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effects of cold war

By collinsmurindi Nov 17, 2013 869 Words
The Cold War, often dated from 1947 to 1991, was a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in the Western Bloc, dominated by the United States with NATO among its allies, and powers in the Eastern Bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union along with the Warsaw Pact. This began after the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. A neutral faction arose with the Non-Aligned Movement founded by Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia; this faction rejected association with either the US-led West or the Soviet-led East. In their struggle for global influence they engaged in ongoing psychological warfare and in regular indirect confrontations through proxy wars. Cycles of relative calm would be followed by high tension, which could have led to world war. The tensest times were during the Berlin Blockade (1948–1949), the Korean War (1950–1953), the Suez Crisis (1956), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the Cuban missile crisis (1962), the Vietnam War (1955–1975), the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), the Soviet downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (1983), and the "Able Archer" NATO military exercises (1983). The conflict was expressed through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, extensive aid to client states, espionage, massive propaganda campaigns, conventional and nuclear arms races, appeals to neutral nations, rivalry at sports events (in particular the Olympics), and technological competitions such as the Space Race. The US and USSR became involved in political and military conflicts in the Third World countries of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. To alleviate the risk of a potential nuclear war, both sides sought relief of political tensions through détente in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when the communist state was already suffering from economic stagnation. In the mid-1980s, the new Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika ("reorganization", 1987) and glasnost ("openness", ca. 1985). Pressures for national independence grew stronger in Central Europe, especially Poland. They reached a breaking point when Gorbachev refused to use Soviet troops to support the faltering government of East Germany in late 1989. Within weeks all the satellite states broke free from Moscow in a peaceful wave of revolutions (with the exception of the Romanian Revolution). The pressures escalated inside the Soviet Union, where Communism fell and the USSR was formally dissolved in late 1991. The United States remained as the world's only superpower. Although the war ended, the aftermath of the cold war witnessed proliferation of small arms, disintegration of states (instability), civil wars especially in third world countries and upsurge of international terrorism. Small arms proliferation was compounded at the end of the Cold War when millions of suddenly surplus weapons were sold at steep discounts or given away as the world’s major military powers reduced stockpiles and/or modernized their forces. For example, Ukraine, which had huge reserves of arms and ammunition and had a large domestic military-industrial complex, had a stockpile of excess weapons of over 2.5 million tons. It sold off large quantities of these arms for hard currency with very few questions. A Ukrainian parliamentary committee investigating arms transfers in the country found that between 1992 and 1998, $32 billion worth of armaments were either lost or stolen in Ukraine. For many countries it makes economic sense to sell their surplus weapons cheaply since it costs money to safety destroy old and excess arms and ammunition. This does not include the cost to international donors, however, who must shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to care for those displaced and rebuild countries destroyed as a consequence of irresponsible arms transfers. Used weapons are widely traded throughout conflict-ridden regions of the world. They are sold in large batches by arms brokers and circulated by small-scale businessmen taking advantage of regional differences in demand and supply. Assault rifles first transferred to Mozambique and Angola in the 1980s and early 1990s were later traded to rebels operating in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the late 1990s and early 2000. Some of these same weapons may now be in the hands of combatants in Côte d’Ivoire. In the wrong hands even relatively small numbers of these weapons can exact a staggering humanitarian cost. Enormous numbers of people can be killed by small groups of people. For example, in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo the prevalence of small armed groups and private militias—often serving as proxies for a number of African states—drives the ethnic killings and the concomitant displacement and depravation there. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo more than 5 million people have died from the conflict, about 1.4 million people remain internally displaced, and approximately 340,000 Congolese are refugees in neighboring countries, according to Refugees International. In Uganda, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons helped fuel and perpetuate the two-decades-old and ongoing conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA, mostly targets civilians and typically attacks civilian camps, loots supplies, burns huts, and rapes and abducts innocent civilians. Villagers are often mutilated to instill fear and perpetuate insecurity. Children are frequently abducted to serve as porters, troops, and sex slaves.

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