History of the Cold War
The Cold war really officially began after World War Two, where relations between the USA and USSR deteriorated. This seems very odd considering that the USA and USSR allied against Germany in World War Two, surely allies in war wouldn’t have such bad relations so close after victory. From 1945 until the collapse of communism in Russia in 1991 there was much tension between the two powers.
It is called the cold war due to their being no direct conflict between the two powers but it came very close and there were many conflicts between countries relating to the two powers. The major attacks were through mediums such as propaganda, non co-operation and economic measures. The defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 had left a power vacuum in Europe. Both USA and USSR tried to fill this gap, allowing the following events to occur:
Hot points of the Cold War:
* 1948 – Berlin Blockade, Blocking Allied West Berlin from West Germany.
* 1956 – Hungarian Uprising, results in deaths of many who wished to leave the communist state.
* 1961 – Building of the Berlin wall, officially separating east and west Berlin.
* 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis – Near Nuclear Warfare.
* 1968 – Czech Spring, another attempt to leave communism failing resulting in many deaths.
* 1979 – Invasion of Afghanistan refuels war after period of dï¿½tente.
* 1989 – Berlin Wall falls, symbolically ending the war.
But how could two allies in war fall into such a dangerous war?
The truth is that the USA and Russia were simply allies to take on the bigger threat of Hitler and Nazism. Tension between the two powers had been present before the war, and events in the war only made things worse between them.
The ideologies of the two powers of the two powers were major factors in understanding the tension between them. USA had a middle right wing government with democracy and an ideology that in general terms meant that people shouldn’t be equal.
It was meant to mean that hard work would be rewarded on its own, people should look after themselves over others, and although this seems selfish America was the richest country in the world so it must work to some extent.
The USSR on the other hand had almost completely opposites ideologies and political wing to that of the USA. Communism was based on the ideas of Karl Marx, who felt that the country should be as one; everyone is as equal as the next man. The ideas he had directly opposed those present in the west so was thought to be a threat. The current government of Bolsheviks were politically left wing, opposite to the West valuing equality overall.
Many followers of communism saw what western ideas had done to countries. They saw through unfair economics there had been class division, creating a class system that separated rich from poor, capitalism. They didn’t like the idea of privately owned businesses with poorly paid workers.
Communists believed of nationalisation where the government owned all industry meaning profits would go back to the people. That is a major reason why; in the west business and industry owners were so wary of communism.
The USA was a democratic state that built its country on democracy and freedom. The political system was very well valued in America as it upheld important freedoms that the Americans valued greatly, these being:
* Freedom to Vote
* Freedom of Speech
* Freedom of Worship
* A free press
* A choice of government
These freedoms were not at all present in communist Russia. This was because, to the communists political parties were the results of different classes, and in a class free equal country there would be therefore no need to have other parties. Therefore the USSR was a single party state, allowing no voting, option of party, or even freedom of worship. Communism removed religion as it saw t as another input that could ruin communism and due to its western influences was seen as bad.
Importantly people were generally frightened due to, on paper, the conflicts that the different political systems create. Communism also wanted to expand which was very threatening to the west, which hearing of the ideals of communism and the propaganda that showed the mayhem it would create were terrified. Lenin had set up comintern in 1919, an organisation set up to contact communist groups across the world, this scared the west as it meant communist plans could be hatching in their country which set paranoia loose.
Tensions at the Revolution
When the Bolsheviks revolted in 1917 western forces stepped in to prevent takeover and protect the capitalist monarchy. These western forces were known as the ‘whites’ and were supported by the western powers of USA, Britain, France and Japan who wanted to prevent Russia exiting WW1. This support created civil war in Russia, which lasted till 1921, this intervention was not forgotten by the communists.
Tensions in the 1930’s:
The tensions between the powers remained poor through inter war years but had no reason to escalate. But the refusal of the Soviet regime to honour the debts owed by previous Russian governments to the west infuriated them and started tension once more. Also as the industry was no state owned, western businesses lost vital investment into the Russian economy further aggravating the west.
* France lost substantially through lack of Russian investor pressuring the economy.
* Britain had personal reason as well, as Tsar Nicholas II, the previous leader, was a cousin of the current King, George V.
These reasons prevented a united front of the three powers against Hitler. Their mutual mistrust and hostility prevent an early removal of Hitler plans of German expansion.
In reference to Hitler’s demands the powers took a different stance. Britain and France offered polices of appeasement involving negotiation and accommodation of Hitler’s plans. The Soviets however saw this appeasement as a threat, their enemies were dealing with an even more serious threat as Hitler’s fascism was even more opposed to communism. But the Soviets themselves accommodated Hitler through self-preservation they signed the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939.
This really angered the west as it condemned the west into a single front war, whereas German forces had been defeated by multi front war only years before. Also this meant that communism was spreading, as part of the pact meant the USSR gained parts of Poland. Through both sides dealing with Hitler they became even more wary of one another. The different polices adopted by the two powers confirmed the distrust.