A few decisions the wrong way and there would be nothing left on the planet. All of those decisions are still being made by our leaders and in a democracy we guide them. Are we making the right ones?
The origins of the cold war have their root in the October Revolution in which Russian communists took over from the provisional government which had overthrown the Tsar. It was their goal to rid themselves of the exploitive bourgeoisie and remove all class distinction to create an egalitarian worker’s paradise. Ideologically, the new Russian regime and the west were never compatible. Even before then, the views of Marx were considered dangerous and subversive to the idea of a free market economy and the assumed democracy that accompanied it, not to mention their wealthy capitalists and their privileged nobility The depression was a difficult time in the west with hungry desperate people seeking a solution to their economic woes and with the American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt pursuing the Keynesian notion of restarting the economy by having the government take over portions of the economy.
Western governments became concerned that the idea of worldwide revolution might catch on and began to surveill, harass and oppose fledgling communist parties and movements at home. Consider Canada and the United States. It was the avowed goal of the Russian communists to spread the revolution around the world and free the oppressed proletariat. At the same time they signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret codicil to attack and divide up Poland. It is difficult to know to what extent this led to the rise of Nazism in Germany and the tolerance of Hitler and the willingness to appease him but certainly it did play a role. Consider Germany, England and France Once the war began though there was little doubt that the communists and the capitalists would become strange bedfellows.
The Americans were willing to lend/lease all manner of equipment to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as long as they did the fighting, and consequently, the dieing. ( 80% off all German soldiers killed in the war died on the Eastern Front. ) While the Second World War prevented the onset of the Cold War both sides were preparing, primarily through espionage. By the time the Americans dropped two nuclear weapons on Japan the Russians knew all about the Manhattan Project and how to build there own weapons. Because of logistical and technical obstacles the Russians did not test their first weapon until August of 1949.
The Americans also prepared for the coming struggle by smuggling former SS officers out of the Third Reich, hoping to use their prowess at hunting communists, and by scooping up as many German rocket scientists as they could in spite of their suspected involvement with The Holocaust. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELg1Jh0EcNs&NR= 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELg1Jh0EcNs&NR= 1 Out of the chaos of the war, a new world order would be created. Stalin and Churchill approached the resolution of the Second World War in the same way their predecessors did after the First. They began to carve up the territory in negotiated spheres of influence to the dismay of the of both Roosevelt and his successor upon death, Truman. Concessions were made however, so that the Americans could get the Great Powers of Europe on board with the new United Nations which was meant to ensure peace and prosperity in the post war period. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpYCplyBknI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpYCplyBknI
The arenas of conflict in the Cold War can be roughly divided in three. The global ideological struggle- which manifested itself in the proxy wars began new rivalries and played on old colonial and tribal conflicts. The Nuclear Arms Race- which was global but concentrated on North America and Europe. The conventional arms race- which was centred on the inter-German border with its preponderance of forces but also had an impact on the first arena. The most dire possible consequences presented themselves when two or even three of these arenas overlapped themselves.
This struggle was for the hearts minds and loyalty of every person and every country in the world. The ideals of the free market and democracy were pitted against those of equality and freedom from class oppression. It began in the immediate post war period when the Soviet forces overran much of the territory of Eastern Europe. What are the multiple possible motivations for the Russians to do this. Consider the history of Russia in the twentieth century and beyond, back to 1812.
The democratic regimes of Greece (long in the sphere of Great Britain) and Turkey were under threat from communist insurgencies and pressure from their neighbour the Soviet Union and the American government took the lead in assisting those who had to oppose the insurgencies. Along with this the Secretary of State, George Marshall developed a program called the European Recovery Project. It is your task to research these two pieces of U.S. foreign policy so that you are able to explain their immediate impact on the developing confrontation and what their overall implications were for the course of the cold war.
1949: Western European countries, Canada, & US formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Each nation in NATO believed the Soviet Union would not attack western Europe if the U.S. would launch nuclear war in return The west saw it as a purely defensive alliance. While the east saw the formation as a provocation and offensive military structure.
What was the Warsaw Pact? an alliance of the Soviet Union and its communist satellite nations Why was it formed? to counter NATO an anti-Western military alliance Why “Warsaw”? Warsaw, Poland was the city where the treaty was signed Satellite nation? Satellite nations are nations that are dependent upon a stronger power. The Soviet satellite nations were Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and East Germany.
On March 11, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev ushered in an era of reform. perestroika Economic reform- restructuring glasnost means openness, allowed greater free expression and criticism of Soviet policies
During the 1970's and early 1980's, the Soviet economy was deteriorating under the cumulative effects of a centralized bureaucratic system, the burdens of an increasingly costly arms race, and a failed war in Afghanistan. A new generation of leadership came to power in 1985 in the person of Gorbachev. He was determined to end the Cold War and to bring economic and political reform to the Soviet Union. He initiated dramatic new agreements with the United States, involving unilateral concessions in the armaments race. He also brought an end to Soviet support of client governments in Eastern Europe and in Cuba. He relaxed the police state repression in the Soviet empire and took steps to introduce a democratic political process. These initiatives rapidly improved relations with the United States and brought an end to the Cold War. What Gorbachev had not anticipated, however, was that, without the domination of the police and a monopoly of power in the hands of the Communist Party, the Soviet empire would collapse into 16 different national parts. Nationalism, always a potent force in the modern world, brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union by 1991. (The last two slides borrowed from ARipley PVEC)
Gorbachev renounced the Brezhnev Doctrine, which pledged to use Soviet force to protect its interests in Eastern Europe. On September 10, Hungary opened its border with Austria, allowing East Germans to flee to the West. After massive public demonstrations in East Germany and Eastern Europe, the Berlin Wall fell on November 9.
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