defense spending would probably have been re-organized to focus more on more mobile forces, high-tech weapons, etc. - much as the US did.

            5. I have to research it more, but it seems that in the actual timeline the USSR did not handle the situation in Afghanistan well at all - partly the people they backed were incompetent. I have to research this closer, but I suspect that if Andropov was in charge, he would have dealt with the situation in a better way - still had a puppet regime, but one that was effective.

            6. I wonder how it would have affected US politics, and US development of new weapons, including the Trident, and all the new Air Force weapons.

            7. I wonder how events would have played out in other countries, I especially wonder about Poland, West Germany and East Germany, and Iran.

            ---------------------------------------------

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_D...Track_Decision

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_Schmidt

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Honecker
            Last edited by lakechampainer; 17 Jul 16, 18:14.

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