Modern World History

Cold War

Phase I Cold War

The World War ended in 1945 but with the end of the war the friendship between the capitalists and communists also came to an end .The friends of war period became opponents after the end of the war. The first step in this direction was taken by the Feb speech of Stalin. In this speech he declared that the communism would not remain limited to Eastern Europe only and communist revolution would be organized throughout the world. This declaration of Stalin alarmed the capitalist countries and the suspicion between them got transformed into cold war.

In March 1946 Winston Churchill made a famous speech in USA and asked the capitalist countries to come together in their fight against communism. He proclaimed that war has not ended but it had assumed a different shape and the capitalist countries must be prepared to fight against communism. He also proclaimed the concept of Iron Curtain. During 1946-47 the Soviet Union had successfully captured many parts of Eastern Europe and Communist governments were installed in number of countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The success of communism in these countries alarmed the western countries even further.

In 1947 American President Harry Truman proclaimed his Truman Doctrine which said that USA would support all the democratic forces against communism throughout the world. This doctrine was applied during Greece Civil War (1948-49) where the supporter of communism and supporters of capitalism were supported by USSR and USA openly. This was the first military campaign of cold war period. It had brought the opposing ideologies to the battlefield against each other. But the scope of war remained limited to Greece only.

Marshall Plan and Reconstruction of Europe

In June 1947 Marshall Plan was announced by the US secretary of state, George Marshall. This plan was also European Recovery Program. It was based on the understanding that communism was less likely to thrive in prosperous societies.USA announced a massive aid of 13000 million dollars to Europe for economic recovery. The aid for all the countries of Europe but only the capitalist countries of Western Europe accepted the aid and communist countries of Eastern Europe were not allowed to accept the aid by USSR. The Marshall Plan was immensely successful and it resulted in the economic recovery of Western Europe. It also made the division of Europe inevitable as after the economic recovery the western European countries became prosperous. Due to economic differences, the soviet leadership faced day to day humiliation and decided to stop all kind of communication links between Eastern and Western Europe. It led to the further division of Europe into two parts.

Comminform Communist Information Bureau

In September 1947 the soviet leadership established Comminform (communist information bureau).The objective of this bureau was to establish the soviet pattern of political government in all the countries. When the Soviet Union and the capitalist countries of West failed to reach on an agreement over the issue of peace treaties, Germany was divided into four parts and one part was given to each major power. The capital of Germany Berlin was located in the area given to USSR. The communist controlled areas remained economically backward and it was being seen in Berlin. To overcome the humiliation the Soviet leadership planned to oust the capitalist forces from western part of Berlin and to achieve that objective the road links between the capitalist controlled Germany and the capitalist controlled Berlin were severed.

The Soviet move gave birth to a serious crisis but the capitalist forces continued to supply the necessary commodities to the part of Berlin controlled by them. The blockade remained for one year and in May 1949, USSR realized the failure of tactics and blockade was removed. The Berlin blockade intensified the cold war and brought the communist and capitalist blocks on the verge of open war. The capitalist countries remained aggressive in their anticommunist policies.

Berlin Airlift and Blockade

The lessons learned from a Berlin blockade forced the western powers to come together and adopt the system of collective security. This resulted in the formation of NATO in April 1949. After the failure of Berlin blockade the soviet leadership tried to follow the policy of economic development in East Europe as well. USSR announced Molotov plan but it could not succeed as Marshall Plan because the amount of aid given was very less and implementation was far from perfect. In September 1949 USSR emerged as nuclear power and tactical edge enjoyed by the capitalist block was erased.Infact tactical balance was shifted to the side of USSR. This further intensified the cold war.

In October 1949 the communist revolution was successfully completed in China and the emergence of Sino-Russian alliance intensified the cold war further. The Korean War (1950-52) was another manifestation of the intensification of cold war. This war was fought between the communist and capitalist elements actively supported by each block.

Phase II Cold War

After 1953 the relation between USA and USSR improved to a large extend and cold war witnessed a thaw. The death of Stalin in 1953 was the first important factor that played role in the cooling of the relations. The radical character of Soviet policies underwent some change and relations improved.

In 1954 American senator McCarthy was discredited as he had played an important role in raising the fear of communism to alarming heights. The Austrian state treaty was signed in 1955 and this also led to improvement in the relations of the both the blocks. By this treaty, Austria was accepted as an independent country. Both the superpowers agreed to withdraw their forces from the territories close to each other.

The relations were improving during the period but it was temporary in nature. At the same time both the blocks were pursuing the policy of pacts and alliances to strengthen themselves.

Southeast Asia Treaty Organization

In 1954 SEATO was established by the western block. It included USA, Philippines, Newzealand, Pakistan and Thailand. In response to this Warsaw Pact was established by USSR. This was soviet version of NATO.

Significance of Eisenhower Doctrine in Cold War

The Eisenhower Doctrine also played important role in aggravating the cold war. He was the American President during 1953-61 and he put forward the Doctrine of Deterrence and brinkmanship. The doctrine was based on the concept that expansion of communism could be checked by the threat of war. He believed that the Soviet Block should be pushed to extreme limit but war should be avoided. He also put forward Domino Theory and proclaimed that the expansion of communism must be checked at the farthest frontier because if the communism was allowed to capture one state, its success against the other will become much easier.

The Cuban Missile Crisis carried the cold war to its climax in 1962.This crisis erupted when Soviet Union tried to develop missile base in Cuba to counter the American threat.

Cold War Part III

After reaching its climax at the time of Cuban Missile Crisis the Cold War entered into a phase of Detente (peace).By 1970s the new outlook has emerged in USA that the policy of confrontation was not producing the result. The American leadership had realized the limitation of the policy of confrontation and looked for new mechanism to counter balance the threat of communism.

USSR was also facing the economic crunch due to participation in Arms race. The precious economic resources were diverted from economic development to development of military forces. The Soviet economy was passing through a state of crunch and the Soviet leadership was looking to come out of this complex crisis.

Non-Aligned Movement

The Non-Aligned Movement also played important role in improving the relation between capitalist and communist blocks. This movement served as a buffer between the two super powers and played an important role in opening the channels of communication.USA had recognized the Chinese communist government and was allowed to become member of Security Council.

The Helsinki Agreement of 1975 was also manifestation of improved relations. By this agreement both the groups promised to respect mutual frontiers in different parts of Europe.

End of Cold War

The cold war between USA and USSR witnessed the phase of detente during 1980s and it finally came to an end in 1991.The new American outlook played an important role in creating conditions responsible for the end of Cold War. During 1970s and 80s a new outlook emerged which saw the fruitlessness of the strategy to counter communism. Their failure in Vietnam War opened their eyes and American leadership starting believing that there must be some way to counter communism.

The economic crisis faced by USSR and countries of Eastern Block also played important role in the end of cold war.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Collapse of Communism

The emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev as the President of USSR was also responsible in creating conditions favorable for ending the cold war. He believed in liberal and progressive form of communism. He was aware of the fact that the nation was facing difficulty in continuing the arm race due to diversion of precious resources from civilian development to military development and this was affecting the economy. The policies of Gorbachev resulted in the improvement of relations with the capitalist world.

Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe

The decline of communism in Eastern Europe was also responsible as during the closing years of 1980s the non-communist elements came to the power in the countries of Eastern Europe.

The decline of communism in Eastern Europe was also responsible as during the closing years of 1980s the non-communist elements came to the power in the countries of Eastern Europe.

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