After World War II ended in 1945, everyone thought that the world will now become a peaceful place to live because after the destruction the world witnessed, the human race will be intended to move on to a peaceful, tension free path. They were as wrong as they can be. Tensions started growing between the two new superpowers, which emerged from the ashes of World War II. These two superpowers were, United States of America (USA), sometimes referred by US or America and the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), popularly known as the Soviet union. This tension between these two And their allies is termed as ‘Cold war’ because it was just an ideological war, the USA followed capitaLism and the USSR followed communism. some even believe that cold war actually started after the Russian revolution of 1917 And the two powers came together during World War II, just to fight a common enemy. There was mistrust strategic alliances, spying, arms race and many other features of the Cold War. The Cold War continued till the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, but some believe it ended with the slow disintegration of the USSR between 1989, and 1992,.
CAUSES OF COLD WAR
- Ideological difference
This was the main reason of the Cold War. The USA was leading the capitalist bloc and the USSR was leading the Communist one. These two are absolutely opposite ideologies and this difference in thinking created tensions.
- World War II- during the World War II, the USA and the USSR stood shoulder to shoulder along with the allies and fought axis powers that after the war ended, world became bipolar, and the two new superpowers(USA and USSR) got entangled in a competition to dominate the world.
- Use of atom bomb
The USA dropped to atom bombs on Japan, which ultimately ended the World War II. So, the USA got credit for ending world war, two and Soviet union, which stood with the allies, during the war wasn’t given credit it expected and hence it was not satisfied. Arms race to produce more and more atomic bombs and other weapons, also began which gave fuel to the Cold War.
- Policy of containment-America brought the policy of containment to stop communism from spreading in eastern Europe. This increased tensions between the two superpowers. USSR tried to counter this policy by bringing its own policy but it was not much successful.
- Proxy wars- although the two superpowers never had a direct conflict during the Cold War but they supported other countries and indirectly fought wars. This new concept was termed ‘proxy war’ and was seen in the case of Korea and Vietnam.
EVENTS DURING COLD WAR
- Yalta conference (4th February – 11th February1945)
* This conference was attended by leaders of the grand alliance, this alliance contained the USA, the USSR and Britain. The head of states were world famous Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, respectively. By that time World War II was moving towards its end. Germany had surrendered in January that year and European countries were also being liberated, 1 by one like Belgium, Poland etc.
* So the leaders of the grand alliance met in Yalta(Crinia) to decide the fate of European countries. The allies were worried because Soviet influence was growing in east Europeean countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary but Stalin promised not to interfere in the internal affairs of those countries. Partition of Germany was discussed but an agreement was not reached. The question of Poland also remained unsolved because the USSR was not willing to give it up.
* The outline for the formation of United nation organisation was also discussed in this conference.
- Potsdam conference (17th July to 4th August 1945)
* Once again, leaders of the grand alliance
met in Potsdam, Germany. This was the last conference in which the big three were meeting. By this time, communist influence was spreading in eastern Europe. Hence, the alliance got more suspicious and doubtful about Stalin’s word about non-interference. Stalin refused to free Poland because he wanted to secure his borders, but promise to hold free and fare democratic
* It was now decided and agreed upon that Germany will be partitioned into four zones and the area will be distributed among the USA, the USSR, France and Britain, after the war will end. Berlin was also to be divided into four parts. Along with this, Germany would be demilitarised, denazified, nazi party will be banned forever,, German curriculum will be changed in colleges, democracy will be established etc.
* not long after this conference, the USA dropped to atom bombs on Japan, after which Japan surrendered finally, on fourth September 1945 and consequently ended the second world war.
- Truman’s doctrine(March 1947) and Marshall plan( 3rd April 1948 to December 1951,)
*Harriet Truman, the President of America, at that time, announced The Truman’s doctrine. What happened was that European economy was crumbling. Due to this reason, the danger of the spread of communism in eastern Europe was increasing. This worried the USA. Turkey and Greece needed financial support, and when they asked Britain for help, they were disappointed because Britain itself Was not that financially sound by that time. So the responsibility fell on the USA’s shoulders. Hence, Truman accepted this responsibility and decided to help them. Along with this, he said that America is ready to help other nations also which are facing problems regarding armed minorities or any outside pressure. This ‘ outside pressure.’ Was meant for Soviet union and it increased tension.
*Marshall plan was brought by George C. Marshall, the secretary of state of the United States of America. The idea of this plan originated from the Truman doctrine only. This plan aimed at helping Eastern European countries, financially, so they can be kept away from the influence of communism because poverty, hunger, etc had spread like fire in eastern Europe. Over the period of next four years, America held Europe in countries with about $13.3 billion. Total 16 countries which included France, Italy, West Germany, Austria etc. benefited from this plan. The plan turn out to be a Successful one. This can be said because industries started developing in these parts of Europe, and by December 1951, production increased by about 40%. However, some criticise the USA by saying that it just helped Europe to access their market and sell its goods.
- NATO and Warsaw Pact
*The USA created the north Atlantic Treaty organisation (NATO). Its aim was to provide collective security to all its members. It was formed on 4 April 1949 in Washington DC with 12 founding members, including the USA, Canada, Britain, France, and some other european countries. Today, it has got 31 members with Finland as the latest addition.
* to counter NATO, the USSR formed its own alliance called Warsaw Pact. It was signed on 14th May 1955 in Warsaw, capital of Poland. It had eight members which included soviet union, Poland, East, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania etc.
- Berlin blockade
* We know that Berlin was divided into four zones after World War II. Britain, France and America, combined their zones to form west Germany and Soviet Union named its zone East Germany. Berlin was also divided into four parts but entire Berlin city was in east Germany, controlled by Soviet union. Problem began when new currency was introduced in West Germany and Soviet Union opposed it because it was increasing influence of the allies in the east Germany. So the USSR told the USA to withdraw this new currency. America refused to do it after which Soviet Union imposed a complete blockade of Berlin city on 24th June 1948, by cutting off all the road and rail routes.
* America decided to help Berlin city by air.
*So a huge programme was initiated by the USA to help Berlin. Sw the USSR thought it will not last long because it was a very costly affair. However, the flights continued and thousands of flights were sent to Berlin in about an year. seeing that the blockade was of no use, Soviet Union, admitted defeat and lifted the blockade on 12th May 1949. this was the first big victory of the USA in the Cold War. America refused to bend the knee and in the end, its prestige was increased.
- Korean crisis (1950-1953)
*The roots of this crisis, can be found in the first world war. Japan had conquered Korea in the war but after Japan lost Korea was split into North Korea and South Korea, where North Korea was to remain under Soviet domain and South Korea under American domain. It was decided that these two zones will be unified someday but it never happened.
*So North Korea decided to attack South Korea on 25th June 1950 and captured lots of territory. The USA went to UNO and and raised this issue. UNO decided that it will interfere and an army of UN was sent in South Korea’s defence which was led by America itself. On other hand, North Korea was secretly being helped by the USSR and China.
*The case was brought to UNO and a resolution was passed against North Korea. UN sent its forces to interfere, this force was led by America itself. Then North Korean forces were pushed back and an agreement was done on 27th July 1953, to stop the war.
- ICBM and Space race
*ICBM stands for intercontinental ballistic missile. They are missiles, capable of travelling thousands of kilometres. They were developed by both America and Soviet Union in the early stages of the Cold War. After successfully developing them, both the countries started deploying ICBM in their country and in the countries of their allies.
*Space race, was the term used for the competition of exploring space, between America and Soviet Union. Its beginning was marked with the launch of first man-made satellite ‘Sputnik’ bye Soviet union on 1st October 1958. Soviet Union also sent the first man in space-Yuri Gagarin and America was being left behind once again but America made history by sending first man on moon through Apollo 11 mission of 1969.
- Cuban missile crisis (1962)
*The cuban revolution ended in 1959 and a communist government was established there. So naturally, it became pro-USSR. In 1962, America found out that USSR has deployed some nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missiles in Cuba. America was in shock because many big cities of the country were now in its range. The reason for this was that America had also deployed its own ICBM in Turkey which share borders with USSR. So this was the response given by the USSR.
*President John F Kennedy was heading the USA at that time and Nikita Khrushchev was the leader of USSR. Some of Kennedy’s advices advised him to destroy the missiles deployed in Cuba. However, he showed patience. Still, the USA imposed a naval blockade of Cuba and asked Soviet Union to remove their missiles if they want the locket to be finished. A A very heavy cloud of tension was building in the world. This period was between 14th October 1962 and 28th October 1962 and reached peaks when American and Soviet navy came face-to-face and confrontedd each other, near Cuba.
*However, diplomatic talks were going on through back channels and leaders of both the countries found a solution. Soviet union agreed to remove all its missiles from Cuba and America agreed to remove all its missiles from Turkey. Hence, the world was saved from a huge disaster. It is often said that the world got nearest to the nuclear war during this Cuban missile crisis.
So, in the early stages of the Cold War, it is clear how tension reached peaks between America and soviet union and their respective blocks. After Cuban missile crisis, the two superpowers felt that the situation should be calm down and they took steps in the following years for the same.
(This topic has been divided into four parts and next part willl come soon….so stay tuned !!! )
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Thank you for reading my blog. Hope you enjoyed it. All the suggestions are welcomfe👍b