Cold War

The cold war was a political conflict between the Soviet Union and the USA which began after the 2nd World War and lasted up to the early 90s. The involved powers did not participate in physical war but instead used other nations to settle their conflict. The two powers conflicted politically, especially since the USA was a capitalist nation whereas the Soviet Union was a communist nation. Joseph Stalin, who was a leader in the Soviet Union, viewed the capitalists as enemies and intended to influence them into communism. The cold war was fuelled by a mutual feeling of distrust between the communist nations, especially Russia, and the capitalist America. The Americans feared that Russia’s aim to spread world communism would eventually lead to a communist attack. The Russians expressed openly their dislike for capitalism and also feared an attack of the Americans. Russia and America viewed each other wearily, each expecting the worst from the other party and being determined to protect itself.

At the time both the USSR and the USA saw themselves as mutual superpowers. Despite these facts, Stalin felt that the USA was more powerful since it had developed nuclear weapons that could easily destroy his nation. This was after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki using a bomb known as ‘Little Boy’. This led to the emergence of a conflict since Stalin knew that technology in his nation was far behind that of the USA. Stalin controlled the surrounding nations which he later used as allies against USA and its allies. When the first atomic weapon was launched by the Soviets, USA saw this as a threat and soon a competition to launch a more powerful weapon was started. The weapon was the Hydrogen bomb which was later launched by the Americans.

In addition to these, other nations like Cuba also featured in the cold war during the time when they had a dictatorial government which mainly encouraged capitalism. It was due to this that Cuba was highly supported by the Americans who took advantage and went to Cuba for leisure. They mainly gambled during their pass time since it was not allowed in their state.  It was during this period that there arose a group of young people led by Fidel Castro who believed in socialism and attempted to overthrow the dictatorial government. Their belief in it had been triggered by their reading about socialism and how the less fortunate were never seriously considered. This was a good way to trigger them since the poverty levels were very high in Cuba. After failing in their first attempt, the youngsters opted to use a different method of liberation and this was education of the poor on their rights.

Their main intention was to enlighten the poor who were getting poorer day by day and finally establish communism. By doing this, they were able to over throwthe dictators and Fidel Castro took over. With the introduction of communism, Cuba established friendly relations with the Soviets. This heated up the conflict between the Soviets and the Americans since their enemies seemed to be on the winning end. This is because all the financial undertakings in Cuba, which were being run by the Americans, were taken over by the Cubans and the money were used to develop Cuba.

Fidel Castro had not yet shown open relations with the Soviets since he claimed to be a socialist rather than a communist like the Russians. It was only after the Americans withdrew from purchasing sugar from Cuba that he turned to the USSR for economical support and for protection, especially in supplying military equipment. This is what led to the Cuban Missile Crisis where the USSR based missiles in Cuba and this raised tension in USA since it was a threat to their own security. The missiles could also have marked the beginning of the nuclear war in the world. After negotiations with the American president, J. F. Kennedy, it was agreed that the missiles should be removed by the Russians. Since then, it was agreed that the cold war rules were to be adhered to since it was then that the rules were nearly forgotten. They agreed that only underground nuclear tests would be carried out on any nuclear weapons made.

It was after this that a conference was held by scientists about the effects of a nuclear war to the world. The effects would have been fatal since the power of the atomic bomb used at Hiroshima, which was called ‘Little Boy’, was nothing compared to those that were presently being made. The scientists stated that the bombs would have had devastating effects on the world   with smoke from the explosions causing weeks or even months of darkness and a reduction of worldwide temperatures to below zero degrees. Even nations that were not directly affected by the bombs would also feel the effect since the radiations could easily be blown towards them. This was referred to as the ‘nuclear winter’ due to the low temperatures. It could also cause death of plants and animals due to the Ultraviolet radiations that would penetrate the destroyed ozone layer and destroy immune system of all alive.

The Afghanistan war was another effect of the cold war between the Soviets and the Americans. During the war, Haziffulah Amin, who had caused the war by trying to remove the Muslim traditions in his nation, sought help from the Russians. Those who were against him, the Mujahideen, were not well developed in terms of weaponry and were up against the Russians who regarded them as terrorists. The Russians claimed that they were in support of Amin’s leadership but they shot him and his place was taken by Babrak Kamal who depended on the Russians for military support. Despite the powerful weapons the Russians lost since the Mujahideen had support from the Americans and also got the driving force from loyalty to their religion. The Americans then withdrew their rice exports from the Russians and since the Russians knew they would not win, they withdrew from the war. The war had lasted since 1979 to 1982 despite America’s efforts to stop the Russians.

The cold war brought with it a lot of tension in the world and to reduce it the involved powers which were China, Russia and USA had to come up with various measures that demonstrated peace. The USA found it necessary to establish peaceful relations with USSR despite it being a communist nation. The USSR had not realized that they concentrated more on the making of nuclear weapons than the nation’s own development. This led to low living standards among the Russians since their basic needs were not the government’s first priority. On the other hand, China decided to keep distance from the USA since the China’s collection of nuclear weapons was less developed. This was known as the détente which is a French word meaning relaxation of tension. It was during this that USSR and USA signed various treaties such as SALT 1 and 11.

One of the agreements was that the production of nuclear weapons should be stopped and direct communication should be established between the two superpowers to ensure that they could easily communicate in the emergence of any urgent matters. This communication was referred to as the hot line. The détente did not last as was expected by the superpowers. The USSR established a treaty with Afghanistan where the Russians wanted to aid them. This was known as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviets also supported other communists in the world thus defying the agreement with USA. The fact that the conflict between the capitalists and the communists lasted also contributed to the end of the détente. The end of the détente was marked by the boycotting of the world Olympics held in Moscow. The soviets responded to this by boycotting the Olympics held in Los Angeles. The once peaceful superpowers were now conflicting again.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan openly expressed his distaste for the Soviet Union after the Soviet air defense forces attacked and shot down an airliner from South Korea that was believed to have been carrying 300 people. The then president referred to this act as an unnecessary act of violence and publicly called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. The cold war became more intense in the early 1980s with both the Russians and Americans openly taking measures to prepare for combat against each other. The United States of America in 1981 had begun to develop a defense program that entailed the development of space missiles in preparation for defense in case of an attack from Russia. Russia on the other hand, decreed that the Soviet nuclear submarines be pushed closer to the coasts of the United States in 1983. The cold war at this stage was feared to have gone too far and the likelihood of a nuclear war became very real amongst the Russian and American citizens.

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