As a matter of stark reality, immediately after the end of the Second World War, the United States and Soviet Russia emerged as super powers and the war-time alliance between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union was degenerated into a cold war (Ketelbey, p. 692). The cold war gradually became a central concern of international politics, bifurcating the world into two rival and competing power blocs. Background of the Cold War It is a cardinal truth that after World War II, the war-time coalition between the western powers and the USSR was replaced by deteriorating relations between them.
The US-Soviet war-time coalition consisted solely of an expedient alignment against a common enemy. However, after the defeat of Germany, opposing perspective and interests were cumulative in the first discreet and then to an open diplomatic conflict (Fleming, p. 350). On February, 1946, George F. Kennan, the American ambassador to Moscow, dispatched a secret message to the US State Department and urged a rigid policy towards Soviet Russia.
The formal declaration of the cold war was made by Winston Churchill through his famous Fulton Speech delivered on 5th March, 1946, where he declared, “No body knows what Soviet Russia … intend to do in the immediate future” (qtd. in Paul 276). He forecasted inevitable struggle against Soviet Russia. The major elements of American cold war posture were developed during the Truman administration. In 1946, Russia exerted military pressure in Iran and Turkey in order to gain special privilege in the use of Dardanelles.
In response, Truman dispatched Sixth Fleet into Eastern Mediterranean in a diplomatic pretext. That was the first US military response to a Soviet military threat in the post-war era. Subsequently, Truman Doctrine heralded the era of cold war. The US military assistance to Greece and Turkey and the Marshall Plan intensified the rivalries between the western powers and Soviet bloc. East-West relations were hardened into confrontation and cold war between the winter of 1947-48 and June, 1950.
With Berlin blockade the relations between these two blocs entered into the darkest phase of cold war. The rivalries were at first confined only to Europe. But gradually, it spread to other continents – first to Asia, then to the Middle East and finally to Latin America and Africa. Causes of the Cold War Although cold war is a post-war international development, it is not entirely a new phenomenon. The discord and dispute between the USSR and the western powers were historical and were originated since Bolshevik revolution of 1917 in the former.
The major western powers totally refused to recognize the new communist government and 16 western powers launched a united aggression on the former. Finally, in the year 1933, the USA accorded recognition to it. On the wake of the German attack on Soviet mainland, the later was forced to join the Allied powers and wage war against a common enemy only for survival. Resultantly, strange alliance was formed and as soon as the war came to an end, the old distrust was surfaced. The major causes of the cold war are discussed hereunder:
Spread of Communism: The establishment of communist regimes in whole of Eastern Europe under hegemony of Soviet Union generated deep-seated suspicion among the western powers. Czechoslovakian coup of 1948 widened the rift between East and West. Russia’s Policy towards Iran: Under an agreement of 1942, the Allied Forces agreed to withdraw from Iran. However, the Soviet Union instigated a rebellion in Northern Iran and pressurized it to sign a treaty with Russia for the own interest of the later.
Finally, with the intervention of the UN, Soviet Russia withdrew her forces from Iran. The Soviet Pressure: The Soviet assistance to the communist rebels of Greece during the civil war of 1945 and the Soviet pressure on Turkey for the cessation of some territory of the later was totally condemned by the western powers who were determined to assist both the states in order to resist Soviet expansionist designs. Berlin Problem: After the World War II, Germany was divided into two parts – western part was dominated by America and the eastern Germany was under the Soviet influence.
Berlin was also divided into two parts, though it was situated within the eastern Germany. Soviet Russia resorted to a policy of Berlin Blockade in 1948 and the US had to supply essentials by air dropping. For some time it seemed that a war was inevitable (Wells, p. 346). Differences over Peace Treaties: As both the US and USSR intended to dominate the world ideologically, their conflict became prominent during the post-war conferences at Potsdam and Yalta (Clement, p.
382). The Soviet Union sought to export communism and the US adopted the policy of ‘containment of communism’. Thus, cold war reached its boiling point. Decline of the Cold War The tension of the cold war began to decline after 1953 and a detente continued. It is, however, difficult to identify the exact reason for and moment at which the cold war came to thaw. Surely, the death of Stalin was a contributing factor because he was a believer of the staunch conflict.
Similarly, the departure of Truman along with the foreign policy of ‘roll-back communism’ significantly eased the strained relations. Moreover, their successors were practical and wise enough to realize that the modern warfare is literally the best alternative to suicide. This is why they personally attempted to come to terms with the erstwhile enemies. Thus, in 1955, Bulganin and Khrushchev of USSR and joined in a summit conference with Eisenhower, the US President and Eden, the British Prime Minister.
Then in 1959, Khrushchev went to USA for a friendly meeting. The US-USSR agreement of 1963 on a partial test-ban treaty was a significant step towards the detente (Clement, p. 385). Thereafter, peace conferences were held on numerous occasions and thus, a relationship of compromise and cooperation changed the nature of the global politics. Similarly, the Sino-American enmity came to an end by the ‘Ping-Pong diplomacy’ between these two countries. After a long time, the US granted recognition to China and now they are in close economic tie.
Finally, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 put an end to the cold war. Conclusion Thus, it is beyond any iota of doubt that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the era of cold war has almost sunk in oblivion. Russia, its remnant, has wisely realized that communism is not an exportable product. China has also eased its relations with the western world. Obviously, this is not friendship, because ideologically differences remain unchanged. But, it cannot be regarded as ‘cold war’ – the relationship is not ‘cold’ and it can hardly trigger off any war.
Paul, C. Cold War: East West Relations, History of Modern Times, Modern Books, New Delhi, 1979, p. 276 Ketelbey, C. D. M. A Short History of Modern Times, Oxford University Press, Calcutta, 1992, p. 692 Wells, H. G. The Divided World, A Short History of the World, Penguin Books, London, 1965, p. 346 Clement, S. International Relations: Its History and Politics, Kitab Mahal, Allahabad, 1971, p. 382 Clement, S. ibid, 385 Fleming, D. F. The Cold War and its Origin: 1917-1950, vol. 1, Doubleday and Co. Inc. , New York, 1961, p. 350