International relations were very much influenced by the cold war that dominated the international scene particularly after the World War II period. The two great conflicts of the second half of the twentieth century are the discord between East and West and the clash between the rich nations of the North and the poor nations of the South. The former is popularly termed as cold war and is a subject of discussion of this article. The North South conflict will be dealt with in one of the subsequent chapters.Here we’ll talk about Causes Of Cold War .
A new international system emerged after the Second World War that was characterized by the domination of two super powers the United States and the Soviet Union and the rise of the newly independent states as a result of rapid decolonization. These two super powers divided the world into two blocs. East consisted of the communist nations in general, specially the Soviet Union and its political and military allies in Eastern Europe. West comprised non communist nations led by United States, whose principal partners are the advanced industrial societies of Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The term “free world” was also often employed to describe the non communist world.
The free world included the West and various economically less developed nations linked to the United States in mutual defense arrangements. Later on this term was discarded as a misnomer because many countries of the free world pursued authoritarian policies. The division of the world into two rival blocs i.e East and West was referred to as Bipolar World in International relations terminology. This bi polarization had led to a situation of cold war. The very formation of two factions has given rise to war tension and this tension was named as cold war.
Meaning And Nature:
Relations between the United States and the USSR were no doubt strained and hostile even prior to the beginning of World War II yet they were characterized as cold war around 1947. The term cold war was first gained by Bernard Baruch, an American statesman. In an address in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 16, 1947, a month after the declaration of the Truman Doctrine had said, Let us not be deceived today we are in the midst of the cold war.1 The term was taken up by Walter Lippmann to describe the tension and conflict in the bilateral relationship of the US and the USSR in post World War ii period.
In international relations cold war indicates a state of constant conflict and strife, suspicion and mistrust, antagonism and hostility maintained and perpetuated without a direct armed confrontation between the adversaries. Cold war is not a state of armed struggle, but such a state in which the rivals, while keeping their peace time diplomatic relations intact, continue their hostility. Both the antagonists adopt all means other than the war to weaken each other. It is not an armed war but a diplomatic and an ideological war. It is fought by means of political propaganda, that is why it is called propaganda war. The cold war is not an actual war but the danger of such a hot war is always imminent. In short, it can be defined as a state of intense diplomatic, political, economic and ideological struggle short of armed belligerency and clash.
Cold war is called a diplomatic struggle between the two super power after the second world war for world supremacy or an expression of two incompatible was of life those of democracy and totalitarian communism. It is the existence of the tense atmosphere of division, distrust and suspicion between the two power blocs in general and between the two super powers in particular. In other words, the tense and hostile relations that developed between the capitalist countries led by the United States and the communist nations headed by the Soviet Union in the years after the Second World War camel to be popularly known as cold war in this tense atmosphere of division, distrust and discord the super powers engaged themselves in military preparedness, arms race, pacts, alliances creating sphere of influence and polarizing the world.
The cold war was focused mainly on political controversies, in particular on the military and national security issues that divided East and West into contending factions. In the words of Kegley and Wittkopf, “The East West conflict is essentially a struggle among those at the top of the international hierarchy for per erninent status, with each side seeking to protect its own position while gaining advantage in its relations with, and often at the expense of, the other.”2
Origin Of Cold War:
Regarding the origin of the cold war there are different opinions. First, the seeds of cold war were sown with the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 in the Soviet Russia. Second, the cold war had shown its earlier signs a little before the end of World War II. The third, and widely prevalent version is that it started soon after the end of Second World War. It is difficult to accept any one view in its entirety because each has some element of truth. All the three views are being discussed below in some detail.
1. Origin with Bolshevik Revolution
The roots of the strained relations between Soviet Russia and the West go back to the very hour of birth of the former in 1917, when the Western nations including the USA, intervened in the civil war in Russia in the aid of a counter revolution which might nip communism in the bud.
The United States had not even extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviets until 1933. Though workable relations between them were gradually established, their mutual suspicion deterred both from coming together against their common enemy Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, and indeed,shortly before Hitler attack on Poland, a non aggression pact was signed between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.
Hitler’s sudden attack on Russia in June 1941 compelled it to come to the side of the West. Communist Russia’s heroic sacrifices, which paved the way for the Allied victory, seemed to inspire in Allies a feeling of genuine admiration and sympathy towards her and usher a new era of cooperation between East and West. Seeing the strange alliance between the traditional enemies during the Second World War, many optimists were certain that future peace would be maintained by the continuance after hostilities ceased of the unity that prevailed during the difficult war years. The hope of the optimists that unity and cooperation among the erstwhile warring nations would become a permanent feature after the war, was belied.
The world was divided into two distinct political entities and thus cold war and bi polarization became an accomplished fact. Thus, notwithstanding the cooperation between the two forced by the World War, traditional suspicion and old enmity revamped and repeated in the immediate postwar period as the predominant power of the two superstates fulled their suspicions of each other.
2. Origin Little before the End of World War II
Another view of recent origin maintains that cold war began on the eve of the end of the Second World War. According to this view, cold war was caused by atomic diplomacy during the last year of the World War. As it became clear that the Allied side would win and the Axis powers would be defeated, the common interest keeping the Allied powers together began to weaken and old suspicion between them resurfaced. The Western powers the USA, Britain and France had combined with the Soviet Union with an aim to defeat the common enemy the Nazis and Fascists. Once it became clear to them that the defeat of the enemy was inevitable, their old enmity with the Soviet Union reappeared, although they did not terminate the alliance with it before the final surrender of the enemy.
During the course of the war,the US was busy developing nuclear bomb in cooperation with Britain. Even though Russia was their war time,they kept secret from Moscow.The US failure to take the Soviet Union into confidence about its nuclear project made Moscow distrust of the ulterior motive and design of the US and its capitalist allies. Its traditional suspicion about them was regenerated.
The dropping of atom bombs by the US on Japan in August 1945 further strengthened this revived old suspicion. After the defeat of Germany the war in Europe was almost over and the whole attention of the Allied powers was directed at Japan which was still fighting in the East. So Allied side prepared the war strategy against Japan and a date was fixed when the US and the USSR would attack Japan from the South and the North respectively. But before the reaching of Soviet forces in Japan, the US, in violation of the above agreed strategy with Russia, dropped two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and forced the Japanese government to surrender.
Thus the war against Japan was over before the fixed date and Japan surrendered before the US forces and not before the USSR. The US became its sole conqueror and administered it for some years. The Russians felt that they were betrayed by the US which did not want the recurrence of the Germany occupation experience in Japan. (Germany was occupied by four Allied powers the US, Britain, France and the Soviet Union). Moscow interpreted that the US action in Japan was not dictated by the need of ending the war swiftly it was perhaps a part of the conspiracy of the capitalist countries against the communist world. Thus the making of atom bombs in a clandestine manner and subsequently its dropping over Japan by the US not only took the world by surprise but was interpreted by the Soviet Union as a strategy of blackmail to over awe the communists and to prove the superiority of the armed power of the capitalists.
3. Origin After the World War II
Those who believe that the cold war was a post war phenomenon trace its origin to the secret cable of George Kennan, the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, to the Department of State in February, 1946. Here Kennan pleaded for a stronger attitude toward the Soviet Union. Based on this important cable, the then Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, formulated a new policy of containment with regard to the Soviet Union which was followed by the US in the post war period. Simultaneously, Kennan was recalled to Washington to head the Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff in order to provide an intellectual framework for the new American foreign policy.
Though American in form and content, the cold war was officially declared by a British statesman, Winston Churchill. He Was out of office since July, 1945. He addressed the Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. President Truman presided over this meeting. Though Churchill spoke as a private citizen yet his words had great impact on subsequent international relations. He observed, A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory.
Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its Communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future. From Stetting in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.3 As a result, the war time alliance had come to end. He emphasized that Russian understood nothing but force. At any rate, the Fulton speech called for an open termination of the policy of alliance with the Soviet Union and the assumption of the Anglo American domination of the post War World. With regard to this speech, Trygve Lie, the first Secretary General of the United Nations observed.
In retrospect, it is evident that Winston Churchill’s Fulton speech was the forerunner of the Western policy that a year later produced the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan and soon after that, the North Atlantic Treaty. Professor Fleming has also remarked. If, too, there is a Third World War, Churchill’s Missouri speech will be the primary document in explaining its origins. His was the first full length picture of a Red Russia out to conquer the world. it Preconditioned many millions of listeners for a giant new cordon sanitarian around Russia, for a developing world crusade to smash world communism in the mm of Anglo Sam democracy. Containing of growing Soviet trim and communism in the Balkans in post war years triggered of the cold war.
It is obvious from the above discussion that it is difficult give precise timing of the genesis of cold war. At best this broad approximation is that its seed which was sown immediately after October Revolution 1917 germinated by the end of World War ll and blossomed in the post Wald War II period tn full View of the world
Causes Of The Cold War:
Regarding the causes of the cold war scholars and hm are not unanimous. These causes are broadly divided into two groups i. e orthodox and revisionist. According to Wow view Soviet Union is squarely responsible for the initiation of cold war as it forcibly established communist regime in East European countries the post World War II period in violation of its agreement with the Western Allied powers. Whereas revisionists argue that the United States that emerged as superpower among the Western nations was responsible for the cold war. Besides these broad groups was responsible factors accounting tor the cold war All these are explained below
Orthodox View The USSR Responsible:
Faux Pas which were committed by me Soviet Union and which annoyed the US and Western pawns are animated asunder:
- Russian unwillingness to allow democratic elections in the territories liberated from the Nazis and superimposing communist governments there especially in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania and East Germany.
- Russia’s refusal to withdraw her forces from Iran whereas Britain and the USA withdrew their forces.
- Soviet Union’s pressure on Greece and Turkey by supporting subversive activities of communists there.
- The Soviet Union destroyed German industries transferred costly German machines to Russia as reparation. adversely affecting already ruined German economy. Britain and the USA had to Spend huge amounts for the recovery of German economy.
- Refusal by Soviet leaders to help in post war reconstruction in regions outside Soviet control.
- Their maintenance of an unnecessarily large post war armed force.
- Discontinuation of supplies from Soviet areas of occupation.
- Their selfish and often obstructive behavior in the new born international organizations.
- Perhaps most unacceptable for the US, their anti American propaganda and propagating of communist ideology which promised to destroy the American type of economic and political system.
- The orthodox also accuse Stalin of being a man of suspicious nature. Because of his suspicious nature the Americans and Britishers were not able to convince him of their good intention and the reasons for delay in opening up a second front against Germany. Stalin abruptly rejected Allied explanations and held that the Western delays were, in brief, interpreted as a deliberate attempt by the world’s two leading capitalist powers to destroy both of their two major ideological opponents at one and the same time.
- The orthodox argued that the predecessors of the Bolsheviks were also expansionist. As a result they were able to build a huge empire of Russia. Therefore, they believe that Russians by nature are war mongers. They feel that Americans just retaliated defensively to check any further Russian expansion.
This argument was strengthened by the unwillingness of the Soviets to withdraw the Red Army from Eastern and Central Europe after the Second World War. The Soviet Union came to be perceived as a military rival ready to invade Western Europe and to acquire new satellites under Russian occupation The apprehension on the part of the Americans was that the Soviet Union was a great threat to peace as well as to their own power and position.
Revisionist View The USA Responsible:
Revisionist school of thought accuses America more than the USSR. After 1960 a new school of thought emerged in America which challenged and revised the orthodox view on various ground. That is why this school came to be known as revisionist school. To the Soviets, causes for doubting American intentions were too many. The following actions of the US displeased the Soviet Union.
- The American military intervention in Russia m 1918-19 which was aimed at overthrowing of the Bolshevik Revolution was still fresh in the memory of the Soviets. They were also bitter on the score that the USA did not recognize communist regime until 1933.
- Moreover, the war time experience instead of removing the Soviet doubts actually aggravated them. The Soviets recalled the United States dilly dallying before joining the war against the fascists. The American refusal to inform the Soviets of the Manhattan project to develop the atomic bomb, the delay in sending the Soviets promised Lend Lease supplies, the delay to open up the second front (causing Stalin to doubt that American policy was to let the Russians and Germans destroy each other so that the United Stated could then pick up the pieces from among the rubble) the American failure to inform the Soviets of wartime strategy to the extent that it informed Great Britain and the use of the atomic bomb against Japan, perhaps misunderstood as a ploy to prevent Russian involvement in Pacific peace settlement. The Russians held this use of deadly weapon unnecessary because Japan could have been defeated by the Allied forces even with the help of traditional weapon after the fall of Italy and Germany. They view tint American used atom bombs against Japan to frighten Russia and to check his expansion in Eastern Europe and Middle East.
- The Soviet suspicion was further deepened by certain acts of America in post war years. For example, the United States supported previous Nazi collaborators in American occupied countries, notably Italy, and pressurized the Soviet Union to abide by its promise to permit free elections in areas vital to Soviet national security, notably Poland.
- During the war the Soviet Union had been getting American aid under the Lend Lease Act but after the defeat of Germany, President Truman abruptly cancelled the Lend Lease aid, when most needed by war ravaged economy of Russia. The Western power had also been opposing the Soviet demand of reparations. This confirmed the Soviet view that the West never wanted Russia to be stronger. Whereas the United States later designed the European recovery program known as Marshall Plan in such a way as to ensure non participation by the Soviet Union.
- During talks at Yalta President Roosevelt agreed that the Soviet Union can install friendly governments on her Western boundaries. Therefore, it is inappropriate to contend that the Soviet Union expanded in the East Europe in violation of any agreement. Soviet Union right from Napoleonic War up to Second World War had always been attacked from the west. Therefore, it was in her interest to have friendly regimes in Eastern Europe. This was recognized by Churchill and Roosevelt in Yalta by accepting Soviet supremacy over Romania and Bulgaria.
- The contention held by orthodox that Russia was imposing communist government in East European countries as a part of his policy of expansion can also be repudiated on certain accounts. First, East European countries never have had before democratic governments therefore to say that Russia acted against democracy was baseless. It adds fun to orthodox view which claims America as the protector of democracy in the world. For several times the US helped the dictatorial regimes in the various parts of the world such as Franco regime in Spain, coup in Chile, undemocratic government of General Lon New of Cambodia, military dictators (Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, and Zia ul Haq) in Pakistan, monarchical government in Saudi Arabia etc.
- Regarding the activities of USSR in Greece, Turkey and Persia the contention held by the orthodox that Russia wanted to impose communist governments in these countries was also baseless. Because in Persia, the Soviet Union only wanted some oil concessions. In regard to Turkey he wanted an access from Black Sea to Mediterranean through Bosphorus and Derdanelles. So far as the activities of communists are concerned in Greece he never encouraged directly or indirectly communists subversive activities in accordance with the October 1944 agreement with Britain.
- The revisionists hold President Truman largely responsible for the cold war. Had Roosevelt continued to be the President in the post war period the cold war could not have come to such a pass. Even as a Senator Truman was highly opposed to communism. After becoming President he practiced his anti communist feelings by adopting stiff policy towards the Soviet Union. He was always of the opinion that evil ideologies like communism, fascism and Nazism should have been nipped in the bud. Moreover, Truman was under the influence of such bureaucrats who had strong convictions against the expanding Soviet influence in East Europe and who time and again insisted that America should assert itself against the rising tide of communism. These officials included among others Byrnes, Geroge Kennan, James Baruch, etc.
- High defense officials and generals also wanted some sort of tension to persist even after the War so that they may have their sway over the administration. Similarly, vested interests of war industry used its lobby to prevail upon the US administration to pursue the above policy so as to keep their pot boiling.
Objective View Both are Responsible :
According to objective view both the super powers are responsible for the origin of the cold war. There are certain objective reasons that culminated into cold war. These are as follows :
The cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union was rooted not in conflicting interests but in mutual misunderstanding. The cold war is described in terms of a propensity of each party to consider their own actions as virtuous and those of others malicious. These mirror images, of course, resulted in conflict and distrust. The tendency of both Soviets and Americans to have the same perception of each other: ”they are the aggressors they arm for war whereas we arm for peace they intervene in others territory to expand influence, whereas we do so to preserve the prospects for an acceptable way of life Their people are good and peace loving, but their government exploits its people the mass of their people are really not sympathetic to the regime it cannot be trusted its policy verges on madness. To the extent that such mirror images became operative, as they probably did in the final stages of World War II and shortly thereafter, cooperation was precluded and hostility inevitable.”6
(ii) Mutual Antagonism:
The cold war is also seen as a product of mutual antagonism. The history of the origins of the cold war indicates that mistrust and consequent fear were the very bases of the conflict. Stalin was as cautious of the Americans as they were of him. Hostile actions by one power were retaliated by the other. Threats and the suspicions they invariably bred, caused further threats. The cold war cannot be regarded as simply the response of one peaceful nation to the aggression of another. Nor can the snapping of wartime alliance be attributed exclusively to one side. Rather, the cold war may be seen as an outcome of mutual fear and suspicion once set in motion, a conflict developed which fed upon itself, breeding hostile interactions between both parties. Thus, it was originated in mistrust Of the motives of the other side.
(iii) Ideological Incompatibilities:
Another reason for the Soviet American conflict was ideological incompatibilities. Many Americans were apprehensive of Soviet Communist doctrine. There was a particular apprehension that communism was an expansionist, crusading ideology intent on bringing world revolution. As the vanguard of the presumed communist challenge, the Soviet Union itself was the ultimate symbol of the communist threat. Moreover, the threat was increased by the fact that communism was necessarily totalitarian and antidemocratic and, therefore, posed a real threat to freedom and liberty throughout the world.
The enemy was evil incarnate. The struggle between the USA and the Soviet Russia was the struggle between good and evil, freedom and tyranny. The Americans felt that the Soviet system was an evil system in which people are deprived of liberty, equality and fraternity ideals of democracy. The American initiative was extended to safeguard these cherished goals of humanity and democracy. So the struggle was inevitable.
The United States foreign policy became ideological in turn the counter ideology may be named as anticommunism. Its policy became deadly against communism. Its actions highly competitive and confrontational toward the Soviet Union. This interpretation thus sees the cold war as fulled by historic antagonisms between diametrically opposed systems of belief. Like previous religious wars for the allegiance of men’s minds, this conflict was highly bitter, as ideological enemies recognize no virtue in conciliation or cooperation with adversaries.
(iv) Economic Interests:
While the Western bloc favored capitalist economy promoting individual initiative and enterprise, the Eastern bloc stood for the socialist planned economy controlled by the state. The Western nations are developed countries, but their development is nourished by the exploitation of poor countries of the third world. Naturally, if more and more third world nations have communist governments, the capitalist markets would shrink and the availability of raw materials of poor countries to them would decline. It was, therefore, in the interest of Western powers to keep the third world free from the communist domination, and, if possible, make them an integral part of their economic network: Likewise, the Soviet Union and its allies were determined to deny as much as possible the capitalist penetration into the third world. They hoped that the increased shrinkage in the exploitation of the third world by capitalist countries would ultimately lead to the doom of capitalism.
(v) Objective law:
Many historians are of the Opinion that it is the law of nature that victorious powers always fought after the victory. After the Napoleonic war the victorious fought among themselves over the distribution of spoils of wars. Similarly, after the Austin Persian war France and Russia fought among themselves. Similar thing happened after the First World War. Therefore, it was quite natural that the victors of the Second World War also fight to uphold the law of nature.
(vi) Other Reasons:
The leaders of the two countries were also responsible for the cold war as they saw the world differently. They imposed on events different definitions of reality in sum, they became captives of their visions of reality. Other reasons were the emergence of power vacuum which invited the clash, the pressures exerted on foreign policies by interest groups within each society, the impact of shifts in the climate of domestic opinion on international issues, the effects of innovation in weapon technology and the shift in strategic balances they introduced, and the role played by military planners in each society in fomenting the conflict.7
In the conclusion it can be said that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union was to be solely blamed for the initiation of the cold war. Both were equally responsible as both were victims of their images and expectations. Each of the great powers felt threatened and each had solid reason to see the other with suspicion. All the above viewpoints and theories are only partially correct. They reveal some aspects of Soviet American rivalry, but not all. The origin of the cold war was due to multiple reasons and no single viewpoint can embrace all of them. All the above interpretations are relevant, and some combination of them is needed to explain the beginning of this global post War phenomenon.
The Evolution Of The Cold War:
Preponderance of the cold war characterizes the international relations in the post World War II period. The evolution of cold war in this period has not proceeded in consistent manner. It has been marked by varying degrees of intensity. Phases of high conflict alternated with a mix of conflict and adjustment to be followed again by phase of tension and hostility which yielded to a phase of detente and detente in turn suffered a set back and capitulated to another phase of strained relations. In this way evolutionary curve of cold war progressed discreetly up to the early nineties. It may be conceded that characterization of cold war into the different phases is far from being scientific. It is more or less arbitrary in nature and is designed to make the process of evolution easily intelligible to a common man. How the two super powers acted and reacted to each other during each phase are examined below.
Cautious Friendship and Breaking Alliance, 1945-46:
The end of World War II was characterized by suspicion on the part of each former ally about the others intentions. Part of this period exhibited the optimism that Soviets and Americans would cooperate to protect world peace. At San Francisco conference in the spring of 1945, both worked in this direction by agreeing to the setting up of the United Nations. But with the coming to power by Truman in April 1945, the doubts began to develop and dominate. Truman abandoned Roosevelt’s policies aimed at continuing war time alliance with Soviets in the form of post war harmony. Truman’s statement that if the Russians did not wish to join us. they could go to hell not only irked the Soviet Union but also indicated the shift in American mood. During this brief interlude, vacillation, ambivalence, doubts and uncertainty marked the behavior of the two powers. They became increasingly hopeless about the prospects for avoiding confrontation notwithstanding occasional efforts at accommodation. During this brief spell their relations embittered greatly.
In this very period, the Soviet Union imposed communist regimes in the East European countries of Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary and Yugoslavia and adopted a policy of liquidating the democratic political parties and crushing democratic institutions. Again, the Soviet Union violated the Balkan agreement (concluded between Churchill and Stalin in 1944) regarding the joint sphere of influence of the Soviet Union and Britain over Hungary and Yugoslavia. By military intervention the Soviet Union established communist governments throughout the Balkan region after the close of war. After putting the Eastern Europe behind iron curtain, the Soviet Union attempted at spreading its communist tentacles in the West Europe. America could not afford to be a silent spectator to the growing Soviet influence and expansion.
Mutual Hostility and Intense Conflict, 19464953:
In this phase cold war took its complete shape and there was always a danger of its becoming hot. It was an era of intense hostility and conflict. During this phase the cold war was largely based upon George F. Kennan’s thesis. He was of the Opinion that the Soviet strength was on decline. If a strong external pressure could be organized the Red regime would fall like a house of cards. Each side misinterpreted the words and deeds of the other. In February 1946, Stalin gave a speech in which he spoke of the inevitability of conflict with the capitalist powers. He urged that the Soviet people not to be deluded that the end of the Var meant that the nation could relax. Rather, intensified efforts were needed to strengthen and defend the homeland.8
In 1950, the cold war also reached from Europe to Asia. The Korean War (1950-53) was, in fact, a direct conflict between the super powers. North Korea was fighting with Soviet weapons and Chinese troops, while the USA in the name of the UN force was fighting on behalf of South Korea. This war certainly contained the seed of the Third World War, but it was terminated through an armistice.
The Soviet Union interpreted all the above developments through a similar set of perceptual and biased lenses, seeing American actions as a series of attempts to encircle the Soviet Union and eventually to attack. On its part, the Soviet Union reacted to these dangerous developments, and strengthened the security measures and control. It successfully exploded the atom bomb and established communist regime in China in 1949. Hence, the relationship between the two powers was not merely cold but it was one of overt hostility and confrontation. Both the United States and the Soviet Union remained busy in the game of power politics with a vengeance, and both pursued the same goal minimizing the influence of the other and setting at naught the opponent’s presumed efforts to win the world.
Apparent Conflict, Actual Adjustment, 1953-62:
This phase is to be studied in the context of the fact that by 1949 the Soviet Union had succeeded in making atom bomb and thereby ending America’s atomic monopoly. in 1953 Stalin passed away and with his demise an important force aggravating cold war was removed. Khrushchev the new premier adopted a policy of peaceful coexistence. Both sides, particularly the United States, talked as if war was imminent but in deeds both acted with increasing caution and restraint and scrupulously avoided the hot war and armed clashes.
During this period, the US organized the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) in September 8, 1954 and the Middle East Defense Organization in February 24, 1955. Again through the Eisenhower Doctrine of 1954, she extended the Truman Doctrine to cover the entire Middle East. The US became a party to defense treaties with 43 states, involving over a third of the world’s population. She established a network of about 3,300 military bases to surround the Soviet territory. This period also witnessed the beginning of Vietnam crisis (1955) involving both the powers especially America. The crisis lasted till 1975.
During this period, the Soviet Union did not lag behind in strengthening her political and military might. The Soviet Union concluded the Warsaw Treaty with East European communist states on May 14, 1955. The Warsaw Pact was a befitting reply to NATO’s inclusion of West Germany. The Soviet Union entered into defense treaties with 12 states. It also frustrated the American attempt to provoke counter revolution in Hungary in 1956 To promote economic integration of East Europe it formed the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMB CON or C.M.E.A) on December 14, 1959.
Obviously under the US instructions, the Western powers, established a fully sovereign Federal Republic of Germany on May 5,1955. The Potsdam restrictions on arms were removed from West Germany. The Soviet answer was the formation of the German Democratic Republic in October, 1955. In this way, Germany was partitioned into two sovereign states due to the cold war.
Calvocoressi rightly observed : In the fifties both sides cold War exploded a thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb, the Americans in November 1952 and the Russians nine months later. Despite, the Russian advances the Americans retained their supremacy until about 1953 owing to their superior capacity to delivery, by aircraft or rockets, the atomic weapons which both sides now possessed. The Russians, however, rapidly developed their means of delivery so that a mutual deterrence ruled the mid fifties.10 Not only this, the Soviet Sputnik opened up a new space age in October 1957. These two developments brought a new positive turn in the cold war. It was realized that the hope of victory in a nuclear war was a myth. Consequently, the concept of nuclear deterrence developed that contributed to the partial restoration of stability in international relations.
The above developments initiated a process of co existence and adjustments among the rival powers and brought them to a negotiating table at Geneva Summit of 1955. Eisenhower and Bulganin exchanged assurances that nuclear warfare had no rational purpose and that neither USA nor the USSR was interested to begin such a war. Although the first summit did not produce any effective result, it raised new hopes in the form of a dialogue between the super powers. ”Geneva spirit” was a clearing diction of a new phase in the relations of states since the beginning of cold war in 1945.
In the Suez Crisis of 1956 there was agreement between the USA and the USSR and the former refused to support her close allies Britain and France. Thus, the West Asian crisis could not erupt into major crisis owing to behavioral accommodation of two Super Powers. Khrushchev paid a historic visit to the United States in 1959 and it was hoped that the cold war would now come to an end. Agreement for a Paris Summit to be held in May 1960 to discuss the Berlin problem showed a clear departure from the cold war spirit of 1946. The Antarctica Treaty of 1959 was another indicator of this departure. But the U-2 aircraft incident, two weeks before the commencement of the Paris Summit, once again resumed hostility. Khrushchev declined to participate in the Summit and on his suggestion the negotiations were suspend pending the change in administration in Washington (in 1951).
But this dangerous tendency was partly stayed by the Vienna meeting of Khrushchev and President Kennedy in l961.Though both leaders could not come to any agreement on German and other questions , this meeting proved to be a fruitful reversal of the bitter consequences of the U-2 incident.
The climax of the Berlin crisis came, when on August 13, 196La 25 mile long Berlin Partition Wall was erected to check the fleeing of refugees from East Berlin to West Berlin. The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) literally brought the two super powers on the brink of a nuclear show down. However the crisis was averted by an agreement between Khrushchev and Kennedy, in which the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw the missile base in exchange of the American guarantee never to invade Cuba.
President Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, talked of a roll back of the iron curtain and the liberation of Eastern Europe. They denounced the allegedly soft and restrained containment doctrine of Truman and they apparently promised to launch an ambitious ”winning” strategy that would end the confrontation with godless communism for good. But actually communism was not rolled back in Eastern Europe and containment was not replaced by a stringent foreign policy initiative.
This phase is also known for Dulles advocacy of brinkmanship and his throat of massive retaliation, through which he hoped to compel the Soviets into submission. Although reciprocal antagonism continued but a show down was always avoided.
Thaw in the Cold War, 1963-68:
This phase was marked by a deeper appreciation by the Super Powers of utter futility of nuclear war strategy. Notwithstanding the misting of ideological estrangement, and the assumptions that supported them (including the idea that the struggle between East and West was irreconcilable) and the fact that this period began immediately after the Cuban missile crisis and witnessed the dangerous Vietnam conflict as well as grim arms race, there was a definite thaw in the cold war. Along with these recurrences of cold war politics there were signs of the origin of detente.
Some of the burning problems were resolved, for example, with tacit acceptance by the United States of a divided Germany and of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. The precedent for communication established at Geneva and later at the 1959 Camp David meeting was followed by the installation of the hot line in 1963 linking the White House and the Kremlin with a direct communication line the Glassboro summit meeting (1967), and negotiated agreements, such as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963), the Outer Space Treaty (1967), and the Nuclear Non proliferation Treaty (1968).
At the American University in 1963, President Kennedy hinted at the need for bringing down tensions :
Today, should total war ever break out again no matter how our two countries would become The primary targets. It is an ironical but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation . We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other and new weapons beget counter weapons.
In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race.
So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.11
A major change in Soviet American relations was not initiated by Kennedy but this much he surely indicated that there was a shift in America’s attitude towards its Opponent.
As against it the Soviet Union also harped upon the policy of peaceful coexistence between capitalism and socialism. Kegley and Wittkopt rightly observe: Admittedly those token moves were a far cry from sustained cooperation between the ideological antagonists, but they did signal a departure from the posture of confrontation that had previously typified Soviet American relations. Cooperative behavior was evident, however, intermittent and fleeting, amidst a pattern of continued competition for advantage and influence.12
This phase was marked by the decline of cold war and rise of detente. Relations between the USA and the USSR became quite normal and visits, cultural exchanges, trade agreements , and cooperative technological ventures replaced threats, warnings and confrontation. This could have been possible only with coming to power of President Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger. Their policy towards , Soviet American relations was officially termed as detente in 1969. The Soviets also embraced the term to describe their attitude towards the United States.
As a peace strategy and diplomatic doctrine, detente was g designed, in the words of Kissinger, to create an environment in which competitors can regulate and restraint their differences and ultimately move from competition to cooperation.13 The age of detente was characterized by a continuation of efforts by rival super powers to reduce tension, diminish distrust and increase accommodation that were already underway. Factors accounting for detente and how this process proceeded will be dealt with in detail in a subsequent chapter. Major important events contributing to the improvement of relations and lessening of tensions and arms race were : signing of Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) in 1972, holding of 35 Nation European Security Conference in Helsinki in July 1973 and organizing of Review Conference on European Security Conference in Belgrade in 1977. However, certain irritants still persisted. For example, the US favored armed build up in Iran to counteract growing influence of Russia in Middle East.
It also moved to convert Diego Garcia into a military base. During Bangladesh crisis the US sided with Pakistan and Russia with India. Similarly in 1973 Egypt Israel war, the USSR sided With Egypt and the USA with Israel. But both the super powers avoided to militarily involve themselves in these conflicts.
New Cold War, 1979-1987:
The difficulties in negotiating the SALT II agreement revealed, nevertheless, that substantial differences still existed between the superpowers. However, in June 1979 President Carter and President Brezhnev signed SALT II limiting the expansion of the nuclear weapons till December 1985. But US Senate refused to ratify the treaty owing to Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in late 1979. Moreover, continued high levels of Soviet military spending, Soviet ”adventurism” in Africa and elsewhere, and the presence of Soviet military forces in Cuba were seen by US administration with suspicion. In El Salvador (Central America) where USA intervened, and the Soviets, Cubans, Nicaraguans were accused of involvement in clandestine supply of arms to insurgents with a view to imposing Marxist Leninist dictatorship there. In addition, the Carter administration spearheaded a global campaign in favour of human rights that irked and annoyed the Soviet leaders and gave them cause to question American intentions.
These happenings were interpreted in diverse ways. To some, they indicated the death of detente. To others, they
signaled the threat of third world war. While to still others, it was not a matter of serious concern and anxiety. But to all, these developments served as a telling remember that suspicion between the two superpowers is ever present, may be Open, may be disguised.
End of Cold War and Revival of Detente, 1987 on wards:
Out of the three interpretations described in the previous paragraph the third one proved correct as the new cold war did not last long and the process of detente revived. In 1985 when Gorbachev came to power he presented a ”new political thinking” to the world. Initially America was skeptical about Gorbachev’s intentions of improving relations with the US and the West. Gradually, America realized Gorbachev’s sincerity of purpose. The summit level talks between the President of two superpowers that were discontinued in the wake of Afghanistan crisis in 1979 were resumed in November 1985. Ever since there has been a series of such summits as an annual feature creating conducive atmosphere favoring cordial Soviet American relations and reducing armed race Geneva Accord on Afghanistan was signed in 1987 and subsequently Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan. The same year with the signing of INF treaty between the two superpowers, detente was revived. With the collapse of communist regimes in East Europe in 1989 the East Bloc withered away.
In July 1991, the historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed between President Gorbachev and President Bush to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals by about 30 per cent and marked the end of fifty year long cold war. In February, 1992 President Bush and Russian Federation President Yeltsin made a formal declaration regarding the end of the cold war.
Has cold war ended permanently or is it likely to reemerge in the coming years is a matter of speculation. There are no immediate prospects of its re emergence as Soviet Union has been disintegrated and its successor Russian Federation is badly mauled by internal problems. The West Asian conflict is the last remaining major legacy of half a century of the cold war in whose solution lies the complete and of cold war.
Impact Of The Cold War:
Cold war effected not only the Soviet American relations but the whole gamut of international relations in the post war period. There is hardly any aspect of international relations political, diplomatic, economic, cultural, ideological. and military that has not been influenced by Soviet American rivalry. Similarly there is hardly any region whether West or East Europe, South East, Far East or West Asia, Africa or Latin America that remained untouched by the cold war. The main impacts of this long drawn international phenomenon are discussed as under:
1. Temporary Arrangements turned permanent:
Hartmann observed that the temporary political arrangements made during the War time conferences particularly at Yalta and Potsdam tended to become permanent as relations grew stiffer between the East and the West, while many of the proposed permanent dispositions failed completely of being realized. The temporary division of Germany, pending the formation of an all German government, still persisted more than twenty years later, just as did the temporary division of Korea at the 38th Parallel. Poland, pending the final determination of her western frontier at the peace settlement, was still temporarily administering parts of former East Germany.
It was only after great difficulty that the powers were able even to agree on the composition of the conference to pass on peace treaties for Italy and the Balkan states although: such treaties were signed in 1946. Not until December, 1955, did these states achieve their promised membership in UN. The proposed permanent disposition for a free and independent Austria took many years, until mid 1955, to realize, and the free and independent Korea remained divided into pieces. These pieces of unfinished business were owing to the growing disharmony among allied great powers in the immediate post war period . It took forty five years for two German states to unite and that too when the cold war was on its last legs.
2. Bipolar Power Structure:
The most important impact of the Soviet American rivalry was on the world political system in the form of change in the power structure that was closely related to the distribution of economic and military power between the two super powers. Immediately after the Second World War, the United States emerged as the pie eminent power in the world, but this situation changed quickly as the Soviet Union became a force to be reckoned with. A new world power configuration developed that was termed as bipolar, with the United States and its allies constituting one pole, the Soviet Union and its allies the other. This power configuration roughly run parallel with the phases of Soviet American rivalry known as mutual hostility and intense conflict and apparent conflict, actual adjustment
3. Atmosphere of Bitterness:
Due to cold war world atmosphere was marked by bitterness, doubt and hostility. There was practically no peace in the world although the World War II had ended in 1945. Periodic crises and the threat of war Characterized the cold war days. The dream of one world with all people living in peace was gone Great nations of the world started thinking in terms of the particular bloc to which they belonged. Instead of sitting at the UN to think ways and means to help humanity, there had been going on wordy duels.
4. Arms Race and Militarization:
Race for acquiring more and more arms was initiated by big powers. Huge money was spent on arms and dangerous weapons which should be more usefully spent on socioeconomic development. Both sides developed thousands of powerful nuclear warheads which were capable enough of destroying the world several times. They also developed long range missiles which could fly from one continent to another in no time. Owing to this competitive arms race the war clouds hovered over the world for long.
5. Formation of Military Alliances:
Several military alliances came into existence and an era of regional military organizations began. NATO, Warsaw Pact, CENT O, SEATO, ANZUS etc. were formed as a result of the cold war. The principal European allies of the superpowers were grouped into the NATO and the Warsaw Pact Organization. With its Asian allies, the US organized CENT O and SEATO, and with Australia and New Zealand formed ANZUS. These alliances undermined the importance of UNO. Although these military organizations remained active for quite some time but with the passing of time they lost their cohesiveness as well as relevance.
6. Bipolycentrism and Multipolarism:
Resurgent nationalism and renewed economic vigor made European members of NATO and Warsaw Pact more vocal and assertive on some matters, especially economic issues. Thus, as the cold war moved through the phase of thaw to detente, the world powers configuration changed from,bipolarity to what may be described as bipolycentrism. This concept explains not only the continued dominance the United States and the Soviet Union exercised on military matters, but also to the far greater flexibility that came to characterize interactions between and among First and Second World nations on non military issues. The term multipolarism signifies the re emergence of Britain, France, China, Japan etc, as powerful countries especially in economic sphere.
7. Rapid Decolonization:
Another impact of the East West contest was the growth in the numbers of newly independent nations. These nations later on came to be known as Third World nations and their very large number was the base of their political power. The decolonization process played out primarily since World War II was speed by the political attacks of the socialist camp on Western imperialism and by the political alliance forged between the former and Third World nations which effectively de legitimized colonialism as an acceptable form of political organization and control.
8. Third World:
A Victim of Cold War. The Third World was both an observer and a pawn in the cold war. The Third World found itself the object of superpowers courtship. The courtship assumed the form of competition for allies, of foreign aid flows often designed more to serve the political interests of the donors than the economic development goals of the recipients, and frequently of massive amounts of military assistance. Small countries of the Third World can be of help to the main Cold Warriors in at least three ways.
They can provide bases they can be part of the economic system of their respective leaders, and can extend significant diplomatic support in international forums, especially in the United Nations. Although the Third World generally assumed an attitude of non involvement in the East West conflict, it nevertheless often became theater of the most violent conflicts in the post war period. Not all of these conflicts were direct outcome of Soviet American rivalry, but few were immune from it.
9. Internationalization of Regional Conflicts:
Regional and local conflicts whose origin might have been purely local get meshed with big power rivalry, and big power patrons are either invited to the third world trouble spots, or they themselves make their way into those places in their perceived interests. Disputes between small states were unnecessarily prolonged to the advantage of big powers as these powers wanted to make capital of it. Korean war, Vietnam crisis, Afghanistan crisis, Arab Israel conflict etc are glaring examples to cite.
10. Assertion by Third World:
Like European members of NATO and the Warsaw Fact and also like Japan, the Third World has become more assertive on non military matters that are otherwise on the periphery of the major political and military issues dividing East and West. That they have been able to do so is in part a function of the evolving nature Of the East West conflict. The essential nuclear stalemate between the superpowers has produced greater flexibility in world politics because the superpowers, sensitive to the dangerous consequences of a direct confrontation between them, have allowed some political events to unfold without their direct intervention. This assertion not only ended the bipolarism but also discouraged the cold war.
11. Set back to Diplomacy:
Diplomacy suffered a lot during the cold war international issues were not discussed and settled on the basis of the merit. A nation’s approach to any international issue was influenced by its affiliation with this or that bloc. All serious problems, discussed in the UN and other important forums, polarize the participant nations on the line of the cold war perceptions. Disarmament talks were disrupted several times owing to cold war. Even negotiations between third world countries were vitiated by their relations with the two cold war camps.
12. Propaganda Warfare:
There was intensive propaganda undertaken against each other by the superpowers during the course of cold war. Both vehemently attacked the ideological beliefs of the other while perhaps becoming a prisoner of its own. They spared no international forum to severely criticize each other. Electronic media was used extensively for this purpose. Wide range of literature was distributed freely by both sides presenting their viewpoint to the world at large. In educational institutions of capitalist countries, communism was denounced and did not get a fair treatment. Likewise, in communist countries, capitalism was painted as a pure devil. Theories and models were developed only to defend one system and condemn the other.