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
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The docudrama ‘13 Days’ depicts the conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union which nearly ended in a cataclysmic crisis; widely known as the Cuban Missile crisis. The course of events and the escalation of the crisis during the intense 13-day period in October 1962 are conveyed to the audience through the perspective of US political leaders. The crisis begins as U-2 spy planes evidences that Soviet leader, Khrushchev, had intermediate-range missiles deployed to Cuba in secrecy and is in the process of activating them. The movie surfaces the conundrums faced by President Kennedy in deciding appropriate actions to be undertaken, such that the missiles in Cuba are removed without resorting to war. Audiences are acquainted with the various complexities involved in the decision making processes, as President Kennedy not only had to deal with the antagonistic Soviet Union, but also disagreements within his own administration.
During the 1960s through the 1990s the United States was involved in a diplomatic standoff with the Soviet Union. Both nations were preparing nuclear weapons to immediate the other. Throughout the world communism was being spread by the power Soviet forces and the United States created the Truman Doctrine to stop the spread of communism in Turkey and Greece. They continued to combat the spread through wars and “rebellions”. Through the extent of the Cold War, the United States made it their mission to stop the spread of communism. This plan both worked and failed in diplomacy throughout Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
Offner, Arnold. “‘Another Such Victory’: President Truman, American Foreign Policy, and the Cold War.” Taking Sides: Clashing Views On Controversial Issues in United States History. Ed. Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle. 14th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 291-301.
Robert F. Kennedy's chilling account of his experiences with his brother, President John F. Kennedy over thirteen days in October of 1962 give an idea to the reader of just how alarmingly close our country came to nuclear war. Kennedy sums up the Cuban Missile Crisis as "a confrontation between two atomic nations...which brought the world to the abyss of nuclear destruction and the end of mankind."1 The author's purpose for writing this memoir seems to be to give readers an idea of the danger confronted during the Cuban Missile Crisis and to reflect on the lessons we should learn from it as a country, and for future members of government.
From after World War II and up until 1991 the foreign policy of the United States was based on Cold War ideology and the policy of containment; to prevent nations from leaning towards Soviet Union-based communism, as first laid out by George Kennan and later used as one of the key principles in the Truman Doctrine (LeCain). As this essay will argue, because of this policy the United States made a commitment to fight communism everywhere in the world and got them involved in conflicts more because of self interest, self protection and determination to beat communism than the cause itself.
On March 12, 1947, President Harry S. Truman defined United States foreign policy in the context of its new role as a world superpower. Many historians consider his speech to Congress as the words that officially started the Cold War. The Truman Doctrine was a major break from U.S. historical trends of isolationist foreign policy. His speech led to the Cold War policy of containment. Moreover, it served as a precedent for future U.S. policy of interventionism. According to Stephen Ambrose, an important quote from Truman’s speech, "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures," stands as "all encompassing" and would "define American policy for the next generation and beyond."1 Faced with strong opposition, Truman was still able to achieve a consensus in Congress aimed at quelling the communist threat through active foreign policy and involvement. The Truman Doctrine not only demonstrated the new foreign policy of the U.S., but also helps to explain American foreign policy since the Doctrine’s inception.
With this book, a major element of American history was analyzed. The Cold War is rampant with American foreign policy and influential in shaping the modern world. Strategies of Containment outlines American policy from the end of World War II until present day. Gaddis outlines the policies of presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, including policies influenced by others such as George Kennan, John Dulles, and Henry Kissinger. The author, John Lewis Gaddis has written many books on the Cold War and is an avid researcher in the field. Some of his other works include: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947, The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past, Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, and The Cold War: A New History. Dr. Gaddis received his PhD from the University of Texas in 1968; he currently is on a leave of absence, but he is a professor at Yale . At the University, his focus is Cold War history. Gaddis is one of the few men who have actually done a complete biography of George Kennan, and Gaddis even won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012.
Chang, Laurence and Peter Kornbluh. The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. New York: The New Press, 1992.
During 1945-1991 the two major superpowers, Russia and the United States, engaged in a war known as the Cold War. The reason this war is known as a cold war is because the two superpowers never engaged in a full on war against one another, instead they used the media against each other, they used international events as a cover, and “they fought their battles through various countries across the globe.” (Class Notes) What this means is that the US and the USSR fought the war through events such as the Second Front 1944, the bombing on Hiroshima 1945, and the Berlin Blockade 1947. The US and Russia had completely different ideologies that helped to created the hostility and tension that led to the war, the Soviets were communists with a single
There have been many attempts to explain the origins of the Cold War that developed between the capitalist West and the communist East after the Second World War. Indeed, there is great disagreement in explaining the source for the Cold War; some explanations draw on events pre-1945; some draw only on issues of ideology; others look to economics; security concerns dominate some arguments; personalities are seen as the root cause for some historians. So wide is the range of the historiography of the origins of the Cold War that is has been said "the Cold War has also spawned a war among historians, a controversy over how the Cold War got started, whether or not it was inevitable, and (above all) who bears the main responsibility for starting it" (Hammond 4). There are three main schools of thought in the historiography: the traditional view, known alternatively as the orthodox or liberal view, which finds fault lying mostly with the Russians and deems security concerns to be the root cause of the Cold War; the revisionist view, which argues that it is, in fact, the United States and the West to blame for the Cold War and not the Russians, and cites economic open-door interests for spawning the Cold War; finally, the post-revisionist view which finds fault with both sides in the conflict and points to issues raised both by the traditionalists as well as the revisionists for combining to cause the Cold War. While strong arguments are made by historians writing from the traditionalist school, as well as those writing from the revisionist school, I claim that the viewpoint of the post-revisionists is the most accurate in describing the origins of the Cold War.