Why the Cold War never became hot
Despite of some serious crises, the Cold War never resulted into a Third World War. Although cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union was the main reason, there were other reasons to why it never resulted into another world war. The end of the Second World War resulted in the separation of Europe. Western Europe was under strong influence by the United States and capitalism, while Eastern Europe was under strong influence by the Soviet Union and communism. This separation of influence in Europe would eventually result globally as the two superpowers race to spread their influence on every livable continent on earth. The race resulted in many conflicts and devastating proxy wars that could have easily triggered a third world war. Among others, these conflicts included the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Korean War, and the Yom Kippur War. Despite of all these wars and crises, the two superpowers managed to prevent another world war through negotiations, treaties, and constant cooperation. The United Nations should also be given some credit over keeping the United States and the Soviet Union at peace, because since its creation, the organization had been a mediator in helping the two superpowers negotiate.
Diplomacy played a very important role in preventing an ultimate showdown between the two superpowers during the Cold War. There were many instances, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, where negotiation was vital in order to keep peace. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union placed missiles on the socialist nation of Cuba1. This event alerted the United States government and forced American President John F. Kennedy to order the US navy to blockade Cuba, which was considered illegal under international law2. This daring move led to intense negotiation via phone between Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, which ended in an agreement. The agreement was that the Soviets would remove their missiles in Cuba if the Americans would remove their missiles in Turkey and promise to never invade Cuba3. This negotiation between the two leaders calmed the bilateral relations of the United States and the Soviet Union, and thus weakened the chances of a war between the two powers. The Cuban Missile Crisis was regarded by many as the closest thing in the Cold War that could have triggered a third world war4. Yet, it was ended peacefully through diplomacy. An earlier war that was caused halted by diplomacy was the Korean War, although there had never been any peace treaties signed5. It was a three year war, fought between communist and capitalist forces, which ended at the negotiation table in the Korean town of Panmunjeom, where both sides agreed on an armistice6. The armistice prevented a bigger war between United Nation forces and Chinese forces, which may have likely involved the Soviet Union because of their strong alliance with China, and thus preventing a more disastrous showdown in East Asia.
The Détente era, which took place between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, was regarded to be a period in which Soviet-American relations relaxed and cooled down7. During this period, a few treaties, such as the Helsinki Accord and SALT, were signed. These treaties were aimed to improve relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Helsinki Accord improved West-Soviet relations by fulfilling the hopes of both sides8. In the agreement, the West recognized the Soviet Union’s extended borders, which were the borders they captured after World War II, received international recognition; while the Soviet Union agreed to respect human rights, a hope the West had wanted9. This agreement was seen as a significant step, taken by the two superpowers, into reducing Cold War tensions and as a major step into improving relations between the West and the Soviet Union and her allies10. The success of this accord proved that cooperation between the Soviets and the...
Terry Burrows, The Visual History of the Modern World, Hinkler Books, Heatherton, 2007
John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War, Penguin Books, Camberwell, 2005
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John Hider, Vahur Made, David J. Smith; The Baltic Question during the Cold War, Routledge, England, 2008
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