What is cold war?
Cold War. This term is used to refer to the political, economic and social conflict between the USSR and the United States, which arose as a result of the latter’s imperialist pretensions at the end of the Second World War.
This conflict was the key to global international relations for almost half a century and was fought on the political, economic and propaganda fronts, but only to a very limited extent on the military front.
To sum up, the Cold War was nothing more than a political confrontation between two powerful nations in the world, the United States and the Soviet Union.
Because of this confrontation, many innocent people had to suffer bad management, when they were supposed to be at peace, as the Second World War was declared over.
Around 1947, still in the post-war period, two countries, collecting traces of fear and sadness, decided to play to know who is stronger, called the Cold War, because they did not reach the war, for fear of nuclear attacks, but it lasted about 40 years.
Definition and meaning of the Cold War
The political and ideological confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is called the Cold War, both of them wanting to impose their hegemonies on the rest of the world.
The Cold War began with the end of World War II in 1945, and ended with the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the economic crisis that resulted from the great acquisition of arms and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The disagreement in the distribution of Germany among the victorious powers of the Second World War caused the division of the western world into two blocs: one communist led by the USSR, and another capitalist dominated by the United States. Both blocs maintained a tense relationship that threatened the outbreak of a third major conflict.
However, there was no war or direct confrontation between the two countries and one of the most significant causes was the fear of unleashing a nuclear battle, which is why this conflict is called the Cold War.
Causes of the Cold War
Among the main causes that generated the Cold War was the rivalry of ideologies and policies that the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union defended and wanted to impose.
The United States defended democracy and capitalism, as well as the principles of private property and free initiative. Hence, in 1947, the economic plan known as the Marshall Plan was created, which provided for the distribution of 12,871 million dollars, and its effects translated into a notable increase in industry and agricultural production.
This plan also offered a series of other aids to rebuild the political and economic foundations of the European countries affected by the Second World War, in order to stop the advance of the communist parties in Western Europe.
However, on the other hand, the United States supported the imposition of dictatorships in several Latin American countries.
For its part, the Soviet Union was based on socialism, economic equality, the elimination of private property, and the ability of the state to meet and guarantee all the needs of its citizens. This system of government was imposed in the countries of Eastern Europe.
Reasons for the Cold War
Despite the end of the war and the fact that, at heart, neither of the two countries wanted to enter a third world war, there were several reasons why two of the largest countries clashed.
Not only because of its purchasing power, but also because of its influence on the rest of the world.
The Soviet Union wanted to spread that message throughout the world: communism.
That there was no private property, everything belonged to everyone and everyone was treated equally.
It seems beautiful, because it seems to speak of us all being equal, but the difference is that there is collective control. That way of life, America didn’t like it and it caught his attention.
The Soviet Union witnessed how the United States was buying atomic weapons, which alerted them, as they wondered why they would need them after the end of World War II.
They feared the other country’s attack, to the point of suspecting that bases were being set up in Western Europe to be attacked by the United States.
These were the main reasons for the Cold War, the unjustified suspicions and the way of life of both sides. Because of this, post-communist and anti-communist groups were created.
The Truman Doctrine
On March 12, 1947, Truman declared that the United States would replace Britain in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and would grant aid to Greece and Turkey of $400 million to prevent the“expansion” of communism in the Near East.
The immediate purpose of this so-called “Truman Doctrine” measure was to create American bases in the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin, in order to strengthen US dominance in that area.
This doctrine was a frankly imperialist program. This is how it was viewed by progressive forces around the world. Even in the capitalist countries the doctrine was received with intense suspicion.
The clumsy mask of this doctrine forced the US government to disguise its imperialist objectives in the form of traditional”aid”.
The Doctrine postulated that the United States would support with all its resources those peoples who tried to distance themselves from the Soviet Union’s area of influence, or attack those who tried to enact popular-based regimes and social justice.
The Marshall Plan
The U.S. government believed that in order to contain communism it was necessary to put in place the economic conditions that would prevent its expansion.
Thus, on June 5, 1947, in a speech at Harvard University, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the European Recovery Program, popularly known as the Marshall Plan.
The plan had as its objectives:
To save the European bourgeoisie weakened by the wars and by the successes of the left and democratic forces.
To cohere the capitalists of the different European countries under the leadership of the United States, to fight the Soviet Union and the international workers’ movement and national liberation.
It is also to take advantage of the economic difficulties of popular democracies to separate them from the socialist camp and put them in the orbit of their influence.
Use this plan as a pressure mechanism to expel communists from European governments.
The US imperialists introduced control over the finances and foreign trade of the aid-receiving nations, and under their pressure, the ruling classes of the Western European countries took action against the Communist parties and other progressive organisations.
Space Race in the Cold War
The”space race” was the technological struggle to see which of the two superpowers, the United States or the USSR, was more advanced. On the morning of October 4, 1957, the Soviet news agency TASS disseminated information that shocked the planet.
The USSR had succeeded in placing an artificial satellite in circumterrestrial orbit, thus fulfilling an appeal made by the International Council of Scientific Unions in October 1954, in which it reported the need for the construction of these artifacts to map the Earth’s surface.
The Soviets opted for simplicity and called their creation Sputnik, which means”satellite” in Russian; a name that refers to the Greek language and means”travelling companion” or”companion”, the term the Greeks used to refer to the moon.
The United States entered the race launching the Explorer I in 1958, but the Soviet Union managed to take a giant step forward by launching the Vostok 1, manned by Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.
It was then that rivalry grew to such an extent that U.S. President John F. Kennedy himself promised to send Americans to the moon before the end of the decade.
The Soviets set out to defeat the Americans: the Zond missions had to carry humans to orbit the Moon, but due to technical failures they only managed to send unmanned missions: Zond 5 and Zond 6 in 1968. The United States, for its part, managed to send the manned Apollo 8 mission on Christmas 1968.
The next step would be to land on the surface of the Moon. The Apollo 11 mission successfully accomplished its task and Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first humans to walk on another celestial body.
This race gained momentum and began to cost billions and claim lives. Some saw higher goals in the space program, but the truth is that since the competition began, there was a cyclical return to the discussion of whether moon trips and other experiments were necessary or just intimidating maneuvers.
Consequences of the Cold War
The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, which liberalized the economy and granted greater political freedoms, eventually led to a deadly crisis in the Soviet Union.
Its dissolution in 1991 had as its main consequence the predominance of the United States as the only world power.
On the other hand, NATO, the military alliance led by the United States during the Cold War, has become a much larger international organisation, in which former Soviet countries have also entered.
In the past there were countless subsidiary wars, sponsored by both powers in third countries such as Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan, which caused thousands of deaths and generated political problems still to be solved.
Moreover, the military escalation of both countries left a world plagued with nuclear warheads, a danger of self-destruction that the human race will always carry with it ever since.
The end of the Cold War
To the technological pulse launched by Reagan and followed by George H. W. Bush, Gorbachev tried to respond with a similar shield and a new step in the space race where the Energy Rocket and the Buran Shuttle were his greatest exponents.
But the superiority of the U.S. economy (the Reagan Administration spent $3 billion on the conceptual development of the missile shield alone) made the targets unattainable, further damaging the already delicate Soviet economic situation.
Gorbachev began to implement significant changes in the economy, Perestroika and Glásnost politics by unleashing opportunist forces that, with the encouragement of the West, worked to disintegrate the USSR and bring its members – especially Russia – back to capitalism.
The withdrawal of the Communist Party and its leadership from the workers favoured this process.
The new attitude of the Soviet leader found a willingness to negotiate on the part of Reagan and the US administration.
After the first meeting in Geneva in 1985 and the failure of the summit in Reykjavik in October 1986, agreements and détente measures followed one another:
In December 1987, the two leaders signed the Washington Treaty, which provided for the destruction of short- and medium-range nuclear weapons.
It was the end of the Soviet SS-20 and the Euromissile (Pershing and Cruise). For the first time, the two superpowers signed an agreement that did not limit but verifiably eliminated nuclear weapons.