Cold War

What is Cold War?

What is Cold War?

The Cold War is called the period of geopolitical tension (1945–1991) after the Second World War between the Soviet Union and its dependent countries (Eastern European countries) and the United States and its allied countries (Western European countries).

After World War II the world was divided into two power groups dominated by two superpowers – the Soviet Union and the United States.

It was an ideological war between the capitalist United States of America and the communist Soviet Union in which the two superpowers engaged with their respective group countries.

The term “cold” is used because there was no direct large-scale war between the two sides.The term was first used by the English writer George Orwell in one of his articles published in 1945.

The Cold War started between the Allied Countries, which included the UK, France, etc. led by America and the Soviet Union and its dependent countries.

Soviet Union:

The Soviet Union was officially known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
It was the first communist state in the world which was established in the year 1922.

Causes of Cold War:

In World War II, the allied nations (America, Britain and France) and the Soviet Union clashed together against the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Japan, Austria). But for various reasons this wartime alliance could not coexist after World War II.

Potsdam Conference

The Potsdam Conference was held in Berlin in 1945 to discuss the following questions between the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union:

  • Establishment of immediate administration in defeated Germany.
  • Determination of the boundaries of Poland.
  • The hegemony of Austria.
  • Role of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.
  • The Soviet Union wanted a part of Poland (the territory bordering the Soviet Union) to be maintained as a buffer zone, but the
  • United States and Britain did not agree to this demand.
  • Also, the US did not inform the Soviet Union about the exact nature of the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. This created a doubt within the Soviet Union about the intentions of the West, which strained coalition relations.

Truman’s Doctrine

  • The Truman Doctrine was announced on March 12, 1947 by US President Harry S. Truman did.
  • The Truman Doctrine was an American policy of control of the Soviet Union’s communist and imperialist efforts, in which various measures were adopted, such as providing economic aid to other countries.
  • For example, the US approved financial support to support Greece and Turkey’s economy and the military.
  • Historians believe that the declaration of this principle marked the official declaration of the start of the Cold War.
    Iron Curtain
  • After the Second World War, a political, military and ideological barrier was created by the Soviet Union to keep itself and its dependent Eastern and Central European countries out of open contact with the West and other non-communist countries called ‘Iron Curtain’. where did it go.
  • The term ‘Iron Curtain’ was first used by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
  • To the east of this Iron Curtain were those countries that belonged to or were influenced by the Soviet Union, while to the west were those countries that were allies of the US and Britain or were almost neutral.

Important events of the Cold War:

Berlin Blockade, 1948

As tensions grew between the Soviet Union and the Allies, the Soviet Union began the Siege of Berlin in 1948.
The Siege of Berlin was an attempt by the Soviet Union to limit their mobility in the Berlin area controlled by the Allies.

In addition, on August 13, 1961, the communist government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) began construction of a barbed fence and concrete wall (Berlin Wall) between East and West Berlin.

This mainly served the purpose of preventing mass migration from East Berlin to West Berlin.People from East and West Berlin were not allowed to cross the border except under special circumstances.

Until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it remained the most important symbol or monument of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Marshall Plan vs Cominform

Marshall Plan:

In 1947, US Secretary of State George Marshall unveiled the European Recovery Program (ERP), offering economic and financial assistance as needed.
One of the objectives of the ERP was to encourage the economic reconstruction of Europe. However, this was an economic extension of the Truman doctrine.

Cumminform:

The Soviet Union denounced the entire idea of ​​the Marshall Plan as ‘Dollar Imperialism‘.
The Communist Information Bureau- Cominform was founded in 1947 as a Soviet response to the Marshall Plan.
It was mainly an organization to hold the countries of Eastern Europe together.

NATO vs Warsaw Pact:

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
The siege of Berlin by the Soviet Union revealed the military weakness of the West, which certainly prompted them to make military preparations.
As a result, in 1948, mainly Western European countries signed the Brussels Defense Treaty, promising military cooperation in case of war.
Later the US, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Iceland, Italy and Norway also joined the Brussels Defense Treaty and NATO was formed in April 1949.
NATO countries also agreed to view the attack on any one of these as an attack on all countries and to place their military forces under a joint command.
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Pact, 1955 was signed between the Soviet Union and its dependent states soon after West Germany joined NATO.
It was a mutual defense agreement that Western countries saw as a Soviet reaction to West Germany’s NATO membership.

Space Race
Space exploration emerged as a more dramatic field in the Cold War rivalry.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the world’s first man-made artificial satellite to be placed in Earth orbit.
In 1958, the US launched its first satellite called Explorer I.
The US ultimately won this space competition when it successfully sent the first man (Neil Armstrong) to the surface of the Moon in 1969.
arms competition
The US control strategy over the Soviet Union made the United States a large-scale arsenal, and in response the Soviet Union did the same.
Nuclear weapons developed on a large scale and the world entered the nuclear age.
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Cuba also became involved in this cold war when the US severed its diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 and the Soviet Union increased Cuba’s economic aid.
In 1961, the US planned a Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba aimed at overthrowing the Soviet-backed Fidel Castro, but the US campaign failed.
After this incident, Fidel Castro appealed to the Soviet Union for military help, upon which the Soviet Union decided to install a nuclear missile launch in Cuba aimed at the US.
The Cuban Missile Crisis brought both superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. However, diplomatic efforts succeeded in averting this crisis.
end of cold war
The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991 for a variety of reasons which marked the end of the Cold War as one of the two superpowers was now weakened.

Due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union

Military reason

The Soviet Union’s resources were wasted greatly in meeting military requirements in the space and arms competition.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies

To improve the dying Soviet economy, Gorbachev adopted ‘Glasnost’ (Openness) and ‘Perestroika’ (Restructuring) policies.
Glasnost intended the liberalization of the political landscape.
The aim of perestroika was to replace government-run industries with semi-free market policies.
This allowed various ministries to function more freely and several market friendly reforms were introduced.
These steps, instead of ushering in any renaissance in communist thought, opened the way for criticism of the entire Soviet system.
The state lost control of both the media and the public sector, and democratic reform movements gained momentum throughout the.

Soviet Union.

Along with this, due to the worsening economy, poverty, unemployment etc., public dissatisfaction was increasing and they were getting attracted towards western ideology and lifestyle.

War of afghanistan

The Soviet-Afghan War (1979–89) was another important reason for the disintegration of the Soviet Union because it severely damaged the Soviet Union’s economic and military resources.

The conclusion

The end of the Cold War marked the victory of the US and the bipolar world order transformed into a unipolar world order.

However, over the past decade America’s position as the world’s most powerful country has destabilized rapidly. US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, non-traditional security threats, global economic instability, spread of religious fundamentalism as well as the rise of new economic powers (such as Japan, Australia, India, China etc.) have given the world a more multipolar image. And with this, the fall of the west and the rise of the east are being forecasted.

 

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