After World War II, the struggle for supremacy between the United States and its allies with the Soviet Union and its confederates is known as the cold war. The Cold War lasted about 45 years. The British and the Americans feared the permanent Soviet domination of eastern Europe and the threat of communist parties coming to power in the democracies of western Europe.
On the other hand, the Soviets intended to spread communism worldwide and maintain control of eastern Europe to safeguard against any possible threat. Below are some interesting facts about the Cold War.
In May 1945, near the end of WWII, following the surrender of Nazi Germany, the uneasy wartime alliance between the United States and Great Britain on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other began to unfold.
The term “Cold War” was first used by the English writer George Orwell in an article which was published in 1945 to refer to what he predicted would be a nuclear stalemate between two or three super-powerful states.
The Cold War solidified in 1947 when the Soviets had installed communist regimes in eastern Europe and the U.S. provided aid under the Marshall Plan to western Europe brought those countries under American influence.
The Soviets established left-wing governments in the countries of eastern Europe that had been liberated by the Red Army within 1948.
We all are familiar with NATO. This unified military command, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed to resist the Soviet presence in Europe in the year 1949.
In the same year (1949), the Soviets exploded their first atomic warhead ending the American monopoly on the atomic bomb.
In response, the United States announced that it would build an even more destructive atomic weapon. Thus, the first hydrogen bomb test was conducted in the Eniwetok atoll in the Marshall Islands which showed how devastating the nuclear war could be. The bomb created a 25 square mile explosion that vaporized an island.
The Cold War intensified more when the Chinese communists came to power in mainland China. This event also took place in 1949 and the world’s most populous nation joined the Soviet Union as a Cold War adversary.
In 1950, the Soviet-supported communist government of North Korea invaded the U.S. – supported South Korea. The United States sent troops to support South Korea whereas Communist China intervened to help North Korea. The war continued for three years until a truce was signed in 1953.
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin died in 1953. Following this even the Cold War tensions relaxed from 1953 to 1957.
A unified military organization known as the Warsaw Pact was formed in 1955 among the Soviet and its allied countries.
The tension became severe from 1958 to 1962 when the United States and the Soviet Union began developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Cold War reached its peak in 1962 when the Soviets secretly began to install missiles in Cuba that could be used to launch nuclear attacks on U.S. cities. This is known as the Cuban missile crisis that brought the two superpowers to the brink of war. The tension eased when an agreement was reached to withdraw the missiles.
The Cuban missile crisis indicated that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union was willing to use nuclear weapons because of the fear of the other country’s retaliation.
In 1963, the two superpowers signed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that banned above ground nuclear weapons testing.
Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States avoided direct military confrontation. There were no direct military campaigns between the two main superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
The two superpowers continually antagonised each other through military coalitions, political manoeuvring, propaganda, espionage, economic aid, arms build-ups, and proxy wars between other nations.
The Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet bloc in the 1980s and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Thus the U.S. became the ultimate superpower all over the world.
Though the Cold War has dissolved, it still affects modern geopolitics. The U.S. and Western European countries formed NATO that still wields military and political power.
At present, the increased tensions between the West and Russia are referred to as a second Cold War.
Do you know any interesting facts about the Cold War that we’ve missed out? Share them here in the comments section below!