Cold War

Topics: Cold War, World War II, Soviet Union Pages: 8 (2759 words) Published: October 14, 2013
The Cold War: the Balance of Power & Strategic Deterrence

When I was in the White House, I was confronted with the
challenge of the Cold War. Both the Soviet Union and I had
30,000 nuclear weapons that could destroy the entire
earth and I had to maintain the peace.
Jimmy Carter

Cold war (a term coined by the English writer George Orwell) was a prolonged state of military and political tension between the two major powers that emerged at the end of the second world war, namely The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union and The United States Of America. Although both these countries were allies during the Second World War, the profound differences between the countries, both economic and political, meant that their allying with each other was only superficial and temporary.

The two major powers, threatening mutual destruction as each possessed nuclear weapons, never had a direct military confrontation. In their quest for global influence, they engaged in indirect confrontations through “proxy wars”, such as the Korean War (1950-53) and the Vietnam War (1955-75). The Cold War was more of a psychological war than a traditional head on military escalation. The conflict was in fact carried on with the help of military coalitions, strategic force deployments, and extensive aid to client states, international espionage, traditional and nuclear arms races, lobbying to neutral nations, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The Cold War went on for more than four decades. It ended in late 1991, after the dissolution of the USSR, leaving the United States as the only superpower in the world. In the years following the end of the cold war, there have been many debates regarding the validity of the claims that nuclear weapons acted as a deterrent to a full blown military conflict between the two countries. Origins and Balance of Power

The Second World War started in 1939 and ended in 1945, and was fought between two factions of the world-the Allies and the Axis powers. The Soviets did not enter the war until 22nd June, 1941, when it was invaded by Germany and Romania. They did however; fight a war with Finland from November 1939 to March 1940. The US, on the other hand was pulled into the war by the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour. Although they had maintained neutrality up until that point, they did supply the allies with resources and monetary help. The end of the war came about due to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the US.

The fact that the balance of power shifted was quite apparent. The traditional major powers such as The UK, France and Germany had both their influence and resources depleted due to the war. Their main aim was to rebuild their nations, instead of exerting influence over the world. That left the US in the west and the USSR in the east as the only major superpowers. The US by 1945, was the top economic power in the world, controlling approximately 60% of the world‟s industrial production. Their territory was also untouched, except for the Pearl Harbour incident, as the war was fought mainly in Europe. USSR had to endure severe destruction to their territory due to the German invasion. Stalingrad, for example, had lost 95% of its industries and population. They did however, still had the largest army in the world and they were determined to use their strength to prevent another invasion.

During World War II, both the US and the USSR fought together as allies against the axis powers led by Germany. Their relationship however, was troubled throughout. Americans had always been chary of the communist ideology followed by the soviets and apprehensive about their leader Joseph Stalin, whose tyrannical rule reminded them of Hitler himself. The Soviets begrudged the Americans‟ continuous refusal to treat the USSR as a legitimate part of the international community.

At the end of the war, these grudges developed into an overwhelming sense of mutual...
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