Deep contradiction between capitalist and socialist models was the main cause of the Cold War. After the World War II, two superpowers tried to rebuild the world according to their ideological systems. The specifics of the confrontation demanded that both countries focus on industry militarization. The Cold War was characterized by the race of conventional and nuclear weapons. As a result of the Caribbean Crisis, the Soviet Union and the USA took a number of measures in order to reduce the international tension. 1980s were characterized by the crisis of the world socialistic system which made it difficult for the Soviet Union to bear the burden of the confrontation. Eventually, the USSR collapsed in 1991 which symbolized the end of the Cold War.
The main milestones of the Cold War were: Truman Doctrine (officially started the Cold War), NATO (military alliance to prevent Soviet expansion in Europe), Korean War (proxy war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union), Eisenhower’s New Look Policy (aimed to strengthen Arabic countries), Domino Theory (U.S. strategy for the Asian countries), Caribbean Missile Crisis (led humanity on the verge of the World War III), Operation Rolling Thunder (bombardment campaign against North Vietnam), and Second Cold War (second phase of the Cold War escalation).
The Truman Doctrine was a foreign policy program set by the U.S. President Harry Truman on March 12, 1947. According to the doctrine, the United States decided to give the financial aid of nearly 400 million dollars to Turkey and Greece under the pretext of the communist threat from the Soviet Union. The doctrine was based on the containment policy which empowered the U.S. government to defend democratic societies in response to the Soviet expansion. The Truman Doctrine has officially unleashed the Cold war because it demonstrated the transition from cooperation to competition and confrontation with the Soviet Union. The doctrine was aimed to provide the continuous pressure on the USSR and other countries of the socialistic bloc. This approach escalated the international tension and led to the U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. This foreign policy also opened the era of intensive military aid to the other countries by creating a network of military bases on the foreign territories.
On April 4, 1949, NATO was established as military-political alliance, which consisted of the United States and Western European countries. On August 24, 1949, the organization was ratified by the governments of member countries. The main purpose of NATO was to strengthen the stability and welfare in the North Atlantic region. In this context, NATO has significantly escalated the Cold War because this military alliance was focused on countering the expansion of the Soviet Union in Europe. The existence of NATO was considered as a threat to the international security of the Soviet Union. In 1954, this fact forced the USSR to create the Warsaw Pact, which was seen as pro-Soviet military alliance and aimed to balance the activity of NATO.
North Korean invasion of South Korea
The Korean War was the conflict between North Korea and South Korea which lasted from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. The split of the Korean peninsula into two parts strengthened the tension between two states. In September 1950, the U.S. and Chinese armed forces joined the conflict which defined its international status. In this case, the conflict is often seen as a proxy war between the United States and forces of China and the USSR. It was the first time in history, when the participating countries owned nuclear weapons. The Korean War has contributed significantly into escalation of the Cold War because it was considered the first armed conflict of the Cold War, which became the prototype of many subsequent conflicts. The war created a model of the local conflict in which two superpowers struggle on a limited area without nuclear weapon use. In this context, the Korean War has officially started the active stage of the confrontation between the USA and the Soviet Union.
Eisenhower’s New Look Policy
Eisenhower’s New Look Policy was the program of the American administration which aimed to strengthen the U.S. relationship with Arabic countries. According to the doctrine, the U.S. committed to provide military, political, and economic assistance to countries which became the object of international communism. In March, 1957, the U.S. Congress allocated 200 million dollars for the program against the spread of socialistic ideas in the region. Eisenhower’s policy escalated the Cold War because the basis of the policy was the concept of massive retaliation, which assumed the increase of strategic nuclear weapons in order to attack the Soviet Union and China. Such a scenario could lead to the risk of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Domino Theory was the political theory introduced by John F. Dulles on April 3, 1954. According to the theory, the change of political regime in one of the countries in the region will inevitably lead to similar changes in neighboring countries. Domino principle stated that a single socialistic revolution in the country can easily make other countries to follow the same scenario. Domino Theory was used by the USA as a strategy in Indochina region in order to prevent the spread of communism in a range of the Asian countries. This approach escalated the Cold War because it provoked the chain reaction in the number of Asian countries, which later led to the strict confrontation with the Soviet Union for the spheres of interests. The concept of domino was supposed to trigger a set of local conflicts, which will cause irreversible and devastating consequences.
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a strained confrontation between the USSR and the U.S. considering the placement of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. The confrontation began on October 14, 1962 when the United States spotter plane discovered the medium-range missiles in Cuba. On October 22, 1962, the U.S. President John F. Kennedy introduced the evidence of the Soviet strategic weapons presence in Cuba and announced the Cuban blockade. Kennedy also offered the Soviet Union to dismantle installed missiles in exchange for the U.S. guarantee not to occupy Cuba. As a result, the Soviet leadership took the American conditions and on November 20, 1962 the Cuban blockade was countermanded. The Cuban Missile Crisis became a turning point in the Cold War because it led to the highest level of the international tension during the whole time of the confrontation. It was the first time in the world’s history when the humanity was on the verge of a nuclear war.
Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Rolling Thunder was the U.S. bombardment campaign against North Vietnam, which lasted from March 2, 1965 until November 2, 1968. The operation aimed to force North Vietnamese leadership to refuse the war with South Vietnam. The U.S. administration declared the urgent need to combat the communist aggression by supporting the military forces of South Vietnam. Such military-political approach should have demonstrated the Soviet Union the readiness of the U.S. in supporting its allies in the face of national liberation movements. The Soviet Union decided to support North Vietnam taking into account the fear to lose strategic spheres of influence in South Asia. Operation Rolling Thunder became one of the hottest moments of the Cold War because it affected the primary principles of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union’s spheres of dominance. It led to the open aggression between the superpowers and prevented de-escalation of the confrontation.
Second Cold War
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 marked the beginning of the next period of the Cold War. The Soviet leadership feared of deployment of American medium-range strategic missiles in Europe. The USSR tried to pressure the U.S. allies by threatening the range of European countries such as Germany, France, and Great Britain. The confrontation became acute after attempts of the Soviet Union to suppress the “Solidarity” movement in Poland. In 1980-1982, the U.S. imposed the series of economic sanctions against the USSR and called the Soviet Union “the evil empire “. The Second Cold War escalated the confrontation because the Soviet Union and the U.S. concentrated a considerable number of nuclear weapons in the most dangerous places of the world. The weapon race led to a new missile crisis which significantly increased risk of nuclear war to start. The confrontation brought humanity to the brink of the World War III as it was during Cuban Missile Crisis.
To sum up, the Cold war was marked by the set of events from 1945 to 1991 which escalated the confrontation. The successful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 de-escalated the Cold War and gave impetus to a new period of the international tension detente. The range of Western countries faced the increasing number of anti-war movements and signed international treaties on the limitation of weapons of mass destruction. Gorbachev’s presidency was marked the policy of perestroika which decreased the international positions of the Soviet Union and led to the end of the Cold War.