Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Nikita Khrushchev

Soviet leaderKhrushchev: ‘You know absolutely nothing about Communism, nothing except fear of it.’ Nixon: ‘Never make a statement here that you don't think we read in the United States.’ In July of 1959, Vice President Richard M. Nixon traveled to Moscow to open the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park, organized as a goodwill gesture by the U.S.S.R. On July 24, 1959, in front of replica of a suburban American kitchen, Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engaged in an impromptu debate about the merits and disadvantages of capitalism and communism. Watched by applauding reporters and Soviet officials, the informal exchange was known as the ‘Kitchen Debate.’ With American television cameras rolling, Khrushchev made Nixon promise that his words would not be censored or miscommunicated when the film was shown in the United States. Nixon assured him that they would not, and then asked the Soviet leader to return the favor. On August 1, Khrushchev obliged, allowing Nixon to speak on Soviet national television. In an event unprecedented in the U.S.S.R., Nixon was heard criticizing Communist policy while warning the Soviet people they would live in tension and fear if Khrushchev attempted to propagate communism in countries outside the Soviet Union. Nixon's trip to Moscow helped solidify his reputation as a tough and capable U.S. leader, and the Kitchen Debate was a definitive moment in the Cold War. In September, Khrushchev traveled to the United States and met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In May of 1972, Nixon returned to the Soviet Union as president.


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