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Cold War historians in Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States tend to agree that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s foreign policy was unpredictable and his actions were often erratic. He repeatedly issued threats to the West, yet on other occasions he promised peace. He made many provocative and even belligerent statements that later were retracted. He made many risky diplomatic decisions. Some argue, however, that Khrushchev’s unpredictable behavior helped the Soviet Union keep the West in a state of constant uncertainty. Global war did not break out under his leadership. Khrushchev was able to reach out to the United States and maintained a dialogue with the West.
What’s your view?
1. Is a leader’s unpredictable foreign policy a strength or a liability? Could it be a combination of the two? Discuss, using examples from today’s foreign policy decisions.
2. Is it strategically beneficial for a political leader to be unpredictable so that the opponents are left guessing what his or her next move would be? Or are stability and predictability more valuable strategies in diplomacy?
3. What comparisons could you potentially make between Khrushchev and U.S. President Donald Trump, and why?
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