The Effect of the Cold War on the World

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The question suggests that the rivalry between the superpowers were responsible for worsening and prolonging the regional conflicts. The Cold War was the elongated tension between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. It started in the mid 40's after WWII had left Europe in shambles and USSR and US in superpower positions. The Cold War was a clash of these superpowers in political, ideological, security, and economic values and ideas. It caused a bipolar system in the world where there were two dominant powers fighting to become the dominant power. US and USSR being on opposing sides in Europe by the 1950s have extended the conflicts to other parts of the world. By using other countries as platforms to host their competition either to win or undermine the other what was supposedly a regional conflict became a global one. The mutual hostility and rivalry between the 2 opposing ideologues certainly aggravated the conflict once it started. But we also need to examine if these conflicts being localized conflicts did indeed aggravate the hostility and rivalry between the US and USSR.

Most of the regional conflicts were not mastermind or instigated by the superpowers. They mostly began out of local conflicts or revolutions that eventually attracted the superpowers because of the opportunities that became available with these conflicts like nationalist wars and because by at that point of time Europe was in a deadlock. The Superpowers were involved indirect and could not do anything to control the conflicts as the regional conflict were already in progress. In the Middle East, due to the decolonization after WWII, there was the emergence of new nations; new states that are more nationalistic - Nasserism and Pan Arabism. There were also states that were fighting for the same piece of land( territorial claims): Arab – Israeli wars and historic tension that caused the local conflicts to arise. This brought the superpowers into the picture as the Middle East was a strategic location between the East and the West. The Suez Canal (Egypt) was a route of quick success between Europe and Asia. In addition, Middle East was the largest oil producing region. If any of the local conflict were to worsen, the situations may affect the oil prices, the Suez Canal route so the Superpowers had to intervene. It was the actions of the countries in conflict that pulled the superpowers in as they had to watch out for their interest.

Though the regional conflicts were caused by the superpowers, they often played an active role in aggravating the conflict once it broke out and very often determined its outcome. US was particularly active in aggravating the regional conflicts like in the case of the Korean War. In a Janurary 1950 speech, the U.S Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that South Korea was outside the U.S defense perimeter in Asia. Moreover the last US troop were withdrawn in June 1949 and Congress also turned down a proposal by the Truman administration for economic assistance to South Korea. This meant that US would not interfere if war were to take place. However soon after the conflict started, US responded to the North Korean attack by sending air and naval forces, followed by ground troops. Even though it went against its policies, US did so to contain the communist threat as per its containment policy. Add to that the public backlash the Truman administration was facing for having ‘lost China’ to the communist. Although the US objective was to return the situation that had existed before the war, they were soon crossing the 38th parallel and heading towards the Yalu river( bordering on China). This showed had the nature of the US involvement had changed, aggravating the conflict. What started out as an effort to unify Korea, further divided it as more and more states got involved and a peace treaty was never signed.

Sometimes US got involved in response to the Soviet perceived threat. In July 1979, USSR sent...
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