The Cold War

Part 1

  • As the Russia Ukraine conflict intensifies and world again gets divided again into groups, let us take a moment to go through the history and have a look at a time when the World teetered on the brink of collapse.

What is the Cold War?

  • Cold War, the open yet restricted rivalry that developed after World War II between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies.
  • The war was deemed cold because the two superpowers were never directly at war with each other but they each supported major regional conflicts through proxy wars.
  • While there is differing opinions on the beginning of the conflict, it is generally believed to have begun from the announcement of the Truman Doctrine on 12 March 1947 and ended by the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26 December 1991.

The Cause of the Conflict:

Ideological:

  • The major cause of the conflict was ideological as the USA represented capitalism with its free market and USSR represented communism and a state-controlled economy.
  • Both these groups represented two ends of an ideological spectrum and both were intolerant towards the other.

Geopolitical:

  • While ideology was proclaimed publicly as the reason for the conflict, many political thinkers agree that the reason for the conflict was geopolitics.
  • Both USA and USSR aimed at creating their hegemony in their own circle and spreading their influence throughout the globe.
  • This resulted in them trying to prop up puppet regimes in strategic locations as well as undermining the regimes set up by their rival.

Espionage:

  • Both the powers used covert operatives against each other through the American CIA and Soviet KGB.
  • These spies where treated as heroes by their own faction and as traitors by the opposing ones.
  • Both CIA and KGB were often accused of human rights violations. Americans eventually declassified many of the cold war era activities of the CIA while KGB still remains a mystery.

Major events during the conflict:

(1947-1962)

Truman Doctrine:

  • The Truman Doctrine is an American foreign policy that pledged American support for democracies against authoritarian threats.
  • Its primary aim was to contain the expansion of communist regimes across Europe initially and later globally.

Formation of NATO:

  • NATO or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed on 4 April 1949 as a collective security organisation.
  • This however lay dormant until the Korean War which necessitated the implementation of an integrated military structure.

Korean War:

  • Korean war began when Kim Il-sung’s North Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea at the 38th parallel.
  • North Korea which was supported by the Soviet Union was able to invade deep into South Korean territories.
  • USA was able to rally international support for South Korea under United Nations Security Council Resolution 82 and 83.
  • This led to an UN coalition of 16 countries sending their military in support of South Korea.
  • This led to an armistice agreement along the 38th parallel.

Warsaw Pact:

  • In response to the creation of NATO; and to increase its control over the Eastern Bloc, USSR created a collective defence treaty called Warsaw Pact.
  • Formally known as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, it was signed between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955.

Cuban Revolution:

  • Cuba is a tiny Caribbean nation of the coast of Florida.
  • On 1 January 1959, a group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara overthrew the unpopular regime under President Fulgencio Batista and established a socialist regime.
  • This resulted in the severance of relation between Cuba and United States and it has not been normalised even now.

Berlin Crisis:

  • In order to prevent the brain drain from the communist countries to the capitalist countries USSR along with its allies had established emigration restrictions.
  • However, there remained a loophole in this in the form of West Berlin which was under the control of capitalist nations and was thus used as a way to escape the communist region.
  • This resulted in massive number of migrations which forced USSR to separate the West Berlin from East Berlin which led to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Cuban Missile Crisis:

  • In 1962, in response to USA setting up missiles in Turkey, USSR started developing missile bases in Cuba.
  • Cuba also saw these missiles as a safety assurance in case of future conflict with the US.
  • USA however saw these missile bases as an unprecedented threat to its survival and issued a naval embargo around the island nation.
  • Any soviet ships breaching the embargo line carrying missiles were to be treated as an act of war by the US.
  • This is considered as the closest time the world came to a full scale conflict between the USA and USSR.

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