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A Critical Debate of Cold War in 'Origins of Modern World'
By definition, the term Cold War implies a state of no war and no peace between two opponents. It is the kind of international rivalry in which states use all types of measures (including political, economic, social, diplomatic, technical, military and paramilitary) to achieve national objectives, however, it avoids overt armed conflict. It is a jargon, which is generally used to denote tense relations between former USSR and U.S. during the period 1947-1991. President Roosevelt conceived it during 1939-1941 when Second World War was still in progress, which reflects deep rooted animosity between U.S. And USSR. The two countries fought war together as allies against a common enemy, Nazi Germany, but the hostility against each other never died down. It re emerged as soon as the end of War was in sight.
In order to understand the Cold War era and its consequences critically one must have a view of post World War II setting.
In the aftermath of World War II, the supremacy of erstwhile colonial powers including Great Britain ended. It resulted in the emergence of United States and USSR as two super powers and progression of a bipolar world. The decolonization was the most important consequence of Second World War. In 1945 Japan surrendered to U.S. Forces and with that the ongoing battle between Chinese Liberation Army and Japan ended. It paved the way for declaration of independence by Communist China in 1949. Indian subcontinent got independence from British rulers in 1947 and two independent states of India and Pakistan emerged on the world map. By 1950, many states of Asia and Middle East were decolonized. A number of African countries and smaller islands in Caribbean and Pacific also attained freedom by the end of 1960. In Indochina, Viet Minh declared independence under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh after fighting guerrilla war against Japan immediately at the end of World War II. Algiers became independent after a revolutionary war against France. According to the author of "Origins of Modern World," 'The spurt of decolonization created a host of newly independent states, boosting membership in United Nations from fifty one at its creation in 1945 to 127 by 1970.' (Marks, 2007)
Although both U.S. And USSR were against colonization, but they had a different vision about the placement of newly independent states. Both wanted to have these states in their camp. This led to tension between two super powers. Moreover, USSR propounded Communist philosophy, based on the teachings of Karl Marx and on the other hand U.S. was a strong advocate of Capitalism and free market economy. This difference in ideology and economic strategy led to another war, a war that was not fought but was based on showing off and proving oneself better than the other. It was the' Cold War'.
Cold War Era 1947-1991and it's Consequences
Containment Policy. At the end of World War II, Soviet Union was strategically poised in a very favourable disposition. It occupied much of Eastern Europe and created satellite states there. It provided material support to Communist regimes in North Korea, Viet Nam and Peoples Republic of China in their struggle against Capitalist forces. This situation compelled U.S. To give up its prewar isolationist stance and play an active role in the containment of Communism. At the same time, U.S. did not want to take active steps leading to open hostility. By 1947, United States took steps to revive German and Japanese potential and provided material support around the globe, including Europe to contain Communist onslaught. It is interesting that both Japan and Germany were fierce enemies of U.S. during World War II and U.S. had dropped atom bomb on Japan during the war. In order to implement the Containment Policy, U.S. had to fight North Korea and Chinese troops during 1950-53, intervened in Viet Nam 1956-75 and waged a prolong war there. In Latin America, it conspired against democratically elected leftist governments and supported undemocratic authoritarian anti-communist regimes. This policy tarnished the U.S. image as a proclaimed supporter for democracy. (Ererdi)
Cold War Alliances. The Containment Policy needed a credible structure of military alliances. U.S. put in place three important defense pacts around the strategic areas of influence. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) included Western Europe and U.S.. It was to defend Europe against probable Communist invasion. CENTO (Central Treaty Organization) was formed to secure Middle East region and included Turkey, Iran and Iraq. SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) included Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand. It was responsible for the defense of South East Asia. In return, Soviet Union reacted with Warsaw Pact. Soviet Union and East European countries formed this alliance. It was to counter NATO.
Non-Aligned Movement also emerged in the period of Cold War. It represented the group of countries not wanting to take sides with any of the super powers and maintain a neutral stance. Initially it was launched by India, Egypt, Indonesia, and Yugoslavia. It was joined by many other countries subsequently.
Cold War Militarization. In the Cold War period, Soviet Union was rather quick to explode nuclear device soon after World War II in 1949 and thus brought an end to U.S. monopoly in the field of nuclear arsenals. Both countries started an arms race using all technology and resources. Nuclear warheads were prepared in thousands which were many times more lethal than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was yet another fearsome military invention of the Cold War era .It was capable of carrying nuclear warheads and no foolproof defense was available at that time. These dangerous developments made the future of human civilization and the human race itself quite unsafe.
During this period, full time military mobilization of U.S. And USSR forces was made a reality. This increased the risk of open hostilities. For the first time both the adversaries along with their allies were placed in ready position to wage a war on many fronts simultaneously. The budget allocation on defense also increased manifold. According to author of "Origins of Modern World" U.S. earmarked more than 30% of its spending for the military preparations. Soviet Union was ahead of U.S. In budget allocation for the military. The increased spending by both adversaries on defense added to the lethality and size of their war machines manifold. (Harbutt)
Space Exploration. It was the Soviet Union, which played a leading role in the field of space exploration. It was first to launch 'Sputnik' and send a man in earth orbit in 1957. It took U.S. 12 years to give a matching response by sending its own spacecraft in 1969. After this, no country looked back and billions of dollars were spent in the field of space explorations. It enabled the mankind to acquire useful information about the universe and space. This was a real positive achievement.
Consumerism vs. Productionism In real sense, the Cold War was fought in the arena of business and economics. U.S. And USSR adopted different strategies to achieve their economic goals. U.S. adopted the model of consumerism, which had the qualifications of market economy, competition and price changes. The corner stone of this policy was to manufacture consumer goods as at that time the workers in the factories were reaping the fruits of Industrial Revolution. With increase in their salaries, the standard of living was on the rise. They needed goods which make their lives more comfortable. In line with the policy of Consumerism, U.S. started assembling cars. There was immense demand for cars. With the increased consumption, new factories came up. It not only refurbished the war-ravaged economy, but also helped in improving the life style of millions of Americans. In order to maintain the demand for cars, new models were introduced and Advertising was used to attract the people.' Housing' was another area which was focused by U.S. authorities. In order to enable the people to own houses, the banking rules were modified and mortgage facility was extended to all. This increased the demand for capital and had very positive effects on banking system all over the United States. In order to understand the economic development of United States in Cold War era, we must discuss the role of electricity. Initially the electricity was not available to domestic consumers who arranged electric motors for their household. It brought a revolution in the development of more consumer goods industries. It included the industrial units producing refrigerators, washing machines, television, sewing machines and many other electric appliances.
On the international trading front, U.S. raised the mega organizations of World Bank and International Monetary Fund for extending loans to third world countries. This measure helped profoundly in enhancing the image and influence of U.S. As a world super power.
On the other hand, the policy of Productionism was not based on market mechanism. Under this policy all the industry in USSR was to be run under a state plan. This was influenced by the…[continue]
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