Contemporary History Research Paper

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influential factor in the evolution of the international world of politics following the end of World War II was the interrelationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. The conflictive positions between the two states influenced both the evolution of highly dominant states as well as minor governments. The world divided into two military fronts, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) -- 1949, and the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The international relations were dominated by tensions between the East and the West that shaped a conflict of ideological, political, and strategic manner but not military. This bilateral contention has since come to be known as the Cold War. This image of non-conventional warfare was unfamiliar decades of years ago when massacres and slaughterous mayhem was the representative picture of battlefields that most would have associated wars with up until the emergence and unfolding of the Cold War. In 2013, concerns continue to arise as to the imminence of another or better yet, continuation of the strategic war that started within the second half of the twentieth century. Apparently, this is in relation to Syria and a conflict of interests between the United States and Russia regarding the former. As such, Russia does not want to lose the Syrian ports on the Mediterranean. The United States claim agent Edward Snowden to whom Russia has given temporary asylum following his disclosure of secret governmental documents. Furthermore, capitalist Russia seeks the monopole on the exportation of gases to Europe, a prime position in the Middle East and a privileged partnership with the world's most economically influential powers. On the other hand, the United States, having invested enormously in armament, would seek to ensure its position as the world's leading power. Therefore, intermittent factors seem to imply that the Cold War has either never ended or it continues to have repercussions upon societies at this very moment. This does not only make it a historic event with roots deeply embedded in contemporary times but, as arguments suggest, it is an event that continues to shape the world of international positions and national interests. This paper will explore the general shape of the Cold War and will initially expose its emergence and the implications of the conflict. Particular analysis will prevail in regards to major episodes regarding the Cold War, such as the Truman Doctrine. Ultimately, positive and negative outcomes of the Cold War will be considered and assessed.

The Cold War was characterized by a prominent feature that prevented its development into a hot conflict of armed forces: the reciprocal discouraging. Indeed, ?for forty-five years, the two superpowers faced each other across the globe, each dreading the consequences of ceding dominance to the other, ? (Wohlforth, 2003, p. 1) however, without giving course to military actions on battle fronts. In neither one of the international conflicts -- Korea, Vietnam, or the African countries -- did the Russians and the Americans resort to direct confrontation. Nazi Germany had determined both powers to collaborate in order to prevent the former from gaining political and territorial prominence in Europe. President Roosevelt's forged alliance was initially sought by his successor, Harry S. Truman. However, as Kissinger acknowledged, with the new international framework, ?the United States and the Soviet Union, the two giants at the periphery, were now facing off against one another in the very heart of Europe. (1994, p. 424)

Following the ending of World War II, the Soviets' ambitions in relation to Eastern Europe became evident. The victorious Soviet Army enforced the conditions for the establishment of communist oriented governments in countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, and Albania. The governments eventually succeeded in the suppression of resistant forces and assumed dominant power. The communist countries entailed careful consideration to the Soviet Union and acted as satellite forces that were thoroughly controlled by the former. The Western democracies seized in the communists' plan the intention for worldwide domination of a communist movement led by the Soviets. The danger appeared substantiated by the existence of communist parties which formed and shaped ideas and conceptions even in non-communist countries. To ensure the level of control, communist states became isolated from the rest of the world and the term the Iron Curtain was popularized by Winston Churchill, who was himself a supporter of the Cold War, to designate the frontiers of Europe. Thus, abaft the Iron Curtain represented in fact the inside of the communist coalition. Because ?the Soviet Union envisioned spreading its system of authoritarian, one-party rule and government-controlled economy to any nation in which it had influence, (Pierpaoli, 2012, p. xiii) the United States sought to counteract the expansion of communism and endorse free nations against communist subjugation.

In 1947, President Truman, in concern to the security of Greece and Turkey, proponed the Truman Doctrine as an initiatory enterprise to ?help free peoples maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. (Truman, 1947, ?20th Century Documents: 1900 -- 1999?) The fight against Nazism had succeeded but now Europe was sought to be at the unmerciful hands of yet another suppressing force: the communism. The conflict in Greece at the hands of alleged communist forces was sought crucial by the Truman government due to its impact on other nations which is why ?failure to defend Greece, the White House believed, would demoralize other nations and force them either to accept communism or to buy peace by making concessions to totalitarianism. (Jones, 1989, p. 4) The Truman Doctrine therefore acknowledged the States' disposition to render political and financial support to countries that sought to eliminate and indeed eradicate communism. Starting with Greece, the U.S. would have not only displayed its military influence in the zone but as well reenact its willingness to lend a helping hand to other nations (Jones, 1989, p. 5) It meant that the United States will have acted directly against the expansion and the Marshall Plan (1948 -- 1952) was sought to enhance the process of post-war rehabilitation and inhibit the communist exploitation. Thus, by initiating the plan, the U.S. will have imposed the vision upon the economic outcomes of European countries that had not yet entered under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. The Marshall Plan was a program designed specifically to assist European countries upon the reconfiguration of world powers that succeeded World War II. Economic assistance was offered to European states, destined to rehabilitate economies and retract communism. Subsequently, the Marshall Plan was in itself the economic extension of the Truman Doctrine. Once the Secretary of State George Marshall revealed the plan which Truman signed, it was not long after that the foreign ministers of France and Britain, Georges Bidault, respectively, Ernest Bevin, signed a press release, inviting twenty two European States to Paris. The European representatives were thus invited to agree on a plan of European reconstruction. However, claiming that such initiatives are the result of American economic imperialism, Moscow did not allow satellite countries to attend the conference. It was sought that acceptance of the plan will lead to the detachment of countries from under the influence of the former. Furthermore, Moscow concerned itself with the loss of political advantages and strategies that the Kremlin had acquired in Central and Eastern Europe at the end of World War II had countries in Europe accepted the plan. It is believed that the effectuation of the Marshall Plan consequently led to the unfolding of events that are recognized as constituting the Cold War. However, while the imminence of communism led to the intensifying of conflictive positions between the two superpowers, it would undermine a substantial case of historic evidence to assume that all opinions revolve around the latter as having been the starting point for the Cold War. Indeed, it is argued by some historians that causes leading up to the materialization of the Cold War per se can be associated with the participation of the United States into World War I and the Russian Revolution (Thompson, 1991, p. 57), both, representative events of the year 1917. Nevertheless, following the implementation of the Marshall Plan, the confrontation between the U.S. And the Soviet Union became translucent and, while the two powers managed to refrain from engaging in wars on front, the world separated to ally with the one or the other. On a political-military level, the confrontation occurred between NATO and the signatory states of the Warsaw Pact. Economically, the battle was carried out between proponents of socialism and advocates for capitalism. At a politically ideological position, the conflict was between the democracies of the Western liberal world and the totalitarian regimes. The state of deterrence that prevented each power from engaging in military actions against the other was due to both states having armed themselves with nuclear and atomic weapons that, undoubtedly, would have wiped out large surfaces of the Earth had such a military action occurred. Cold War strategies were based…[continue]

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