Despite huge regional wars, dubbed proxy wars, backed by both sides, the term “Cold War” refers to the absence of large-scale military activities between the two adversaries. The Cold War divided the short wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the US and the USSR as two superpowers with political and economic disparities.
The article below provides an overview of the reasons and notes of the Cold War. Although the cold war first broke out in the aftermath of World War II, it continues to have an impact on world politics today.
What is a Cold War?
Following World War II, the Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and its satellite governments (the Eastern European countries) and the US and its allies (the Western European countries). Following world war 2, the world was divided into two power blocs, each dominated by two superpowers: the United States of America and the Soviet Union.
The ideological conflict between the communist Soviet Union and the capitalist United States was the main focus of the two superpowers. Because there was no large-scale fighting between the two sides, the name “Cold” was coined.
The Cold War was fought between the Allied countries (France, the United Kingdom, and others) and the Soviet Union, which was commanded by the United States.
Reasons for the Cold War
During WWII, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States banded together to battle Nazi Germany. Following Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany’s invasion of Russia, the USSR would join this alliance. There were assurances that the alliance would survive the conflict.
However, tensions began to rise after the conflict. After the war, the United States emerged as the most powerful power. In terms of economic and military might, it was a superpower.
The USSR was the world’s second most powerful country, and it was instrumental in Germany’s defeat during World War II. Its international standing grew as a result of this.
Some More Reasons
Many nations in eastern Europe had communist administrations after the war. These countries viewed the USSR favourably. Those that did not were replaced by governments that shared their views on the USSR.
The United States, as well as western European countries, considered communism as a threat to their way of life and freedom. The globe was divided into two blocs: communist powers led by the Soviet Union and anti-communist powers led by the United States. Eastern European countries made up the first category, while western European countries made up the second.
Every event in the globe began to be seen by the United States as either supporting or opposing the emergence of communism. It even went so far as to assist colonial rulers in their enslavement of the people if it meant putting a stop to communism.
This was their justification for backing France’s colonial dominance in Indo-China.
The two powers’ armaments race was also a factor in the escalating tensions between them. It even went beyond the distant reaches of the Earth itself, when both superpowers produced technologies that would put their respective countries on a more technologically advanced footing than their competitors.
Warsaw Pact UPSC
Shortly after West Germany was accepted to NATO, Russia and its satellite republics signed the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The Pact was a mutual defence arrangement that Western countries saw as retaliation for West Germany’s NATO membership.
The Berlin blockade exposed the West’s military inexperience and scared them into making concrete preparations.
As a result, in 1948, primarily Western European countries signed the Brussels Defence Treaty, committing military cooperation in the event of a conflict.
The United States, Iceland, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and Norway later signed the Brussels Defense Treaty. In April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed as a result of this.
NATO members agreed to treat any assault on one of them as an attack on all of them and to place their defence forces under a common command.
UPSC Preparation Notes
In 1989 and 1990, borders were opened, the Berlin Wall was demolished, and communist regimes were deposed across Eastern Europe through free elections. The Soviet Union was divided into its constituent nations in late 1991. The Iron Curtain was torn down with breathtaking rapidity, bringing the Cold War to an end.
The conclusion of the Cold War signalled the United States’ victory, and the bipolar world order gave way to a unipolar one. However, the United States’ status as the world’s most powerful state has been increasingly precarious during the previous decade.
The US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, global economic instability, non-traditional security threats, the apparent spread of religious fundamentalism, and the rise of emerging economic powers (such as Japan, India, Australia, and China) have made the world appear more multipolar, prompting many to predict the west’s decline and the rise of the rest. Candidates studying for UPSC exams this year will benefit from the information provided above. All the best!