The Cold War is deemed to have emanated from the fact that the United States and Soviet Union were left as the two superpowers after the closure of the Second World War. These two countries were considered as superpowers because they had profound political and economic differences. The sustained military and political tension between these two countries is what was considered as the Cold War. Several reasons explicate how and why the Cold War between the Soviet Union and US escalated. These include lack of Americans going home despite the closure of WW1, Soviet’s interruption in other countries elections, Berlin tension in 1948/49, Soviet’s exploding of the first bomb, Soviet’s influence on North Korea and encouraging them to go to war with the Southerners, launching of Sputnik into orbit, and the infiltration of South Vietnam by Communist insurgents. The eighth reason was erection of the Berlin Wall, and lastly, the deployment of missiles to Cuba by the Soviet Union.
Thus, this essay explicates how and why the Cold War between Soviet Union and the US escalated from 1945 to 1962. In addition, the essay avails the implications and factors that led to the end of the war.
According to Morgan (2010), the first reason that led to the escalation of the Cold War between US and the Soviet Union was Americans reluctance to leave Europe after the end of the WW11. Despite the affiliation between US and the Soviet Union during WW11, imminent tension was evident, which resulted to the US adopting a “get tough” policy directed at the Soviet Union at the close of the war in 1945/ 46 (Johnson, 1999). This contributed to the escalation of the Cold War between these two countries, as Soviet Union did not anticipate the move taken by the US against them. In addition, they accused the US and other capitalist allies of intending to overthrow their Communism form of government.
Johnson (1999) asserts that the second reason was Soviet’s interference of other countries’ elections. Research establishes that the Soviet Union interfered with elections in Romania and Bulgaria in 1946 with the intention of making them as its satellites. This further aggravated the US because the Soviet Union had promised earlier to allow free and fair elections in countries under it. In addition, this promoted the Cold War because Soviet Union was spreading its Communism ideologies in those countries, which was against the Capitalist ideology of the West (Sherman, 2004).
Thirdly, the Soviet Union’s attempt in ensuring that Western governments evacuate from Berlin also promoted the escalation of the Cold War. This took place in 1948/ 49 when the Soviet troops were ordered to seal waterways, railroad, and highway through East Germany to West Berlin. This was an attempt of ridding West Berlin off the Western governments. Thus, this angered the US because they realized the Soviet’s intention and countered it by organizing the Berlin airlift. This ensured that the Western governments received all the supplies that they required, and this angered the Soviet Union in return who did not have much choice, but to lift the ban in May 1949.
The fourth escalation occurred because of Soviet’s detonation of a bomb. This took place on August 29, 1949, and it brought about an arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States. History reveals that, by 1949, only the United States possessed nuclear weapons. According to BBC (2012), the testing of the nuclear bomb by the Soviet Union resulted in the escalation of the Cold War because the US felt threatened by their discovery and so they sought ways of ensuring that they do not use their nuclear power or overthrow the military might of the US.
The fifth escalation took place due to Soviet’s involvement in North Korea’s affairs. The Korean War commenced in 1950 and Soviet Union is deemed as having fuelled the war by financing the North Koreans with artillery. This promoted the North’s intention of attacking South Korea, which aggravated the US. This contributed to the escalation of the Cold War because the US made attempts at peace talks if only to end the war, but Soviet Union was determined to promote the war by ensuring the military might of North Korea. Thus, the two countries were forced to deploy their military in the region for protecting their interests (Sherman, 2004).
The sixth reason that led to the escalation of the Cold War was Soviet’s launching of a satellite into the orbit. This aggravated the US because they deemed it as a missile gap between them and the Soviet Union. This prompted the US to launch in retrospect an earth satellite in 1958 into the Orbit. Notably, the US was aggravated because Soviet’s satellite was more advanced compared to theirs. However, launching of the satellites into the orbit by the two countries resulted in a balance of terror, which was soon followed by short thaw of the Cold War. On the other hand, approval of the Eisenhower Doctrine also aggravated the Soviet Union because the aforementioned doctrine allowed the US to assist any Middle East that requested for military assistance against aggression from other countries.
The seventh escalation was because of communists insurgencies from the North Vietnam infiltrating to the South Vietnam in the late 1950’s. This was a war of national liberation fully funded by the Soviet Union. The US came in to assist the South Vietnam by providing it with military and economic support. This even worsened the situation as the war shifted track to focus on a fully-fledged confrontation between the Northern Vietnam and the American troops in the early 1960’s. The US government did not take the Northern Vietnam infiltration kindly, knowing the impact it had on South Vietnam (Johnson, 1999). The action by the US to intervene into the infiltrations of the South by the North Vietnam deepened the chances for the war since US could not stand and watch communist insurgencies prevail over the peaceful south Vietnam. The North Vietnamese communists as would be expected were entitled to resistance. With this tight situation, war was most formidable.
The eighth escalation of the cold war was because of rising of the Berlin wall by the Soviet Union and the East Germany governments. The wall, which would later be the wall of shame, was to sum up the real image of the cold war. Construction of the wall was to attract the attention of the youthful J F Kennedy who was to visit the wall and see the history he held over his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis (Sherman, 2004). Shock workers from Russia and East Germany did this at the dawn of August 13, 1961, demarcating the Western Berlin from the Soviet. They then erected a barbed wire at the border. As much as the West protested, the Russians turned a cold ear. By 16th, concrete blocks then replaced the barbed wire. Completion of the wall was by august, full erected with designated security that it was impossible to cross. The wall served as a den for spies and anyone who tried to cross from the East risked life. JF Kennedy responses on this made Khrushchev think that he was weak.
The ninth escalation was because of the action of the Soviet Union deploying ballistic missiles to Cuba. The Cuban missile crisis was the period when the US discovered that the soviet had deployed missiles in Cuba. In 1962, the soviet lagged behind, in terms of firearms in relation to the US, this made the Soviet Union collaborate with the Cuban government for launch of ballistic weapons and eventual attack on US cities. The US government intervened by imposing sanctions on the Cuban territory, putting it under quarantine and consistent surveillance to try to avert the situation. By October 25, Kennedy had put quarantine measures and raised the level of military readiness. However, on 27 October, Khrushchev send to Kennedy a coded message stating his willingness to remove missiles from Cuba if the US government would stop interfering with Cuba, tensions heightened when Cubans shot down a US reconnaissance plane. This would turn to a great rift as no party fell for the demands of their enemy. The enmity propped up and escalated the cold war.
Implications of the Cold War
Various implications of the Cold War abound. Firstly, it should be noted that the economies of the two super powers at that time was significantly affected. This is because of the enormous costs the country had to shoulder through the maintenance of large numbers of armed forces. According to Morgan (2010) this led to the breakdown of Russia’s political system because of the economic strain of a system whereby the country wanted to ensure that everybody is employed while at the same time it provides for the military (Sherman, 2004).
A social implication also abounds from the Cold War whereby people in the East were subjected to oppressive conditions. This can be argued from the fact that people were expected to conform to what those in power demanded. Thus, discontent grew from such type of leadership, which at the same time forced the governments to exert more pressure on the people for purposes of maintaining control.
Regarding the West, two implications abound and these include social and economic differences. Social implications abounded from the fact that citizens had freedom, which enabled those against military spending and nuclear weapons to demonstrate. This is considered as the main cause of social divisions between the rich and the poor (Johnson, 1999).
End of the Cold War
There are four main reasons that contributed to the end of the Cold War. Firstly, the Russian economy suffered a major below in the 1980s. This is blamed on the rapid decline of oil prices, which denied the Soviet Union foreign earnings. Thus, this placed Gorbachev in a compromising situation because he introduced openness to deal away with the secret operations of his government. This is seen as a contributing factor of the split of the USSR because other allies of the Soviet Union were not impressed with the step taken by Gorbachev as they were too liberal.
Secondly, according to Sherman (2004), the war in Afghanistan also contributed to the end of the Cold War. The scholar asserts that the Soviets were playing a critical role in fuelling the war between 1979 and 1989, but after the US inturrupted their dorminance, they were forced to move out because of public outcry concerning the number of people that had been lost in the war, thus far.
The thawing relatinship between the USA and the Soviet Union contributed to the end of the war. The economic discussions promoted by Ronald Reagan who was the president of the United States contributed significantly to ending of the war. This was ensured by Gorbachev and George Bush who signed a final agreement in 1989 that sought to end the arms race that the countries had participated in for many years.
In conclusion, the cold war was a war of words and actions that did not involve real weapons. However, it weakened the ties bound by the US and its alleys on one side and the Soviet Union and its alleys on the eastern side. The superiority battle between this two groups emerged with each government employing tactics to avert situations they felt were deplorable to their favor. Interestingly, these efforts proved to escalate the cold war further. The agreements between the governments in context further led to the de-escalation of the cold war after 1962. This was evident in the signing of a treaty of agreement by the USSR, the United States and Britain in July 1963 for the approval of not testing of nuclear weapons in space. This was after the Cuban crisis, which had proved futile. In 1963, Kennedy came into aid of USSR by approving to sell American wheat in order to fill the deficit of grain, which had badly hit USSR. This marked the start of a peaceful coexistence that lasted beyond the death of president Lyndon, who also happened to be a champion of the peace treaties. The peace leaves to date despite divisions over economic, social and political structures in different countries. Various implications of the war abound and they include the fact the economies of the two super powers at that time was significantly affected and people in the East were subjected to oppressive conditions. Three main reasons led to the decline of the Cold War and they include the thawing relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union, Russia’s failing economy, and the US involvement in the Afghanistan War whereby they affected Russia’s military might.