Intelligence has been a tool for winning during confrontations in war. Nations and kingdoms are known to have used their advantage of being better informed to keep ahead of others. Prior to the middle of the twenty first century, the leaders of many sovereignties considered physical, material and financial superiority to be the key to winning any war. During the first half of the century, military planners concentrated on the development of war machines of the most sophisticated technology possible then. The First World War was fought and the winner emerged just as expected of any conventional war. This was a typical hot war, where numbers, superior technology and financial ability were the key to winning any military confrontation. New ideologies started developing on commencement of the Second World War (Sheehan 2004, p. 4). Intelligence emerged as a key aid to the military planners on the first day of the war, when the navy of the kingdom of Japan staged a surprise attack on a United States military base. The ramifications of the poor U.S intelligence were catastrophic. The Japanese managed to destroy virtually the American forces at the base not because of the sophistication of their weaponry but because of their ability to keep their secrets to themselves. At the end of the war, the Americans retaliated by deploying a weapon with enormous destructive power that destroyed two Japanese cities within a few seconds. This kind of a weapon had never been seen before and once again, the ability to keep secrets proved more important to world superpowers. Evidently, winning the cold war was the key determinant to winning the hot war. These manifestations of different effects of the two criteria of war proved them to be two different entities.
After the war, the participants emerged with even more different ideologies that pitted them against each other (Dunne et al. 2007, p. 13). The countries of the east favored socialist and communist ideologies, while the west favored the more prevalent capitalist ideology (Dunne et al. 2007, p. 32). The different ideologies indicated another imminent global military showdown. Learning from past events, it became evident that accumulation of intelligence and information was the cardinal task that the two blocks faced to ensure survival in the event of a confrontation between them (Sheehan 2004, p. 15). This could only be realized through a cold war, which was to be fought without any major military confrontation. In contrast to the hot war, the cold war concentrated on use of deceit and camouflage to gain advantage or superiority (Whitfield 1991, p. 170). Instead of capitalizing on causing destruction, the world most powerful countries invested their money and manpower into spying on each other. The leaders of both sides, the United States in the west, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the east recruited spies to keep them updated of their adversaries’ latest technological and economic developments. The information obtained would, then, be used to establish measures to counter the effects of the possible application of the new technology in war.
During the First and the Second World War, common military crimes such as mutinies and atrocities earned severe sentences on conviction. Espionage, the major activity in a cold war, was considered a minor offence then (Whitfield 1991, p. 179). After the war, the importance of winning in endeavors of the cold war made espionage a serious crime in America and the Soviet Union. The view on espionage rose from obscurity up to a point, where it was deemed treasonable to be spying for the enemy. In contrast to the hot war, which is battled out in the open directly affecting civilians, the cold war was fought quietly and only the engaged parties were aware of the real situation, regarding the war. The mass destruction and loss of life consistent with a hot war was not experienced during the cold war.
In a hot war, the military of the concerned parties will always claim the responsibility of an attack on the adversary. The cold war was characterized by denial of any act of espionage or deceit by the warring countries. This war was fought without the knowledge of the public, regarding the details and the spoils of the war. In contrast, for the military to reach their objective, it must earn the support of the civilians, and this requires keeping the common citizens informed of the progress of war (Sheehan 2004, p. 12). Whereas a hot war entails direct engagement, the cold war was just a diplomatic issue, where the concerned parties could not agree on the limits of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and was a speculation of anticipated events.
Direct aggression is the usual cause of a hot war. However, the cold war was ignited by invention, use and further development of nuclear weapons. This is an illustration of how the cold war was based on a completely new concept, different from the basis of the hot war. In addition, the hot war has governed rules, which should not be broken by either side no matter how bad the situation gets, while in the cold war, the planners did not set any rules to be observed (Hanhimaki 2003, p. 12). The cold war had no boundaries and the involved parties claimed that their adversaries would go to any extent in a bid to control the world, and hence, there was no need for any rules.
A hot war ends only after a complete incapacitation of the adversary, the surrender of one of the warring parties or withdrawal of all the fighting parties from the war. Once a hot war ends, a period of calm may prevail. On the other hand, the cold war often precipitated armed conflicts, and constantly kept the danger of a nuclear war a reality (Gardis 2005, p. 320). The states, involved in the cold war, progressively accumulated a significantly large number of nuclear, biological and conventional weapons in anticipation of aggression. Although the cold war resulted in armed conflicts such as the Korean War, it ended without an occurrence of a nuclear war (Hanhimaki 2003, p. 11). This is because the rival ideological blocks feared the consequences of using these weapons on either side. When a country is at war, it officially declares that it is at war with a specific foe. However, the cold war started and ended without any official declaration from either the communists or the capitalists, acknowledging any ongoing conflict (Walker 1994, p. 209).
The major aspect of the cold war that distinguishes it from a hot war is that instead of resulting to death and destruction that is consistent with the concept of a hot war, peace prevailed in most parts of the world in this era, except for a few places, which resulted in armed confrontations. This was mainly due to the fear factor. The communists and the capitalists feared each other since their military strengths and weaknesses were kept as closely guarded secrets (Adams 2001, p. 22). Furthermore, the world superpowers feared the possible devastation on the world in case a war started on a nuclear scale.
Unlike a hot war, propaganda was one of the major aspects of the cold war. The communist states claimed that the capitalist powers were seeking to undermine the integrity of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, and thus, this was the justification for a cold war. On the other hand, the United States claimed that the Soviet Union and its allies were strategizing on how to hold dominion over the whole world, and thus, had to wage a cold war as a remedy. Propaganda from other sources claimed that each ideological block was seeking to prove the superiority of its doctrines.