Cold War: years, nature, causes, consequences
The Cold War, the years of which were conventionally limited to the period that began a year after the victory of the countries of the anti-fascist coalition and continued until the events of 1991, which resulted in the fall of the Soviet system, was a confrontation between two political blocs that dominated the world stage. Not being a war in the international legal meaning of this term, it was expressed in the confrontation between the ideologies of the socialist and capitalist models of government.
The beginning of the confrontation of the two world systems
The prologue of the Cold War was the establishment by the Soviet Union of control over the countries of Eastern Europe liberated from the fascist occupation, as well as the creation of a pro-Soviet puppet government in Poland, while its legitimate leaders were in London. Such a policy of the USSR, aimed at establishing control over the maximum possible territories, was perceived by the US and British governments as a threat to international security.
Particularly acute is the confrontation between the major world powers was designated in 1945 during the Yalta Conference, at which, in fact, the question of the postwar division of the world into spheres of influence was decided. A vivid illustration of the depth of the conflict was the development by the command of the British armed forces of a plan in case of a war with the USSR, which they began in April of the same year by order of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The post-war division of Germany became the next significant reason for the aggravation of contradictions between yesterday’s allies. In its eastern part, controlled by Soviet troops, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was created, whose government was completely controlled by Moscow. In the western territories liberated by the forces of the allies - the Federal Republic of Germany (Germany). Immediate confrontation began between these states, which caused the closure of the borders and the establishment of a long period of mutual hostility.
The anti-Soviet stance of the governments of Western countries was largely dictated by the policies pursued by the USSR in the post-war years.The cold war was the result of aggravating international relations caused by a number of Stalin’s actions, one of which was his refusal to withdraw Soviet troops from Iran and tough territorial claims on Turkey.
The historic speech of Winston Churchill
The beginning of the Cold War (year 1946), according to most historians, was marked by a speech by the head of the British government in Fulton (USA), where on March 5 he expressed the idea of the need to create a military alliance of Anglo-Saxon countries aimed at fighting against world communism.
In his speech, Churchill called on the world community not to repeat the mistakes of the thirties and, rallying, to put a barrier on the path of totalitarianism, which became the fundamental principle of Soviet policy. In turn, Stalin, in an interview with the newspaper Pravda on March 12 of the same year, accused the British Prime Minister of calling for war between the West and the Soviet Union, and likened him to Hitler.
A new push that the Cold War received in the post-war years was the statement by the American President Harry Truman made on March 12, 1947. In his address to the US Congress, he pointed out the need to provide comprehensive assistance to peoples,fighting against attempts to enslave them by an armed minority inside the country, and opposing external pressure. In addition, he described the rivalry between the United States and the USSR as a conflict of totalitarianism and democracy.
On the basis of his speech, the American government developed a program that was later called the Truman Doctrine, which guided all subsequent US presidents during the Cold War. It defined the basic mechanisms for deterring the Soviet Union in its attempts to spread its influence in the world.
Taking the revision of the system of international relations during the Roosevelt period, the creators of the doctrine advocated the establishment of a unipolar political-economic system in the world, in which the United States would have a leading place. Among the most active supporters of the transition to a new form of international relations, in which the Soviet Union was viewed as a potential adversary, there were such prominent American political figures of those years as Dean Acheson, Allen Dulles, Loy Henderson, George Kennan and several others.
At the same time, US Secretary of State George C. Marshall put forward a program of economic assistance to European countries affected by the Second World War. One of the main conditions for helping to restore the economy, modernize industry, and eliminate trade restrictions was the refusal of states to include Communists in their governments.
The government of the Soviet Union, having put pressure on the countries of Eastern Europe controlled by it, forced them to refuse to participate in this project, called the Marshall Plan. His goal was to preserve his influence and establish the communist regime in the controlled states.
Thus, Stalin and his political circle deprived many Eastern European countries of the possibility of quickly overcoming the consequences of the war and proceeded to further exacerbate the conflict. Such a principle of action became fundamental for the government of the USSR during the Cold War.
To a great extent, the deterioration of relations between the USSR and the USA was facilitated by an analysis of the possible prospects for their cooperation, given in 1946 by US Ambassador George F. Kennan in a telegram sent to the country's president.In his lengthy report, called the Long Telegram, the Ambassador pointed out that, in his opinion, the leadership of the USSR, recognizing only force, should not have expected partnership in solving international issues.
In addition, he stressed that Stalin and his political environment are full of expansive aspirations and do not believe in the possibility of peaceful coexistence with America. As a necessary measure, he proposed a series of actions aimed at deterring the USSR within the framework of its sphere of influence at that time.
West Berlin Transport Blockade
Another important stage of the Cold War was the events of 1948, which unfolded around the capital of Germany. The fact is that the US government, in violation of the previously reached agreements, included West Berlin in the scope of the Marshall Plan. In response to this, the Soviet leadership began its transport blockade, blocking the road and railroad tracks of the Western allies.
The result was a trumped-up accusation against the Consul General of the USSR in New York, Yakov Lomakin, in allegedly exceeding his diplomatic powers and declared personanon grata. As an adequate response, the Soviet government closes its consulates in San Francisco and New York.
Cold War weapons race
The bipolarity of the world during the years of the Cold War caused an ever increasing arms race from year to year, since the two warring parties did not rule out the possibility of a final solution to the conflict by military means. At the initial stage, the USA had an advantage in this regard, since in the second half of the 40s nuclear weapons appeared in their arsenal.
Its first use in 1945, as a result of which the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed, showed the world the monstrous power of these weapons. At the same time, it became obvious that from now on it could give its holder superiority in resolving any international disputes. In this regard, the United States began to actively increase its reserves.
The USSR did not lag behind them either, during the Cold War years, also staking on military force and conducting scientific research in this area. After the end of World War II, the security forces of both powers were tasked with finding and transporting all documentation related to nuclear development from the territory of defeated Germany.
Soviet atomic specialists had to be especially in a hurry, because according to intelligence data, in the post-war years, the American command had developed a secret plan, codenamed Dropshot, which provided for a nuclear strike on the USSR. There is evidence that some of its options were submitted to President Truman for consideration.
A complete surprise for the American government was the successful testing of a nuclear bomb, carried out in 1949 by Soviet specialists at the Semipalatinsk test site. Overseas, they could not believe that their main ideological opponents were able to become possessors of atomic weapons in such a short period of time and thus established a balance of power, depriving them of their former advantage.
However, the reality of a fait accompli was not subject to doubt. Much later, it became known that this success was achieved largely due to the actions of Soviet intelligence, operating on the American secret proving ground in Los Alamos (New Mexico).
The Cold War, the years of which were not only the period of ideological confrontation, but also the time of armed confrontation in a number of regions of the globe, reached its highest point of exacerbation in 1961.The conflict that broke out that year went down in history as the Caribbean crisis, which brought the world to the brink of the Third World War.
Its prerequisite was the deployment by the Americans of their nuclear missiles in Turkey. This gave them the opportunity, if necessary, to strike at any point in the western part of the USSR, including Moscow. Since in those years the rockets fired from the territory of the Soviet Union could not yet reach the coast of America, the response of the Soviet government was their deployment in Cuba, shortly before that, overthrown the pro-American puppet regime Batista. From this position, even Washington could have been hit by a nuclear strike.
Thus, the balance of power was restored, but the American government, not wanting to put up with it, began to prepare an armed invasion of Cuba, where Soviet military facilities were deployed. As a result, a critical situation has arisen, in which, if they implement this plan, a reciprocal nuclear strike would inevitably follow and, as a result, the onset of a global catastrophe, to which the bipolarity of the world unswervingly led to during the Cold War.
Since such a scenario did not suit either of the parties, the governments of both powers were interested in a compromise solution. Fortunately, at a certain stage, common sense triumphed, and literally on the eve of the American invasion of Cuba, N. S. Khrushchev agreed to comply with Washington’s demands, subject to non-aggression on Liberty Island and the removal of nuclear weapons from Turkey. This conflict was completed, but peace during the years of the Cold War has not yet been put on the brink of a new clash.
Ideological and information war
The years of the cold war of the USSR and the USA were marked not only by their rivalry in the field of armaments, but also by a sharp informational and ideological struggle. In this regard, it is appropriate to recall the radio Liberty, a memorable for people of the older generation, created in America and broadcasting its programs to the countries of the socialist bloc. His officially declared goal was to fight communism and bolshevism. It does not stop its work in our days, despite the fact that with the collapse of the Soviet Union the cold war ended.
The years of confrontation between the two world systems are characterized by the fact that any major event that occurred in the world was inevitably given an ideological color.For example, Soviet propaganda presented the first space flight of Yuri Gagarin as evidence of the triumph of the Marxist-Leninist ideology and the victory of the society created on its basis.
Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War
As mentioned above, in the field of foreign policy, the actions of the Soviet leadership were aimed at creating states in Eastern Europe organized according to the principle of Stalinist socialism. In this connection, in giving support to the popular democratic movements that arose everywhere, the government of the USSR made efforts to put pro-Soviet leaders at the head of these states and thereby keep them under control.
Such a policy served to create at the western borders of the USSR the so-called security sphere, legally fixed by a number of bilateral treaties with Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Albania, Romania and Czechoslovakia. The result of these agreements was the creation in 1955 of a military bloc, known as the Warsaw Treaty Organization (ATS).
Its establishment was a response to the creation by America in 1949 of the North Atlantic Military Union (NATO), which included the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, France, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Iceland,The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Subsequently, several more military blocs were created by the Western countries, the most famous of which are SEATO, CENTO and ANZUS.
Thus, a military confrontation was designated, the cause of which was foreign policy during the Cold War years, pursued by the most powerful and influential world powers - the USA and the USSR.
After the fall of the communist regime in the USSR and its final collapse, the cold war also ended, the years of which are usually determined by the interval from 1946 to 1991. Despite the fact that to this day the tension between the East and the West persists, the world has ceased to be bipolar. The tendency to view any international event in terms of its ideological context is gone. And although hotbeds of tension periodically arise in certain areas of the world, they do not put humanity as close to unleashing World War III as it was during the Caribbean crisis of 1961.