Unit 1 - International Relations: Conflict and Peace in the 20th Century

This unit provides an outline study of the main events of the 20th Century. Candidates must answer THREE out of six questions.

Conflict and Peace in the 20th Century

Part 1: The Origins of the First World War

Key issue: Why were there two armed camps in Europe in 1914?

  • Development of the Triple Alliance, Entente Cordiale and Anglo-Russian Agreement: Britain's emergence from splendid isolation
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II's aims in foreign policy: Weltpolitik; 'a place in the sun'; attitudes towards Great Britain; development of the Navy
  • The Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911 and their effects on the alliances
  • The Bosnian Crisis 1908–1909 and its effect on the alliances
  • The arms race – military and naval: why did countries increase the size of their armies? The Anglo-German Naval Race.

Key issue: Why did war break out in 1914?

  • Aims of Austria-Hungary and Serbia in the Balkans: the role of the Black Hand
  • The assassination at Sarajevo: Gavrilo Princip; the response of Austria-Hungary; the ultimatum and Serbia's response
  • The events leading to war; the role of the alliances in 1914
  • The Schlieffen Plan and its effects on the outbreak of war; its part in bringing about Great Britain's declaration of war on Germany
  • Responsibility for the outbreak of war and the escalation of the conflict.

Part 2: Peacemaking 1918–1919 and the League of Nations

Key issue: How did the Treaty of Versailles establish peace?

  • The Paris Peace Conference: the aims of Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson: the Fourteen Points
  • The main terms of the Treaty of Versailles: Diktat; territorial changes; military restrictions, war guilt and reparations
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the Treaty of Versailles: why Germany objected to it.

Key issue: Why did the League of Nations fail in its aim to keep peace?

  • Membership 1919–1939: why and how it changed; implications for the League of Nations
  • Organisation, powers and peace keeping role: the Assembly; the Council; the Permanent Court of Justice; military and economic sanctions
  • The Manchurian Crisis 1931–1933: events; action taken by the League; effect on the League as a peace keeping force
  • The Abyssinian Crisis 1935–1936: events; action taken by the League; effect on the League as a peacekeeping force
  • The reasons for the collapse of the League.

Part 3: Hitler’s foreign policy and the origins of the Second World War

Key issue: How did Hitler challenge and exploit the Treaty of Versailles 1933–March 1938?

  • Hitler's aims in foreign policy
  • The return of the Saar, 1935
  • The beginning of rearmament in Germany: withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference 1933; non-aggression Pact with Poland 1934; reintroduction of conscription from 1935; Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935
  • The remilitarisation of the Rhineland 1936
  • The Anschluss with Austria 1938.

Key issue: Why did Chamberlain's policy of appeasement fail to prevent the outbreak of war in 1939?

  • Reasons for and against appeasement
  • The Sudeten Crisis and Munich Agreement, 1938
  • The collapse of Czechoslovakia March, 1939
  • The role of the USSR 1938–1939: the Nazi-Soviet Pact
  • Poland and the outbreak of war
  • Responsibility for the outbreak of war.

Part 4: The Origins of the Cold War 1945–1955

Key issue: Why did the USA and USSR become rivals in the years 1945–1949?

  • Ideological differences and their effects
  • The Yalta and Potsdam Conferences
  • The dropping of the atom bomb and its effects: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • The Iron Curtain: Soviet expansion in the East; Czechoslovakia, 1948
  • The Truman Doctrine: the situation in Greece and Turkey; the purpose of Truman Doctrine
  • The Marshall Plan: effect of Marshall Aid and the Soviet response; Cominform and Comecon; Yugoslavia
  • The Berlin Blockade and Airlift.

Key issue: How did the Cold War develop in the years 1949–1955?

  • The formation of NATO: its membership and purpose
  • The nuclear arms race: atom bomb; hydrogen bomb
  • The Korean War, 1950–1953: reasons for involvement of UN and USA; the role of MacArthur; the part played by USSR and China
  • The 'Thaw': death of Stalin; Austria; Khrushchev's policy of peaceful co-existence
  • The formation of the Warsaw Pact: membership and purpose.

Part 5: Crises of the Cold War 1955–1970

Key issue: How peaceful was Peaceful Co-existence?

  • Hungary, 1956: causes of the rising, why it was a threat to the USSR and how the soviets dealt with it; the effects on Europe and the Cold War
  • The continuation of the nuclear arms/space race: Sputnik 1; ICBMs; Polaris; Gagarin; Apollo
  • The U2 Crisis 1960: the purpose of U2; the responses of the USA and the USSR to the crisis; the effect on the Paris Summit and the peace process
  • The situation in Berlin: the Berlin Wall; Kennedy's response.

Key issue: How close to war was the world in the 1960s?

  • The nuclear deterrent: progress with nuclear disarmament; the space race in the 1960s
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis,1962: the effect of Castro's seizure of power in Cuba; Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs; Khrushchev and the missile crisis of 1962; Kennedy's response; the danger to the world; the results of the crisis; the effect on Kennedy and Khrushchev
  • Czechoslovakia, 1968: Dubcek and the Prague Spring; why it concerned the USSR and the Warsaw Pact and their response to it; the effects on East-West relations; the comparison with Hungary, 1956; the Brezhnev Doctrine.

Part 6: Failure of Détente and the collapse of communism 1970-1991

Key issue: Why did Détente collapse in the 1970s and 1980s?

  • The Soviet involvement in Afghanistan: reasons for Soviet involvement; reaction of President Carter and the USA to the war; progress of the war; the failure of SALT 2; the Olympic boycotts
  • Reagan and the renewal of the Cold War: attitudes to communism; development of new weapons; SDI
  • Solidarity in Poland: conditions in Poland; Lech Walesa; aims and suppression.

Key issue: Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern Europe?

  • Soviet failure in Afghanistan and its political and economic effects on the USSR
  • Gorbachev and Reagan: changing attitudes: Glasnost and Perestroika; changes in domestic and foreign policy and their effects; the collapse of the USSR
  • The end of Soviet control in Eastern Europe: the success of Solidarity; the end of the Berlin Wall; Czechoslovakia and Hungary; the fate of Gorbachev; the end of the Cold War.

Part 6: Failure of Détente and the collapse of communism 1970–1991

Key issue: Why did Détente collapse in the 1970s and 1980s?

  • The Soviet involvement in Afghanistan: reasons for Soviet involvement; reaction of President Carter and the USA to the war; progress of the war; the failure of SALT 2; the Olympic boycotts
  • Reagan and the renewal of the Cold War: attitudes to communism; development of new weapons; SDI
  • Solidarity in Poland: conditions in Poland; Lech Walesa; aims and suppression.

Key issue: Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern Europe?

  • Soviet failure in Afghanistan and its political and economic effects on the USSR
  • Gorbachev and Reagan: changing attitudes: Glasnost and Perestroika; changes in domestic and foreign policy and their effects; the collapse of the USSR
  • The end of Soviet control in Eastern Europe: the success of Solidarity; the end of the Berlin Wall; Czechoslovakia and Hungary; the fate of Gorbachev; the end of the Cold War.