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Essay on the Cold War
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Example Essay on the Cold War
The Cold War was a contest between the USA and the Soviet Union. It led to the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons, two universal ideologies in conflict, and two different self-images, the United States championing a world made safe for democracy. Its opponent, the Soviet Union advocated world Communism.
The United States prides itself on its heritage of freedom, a refuge for persecuted religious groups, a land of liberty that successfully rebelled against the imperial power of Britain in 1776. Its guiding principles were the protection of the individual’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and the establishment of a constitution that embodied the best political idea of modern times, a system of checks and balances so that the president, Congress or parliament and judiciary or Supreme Court shared power, checking each other’s work to guard against dictatorship.
While the United States did not always live up to its ideals, nonetheless, on paper at least, it looked good compared to its Cold War rival, the Soviet Union. Led by a murderous dictator, Joseph Stalin (1928 to 1953), the Soviet government was brutal, outlawing all opposition, banned political parties opposed to the Communist Party, murdered millions and set up a vast prison camp system known as the Gulag. In the years 1937-38 alone, Stalin ordered the execution of one million citizens of the Soviet Union. In the fifty years of the Cold War, the United States only executed two of its own citizens, the husband and wife Rosenberg spy team. Even though the Rosenbergs should not have been executed because their crimes were tiny in the context of the Civil War, the difference between the United States and the Soviet Union in terms of political mass murder of its own citizens is obvious. Despite this fact, one third of the world went the Communist way and other countries were tempted by the promises of Communism. How could this be?
In theory, Communism promised a more equal world and at its greatest extent in the 1970s, Communist governments ruled one third of the world’s people. These were mostly poor countries looking for a quick way to industrialise. These countries looked upon the United States as a champion of the rich and powerful, an exploitative superpower that exported its economic system of capitalism only because it suited its interests to do so.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States strides the world as the sole superpower. The United States maintains its grip on this unipolar world without having to make too much effort. The United States spends only about 5-6% of its economy (its gross national product) on defense. The Soviet Union spent somewhere between 20% and 33% of its economy to try to keep up with the United States during the Cold War. It couldn’t keep up the pace. The position of the United States has declined only slightly in the twentieth century. In 1928, its economy was four times the size of its nearest rival (France) and in 1950 its economy was three times the size of its nearest rival (the Soviet Union).
It is not just a question of economic or...