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Kitchen Debate

From Academic Kids

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Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev and United States Vice President Richard Nixon Debate the merits of communism versus capitalism in a model American kitchen at the American National Exhibition in Moscow in July of 1959.

The Kitchen Debate was an impromptu debate between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, in July, 1959. The debate takes its name from the exhibition's model kitchen, where the discussion took place. The two men discussed the merits of each of their economic systems, capitalism vs. communism. The debate took place during an escalation of the Cold War, beginning with the launch of Sputnik in 1957, through the U-2 Crisis in 1960. Most Americans believed Nixon won the debate, and hence the event added to his prestige on the homefront.

Khrushchev was appalled by the kitchen exhibit, repeatedly stating that Russian people focus on things that matter rather than luxury. He even 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. In the end, both men agreed that the United States and the Soviet Union should be more open with each other. However, Khrushchev was skeptical of Nixon's promise that his part in the debate would be translated into English and broadcast in the U.S.

Quotations from the debate

Nixon: "There are some instances where you may be ahead of us, for example in the thrust of your rockets for the investigation of outer space. And there may be instances, for example color television, where we are ahead of you..."
Khrushchev: "In what are they ahead of us? Wrong! Wrong! We are ahead of you in rockets as well as in the other technique. I do not capitulate."

Khrushchev: "If I do not know everything, then I would say that you know nothing about communism; nothing except fear of it."

Khrushchev: "Let us compete. The system that will give the people more goods will be the better system, and victorious."

Nixon: "To me you are strong and we are strong. In some ways, you are stronger. In others, we are stronger. We are both strong not only from the standpoint of weapons but from the standpoint of will and spirit. Neither should use that strength to put the other in a position where he in effect has an ultimatum. In this day and age that misses the point. With modern weapons it does not make any difference if war comes. We both have had it."

Khrushchev: "For the fourth time I have to say I cannot recognize my friend Mr. Nixon. If all Americans agree with you then who don't we agree [with]? This is what we want."

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