As concluded in my previous blog, Detente ended completely by the year 1979. The period which followed opened last chapter, in the history of Cold War. Tension increased once again but this time, a significant difference in nature of its causes, was seen. New Cold War continued for about a decade and ended with the fall of Soviet union. Its ending was a very important turning point in history and created a roadmap for the geopolitics of 21st century.
Causes of New Cold war
* Ever increasing communism- Even then, many countries were adopting communalism. Main reason for this was poverty. The essence of communalism is equality and hence, the frustrated poor people kept on accepting this ideology. Countries like Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe etc, became communist in this period. Thus, strengthening the Soviet bloc.
* Action taken by OPEC- OPEC is the ‘Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’, formed in 1960. It was a group formed by oil producing countries to control all prices. In 1773, after the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel, OPEC imposed embargo on Israel and its allies like USA, Netherlands, South Africa etc. Soviet influence was significantly present in Middle East at that time and USA thought that it’s all being done due to Soviet influence, in order to economically weaken the USA and its allies.
* islamic revolution of Iran- The Islamic Revolution of Iran (1978-1979), removed the pro-US government from power and lead to the establishment of a pro-USSR regime. This gave a boost to Soviet influence because of Iran‘s very important strategic location and regional control.
* Afghanistan war- Soviet Union, invaded Afghanistan in 1979, keeping aside all international laws and agreements. It is believed that this was the point when Detente got the last nail in its coffin and disappeared. Afghanistan was another another very important strategic location. After the USSR took control of Afghanistan, it got another big power boost. Hence, Soviet union was getting more and more powerful and power Balance was shifting in its favour. This world, the USA and its allies.
* Leadership changes- Ronald Reagan became the President of America in 1981. He was more assertive than his predecessors and called the USSR-‘ an evil empire’ during 1980 elections. He did not trust the Soviet Union and gave boost to the arms race and space race, thus intensifying the Cold War. Though aggressive, he also played positive role in the signing of Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), in 1987, which eased tensions.
Features of New Cold War
* Rivalry- Since the beginning of Cold War, the basic cause remained the ideological difference between the capitalist bloc and the Communist bloc. However, that different lost its significance, for example-China, although being a communist state, was strengthening its ties with America. So now the main reason of tension remained rivalry between the USA and the USSR, the rivalry that was present from the beginning, as a result of the race to dominate the world.
* Qualitative instead of quantitative weapons approach- During the earlier stages, of the Cold War, emphasis was laid on producing as many weapons as possible. This was done for both traditional as well as nuclear weapons. However, this pattern was changing now. They started laying stress on quality instead of quality of the weapons. Due to this, biological weapons, chemical weapons etc, were created. Along with this, huge advancements were being done to traditional weapons like creation of undiscoverable submarines and fighter aircraft etc.
* Loose bipolar world- in the theory given by Henry Kissinger, a lose bipolar world will be the world having complex alliance and group system. This means that the blocks will not be well defined. For example-although China was a Communist nation and an essential part of the Communist bloc, still it was improving its diplomatic, economic, defence ties with America. America even became china’s largest trading partner in this period. Due to these complicated relations among countries, tensions remained comparatively low.
* Nonalignment movement (NAM)- Nonalignment movement, started in 1961, played an important role, to ease tensions, during this period. The mutual voice of NAM countries provided a powerful, neutral platform for solving disputes of the world and did so in Africa and Middle East. NAM advocated peace, disarmament and collectively did the work of putting pressure on the superpowers. as a result, the tensions in the world remained under control.
* Strategic change- Till now, the superpowers indirectly supported Sides in proxy wars. However, this strategy went one step further. After the Soviet Union took control of Afghanistan, America funded and created an entirely new organisation called Taliban. The training of taliban militants was done in Pakistan and later Taliban inflicted very heavy damages to army of the USSR. This also became one of the major causes for the fall of the Soviet Union.
Fall of the Soviet union and end of Cold War
* Mikhail Gorbachev, who was the general secretary of the USSR, brought major reforms from 1986 onwards, The two main policies brought by him were Glasnost and Perestroika which were meant for reforms, but backfired terribly. Glasnots means openness and it gave freedom of speech to the people and media. News from the western Europe and rest of the world, Now started reaching the common man and the iron curtain tore apart. The common man realised how far behind was soviet union left and losses they were facing in Afghanistan.
* On other hand, Perestroika which means restructuring, changed the political structure of Soviet union. Until then, elections were fought between members of only one party, but from now on, others from outside that party could also take part. After this, many new candidates won elections. These new candidates didn’t had any experience and they failed to efficiently rule and control the nation.
* The economy of Soviet Union was not efficient, along with this there was Corruption and other problems which also caused dissatisfaction among the masses. Many regions now wanted to be independent. So the disintegration started with the breaking off of the Baltic nation- Lithuania, on 11th March, 1990. Later, Latvia, Estonia and others followed. Soviet Union was divided into 15 parts and its existence officially ended with the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev on 25th December 1991, consequently ending the Cold War.
So the Cold War ended with the disintegration of Soviet union, although some believe it ended with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. This new development was a huge turning point in the history of the world. The USA became the ultimate superpower and its power increased many folds. This ending was actually a new beginning of American dominance present during post-cold war period. I will discuss it all in my next blog…..
Note from the author
Thanks for reading my Blog, hope you all liked it. Please comment and give your valuable opinions/suggestions. I will try to bring the next blog about post Cold War, soon. So stay tuned…