Was the Cold War Truly a Cold War?

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The ‘Cold War’ is one of the most interesting ‘wars’ fought in world history. The sheer number of countries both directly and indirectly involved is enough to pose the question – To what extent was the Cold War a truly Global War? This essay will examine this idea. It will identify two main areas of argument, focusing on the earlier part of the conflict (1945-1963). Firstly it will examine the growing US and Soviet influence in the world post 1945. Secondly it will examine three main conflicts, the Berlin Blockade, the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis that these two super powers were involved in. Overall this essay will argue that the Cold War was no doubt a truly global war.

In order to understand this idea, it must first be defined what exactly would constitute a ‘Global War’. In my view a Global War is one that involves a number of countries, whether directly or indirectly that has the potential to transform the world . A good example of this would be the First World War (1914-18). It was a conflict that whilst occurring in Europe, involved countries e.g. New Zealand, Australia and the USA, all three countries that are a large distance away from the actual conflict zone. As it involves a major portion of the world, this would constitute a global war.

Now that the idea of a global war has been established, it is important to establish the role of the United States (USA). One of the most important documents in establishing this was the ‘Truman Doctrine’. President Harry S. Truman (1945-53) outlined what would become the basis of US foreign policy for the duration of the Cold War. This was the policy of containment – trying to keep communism from spreading to the rest of the world. His speech to Congress in March 19...

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...in Blockade and the Use of the United Nations’, Foreign Affairs, 50, 1, 1971, p. 172

Jervis, Robert, ‘The Impact of the Korean War on the Cold War’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 24, 4, 1980, p. 580

Kennedy, Robert F., Thirteen Days: a memoir of the Cuban missile crisis, New York, 1969, pp. 23, 34, 35

Satterthwaite, Joseph C., ‘The Truman Doctrine: Turkey’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 401, 1972 pp. 76-78

Shlaim, Avi, ‘Britain, the Berlin Blockade and the Cold War’, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 60, 1, 1983-84, pp. 8-9

Stern, Sheldon M., The week the world stood still: inside the Cuban Missile Crisis, Stanford, 2005, p. 150

Thompson, William R and Rasler, Karen A., ‘War and Systemic Capability Reconcentration’ The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 32, 2, 1988, p. 337

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that president harry s. truman's 'truman doctrine' was the basis of us foreign policy for the duration of the cold war.
  • Analyzes how the soviet union's influence in this period can best be described in two parts – firstly, the solidification of communist states in eastern europe.
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