This chapter will concentrate mostly on the kind of power that the United States and the Soviet Union attained by the time the Cold War lasted from 1945 to 1989. It will do so by analyzing the nature of international power and how it was exercised throughout that time period. The term “superpower” was the one that was used to these two states the majority of the time.
The events that followed World War Two caused a change in the global balance of power and resulted in the creation of a bi-polar world governed by two rival superpowers: the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (USSR). The name given to this international struggle is the “Cold War.” The World History Project is responsible for its creation.
1945-1991 This refers to the time period beginning immediately after World War II and continuing until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. During this time period, a significant portion of the globe was torn apart by the conflict between communist and non-communist nations over who would achieve political and military dominance. Although the United States of America and the Soviet Union (USSR) were indisputably the two most powerful nations on the planet, they avoided engaging in open warfare with one another. Instead, they made efforts to include other nations into its organization… Wars like the Korean War and the Vietnam War were raging during this time period.
In the realm of politics, the freedom of a people to choose their own national identity and type of government, free from force or influence from other nations.
Private people govern economic activities. An economic system in which investments in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth are made and maintained primarily by private individuals or corporations, especially in contrast to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth production, distribution, and exchange. This is in contrast to economic systems in which means of wealth production are owned by the state. Countries that operate under a capitalist economic model often have democratic political systems, in which many political parties vie with one another for power. In the United States, the procedure works like this.
This is an essential part of the capitalist system. Economic model in which people and companies are encouraged to compete with one another for profits while the government stays out of the way as much as possible.
A command economic system is one in which the Communist Party controls the economy and there is no private ownership of the means of production and distribution. This kind of economic system is also known as a centrally planned economy. Throughout history, governments that have historically adhered to this system have been dictatorships. This was the system that was in place in the Satellite Nations of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea, as well as Cuba and Vietnam.
An international organization with the claimed mission of fostering cooperation in the areas of international law, international security, economic growth, social advancement, and problems pertaining to human rights. It was established in 1945 by the signing of the Charter of the United Nations by fifty nations, and it succeeded the League of Nations, which had been established in 1919.
The phrase used by Winston Churchill to refer to the vast gaps that existed between “The West” and the Soviet Union (The west means the democratic, capitalist countries..led by the US and western Europe)
The goal of the United States of America to prevent other nations, namely the Soviet Union, from expanding their communist empires.
a strategy for preventing the spread of communism and authoritarian regimes by assisting nations such as Greece and Turkey in regaining their economic footing
an extended form of the Truman Doctrine that is also a component of the containment strategy. After World War Two, the United States eventually contributed a total of $12 billion to assist Europe in the process of reconstruction. This was done with the intention of halting the spread of communism in western Europe.
Many European towns were turned to ruins as a result of the damage caused by World War II. It also prompted authorities all across the globe to search for innovative solutions to the problem of preventing future attacks. Despite the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union had collaborated to defeat the Axis forces during World War II, their cooperation soon deteriorated into a conflict that lasted for half a century.
They had different ideas about how to put Europe back together, and their plans to strengthen their own security often contradicted one another. Because there was never any open hostilities between the two superpowers throughout this battle, it is referred to as the “Cold War” (“hot war”). Instead, they strengthened their military might, endeavored to extend their sphere of influence over the globe, and worked to discredit one another’s way of life in the eyes of the international community.
The United States of America was founded on the principles of a capitalist system that included free markets and a number of different political parties, whereas the Soviet Union was established on the principles of a communist system that was controlled by a centralized state and only one political party.
The United States and the Soviet Union had fundamentally different perspectives on the world, which ultimately led to the escalation of the Cold War. Communist societies advocated for more worker participation and governmental control of the economy. They also held the belief that income should be redistributed by taking it from the wealthy and giving it to the less fortunate.
These factors contributed to low unemployment rates; yet, they also contributed, at times, to an uneven distribution of consumer goods. They also saw organized religion as a potentially harmful institution. Freedom of religion was supported by the capitalist system that was in place in the United States. Free markets were allowed to control the production and distribution of products.
This resulted in higher levels of production but often led to enormous income disparities. Both sides engaged in propagandistic activities in order to present their opponents in an unfavorable light. From 1945 until the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, these two countries contended with one another for worldwide influence across a wide range of domains, including the military, the economy, politics, and even culture.
The Cold War was characterized by its three primary aspects: 1) the possibility of nuclear war; 2) rivalry for the allegiance (loyalty) of newly independent states; and 3) the military and economic backing of each other’s opponents all over the globe. When the United States ended World War II by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, it demonstrated its superior military might on a worldwide scale.
Because of this incident, the Soviet Union began looking into nuclear technology in order to deter American invasion. In addition to these benefits, the United States enjoyed significant advantages. As a result of the country’s late entry into World War II, a much lower number of its troops and citizens were killed in the fight. In comparison, the United States suffered just 300,000 casualties throughout the conflict, while the Soviet Union suffered losses of between 8 and 10 million combatants and 25 million civilians.
The majority of the United States escaped from the war uninjured, in contrast to the situation in the Soviet Union, which was devastated by an invasion. As a result of the earnings gained by the sale of weapons and supplies to Allied troops throughout the war, the economy of the United States grew during the conflict.
After Nazi Germany capitulated in May 1945, close to the conclusion of World War II, the uneasy wartime alliance between the United States of America and Great Britain on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other started to disintegrate. This took place at the end of the conflict. By 1948, the Soviet Union had successfully established left-leaning administrations in all of the eastern European nations that it had freed with the help of the Red Army.
The United States and the United Kingdom were concerned about the possibility of communist parties inspired by the Soviet Union gaining power in western European democracies and the prospect of the Soviet Union maintaining its dominance over eastern Europe permanently. On the other hand, the Soviets were intent on advancing communism all over the world for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that it was their ideological belief that communism should be implemented globally.
They were determined to keep control of eastern Europe as a safeguard against any potential new threat posed by Germany. When the United States began providing aid to western European nations as part of the Marshall Plan in 1947 and 1948, it brought those nations under American influence. At the same time, the Soviet Union began installing openly communist regimes in eastern European nations. This marked the beginning of the solidification of the Cold War.
The years 1948–1953 were the height of the Cold War. During this time period, the Soviet Union attempted to blockade Western-held areas of West Berlin between the years of 1948 and 1949, but they were unsuccessful. In 1949, the United States and its European allies established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a unified military command to resist the Soviet presence in Europe. In the same year, the Soviet Union detonated their first atomic warhead, putting an end to the American monopoly on the atomic bomb. In 1949, the Chinese communists
Tensions during the Cold War began to ease between 1953 and 1957, primarily because Joseph Stalin, the longstanding ruler of the Soviet Union, passed away in 1953. However, the stalemate continued throughout this time period. In the same year that West Germany was accepted into NATO, 1955, a cohesive military organization known as the Warsaw Pact was established among the countries that would later become part of the Soviet bloc.
The years 1958–1962 saw yet another tumultuous period of the Cold War. Both the United States of America and the Soviet Union started working on the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles around the same time, and in 1962, the Soviet Union started covertly installing missiles in Cuba that had the capability of launching nuclear attacks on cities in the United States of America.
This led to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, which was a confrontation between the two superpowers that took them to the verge of war before an agreement was made to remove the missiles.
The issue with the Cuban missiles demonstrated that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union were prepared to deploy their nuclear weapons against the other because of fear of the other country’s reaction (and thus of mutual atomic annihilation). Soon after, in 1963, the two superpowers came together and signed the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons above ground.
But the crisis also solidified the Soviets’ resolve to never again allow their military inferiority to bring them shame, and they began a buildup of both conventional and strategic forces, which the United States was forced to match for the next 25 years. During this time, the Cold War raged on between the United States and the Soviet Union.
During the entirety of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union refrained from engaging in direct military conflict in Europe. Instead, they engaged in actual combat only when it was necessary to prevent allies from switching sides or to topple those allies after they had already done so. As a result, the Soviet Union sent military forces to East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Afghanistan to ensure the survival of communist authority (1979).
The United States, for its part, participated in the overthrow of a left-wing government in Guatemala in the year 1954, supported an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba in the year 1961, invaded the Dominican Republic in the year 1965 and Grenada in the year 1983, and engaged in a protracted and fruitless effort between the years 1964 and 1975 to stop communist North Vietnam from bringing South Vietnam under its control (see Vietnam War).
However, over the 1960s and 1970s, the bipolar battle between the American and Soviet blocs gave way to a more intricate pattern of international interactions in which the globe was no longer separated into two obviously opposed blocs. This occurred as a result of the Cold War, which ended in 1989. The communist bloc was unable to maintain its cohesion when a significant rift developed between the Soviet Union and China in 1960, which further deepened with the passage of time.
In the meanwhile, western Europe and Japan both had robust economic development throughout the 1950s and 1960s, narrowing the gap between themselves and the United States in terms of economic might. Less powerful nations had greater space to establish their independence and often shown that they were not susceptible to the pressure or cajoling of more strong nations.
The tensions of the Cold War began to lessen in the 1970s, as evidenced by the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) that took place during this decade. These talks resulted in the SALT I and SALT II agreements, which were signed in 1972 and 1979, respectively. In these agreements, the two superpowers agreed to place limits on the number of antiballistic missiles and strategic missiles that were capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
After that, there was a period of increased tensions during the Cold War in the early 1980s. This was as a result of the fact that the two superpowers maintained their major military buildup and battled for influence in Third World countries. Nevertheless, the beginning of the end of the Cold War may be traced back to the late 1980s, when Mikhail S. Gorbachev was in charge of the Soviet Union. He started the process of democratizing the Soviet political system while simultaneously dismantling the authoritarian characteristics of the Soviet regime.
Gorbachev was not opposed to the fall of the communist governments that existed in the eastern European nations that were a part of the Soviet bloc in the years 1989–1990. Following fast on the heels of the democratic governments’ ascent to power in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia came the reunification of West and East Germany under the auspices of NATO, which was again met with acceptance by the Soviet Union.