The First Cold War Was Different
The Kitchen Debate between Nixon and Khrushchev in 1959. Things were different in those days:
The Kitchen Debate was a series of impromptu exchanges (through interpreters) between then U.S. Vice PresidentRichard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow on July 24, 1959. For the exhibition, an entire house was built that the American exhibitors claimed anyone in America could afford. It was filled with labor-saving and recreational devices meant to represent the fruits of the capitalist American consumer market. The debate was recorded on color videotape and Nixon made reference to this fact; it was subsequently rebroadcast in both countries.
In 1959, the Soviets and Americans had agreed to hold exhibits in each other’s countries as a cultural exchange to promote understanding. This was a result of the 1958 U.S. – Soviet Cultural Agreement. The Soviet exhibit in New York opened in June 1959, and the following month Vice President Nixon was on hand to open the US exhibit in Moscow. Nixon took Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on a tour of the exhibit. There were multiple displays and consumer goods provided by over 450 American companies. A centerpiece of the exhibit was a geodesic dome, which housed scientific and technical experiments in a 30,000 square foot facility. This was later purchased by the Soviets at the end of the Moscow exhibition. As recounted by William Safire who was present as the exhibitor’s press agent, the Kitchen debate took place in a number of locations at the exhibition but primarily in the kitchen of a suburban model house, cut in half for easy viewing. This was only one of a series of four meetings that occurred between Nixon and Khrushchev during the 1959 exhibition. Nixon was accompanied by President Eisenhower’s younger brother, Milton S. Eisenhower, former president of Johns Hopkins University.
During the first meeting, in the Kremlin, Khrushchev surprised Nixon when he protested the Captive Nations Resolution passed by the US Congress that condemned the Soviet Union for its “control” over the “captive” peoples of Eastern Europe and called upon Americans to pray for those people. After protesting the actions of the US Congress, he dismissed the new technology of the US and declared that the Soviets would have all of the same things in a few years and then say “Bye bye” as they surpassed the U.S. He satirically asked if there was a machine that “puts food into the mouth and pushes it down”. Nixon responded by saying at least the competition was technological, rather than military. Both men agreed that the United States and the Soviet Union should seek areas of agreement. The second visit occurred in a television studio inside the American exhibit. At the end, Khrushchev stated that everything he had said in their debate should be translated into English and broadcast in the US. Nixon responded “Certainly it will, and everything I say is to be translated into Russian and broadcast across the Soviet Union. That’s a fair bargain.” To this proposal, Khrushchev shook hands vigorously.
The exchange between Khrushchev and Nixon is interesting because while they were discussing which country was superior, they did not compare nuclear weapons, political influence, or control of territories. [“The World Transformed: 1945 to the Present”] They were using the technological innovations set up in the exhibit to compete with one another.
Khrushchev claimed that following his confrontation with Nixon he did all he could to bring about Nixon’s defeat in his 1960 presidential campaign. The trip raised Nixon’s profile as a public statesman, greatly improving his chances for receiving the Republican presidential nomination the following year.
Shaking hands with the guy who was going to bury us.
Negotiation of a cultural treaty rather than issuing “sanctions.”
Technological competition over improving the lives of their respective citizenries rather than who was more of a badass.
And ol’ Nikita just up and said he tried to influence the election.
Today’s Russia Russia Russia bullshit is very different from our holding Communism at bay. Now that the Ruskies are capitalists, NOW we say fuck friendship. Hmmmmmm.twenty, OCMI, mmonk and 2 othersiggy, Doremus Jessup like this
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