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After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were the world's strongest nations. They were called superpowers. They had different ideas about economics and government. They fought a war of ideas called the Cold War. A cold war is a state of conflict between nations that does not engage in straight military action but is followed chiefly through economic and political actions, misinformation, acts of spying or substitute wars paid by surrogates. This term is most commonly used to refer to the Soviet-American Cold War. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting straight between the two sides, but they each kept major regional wars known as proxy wars. The Cold War was a state of geopolitical worry after World war 2between controls in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its satellite states) and controls in the Western Bloc (the United States, its NATO allies, and others). Historians do not completely approve of the dates, but a widespread timeframe is a period between 1947, the year the Truman Doctrine, a U.S. foreign policy promising to help nations loomed by Soviet expansionism, was announced, and either 1989, when communism fell in Eastern Europe, or 1991, when the Soviet Union crumbled.
The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each reinforced major regional wars known as proxy wars. The Cold War tear the temporary wartime association against Nazi Germany, leaving the Soviet Union and the United States as two superpowers with deep economic and political differences. The USSR was a Marxist–Leninist state led by its Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which in turn was conquered by a leader with different titles over time, and a small committee called the Politburo. The Party measured the press, the military, the economy and many organizations. It also structured the other states in the Eastern Bloc, and subsidized Communist parties around the world, sometimes in competition with Communist China, particularly following the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s.
In opposition stood the capitalist West, led by the United States, a federal republic with a two-party presidential system. The First World nations of the Western Bloc were generally liberal democratic with a free press and sovereign organizations but were economically and politically tangled with a network of banana republics and other strict governments throughout the Third World, most of which were the Western Bloc's former colonies.Some major Cold War frontlines such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Congo were still Western colonies in 1947. A small unbiased bloc rose with the Non-Aligned Movement; it required good relations with both sides. The two superpowers never betrothed straight in the full-scale armed fight, but they were heavily armed in preparation for a possible all-out nuclear world war. Each side had a nuclear strategy that depressed an attack by the other side, on the basis that such an attack would lead to the total repression of the attacker—the doctrine of mutually assured destruction(MAD).
Aside from the development of the two sides' nuclear arsenal, and their placement of conventional military forces, the struggle for dominance was expressed via proxy wars around the globe, psychological warfare, massive propaganda campaigns and espionage, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race. The first phase of the Cold War began in the first two years after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The USSR strengthened its power over the states of the Eastern Bloc, while the United States began a plan of global repression to dare Soviet power, spread military and financial aid to the countries of Western Europe (for example, supporting the anti-communist side in the Greek Civil War) and making the NATO alliance. The Berlin Blockade (1948–49) was the first major crisis of the Cold War. With the victory of the communist side in the Chinese Civil War and the outbreak of the Korean War (1950–53), the conflict expanded. The USSR and the USA competed for influence in Latin America and the decolonizing states of Africa and Asia. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was stopped by the Soviets.
The growth and escalation sparked more crises, such as the Suez Crisis (1956), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Following the Cuban Missile disaster, a new phase began that saw the Sino-Soviet split confuse relations within the communist sphere, while US allies, particularly France, established the better independence of action. The USSR crumpled the 1968 Prague Spring liberalization program in Czechoslovakia, and the Vietnam War (1955–75) ended with the loss of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam, stimulating further adjustments.
By the 1970s, both sides had become interested in making allowances in order to create a more stable and predictable international system, ushering in a period of détente that saw Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and the US opening relations with the People's Republic of China as a strategic counterweight to the Soviet Union. Détente collapsed at the end of the decade with the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1979. The early 1980s were another period of elevated tension, with the Soviet downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007(1983), and the "Able Archer" NATO military exercises(1983). The United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when the communist state was already suffering from economic stagnation. In the mid-1980s, the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika("reorganization", 1987) and glasnost ("openness", c. 1985) and ended Soviet involvement in Afghanistan.
Pressures for national independence grew stronger in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Gorbachev meanwhile refused to use Soviet troops to bolster the faltering Warsaw Pact regimes as had occurred in the past. The result in 1989 was a wave of revolutions that peacefully (with the exception of the Romanian Revolution) overthrew all of the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union itself lost control and was banned following an abortive coup attempt in August 1991. This, in turn, led to the formal dissolution of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse of communist regimes in other countries such as Mongolia, Cambodia and South Yemen. The United States remained as the world's only superpower.
The Cold War (1947–1953) is the period within the Cold War from the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953. The Cold War emerged in Europe a few years after the successful US-USSR-UK coalition won World War II in Europe, and extended to 1989-91. Some conflicts between the West and the USSR appeared earlier. In 1945-46 the US and UK strongly protested Soviet political takeover efforts in Eastern Europe, while the hunt for Soviet spies made the tensions more visible. However, historians emphasize the decisive break between the US-UK and the USSR came in 1947-48 over such issues as the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the Berlin Blockade, followed by the formation of NATO in 1949.
The Cold War took place worldwide, but it had a partially different timing outside Europe. The Cold War (1953–1962) It discusses the period within the Cold War from the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1953 to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Following the death of Stalin unrest occurred in the Eastern Bloc, while there was a calming of international tensions, the evidence of which can be seen in the signing of the Austrian State Treaty reuniting Austria, and the Geneva Accords ending fighting in Indochina.
However, this "thaw" was only partial with an expensive arms race continuing during the period. The Cold War (1962–1979) It refers to the phase within the Cold War that spanned the period between the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis in late October 1962, through the détenteperiod beginning in 1969, to the end of détente in the late 1970s. The United States maintained its Cold War engagement with the Soviet Union during the period, despite internal preoccupations with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Civil Rights Movement and the opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1968, Eastern Bloc member Czechoslovakia attempted the reforms of the Prague Spring and was subsequently invaded by the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact members, who reinstated the Soviet model. By 1973, the US had withdrawn from the Vietnam War. While communists gained power in some South East Asian countries, they were divided by the Sino-Soviet Split, with China moving closer to the Western camp, following US President Richar Nixon's visit to China.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Third World was increasingly divided between governments backed by the Soviets (such as Libya, Iraq, and Syria), governments backed by NATO (such as Saudi Arabia), and a growing camp of non-aligned nations. The Soviet and other Eastern Bloc economies continued to stagnate. Worldwide inflation occurred following the 1973 oil crisis. The Cold War (1979–1985) It refers to the phase of a deterioration in relations between the Soviet Union and the West arising from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. With the election of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979, and United States President Ronald Reagan in 1980, a corresponding change in Western foreign policy approach towards the Soviet Union was marked with the abandonment of détente in favor of the Reagan Doctrine policy of rollback, with the stated goal of dissolving Soviet influence in Soviet Bloc countries.
During this time the threat of nuclear war had reached new heights not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan following the Saur Revolution in that country, ultimately leading to the deaths of around one million civilians. Mujahideen fighters succeeded in forcing a Soviet military withdrawal in 1989. In response, US President Jimmy Carter announced a US-led boycott of the Moscow 1980 Summer Olympics. In 1984 the Soviets responded with their own boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Tensions increased when the US announced they would deploy Pershing II missiles in West Germany, followed by Reagan's announcement of the US Strategic Defense Initiative, and were further exacerbated in 1983 when Reagan branded the Soviet Union an "evil empire". In April 1983 the United States Navy conducted FleetEx '83-1, the largest fleet exercise held to date in the North Pacific.
The conglomeration of approximately forty ships with 23,000 crewmembers and 300 aircraft, was arguably the most powerful naval armada ever assembled. U.S. aircraft and ships attempted to provoke the Soviets into reacting, allowing U.S. Naval Intelligence to study Soviet radar characteristics, aircraft capabilities, and tactical maneuvers.
On April 4 at least six U.S. Navy aircraft flew over one of the Kurile Islands, Zeleny Island, the largest of a set of islets called the Habomai Islands. The Soviets were outraged and ordered a retaliatory overflight of the Aleutian Islands. The Soviet Union also issued a formal diplomatic note of protest, which accused the United States of repeated penetrations of Soviet airspace. The following September, the civilian airliner Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was downed by Soviet fighter jets over nearby Moneron Island.
In November 1983, NATO conducted a military exercise known as "Able Archer 83”. The realistic simulation of a nuclear attack by NATO forces caused considerable alarm in the USSR and is regarded by many historians to be the closest the world came to nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. This period of the Cold War would continue through US President Reagan's first term (1981–1985), through the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, the brief interim period of Soviet leadership consisting of Yuri Andropov (1982–1984), and Konstantin Chernenko (1984–1985). This phase in the Cold War concluded with the ascension of reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, who brought a commitment to reduce tensions between the East and West and bring about major reforms in Soviet society.
Cold War (1985–1991) It began with the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the Soviet Union Gorbachev was a revolutionary leader for the USSR, as he was the first to promote liberalization of the political landscape (Glasnost) and capitalist elements into the economy (Perestroika); prior to this, the USSR had been strictly prohibiting liberal reform and maintained an inefficient centralized economy. The USSR, despite facing massive economic difficulties, was involved in a costly arms race with the United States under President Ronald Reagon Regardless, the USSR began to crumble as liberal reforms proved difficult to handle and capitalist changes to the centralized economy were badly transitioned and caused major problems.
After a series of revolutions in Soviet bloc states, and a failed coup by conservative elements opposed to the ongoing reforms, on New Year's Eve 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War came to an end. In international relations, a frozen conflict is a situation in which active armed conflict has been brought to an end, but no peace treaty or other political framework resolves the conflict to the satisfaction of the combatants. Therefore, legally the conflict can start again at any moment, creating an environment of insecurity and instability. The term has been commonly used for post-Soviet conflicts, but it has also often been applied to other perennial territorial disputes.
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