Despite the phrase suggesting that a battle occurred in a cold location, the Cold War was not actually a continuous armed conflict. Rather, it was an intense political situation created by the aggressive policies created by both the United States of America and the Soviet Union (USSR). The Cold War virtually ended with the dissolution of the USSR.
After World War II, the Soviet Union and the USA emerged as the two superpower nations in the world, as they are viewed as the “heroes” that defeated Nazi Germany and its allies. These countries were powerful and influential both from an economic and military standpoint, but they are polar opposites in ideologies. The United States is deemed as an avid practitioner of capitalism, while the Soviet Union is a staunch supporter of communism. Although they battled on the same side during the last years of World War II, their relation was often filled with mutual distrust and suspicion. The two powers gradually extended their spheres of influence, and the world eventually began to split into two blocs, the Eastern Bloc, which is led by the Soviet Union, and the Western Bloc that is headed by the United States. After the US gained the trust of several countries, they have formed military alliances like NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization). During the same period, the Soviet Union began to plan out their expansionist propaganda, leaving both superpowers nations in a race for domination.
The term “cold war” was coined by renowned writer George Orwell, author 1984 and Animal Farm. It was written in his essay “You and the Atomic Bomb,” published in 1945. The second use of the term was stated in a speech by Bernard Baruch on April 16, 197, which detailed the post-war confrontation between the USSR and the United States. The term received wide popularity when it was written in “The Cold War,” a book authored by newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann.
The Berlin Blockade (1948 to 1949) was the first major crisis of the Cold War. The battle between the two nations also had a significant influence over the Chinese Civil War (1927 to 1950) and the Korean War (1950 to 1953). The Soviet Union and the United States tried to assert their domination and bring the countries of Africa, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Southeast Asia to their respective blocs, but some countries refused to become allies with them.
Major crises, like the Suez Crisis (1956), the Berlin Crisis (1961), and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) then followed.
The Berlin Crisis is one of the most important events in German history, as it resulted in the creation of the Berlin Wall that split the city into two sides. The Berlin Wall was eventually destroyed in 1989 after a series of protests or revolutions sought the destruction of the said wall. Parts of the wall are still intact and are left standing to serve as a reminder of the resilience and perseverance of the people of Berlin.
The Cuban crisis was particularly known for escalating the tension that almost led to a direct confrontation between the two powers. After a few years, the USSR crushed the Prague Spring liberalization program in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the United States suffered a defeat in the Vietnam War that had been going for about two decades.
During the 1980s, the Soviet economy began to suffer stagnation. The situation was only aggravated by the two reforms that were introduced by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which are named Glasnost and Perestroika. It was also during this period that Gorbachev ended the involvement of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. At the same time, various politicians who are considered republics in the USSR witnessed rising numbers of national sentiments. Revolutions for freedom began to escalate in the allied countries, and the communist regime of the USSR was peacefully overthrown in most East European countries. The only country that witnessed bloodshed was Romania.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union lost control of the countries that they occupy, and it soon led to the formal dissolution of the USSR on December 8, 1991, when the presidents of the Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia signed the Belovezha Accords. The communist regimes in other countries such as Cambodia and Mongolia also collapsed.
The Cold War inspired a new movement as well. Called the Non-Aligned Movement, this group was spearheaded by India, Indonesia, and Egypt, with included nations in Asia and Africa that were newly liberated from colonial rules. These countries didn’t align themselves with both the USSR and the United States and stayed neutral in the situation.