Though the events of the Cold War are often depicted as a conflict-free engagement that gave rise to fewer fatalities, the truth is that power tussle almost brought the entire world to the brink of nuclear obliteration. The Cold War was a result of an open yet restricted enmity that industrialized after the second World War II between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies (Ainamo, Tienari, & Vaara, 2006). The Cold War was waged on economic, political, and propaganda fronts. The war had a restricted recourse to weapons. The Cold War period ensued between the year of the Truman Doctrine in 1947, and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The Cold War's rivalry lasted for decades and gave rise to international incidents and anti-communist suspicions. Thus, the major Cold War events are the main focus of this paper.
Beginnings of the Cold War
The edgy wartime alliance between Great Britain and the United States on one side and the Soviet Union, on the other hand, unraveled the Cold War. By the year 1948, the Soviet Union had installed left-wing governments in Eastern Europe in countries that had been liberated by their Red Military (Falk, 1999). The British and the Americans feared Soviet domination over Eastern Europe. They also feared the influence of communist parties that were threatening to amass power in Western Europe democracies. The Soviet was resolute to maintain control over Eastern Europe so that they can safeguard any possible renewed threat emanating from the German. The Soviets also intended to spread communism ideologies across the world. All the above reasons resulted in the formation of the Cold War that solidified in 1947 and 1948 when the United States provided the Marshall Plan aid to Western Europe countries, which were under the communist influence while the Soviet Union was busy installing communist regimes openly in Eastern Europe (Falk, 1999).
The Cold War reached its peak when the Soviets unsuccessfully tried to block the United States, Western held sectors such as West Berlin and the Europen allies of the U.S from forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Soviet viewed NATO as a unified military command that tried to resist its presence in Europe, thus prompting them to form an atomic warhead in 1949 (Ainamo et al., 2006). Other factors that fueled the Cold war included the Soviet supporting North Korea's communist government to invade South Korea, which was backed by the U.S, setting off a vacillating Korean War, which lasted for nearly three years. All along, the Soviet Union and the United States avoided a direct military skirmish in Europe. These two superpowers only engaged in definite combat operations to keep their allies from defecting (Rosecrance, 1991). The major events of the Cold War that happened include;
Berlin Blockade and Airlift (1948-1949)
The blockade and airlift are documented as the foremost international crisis of the Cold War. At a time of multinational occupation of Germany in post World War II, the Soviet Union tried to block the Western Allies canal, railway and road access to Berlin that were beneath the Western control. The Western Allies were asked to withdraw the Deutsche Mark by the Soviets as a condition for dropping the blockade. The Western Allies ignored the terms offered by the Soviets and decided to airlift supplies to West Berlin in what is known as the Berlin Airlift (Young, 1994). Despite the Soviet lifting the blockade in May 1949, the British and Americans continued for a joint air supply operation of necessities such as food and fuel totaling to 2334374 tons over 15 month period (Falk, 1999). The Berlin Blockade and Airlift served as an icing on the cake to the economic and ideological visions for Europe after the postwar. The blockade similarly played a critical role in drawing West Germany into the organization of NATO in 1955 (Falk, 1999).
The Korean War (1950)
The aftermath of World War II was to divide the Koreans into two halves at the 38th parallel. The northern half was communist-ruled, and the South was under American support. A war arose in 1950 and lasted until 1953. The communist North Korean army invaded the South, a non-communist with tanks, and overrun them. The U.S was prompted to act quickly and come to the aid of South Korea. The U.S initially did not regard South Korea as an essential strategic country. Still, they nominally intervened to hold the communist as a portion of a police action controlled by United Nations peacekeeping forces, which were NATO anti-Communist and U.S interests (Rosecrance, 1991). The Korean War was comparatively short but exceptionally bloody. Virtually 3 million people lost their lives (Ainamo et al., 2006). Nearly 10 percent of the fatalities were civilian population. Although the Korean War did, at times, get out of hand, the USSR and the U.S avoided confrontation since they both fought through proxies (Ainamo et al., 2006). Most importantly, they both avoided the possibility of any immediate nuclear holocaust, but which set the tone of the Cold War.
Space Race (1957)
This is where the Soviet and the U.S had an intense challenge about space, who can get the farthest and first in space. The space race can be termed as a technological competition between the U.S and the Soviets to achieve space supremacy. The Soviets were the first two to launch Sputnik satellite in 1957 using an intercontinental ballistic missile, a show that demonstrated their ability to deliver nuclear payloads to orbit that may land onto the United States soil (Falk, 1999). On the other hand, the American army hurled Explorer I in January 1958 into space.
The satellite led to the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Soviets in 1961 launched again a first manned space assignment edging out the U.S in terms of space exploration as of 1961. But eight years later, the U.S countered them by availing the first man to walk on the moon's surface, thus claiming victory in the race to space. In the long run, the space race depicts an era of the Cold War, where both the U.S and the Soviet Union aimed to enhance the optimism and assurance of their citizens by displaying their technological innovations (Rosecrance, 1991).
U-2 Reconnaissance Plane (1960)
U-2 is a high altitude, single-seat jet used for intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, and surveillance by the United States. It is well known as the spy plane or Dragon Lady (Rosecrance, 1991). This U-2 plane was used to monitor electronic emissions, sample nuclear weapons tests, sample and photograph deep sites within the boundaries of China, the Soviet Union, and other Cold War adversaries. Before it was shot down by the Soviet Union, it had taken photographs that confirmed Soviet nuclear-armed presence missiles in Cuba. Apart from Cuba, the American army's intelligence-gathering missions continued in battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance to several tension and conflict spots where the U.S had been engaged, such as the Vietnam War in the 1960s (Rosecrance, 1991).
The Soviets knew the reconnaissance flights since they could spot the plane on their radar for nearly four years, but they were powerless to halt them. Flying at an altitude of more than 13 miles, the Soviet missiles and jets could not intercept the spy plane; hence, they established a Zenith surface missile that shot down the plane (Ainamo et al., 2006). The Americans were brought to shame by this mission when they were discovered. The U-2 plane incident happened at a crucial time in Soviet - U.S relations. The U.S recognize that they had posed an embarrassment to themselves at a critical moment when an agreement was about to be struck at the Paris summit on arms testing and production (Ainamo et al., 2006). The summit failed to take place due to the actions of the U.S of spying their Cold War enemies.
Bay of Pigs (1961)
This event was a failed military invasion in the country of Cuba carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (Falk, 1999). The invasion was sponsored by group rebel Brigade 2506. The coupe targeted the removal of Fidel Castro. The attack failed to materialize since troops of Castro critically outnumbered the invaders. The invaders surrendered just after 24 hours worth of fighting. The Americans were displeased by the communist ideologies of Castro. They considered Castro to be ant- Americans since Castro disapproved of the business and interests of Americans in Cuba and even established diplomatic associations with the Soviets (Young, 1994). Castro also had a deal in place to sell the country's sugar to the USSR after the U.S prohibited Cuban sugar importation. This prompted the Americans to act by preparing an invasion in Cuba to oust Castro.
Despite the Americans failing to defeat Castro, American president still maintained Castro was a threat to the Americans and should be eliminated. The president also believed that by removing Castro, he would have demonstrated to skeptical Americans, Russia, and China that Americans were staid at winning the Cold War (Young, 1994). Efforts by Kennedy to overthrow Castro never signaled as planned in November 1961; his only option left was approving Operation Mongoose, which was sabotage and an espionage campaign that was supposed to aggravate an outright war which never happened. The Cuba missile crisis in 1962 further inflamed Soviet-Cuban-American tensions (Young, 1994).
Strategic Arms Limitation Talk (SALT)
These were round table bilateral talks that were corresponding to international treaties that involved the Soviet Union and the United States, the two superpowers. The international treaties and bilateral conferences tackled the issues regarding arms control. These talks were categorized into SALT I and SALT II (Rosecrance, 1991). The negotiations between these two superpowers were instigated in Helsinki in Finland in the year 1969. SALT I treaty led to the establishment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The SALT II led to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties, which regulated the manufacturing of nuclear weapons (Rosecrance, 1991).
Fall of the Wall of Berlin
The wall of Berlin was built in 1961 and was designed by the German Democratic Republic Communist government. The wall was designed to curtail the migrants' flow of West Germany to East German. The wall had fortified lines, concrete barricades, watchtowers, and trenches that split the Berlins into two. The wall became an Iron Curtain symbol that ideologically separated the East communist from the West during the Cold War (Tusk, 1977). As the 1960s almost came close, the power of communist begun to decline, hence, ushering the United States to start accelerating towards an unparalleled superpower. When Richard Nixon took office in 1969 as the president, he changed the American international relations to diplomacy. He even established a diplomatic connection with China, who were communist.
The United States equally drafted some treaties and signed them, such as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, 1972, and 1979 with the Soviets (Falk, 1999). This treaty brought on board limitations on the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. While Ronald battled with Central America and across the world countries' communism, Cold War economic problems started hitting hard the Soviet influence. By 1989, Soviet influence had waned in Europe. Most countries allied to communists started transitioning to non-communist forms of governance. The Berlin Wall, which was the symbol of communism across the world, was destroyed by the natives of Berlin. The natives were given the authorization to cross over the wall in 1989. The East and West of Germany reunified in 1990. As these events progressed, the Cold War gradually was grinding to a halt that fina...
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