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Subject: What was the Cold War? How did the United States respond?
The Cold War is a term which describes the relationship between the two Superpowers of the world after World War II, the United States (supported by its democratic-Western allies) and the Soviet Union. It marked the end of the relations of the two alliance nations due to conflicts of national interests. The Cold War was not a typical kind of war that involves direct bombing or fighting, but there was a huge armistice race between the two countries. Furthermore, it was a war of ideological discord.
The Cold War was a non-declared war so that there was no specific time when it began. Still, there were several occasions that marked its tension. Even before World War II, the ideological differences between the US’s capitalism and the USSR’s communism had caused two countries to distrust each other tremendously. The United States was not able to tolerate the ideology of communism, a totalitarian system of government. Since after World War II, Russia had extended its influence in Europe, the U.S feared that if one country fell under communist control, its neighboring countries would soon follow according to the Domino Theory. Consequently, a policy called Truman Doctrine (1947) was born and followed by the Marshall Plan later that year as a response of the United States. The doctrine was the U.S’s financial aid to Greece and Turkey and the declaration of its opposition to the spread of communism.
At the same time, the USSR could not stand American interference in the capital of Germany, Berlin, where a significant problem occurred. The problem was that Berlin had been divided into occupation zones after World War II, the West (Allied nations’ occupation) and the East (Russian occupation). Stalin then put pressure on West Berlin to prevent the US and its allies from gaining control of the city. In 1948, he blockaded all traffic between Western Zone and Berlin. Since that time until 1949, the United States and Britain responded with a gigantic Berlin Airlift of food and supplies. The formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on April 4th, 1949 brought the Cold War to a halt.
After the short halt, on the other side of the globe occurred a blatant conflict. In June 1950, a civil war exploded in Korea. This Eastern-Asian country should have been united under a free-elected government ordered by the U.N in 1947. However, the USSR set up a separate puppet government in the North to prevent the elections from taking place. It was assumed that communist North Korea was aided by the Soviet Union and China to invade the South. In response to the invasion, the United States forcefully took a step which was to enter the Korean War through the forces of the U.N. Its result was the withdraw of the United Nations troops which consisted of a majority of American soldiers.
During World War II, the Soviet Union had seen American atomic bombs as a tactical threat. The race of armaments between the two Superpowers began since the USSR exploded its first atomic bomb in 1948. The United States’ reaction was to inure in a program of producing a much deadlier H-Bomb. Yet, the Soviets soon caught up by exploding their own H-Bomb within a year of the United States’ first bomb test. Notwithstanding, America used its advanced technology to invent numerous superior nuclear weapons throughout the 1950s. The arms race continued as Russia “returned Americans’ favor” by successfully launching the missile Sputnik I on October 4, 1957, and Sputnik II on November 3 of the same year with a living dog, showing its ability to overtake America’s goals of launching missilery into space.
Each side became insuppressible by the 1960s because both nations progressively produced more destructive nuclear weapons and missiles. In the next decade, the Soviets stepped up the Cold War by moving ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads to Cuba during the summer of 1962. The US found out this juncture by espionage, using the U-2 planes. President JFK engaged in brinkmanship by ordering the navy to begin “a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba.” Since this occasion brought two nations close to war, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was arranged. In the end, a compromise of removing atomic and thermonuclear weapons and armaments was reached; a test-ban treaty was signed in 1963 which resulted in a Détente policy, the relaxation of tension, from the US.
Under President Richard Nixon’s Détente policy, Strategic Arms Limitation Talk/Treaty I (SALT I) took place from 1969 to 1972 and was signed on May 26, 1972. This treaty aimed to slow down the hazardous nuclear arms race. However, relations with the Soviet Union was more seriously strained by Jimmy Carter’s outspoken stand for human rights. Although in July 1977, President Carter had made an effort to improve relations with the USSR and Détente seemed to be back on track, SALT II was never ratified by the US Senate because of the new aggression by the Soviets.
Détente officially broke down on Christmas Day of 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the country which borders the USSR, Iran, and Pakistan. Same with Korea, the Soviets aimed to set up a puppet government there. Over the next 10 years, the CIA had poured $10.1 million into an anti-Soviet resistance movement to back up Afghanistan government to fight back the Soviets. In 1980, President Regan, with his uncompromising attitude and preparedness to play the brinkmanship, instituted a movement which strongly opposed to communism. However, his actions brought concerns to Americans and European nations. In 1982, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty talks (START) was undertaken by President Reagan.
Until Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union after Chernenko died, relations between the United States and Russia had some progress. Mikhail offered negotiations since he realized that the USSR’s economy might soon be collapsed. The Cold War started to thaw during 1989 and 1990 when Mikhail drew the Soviets troops out of Afghanistan in 1989. In the same year, the Berlin Wall was torn down. The reunification of Germany in 1990 was clear evidence for the end of the Cold War.
As a result, the Cold War was not a war of direct war. There were still many people who died fighting for the war. It was the use of other nations by Superpowers to confront each other. People did not die in and bombs did not fall on either the United States or the Soviet Union. But Americans and Russians did fight in wars. One of the major reasons that the Cold War broke out was that the U.S and USSR disbelieved each other’s ideology.