Cold war occurred just after World War 2. This war was referred as cold as it was sustained political and military tension (Gaddis 20). The emergence of super powers after world war two was among the contributing factors to cold war. The western block (consisting of United Statesof America and other NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) country members) against eastern bloc eastern bloc (thesociety union and its Warsaw Pact allies members). A neutral block founded by India, Egypt and Yugoslavia. They rejected affiliation from either of the other two blocks. There was no direct engagement between the two superpowers but the blocks armed themselves heavily for a nuclear world war three (Volpi 85).
Immediately after world war two the USSR consolidated its reign over the eastern function. United States was seeking global containment as a strategy to defeat soviet power. Both of the function would give military and monetary aid to their allies to consolidate their control. Both USA and USSR competed for influence to Latin America and granting of independence of African states.
Early 1980s marked another period of cold war tension. USA increased military, economic and diplomatic pressure to the already weakened Soviet Union. Mid 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev introduced ‘perestroika’ as liberalizing reform (reorganization). 1989 was marked with peaceful revolutions (except Romanian revolution) from central Eastern Europe.
Toward the end of 1991 USSR was dissolved and as result communist regimes collapsed.
Chronology of the Cold War
1945-A nuclear bomb is dropped in Hiroshima and later Nagasaki.
1947- military help to west of Europe and Stalin (USSR) refuses the Marshall aid to eastern Europe
1948-NATO is formed by the western block (USA and allies). China converts to communism.
1950- this year marks the start of Korean war
1952 –United States of America explodes a hydrogen bomb to the enemy.
1953- USSR drops a hydrogen bomb and this year marks the death of Stalin. Korean War comes to an end.
1955- Warsaw pact is formed and both blocks are called for peaceful coexistence.
1956- Hungary revolution against USSR.
1959- Cuba –declares itself a communist state.
1961- USA offer military aid to Vietnam.
1962 –Cuba is faced with missile crisis.
1963- Military aid to Vietnam is increased by the USA.
1967- War erupts in Middle East for about six days.
1968-USSR plans and execute invasion to Czechoslovakia.
1973- Eruption of Yom Kippur war.
1979- Afghanistan is invaded by USSR.
1986- Gorbachev of USSR and Reagan of USA meets in Iceland.
1987- INF treaty is signed.
1991- USSR is formally dissolved.
Conference on post-war Europe
Allies disagreed on how the European map ought to be drawn. Western allies desired democratic governments. Independent governments would resolve their differences through international organizations.
Defeat of Japan and Potsdam conference
After defeat of Germany, differences arise on progress of Germany and the othercountries in central and Eastern Europe. Truman announces of their atomic bomb to Stalin. A week after this conference USA bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki which results in Japan’s unconditional surrender.
Formation of eastern block
The soviets liberate central and EasternEurope territories from Nazi and make them among the eastern bloc. Stalin maintains control of the eastern bloc through force and secret soviet police.
Preparation of ‘new war’
George F Kennan’s telegram from Moscow helped enforce US governments against the soviets. This telegram became strategic base towards Soviet Union during the cold war. Soviet respond to George telegram with Novikol telegram. Soviet accuses USA as monopoly capitalist and she was building up military capabilities.
Causes of Cold War
As the World War 2 came to end, mistrust and suspicion was rampant among states. The major cause of cold war was dominance and spread of ideologies (communism and capitalism) (Ross 150) . Other cause of this war was;
The Soviet Union wished to spread communism ideology to the whole world. Americans also wanted to spread capitalism worldwide also.
The atomic capability of America was a source of major suspicion and fear by the Soviets.
Suspicion and mistrust among the superpowers and the threat of attack from any bloc.
The Soviet Union action of control of east of Europe caused a lot of suspicion by the USA.
Personal hatred between the USA president and the leader of USSR (Stalin).
The soviets feared American using west of Europe as attacking base.
Berlin after 1945
Berlin was the centre of cold war (Gaddis180). Berlin was dived into four zones controlled by victorious forces at the finish of World War 2. The control by the allied and Russia to the zones was different. Russia wanted a weak Germany to ensure they are not attacked by Germany.
Allies wanted a strong Germany for economic prosperity. The western zone controlled by British, French and American amalgamated and introduced a common currency –Deutschmark. The eastern block was faced with many problems and Stalin (USSR) wanted to control whole of Berlin.
USSR could not forcibly remove Allies from Berlin because of USA’s atomic capability. Stalin ordered closure of all transportation to WestBerlin and consequently food supply and fuel was cut (Wetting 150). The allied forces supplied their zone with planes. Atomic bomb capability of the USA forced Stalin not to shoot done supplies to WestBerlin.
Beginning of cold war
Cominform and Tito-Stalin split- the purpose of Cominform was to enforce orthodox in the international communism community. 1947 Cominform faces a challenge when Tito and Stalin split and Yugoslavia is expelled. Yugoslavia becomes non-alignmentcountry but a communist (Wettig 175).
Containment and Truman Doctrine- USA response to Stalin efforts was containment of the spread of communalism. Harry Truman doctrine marks U.S bipartisan defence and foreign strategies.
Marshall Plan – this was economic assistance pledge to all European countries USSR includes. The plan aimed in building democratic economies to counter Europe’s threat of balance of power. The plan indicated European economic prosperity highly depended on Germany economic recovery.
Berlin blockade- US and Britain formed ‘Bizonia’ when they merged in their occupational zones. Later ‘Trizonia’ was as a result of France joining in. Stalin introduces a blockade of supplies to this zone. His act was the first crime throughout the cold war. The U.S and her allies’ airlifts supply to WestBerlin for a period of more than eleven months (Ross 160). In 1949 Stalin was cornered and is forced to lift the blockade.
Formation of NATO- was formed after the signing of North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. During this year USSR drops an atomic bomb in Semipalatinsk. Media in eastern bloc is state controlled. Major propaganda plays out during 1949 to demise peacefully communist system in eastern bloc. Policy makers in the US acknowledge that cold war was indeed a war of ideas.
Chinese civil war- United States supported Chiang Kai is defeated by Mao Zedong’s PLA (people liberation army). Soviet Union forms an alliance with china after the defeat. US expand their influence in Asia and Africato counter nationalist revolutions from communists.
Korean war- Stalin was the mastermind of this invasion of South Korea by Kim (II)-sung. United Nation assist South Korea against the North Koreans supported by Stalin. Consequences of this war were formation of military structure in NATO.
Death of Stalin (1953) – he is replaced by Nikita Khrushchev. Nikita during a soviet communist party congress denounces Stalin crimes.
Warsaw pact and Hungarian revolution- the death Stalin relaxed tension and saw the signing of Warsaw Pact (1955). Hungarian revolution occurs in 1956.
Berlin ultimatum – Khrushchev gives the US, France and Britain a six month proposition to remove their forces fromBerlin. He would give the access to western access to the East Germans should they fail to withdraw. The hallmark of 1950s was European integration.
Cuban revolution- president Fulgencio Batista is overthrown in 1959. Cuba begins arms negotiation with the Eastern bloc. John F Kenney unsuccessively organizes an invasion to Cuba using the CIA. Fidel Castrol responds by embracing Marxism-Leninism.
Cuban missile crisis- Kennedy’s efforts to oust Castro are revived with ‘Cuban Project’. Khrushchev plans to install soviet’s missile in Cuba in Kennedy‘s response to Cuba invasion. Kennedy reacts with naval blockade and forces the soviets to back done and promising never to invade Cuba. The incidence was the closest the world comes to nuclear war. Mutually assured destruction concept demonstrated that none of the superpower was ready to use its nuclear weaponries (Volpi 120). Khrushchev is ousted in 1964 accused of impoliteness and ineffectiveness. He was accused of international embarrassment of Soviet Union for Berlin wall.
Effects of cold war
The effects of cold war wereheavilyexperienced by Russia and her allies. Russia’s
Capitalist reforms led to financial crisis (Volpi 180). Germany experienced the great depression during 1990s. Overall effects of cold war ranged from economics to technology. Some of the effects of cold war are listed below.
Nuclear advancements- massive advancements to nuclear power and energy can be identified during the cold war periods. The use of radiation greatly improved medical treatment and health. Former superpowers have continued to improve and maintain nuclear weapons. The risk of radiological and nuclear terrorism is among the many side effects of nuclear usage. Management of nuclear waste is another hindrance to nuclear usage.
Effects of radiations – military and non-military effects of nuclear fission brought involuntary exposures to high levels of radiations. The atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was large scale destruction by radiation. This usage of nuclear lead to so many radiation incidences in scientific labs and military bases.
Security- nuclear weapon states have to put in place substantial security in protecting their nuclear facilities. Nuclear devices such as propulsion and reactors must be safeguarded.
Military decommissioning- former superpowers have not fully decommissioned their militaries. Tactical and strategic nuclear forces still remain intact even after end of cold war. This has created tensions among countries and mistrust among the superpowers.
Economic effects- huge fiscal mortgages after the cold war were made too many failing domestic economies. The newly independent states (including African states) had to be given huge financial aid for progression.
Formation of military blocks- NATO and Warsaw pact were formed by the super powers as an effort to gain military advantage.
Demolition of Berlin wall- the wall separating west and EastBerlin was demolished and Germany becomes unified once again.
Collapse of Soviet Union- Baltic states in the USSR gained independence and hence the collapse of USSR as a superpower.
USA becomes the sole superpower- as a result of dissolving of USSR; USA emerged as a sole superpower in the world.
Collapse of communism- the collapse of USSR marked the beginning of the collapse to communism regimes. Capitalism was favoured by the newly independent states.
Cold war was marked with heavy armament of the superpowers with nuclear weapons but was never a full-scale armed combat. The war was in phases and the leading being after the World War 2. Aside from nuclear weapons the superpowers used psychological warfare and proxy wars. 1989 marked the year of many revolutions to overthrow communist regimes. The outcome of cold war was both negative and positive. Human death and displacements were the major negative outcome of cold war. Technology, nuclear energy, improved healthcare, economic growth and military superiority are among the positive attributes to cold war. During the period of cold war, nuclear warfare almost started which would have caused massive loss of lives and property. Ultimately USA was left as the only super power in the world and saw the dissolution of USSR. To date, The United States maintain its status as a superpower. It has critical input in various military developments in the world.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: a new history. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.
Ross, Stewart. The causes of the Cold War. Milwaukee, WI: World Almanac Library, 2002.
Volpi, Alexander. Nuclear shadowboxing: contemporary threats from Cold War weaponry. Kalamazoo, Mich: Fidlar Doubleday, 2005.
Wettig, Gerhard. Stalin and the Cold War in Europe: the emergence and development of East-West conflict, 1939-1953. Landham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.