Cold War: The United States of America and Soviet Russia were in a war after the Second World War. It is called the "Cold War." Both countries worked with Britain and France to defeat Fascist dictatorships (Germany and Italy) and the Japanese empire during the war. They were on the same side as them. As far back as February 1945, there was some cooperation between the two countries. The two countries signed a non-aggression treaty for five years in 1941. There was soon a big change in what was going on. The United States and the Soviet Union were in a "war-like situation," which is what most people call the Cold War.
The Meaning of Cold War
The Cold War was dubbed "peacetime unarmed warfare" between emerging superpowers. It was a "diplomatic war" between superpowers, not an armed conflict, and it was motivated by ideological hatred and political distrust. Flemming described the Cold War as "a war waged not on the battlefield, but in men's minds; one seeks to exert control over the minds of others." The Cold War was quite unlike an open war, in which the adversaries are well-known and the conflict is fought openly. Throughout the Cold War, no war was declared and countries maintained diplomatic relations. While the Cold War did involve some military conflict and casualties, it was also a form of psychological warfare aimed at reducing the enemy's area of influence and increasing the number of one's camp supporters.
The Cold War was a bipolar conflict between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, but it also included both superpowers' allies and satellites.
The Cold War has also been defined as a conflict between two ideologies and two radically different economic and social systems—communism and liberal democracy, socialist command economy and capitalism. Although there have been numerous bipolar confrontations throughout history, this was the first time that two distinct forms of social organisation competed for the right to implement alternative worldviews.
Both the USA and the USSR were on the verge of becoming superpowers at the turn of the twentieth century. A comparison of various countries' manufacturing shares in 1932, just after the Great Depression, reveals America as the undisputed leader with nearly 32%, followed by the Soviet Union with 11.5 percent. However, other leading countries—Britain (10.9 percent), Germany (10.6 percent), and France—were not far behind (6.9 percent ). However, following the Second World War, Germany and Japan's armed forces were defeated, while Britain and France's were depleted. Now, two countries—America and the Soviet Union—had developed into superpowers. Despite catastrophic war losses, the Soviet Union advanced rapidly due to its socialist command economy. Due to these two countries' meteoric rise, they faced off in a competition that culminated in the Cold War.
The Soviet Union established the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau), 'Radio Moscow,' and financed a number of communist parties in other countries. The United States of America established the 'Voice of America' radio news programme and supported anti-communist political parties and movements in other countries.
The conflict between the two countries emerged as a clash between the two countries' divergent ideologies. America adopted one of these ideologies, political and economic liberalism, while Russia adopted Marxism-Leninism.
Factor Responsible For Cold War
After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, the two new superpowers, both wanted to prove that their positions and ideologies were the best. This conflict became the centre of international relations. Opposing blocs started to form, which made the two powers even more wary of each other. Most countries in the western world sided with the United States and were very against communism. With the possession of nuclear weapons, the United States became a superpower. Soon, Russia became a rival and challenger to the United States. In 1949, she also made nuclear weapons, which ended the United States' supremacy.
In the past, there had been a lot of mistrust and suspicion between the Soviet Union and other countries in the western world. Soviet Union: Western countries (Britain, France, and the U.S.) tried to stop the Bolshevik revolution and fought in the civil war with Japan. The Soviet Union could not forget this. Western countries also didn't forget that the Soviet Union said its goal was to overthrow capitalism all over the world. During World War II, people became more suspicious of each other. Because of the attack on the USSRUSSR by Germany in 1941, Western democracies waited to open a second front against Germany. Britain and the United States said they would, but the delay made the Soviets think that the west wanted a long fight between Germany and Russia so both would be killed.
During the war, both sides tried to help people in the countries that were freed from the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and a few smaller states). Mussolini was removed from power in Italy after a war with the West. After that, the Western powers helped Italy rebuild and gave hundreds of millions of dollars in grants. When the USSR saw that Italy had one of the largest communist parties outside of the USSR, they saw it as trying to strengthen the capitalist bloc or group of countries. This is why. There were problems in Greece and Poland, as well. The United States helped Greece fight off communist forces with help from the US.
After World War II, both superpowers took steps to lessen their fears of each other. The US agreed to stay out of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other eastern European countries that had been freed by the Soviet Red Army. The US would keep the western parts of Germany and Austria. The Soviet Union broke up the Comintern (Communist Information Bureau) and let capitalism run Greece. In 1952, the Soviet Union left Finland. By 1955, all of its troops had left Austria. There were still disagreements between the United States and the Soviet Union about the future of Europe and other places. The Soviet Union wanted to put "friendly" governments in the East European countries that had been freed from Nazi Germany. It was the communist governments that the Soviet Union thought of as friendly. The United States and Britain didn't agree with them, so they didn't think they were friends. The Soviet Union also tried to make Turkey her own and keep her troops in Iran for a long time, which the western countries didn't like.
Both sides caused the Cold War. The truce between the two parties during World War II was just a bright spot in their relationship before and after the war.
Different Phase of the Cold War
It is extremely difficult to pinpoint the start of the Cold War precisely because the war was never declared and even the undeclared aggression was long-term in nature. After the initial phase (1945–47), dubbed the ossification phase, the Cold War began in earnest, with the establishment of a European postwar order at its centre. The Cold War began as a result of the various powers' failure to consistently adhere to the principles agreed upon at the Yalta and Potsdam wartime conferences.
The Initial Phase
During the early stages, the fate of Poland became critical. Each country took a unique interest in Poland. France and Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, when Hitler's army crossed the Polish border. Poland had historically been an adversary of Russia; on the other hand, Polish lands had historically served as the traditional gateway for western invasions of Russia. When the Soviets invaded Poland in 1944, they formally transferred power to the Lublin government, the procommunist National Liberation Committee. The future of Poland was extensively discussed during Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt's Yalta Conference. No agreement could be reached on the precise location of Poland's border. However, Poland eventually joined the Soviet camp. Poland's sovietization became a watershed moment in the Cold War's inception.
The Balkans was the second critical area of conflict. Britain and the Soviet Union had established their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. However, all countries except Greece installed communist regimes, which were openly supported by the Soviet Union. Except for Greece, which was annexed by the British, the rest of East Europe fell under Soviet dominance. Churchill put it this way: a 'iron curtain' had descended over Europe. This resulted in an extremely tense relationship between East and West, including the United States and the Soviet Union.
Following Germany's unconditional surrender to the Allies, the country was divided into four occupation zones, each controlled by the Soviet Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France. Berlin, Germany's capital, fell within the Soviet occupation zone, but the city was divided into four occupation zones in the same manner as the rest of Germany. Military occupation was a temporary arrangement that lasted until the conclusion of the Peace Treaty. The Potsdam Conference was convened to finalise the treaty of peace between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Allies were divided on critical issues such as Germany's disarmament, demilitarisation, and partition. To what extent was German industry to be rebuilt permitted? The Soviet Union desired a destitute and weak Germany in order to protect its interests from Germany. Additionally, the Soviet Union demanded US$ 20 billion in reparations from Germany. However, the western allies rejected these proposals. Later, the British, American, and French zones were merged into one, resulting in the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Following the new state's election, a pro-Western government took power. It began receiving substantial financial assistance from America.
Soon after, with the assistance of the Soviet Union, the other zone established a state called the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
The western allies desired to implement monetary reforms in Germany, but the Soviet Union refused, initiating what became known as the Berlin Blockade. The Soviet Union outlawed all modes of transport between Berlin and the western zones, including road, rail, and waterways. This Blockade was also in protest of the Brussels Pact, which was drafted as a treaty of mutual defence between the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium. The Pact required signatories to provide military assistance to any member state in the event of an attack on Europe by Germany or a third party. Though the Soviet Union's name was not mentioned in the text, the text was primarily directed at the Soviet Union and not at Germany.
When Soviet troops failed to withdraw from Iran by March 1946, a crisis developed. Iran served as the primary conduit for western assistance to the Soviet Union during the war.
Iran was also an oil-rich country. The Soviet Union demanded preferential access to Iranian oil and forbade Iranian troops from entering Soviet-held territory. The US then increased pressure on the Soviet forces in the United Nations Security Council, forcing them to withdraw from Iran. The Soviet Union pressed Turkey to internationalise the Bosporus Strait.
Western allies objected. The United States of America and the Soviet Union backed rival factions in Greece. Greece's conservative forces had appealed to the United States for assistance.
In this context, US President Truman formulated what became known as the Truman doctrine. Truman's doctrine was one of 'containment,' i.e., limiting or containing communism to areas where it had already triumphed, but not allowing it to spread further. As a result, American foreign policy shifted from isolationism to interventionism. This intervention sought to halt the spread of communism throughout the world.
Additionally, communism experienced a significant rise in some western European countries. Europe's war-torn countries had hoped for an improvement in their lot following the war, but this did not occur. European national economies and industries were struggling, and communist party membership was increasing in these countries. This was the backdrop against which US Secretary of State Marshall proposed his plan for European economic reconstruction, dubbed 'The Marshall Plan'. The Plan called for the transfer of more than ten billion dollars from the United States to Europe over a twenty-year period. It was hoped that such a massive monetary infusion would aid Europe in recovering from the war's ravages, stabilising its material situation and political climate in the process. Additionally, it was believed that only a stable Europe would be capable of resisting both internal and external communist threats. Notably, the offer of assistance was extended to East European countries as well.
In response to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, the Soviet Union resurrected the 'Cominform' (Communist Information Bureau). It was established with the goal of bringing communist governments within the Soviet sphere of influence into line with Moscow's policies. Thus, it was an attempt to strengthen Communism's hold on Eastern Europe.
On April 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was established. This treaty was signed as part of the "containment" policy. It was a confrontation between the United States and other European countries–Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, and Portugal. The treaty established a military alliance in opposition to the Soviet Bloc. The central provision of the NATO treaty is Article V, which states that an attack on any NATO member is considered an act of aggression against all others. However, each member state retained the right to determine the type of assistance it would provide to other members. Later on, Greece and West Germany joined NATO as well.
Post-1945 developments in China and Korea accelerated the Cold War's escalation. In 1949, Mao Tse-Tung led the Communists to victory in China, and the People's Republic of China was established .The US refused to recognize the People's Republic of China, which was also denied UN membership; only Taiwan ('Nationalist' China) was recognized. The US used its veto power to keep communist China out of the United Nations, and the Soviet Union effectively boycotted the UN as a result. This did not, however, result in the establishment of friendly relations between the USSR and the PRC; in fact, their relations deteriorated after 1950.
Korea was divided into North Korea under Soviet control and South Korea under American control following Japan's defeat in World War II. South Korea was effectively a dictatorship, aided and abetted by the United States. North Korea established a pro-Soviet government. Neither the Soviet Union nor the United States of America recognized the governments that opposed them. North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The United Nations, dominated by capitalist states on its permanent Security Council, declared North Korea the aggressor and established a unified UN command to repel the North Korean attack.
General MacArthur of the United States of America was named commander. UN forces drove North Korean forces out of South Korea and advanced deep into North Korean territory, all the way to the Chinese border. China then allied with North Korean forces in an attempt to push UN troops into South Korea. Finally, in 1953, an armistice was signed, putting an end to the threat of open war. The Korean War was the Cold War's first military conflict. The USA, the USSR, and the PRC did not engage in much direct combat (although Soviet pilots flew North Korean aircraft), but they fought each other's client states (the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of Korea: neither was a democracy!)
Tensions eased considerably during the second phase, but the Cold War did not end. Both countries experienced a change in leadership at the highest level. In the United States of America, President Truman's term expired in 1953, and Stalin died in the Soviet Union in 1953.
Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Stalin and reversed a number of Stalin's policies. On the policy front, Khrushchev advocated for a policy of European tension reduction and acknowledged Soviet responsibility for some of the continent's problems. On the other hand, he openly suppressed anti-Soviet leaders and ideas in Poland and Hungary and denounced as 'fascist' liberal and Catholic activities expressing Polish and Hungarian nationalism. Soviet leaders also expressed criticism during this period about racial conflicts in the United States, which they claimed were an inevitable result of capitalist inequality. For their part, the United States and its clients attempted to incite anti-Soviet sentiments in East European countries.
The Soviet Union's leadership transition and Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalinism sparked uprisings in Poland and Hungary. In 1956, a revolt broke out in Poland's Poznan city but was quickly put down. The Polish Communist Party split into two factions, one Stalinist and the other Gomulkaist. Gomulka's faction won, and the Polish Communist Party resolved to pursue a "national path to socialism." This meant that Poland would have greater control over its own affairs as long as it respected Soviet hegemony throughout Eastern Europe (for example, in economic and military affairs). Thus, Poland became the second country, after Yugoslavia, to follow the path of "Nationalist Communism," which was tolerated by the majority of Soviet leaders within certain parameters.
In 1956, the Hungarian people rose up in revolt. The Soviet Union initially agreed to some reforms, but when Hungarians demanded the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops and Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact (which the Soviet Union established in response to NATO), the Soviet leadership became dissatisfied with the 'New Course.'
Hungary's final declaration of neutrality and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact resulted in the execution of Imre Nagy, the country's then-ruler, and a Soviet Union attack on Hungary. Thus, the Soviet Union demonstrated its unwillingness to accept a liberalised communist regime or a multiparty democracy in Poland.
The US took no action, as any such action would almost certainly have resulted in a direct confrontation between the Soviet Union and the USA.
Following the Chinese Revolution, General Chiang Kai-Shek led his supporters across the Taiwan Strait and established the Republic of China, which served as China's UN representative until 1971. Prior to 1950, American policy was to abstain from intervening in Taiwan in the event of a Communist China (Peoples' Republic of China) attack. However, following the Korean War in 1950, the US policy shifted, and in 1953, US President Eisenhower agreed to a massive rearmament of Taiwan by the United States.
In 1954, the PRC (China) declared that Taiwan needed to be liberated and began military operations in response. On its part, the US threatened to use nuclear weapons, and a conflict between the PRC and the US appeared imminent. Communist China indicated a willingness to back down, and NATO states declared they would oppose the use of nuclear weapons by the United States. During this time period, the PRC's leaders believed that the USSR's advances in developing long-range nuclear weapon delivery systems, or ICBMs, had shifted the European balance of power in favour of the Eastern bloc. PRC leaders were uncertain about the implications of the USSR's military renaissance; perhaps it would make the USA less likely to threaten the PRC.
When the PRC bombarded Quemoy in 1957, the USSR exerted pressure on the PRC to halt the bombardment. Although a direct conflict between China and the United States was averted, Chinese Communist suspicion of the United States and the Soviet Union increased.
The British and French built the Suez Canal in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Suez Canal Company was granted the right to operate and profit from the canal for a 99-year period beginning in 1869. Egypt's 1956 decision to nationalise the Suez Canal–that is, to incorporate it into Egyptian national territory–triggered a series of crises. Britain, France, and Israel agreed to launch a coordinated military offensive against Egypt. America was staunchly opposed to the use of force. Israel, however, attacked Egypt in collusion with the United Kingdom and France. This compelled the United States to condemn its own allies, and for the first time since the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on this issue. Britain and France were compelled to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force to guard the canal.
After the 'Suez Crisis,' France's imperial decline accelerated. Britain, too, was now widely regarded as a second-rate power and junior partner of the United States. Fidel Castro became president of Cuba in 1959, following many years of struggle. Within a few years, he brought Cuba closer to the Soviet Union. The USA severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, refused to purchase Cuban sugar, and backed an anti-Castro 'invasion' of Cuba in 1961. Cubans who were living in exile in the United States of America. At the Bay of Pigs, the exiles attempted a landing. The 'invasion' was a complete failure, as the exiles received no support from the Cuban people. The Soviet Union then decided to station a nuclear bomber and ground-to-ground missiles in Cuba (some of which were located within 150 kilometres of the United States). Additionally, the Soviet Union sent dozens of long-range missiles to Cuba. (Since 1949, the USA has established bomber and missile bases in Norway, Turkey, and other countries bordering the Soviet Union.) In response, the United States of America announced a blockade of Cuba. Between the superpowers, there was a distinct possibility of war. Initially opposing the blockade, the Soviet Union eventually agreed to withdraw the missiles on the condition that the Americans refrain from invading Cuba and withdraw their medium-range nuclear missiles from Turkey. The USA agreed to the first condition and promptly removed missiles from Turkey, claiming they were obsolete. This was probably the closest the Cold War superpowers came to nuclear war.
The Soviet Union effectively issued an ultimatum to the western powers, demanding that all of Berlin be demilitarised within six months; the USSR would withdraw its occupation troops if the other occupiers did the same. Without agreement within six months, the Soviet Union was to transfer its occupation rights in East Berlin to the German Democratic Republic ('East Germany'). When Soviet troops surrounded the city, West Berliners and foreign occupiers were supplied via a 'airbridge'; eventually, Soviet leaders realised they could not easily force the Western powers out of Berlin, which they had occupied for 300,000 troops at the end of World War II. Not so much was the 'Berlin Crisis' defused as it was won in favour of the Western occupation forces.
Throughout the 1950s, the Soviet Union was concerned about the flight of many workers and professionals from East Germany to West Germany via Berlin. When they reintroduced pressure on the Western occupiers over the Berlin question, the latter altered certain terms of occupation in order to avoid being drawn into a major conflict over Germany. After 1955, West Germany, the German Federal Republic, was rearmed and given effective control over the majority of the western occupation zones, where communism was briefly outlawed. East Berlin's Soviet occupiers constructed a concrete wall in 1961 to prevent East Germans from fleeing to the West German state. Until Germans demolished it in 1989–90, the Berlin Wall became a symbol of Cold War politics.
During the second phase of the Cold War, there was a thaw between the two superpowers, but tensions were extremely high on occasion, such as during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The prospect of nuclear war and its catastrophic consequences compelled the two superpowers to alter their attitudes. Both countries faced pressure to cut military spending.
There had already been some arguments for improving relations between the two superpowers. In 1963, the Soviet Union, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom signed a treaty prohibiting nuclear tests and agreeing to conduct nuclear tests underground only to avoid further polluting the atmosphere. The same year, a telephone link (dubbed the "hot line") was established between Moscow and Washington to facilitate rapid consultations.
The New Cold War
Following the Helsinki Conference, the detente process stalled. By 1980, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union had deteriorated to the point where it appeared as though the Cold War had resumed. The new tensions became known as the "New Cold War." The New Cold War was distinct from the Cold War in that it was based on balance of power rather than ideological conflict. In the New Cold War, a new power bloc, namely the PRC, emerged as an unstoppable force. The Soviet army's intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 was a watershed moment. The New Cold War was defined by both countries' efforts to expand their influence primarily outside of Europe. Outside of Europe, conflicts have taken on a new significance. For the Soviet Union, detente meant accepting the status quo in Europe only. Both countries backed opposing groups in Indo-China, Africa, and Afghanistan, among other places. The Soviet Union replaced Afghanistan's President with a pro-Soviet candidate. Nearly a million Soviet soldiers were stationed in Afghanistan during the Cold War. America viewed the Soviet soldiers' presence in Afghanistan as a threat to Iran and repositioned her warships in the Gulf. Both countries played a significant role in the development of new weapons of mass destruction. President Ronald Reagan of the United States of America approved the plan to develop a new weapons system, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Star Wars.
End Of the Cold War
The end of the New Cold War coincided with the collapse of communism in a number of Eastern European countries. The collapse occurred at a breakneck pace, and communism ultimately imploded in its birthplace, the USSR. The process began in 1988 in Poland, when the Solidarity trade union organized massive anti-government strikes that compelled the government to allow free elections in which the communists were soundly defeated. Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Czechoslovakia all experienced the same thing.
Eric Honecker, East Germany's communist leader, sought to disperse demonstrators through force but was overruled by his colleagues. By the end of 1989, East Germany's Communist government was forced to resign, and the Berlin Wall, the Cold War's symbol, was demolished with widespread public support. The fall of the Berlin wall was widely regarded as the end of the Cold War, just as its construction had been regarded as the start. In 1990, East Germany adopted the West German currency, completing the reunification of the two Germanys. The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany was appointed head of the united country's government, which adopted a market economy and a western-style democracy.
Communism also came to an end in the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev worked to transform and revitalise the country through his glasnost (openness) and perestroika (revitalization) policies (restructuring-which meant economic and social reforms). However, the measures failed, and by the end of 1991, the USSR had disintegrated into separate republics, with Russia alone unable to wield the same influence as the old Soviet Union. The Cold War ended.
Numerous political commentators argued that the end of the Cold War would solve all of the world's problems, but new ones and new areas of conflict have emerged.