Posted: May 23rd, 2022
Modern World History – Cold War
Modern World History – Cold War
The Axis powers were defeated during World War II by allied forces from the United States and the Soviet Union. The relationship between the two countries, on the other hand, was strained. United States officials have been wary of the Soviet Union for decades, owing to the rise of Soviet Communism and the autocratic and murderous rule of Russian leader Joseph Stalin under his leadership. Both Russia and the United States were dissatisfied with the United States’ refusal to recognize the Soviet Union as a legitimate member of the international community for decades, as well as with their late entry into World War II, which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Russian citizens during the conflict. Following the end of World War II, those frustrations evolved into an overwhelming sense of mutual suspicion and hostility between the two countries. After World War II, many Americans were worried by Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe, fearing that Russia had a global agenda that they were unaware of. After some time, the Soviet Union acquired a dislike for the aggressive tone, the escalation of American military strength, and the interventionist foreign policy of American leaders. The Cold War was inescapable in a hostile climate, and no single party could be held entirely responsible. Every country involved in the cold war would be accountable entirely for their faults that cost the world peace, which they could have avoided.
Over time, ideological, political, and economic variables altered the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States, resulting in a shift in the balance of cooperation and confrontation between the two countries. As seen by their failure to reach an agreement on critical policy issues during the Cuban missile crisis, the United States and Cuba could not reach an agreement on the crisis because of the considerable differences between their political systems. The Soviet Union’s withdrawal from World War I was the source of the initial outrage in the United States government. It also opposed the idea of a nation-state founded on Communism. Although the United States launched a famine relief effort in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s and American businesspeople built economic ties with the Soviet Union during the New Economic Policy (1921-1929), diplomatic relations between the two countries did not begin be established until 1933. In its totalitarian form, Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship proved to be an impassable barrier to developing cordial relations with the Western world. Even though the two countries allied with World War II to battle Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union’s objectives were opposed to those of the United States at the time of the war. Before the end of World War II, anti-democratic attitudes toward Eastern Europe were already producing difficulties for the region.
As World War II altered both the United States and the Soviet Union, transforming them into solid world powers, the rivalry between the two countries grew more intense. Immediately following the Allied victory in World War II, an ideological and political competition between the United States and the Soviet Union erupted, triggering the beginning of the Cold War. After World War II, the quest for superior military strength resulted in an era of espionage, conflicts over the rise of Communism, and the growth of nuclear weapons that threatened to bring the entire world to its knees. This apprehension was not unjustified, as Soviet officials actively tried to infiltrate or target countries to expand the Soviet Union’s global influence. Following Germany’s surrender, Soviet efforts to seize territory in Europe contributed to the widespread idea that the Soviet Union planned to spread Communism throughout Europe.
Within a year, the United States had established a policy of containment to limit Soviet worldwide dominance. During President Harry Truman’s administration, this became a defining aspect of foreign policy strategy. The Truman Doctrine, outlined in a speech made to Congress, was an explicit vow by the United States to assist any country endangered by the Soviet Union. During Truman’s tenure in office, this commitment remained in effect and was carried forward by the administrations that succeeded him. The policy of containment influenced the development of the “domino theory,” which held that if one nation fell to Communism, it was likely that the surrounding countries would follow suit. Following this approach, the United States was compelled to enter the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and other Cold War battles.
“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance made up of numerous Western European countries and other countries of the United States,” was established in 1949 by the Truman Doctrine. The Marshall Plan’s implementation across Western Europe paved the way for NATO members to promise to defend any member state in an invasion by another country.
A new world war seemed inevitable, but the development of nuclear weapons in both America and the Soviet Union kept things calm. In light of the fact that each superpower had nuclear weapons, the notion of mutually assured destruction (MAD) emerged, in which an attack on one or both countries would result in total destruction. Even though there were high points in the Cold Conflict, the two superpowers never engaged in an all-out war.
Andersson, J. (2018). The future of the world: Futurology, futurists, and the struggle for the post-cold war imagination. Oxford University Press.
Dai, J. (2018). After the PostCold War. In After the PostCold War. Duke University Press.
Hansson, E., Hewison, K., & Glassman, J. (2020). Legacies of the cold war in East and Southeast Asia: An introduction. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 50(4), 493-510.
Lorenzini, S. (2019). Global development: a Cold War history. Princeton University Press.
Svik, P. (2020). Civil aviation and the globalization of the cold war. Palgrave Macmillan.
Holloway, D. (2021). The Cold War: A World History.
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