Stages of cold war

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The terms bipolarization and Cold War, which are quite related to, are used to define the division of the World after WWII in which two antagonist blocs and the relations created among them. The blocs were:

a) One led by USA, or Western bloc, capitalist, democratic or North American.

b) Another by USSR, Eastern bloc, communist or Soviet bloc.

In this background each bloc tries to:

a) Maintain its area of influence with constant interventions to balance the opponent bloc’s influence over this area.

b) Threaten the opponent by means of an increasing race of weaponry, including nuclear weapons.

c) The military and weaponry balance (balance of terror) works a dissuasive effect between Soviet and USA facing a great menace of a world’s destruction.

Weapon’s race: Cold War meant the production and accumulation of weapons by each bloc, especially nuclear ones, which represent a very serious thereat for the whole World. Time later, the two superpowers will agree to stop their proliferation for hard danger.

The beginning  of the Cold War.

Very soon the political, economic and ideological differences betwen USA and USSR became really important and was a matter of time to break relations. If at  Yalta’s Conference (February 1945), Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed in the way to solve problems to end WWII, during Postdam Conference (July/August, 1945), was evident the suspicion and mutual mistrust between their leaders: Stalin, Truman and Atlee.

The breakdown between former allies and the subsequent birth of the two blocs and Cold War forged during the 1945-47. The most remarkable events of this process were:

The Iran issue, occupied country during the WWII by the Soviet army and the British.

Soviet expansionism over Eastern Europe. Once war has ended, Stalin did not accomplish his promises to hold free elections in Eastern countries liberated as the Soviet army.

Greece issue. In 1946 it was a Civil War in Greece between communist guerrilla with Soviet support and democratic government by British.

 -Truman Doctrine. The day March 12, 1947, Hary S. Truman, president of USA, explained  in a discours a series of principles that can be considered as the base of the Bipolarization and the Cold War.

Marshall Plan. After WWI Europe was destroyed  and want  to recover from the ashes, in June 1947, USA’s  Secretary George Marshall  suggested an economic aid program for the reconstruction of the countries destroyed , which has deep effects for both, USA and European economies.

• This program and its effects can be considered as an initiative of the American policy of contention of communism

• The Soviet answer was the Zhdanov doctrine, which supposed the complaint of USA as the anti-democratic and imperialist powers.

In 1948, as an answer to the Marshall Plan the COMECON (Council of Mutual Economic Assistance)was created , a self-sufficient organization, whose aim was the economic development of the Soviet Union and the Socialist republics in Europe.

The development of Cold War

If we can consider 1947 the year of the breakdown between former WWII allies, 1948 is considered the year of the beginning of the Cold War lasting until the collapse of communist bloc (1989) and total dissolution of the Warsow Pact (1991).

For these long forty years international relations of the two blocs were not the same way but suffered changes, and that is why it can be distinghish several stages or phases depending on the degree of tension or stress between the two blocs:

 A inicial phase from 1948 to 1953 , which can be defined as maximun tensión and rivalry .

 An intermediate from 1953 to 1975, in which a dialogue between the blocs begins or distension. It was known as “peaceful coexistence”.(Krushev, Eisenhower and Kennedy’s times)

 A final phase, from 1975 to 1991 fan featured by  an alternation between distensión and increase of tension. It ends with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the new world order of today.

The Warsow Pact was superior in terms of number of soldiers or weaponry. Nevertheless, his weapons were quite old fashioned compared to the ones of the NATO with a higher technology.

Initial phase (1948-1953).

The main focuses of tension were:

-Czekoslovakia. The communist won elections in Bohemia and Moravia but not in the rest of Slovakia               

-Berlin. The same way as the rest of Germany, Berlin was divided into four zones by the allies.

-The Korean War (1950-1953): At the end of WWII and liberated the territory Japan had invaded, Korea was divided into two zones by 38º paralel.  In Northern Korea a communist regime was established, and South Korea, where an anti-communist American government rules

Intermediate phase (1953-1975).

After Korean War stress decreased and began the intermediate phase known as “thaw”, “distension” or “peaceful coexistence” between the two blocs. International relations relaxed despite the fact some great conflicts arose. The change of trend was due to:

- The replacement of big superpower’s  leaders: Nikita Krushev by Stalin, Eisenhower and after John Fitzgerald Kennedy got along with each other and avoid a direct confrontation between them.

- The balance of power. The Soviet Union produced atomic bomb in 1949 and hydrogen in 1953. This important nuclear advance ended with USA’s hegemony in these terms and prevent a war of catastrophic consequences for the whole world

- The setting of dialogue channels and negotiation. Meetings, peaks and visits of main leaders of the superpowers  were frequent .

- The appearance  of a 3rd bloc, the decolonized countries tried to break up bipolarization creating the Non-Alligned Countries Bloc, made up by countries of new formation that pretends to have a role in international affairs as emerging nations.

Missiles crisis in Cuba.

After the success of the revolution of Fidel Castro against Batista in 1959, he moved closer to the Soviet Union. In 1961 a marxist socialist republic was set and this caused the tensión between Cuba and USA. President Kennedy allowed CIA’s operations to invade the island.

In August 1962, a USA’s plane discovered the instalation of Soviet rocket’s ramps able to carry out  nuclear heads which could threat USA’s security. Tension scalades hot and Kennedy ordained the island’s  naval blockade stopping  soviet ships arrival. He advided Krushev he must ordain his ships go back home if he did not want to see a nuclear war because nuclear weapons were targeting USSR from Turkey. The world was about to start a nuclear war, but at the end Krushev withdrew his boats and launching based were dismantled.

Vietnam War.

Once the Japanese were out of Vietnam, France tried to keep Vietnam despite its population wanted to be independent. The Conference of Geneve in 1954 put an end to the conflicto abd agreed Vietnam’s Independence, but the country was divided by the 17º paralel: Northern Vietnam, with a communist regime under Chiinese and Soviet rule and support, and Southern Vietnam, with an authoritarian regime backed by France and USA. In 1965 it happened a conflict between the two zones as a result of the two superpowers indirect confrontation. The USA’s help has the background of the “domino’s theory” , means stop communism success in neighbouring countries (China, North Korea).

After 10 long years of war (1965-75) and more than 50.000 deaths, USA’s army was defeated and The Paris Conference held in 1975,  under a communist regime which spread its influence over South East Asia.

The final phase (1975-1991)

We have to remark the Soviet expansionism (Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Nicaragua) and after the collapse of European communist regimes. USA faced a time of deep crisis of leadership after the Vietnam’s defeat losing influence. However, since 1981, with Ronald Reagan as president he started a new period of interventionism, taking advantage of the Soviet Union crisis, which reached in its disappearance. USA was the only superpower from now on.

The Soviet Union suffered a deep economic crisis and could hardly afford the Budget needed for a “Galaxies War”, as USA was maintaining. Since then, the initiative of a nuclear disarmament starts from Soviet side. Peaks between Reagan and Gorbachev at Geneva and Washington were key meetings for stopping nuclear weapons scalade, even tried to stop it totally.

The most important conflict during this final phase was the Afghanistan’s war.  The pro-communist government of this country saw an increasing guerrilla growing up from muslim nationalist and integrist groups. The Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979, which provoked  also the USA’s intervention helping the guerrilla with weapons and money. The Soviet Union failed after ten years of war (1979-1989) with enourmous human and economic losses.

This conflict was the last of the two blocs. The Berlin’s Wall fall (1989), the democratization of the Eastern European countries (1990) and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact (1991) marked the end of the Cold War and the world’s division into two blocs.

UNIT 13: The Decolonization

Decolonization: Historic process happening after WWII by means former colonies in Asia and Africa get political independence. It was the end of colonial empires.


The causes explaining decolonization are quite complex and varied, and usually are interrelated. According to the situation (outside or inside) the country, they can be classified as foreign and domestic causes.

a) Foreign causes

• The two world wars. They were the events that showed the weaknesses of colonial empires because colonies became aware of their fundamental role during the conflicts and this vanished the image of superiority of their motherlands.

On the other hand, colonies became aware of their submission, which impeded to developed: they were mere raw material  supplier and elaborated goods purchasers, so that. Their economies were only based on on dependency and had no freedom to take any decision.

The two world wars also made a social and ideological transformation in the colonies. The colonial combatants asssimilated the concepts that ruled in the mother country  of liberty, equality, sovereignty and independence and wanted the same for themselves, and also because of their  participation in the battles a wider concession of liberties , self-rule or independence was promised.

• The international organizations, such as The League of Nations favored the decolonization process through its “mandates” system to administer colonies of losing powers in Second World War (Germany and Turkey).

The UN (United Nations Organization)created the Decolonization’s Committee in 1961 to help decolonization in those countries that have not been decolonized yet.

• USA and Soviet Union, for different reasons were the first to help decolonization process. The USA’s president Wilson, in his program of Fourteen Points (1918) have been already defending the concept of self-rule (autodeterminación) and nationalities as the way to guarantee peace after World War I. Moreover, decolonization meant the opening of huge markets, an excellent opportunity for Americans products after the broken monopoly of Europeans. To the Soviet Union   it was a way to facilitate the penetration of Marxist ideology and its sphere of influence.

• Solidarity among colonies.  The Asian and African peoples which have reached independence collaborated with others to help them to obtain i as well.

Bandung’s Conference (1955) with a strong protagonism of Asian leaders (Nehru form India, Zhou Enlai from China, Sukarno from Indonesia), condemned European domination and call to the rebellion. It was the starting point for decolonization of the African continent to help nationalist feelings. The oficial statement of the conference has passed to history because it declared as basic principle the right of the peoples to self-rule. Colonialism was also defined as an evil that has to be ended immediately and condemned as the principal cause of problems for African and Asian people.

Panafricanism: Movement of solidarity and cooperation among all African peoples.

Panarabism: Movement of collaboration and solidarity whose goal is to get  Arabs’s unification.

b) Domestic causes:

During colonization, the deep impact of Western civilization provoked a series of socio-economic transformations inside the colonies:

• Construction of infrastructures (roads, railway, ports, telegraphs, telephone, etc).

• Urban development.

• Demographic growth.

• Alteration of  tribal society.

• Appearance of natives’ bourgeosie.

• Cultural progress, depite the clash of cultures

• Extension of education

The collective awareness which vindicated independence was revealed in the nationalism through intelectual’s activity, students movements and political parties.

 Three stages :

1) Interwar Period (1919-1945).  Former Ottoman territories obtained independence

2) Between (1945-1955). Independence of India, Pakistan, Ceilan,Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia.

3) Between 1955-1975) The North of Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Argelia and Lybia) and Black Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan, Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique).


The consequences of the decolonizing process can be analysed in a double viewpoint, from colonizers and colonized

• In mother countries, the loss of colonies caused grave tensions, with important economic, social and political effects.

•             In former colonies, the independence was not the end of the problems. From an economic view, the new states carried on depending on old mother countries or fell under dependency on other new ones (USA/USSR), which gave origin to a “neocolonialism” in which the conomy was totally controlled under foreign interests.

Neocolonialism: New form of domination over the underdeveloped countries after the end of “classical colonialism”. Although formally independent, countries are still dependent economically on rich countries’ interests (monopoles, trading, prices of raw materials). Their political independency is submitted to local oligarchy, bureaucracy or military dictatorships. Foreign control is ruled through regional alliances, world’s economic organisms (IMF, WB)or direct military interventions.

The Non-Aligned Countries formed a group of countries which adopted a political view of rejection to their integration in one of the two antagonist blocs: the Western capitalist bloc, either the Eastern or communist one. The beginning of the movement can be traced in the Congress of the Opressed Peoples (Brussels, 1927), and the Conferences of New Delhi (1947 and 1949). The first members of this were India from 1947, with Gandhi and Nehru, and Yugoslavia, since it splits with USSR in 1948.

The Conference of Bandung

The first Non-Aligned manifesto took place in the Conference of Bandung (Indonesia), in April 1955, that apart of its meaning of a starting point for African decolonization, it is considered as the creation of the beliefs of common action of this movement.

As a whole,  29 countries of Africa and Asia  took part in this meeting, representing 1.500 million inhabitants with only the 8% of the world income. It has as main issues of debate: tensión between powers, problems with China, solidarity among independent movements, the need to strenghten their economies and obtain credits.

The Conference of Bandung meant the entrance in international scene of new states from Asia and Africa as a “Third bloc”,and the relevance of the idea of peaceful coexistance.

Indonesia- Sukarno- 1954

Unit 15. The Construction of the European Union

The European Economic Community: The Treaty of Rome.

France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands began negotiating the treaty.

The ECC came into force on January 1, 1958 according to the arranged in the Treaty of Rome, which was establishing a transitory period of progressive integration of twelve years of duration, and which concluded in January, 1970. The Community took the European economic development as a mission. To obtain these ends the following agreements were established: The customs union between the Member states, maintaining a commercial community policy, not only between them, but with third countries with a common tariff; the free movement of people, services and capital; the establishment of agricultural and transport common policies; and to establish successive agreements with targets more ambitious that supposed one more advanced level of integration, like the monetary union and the convergence of economic policies. However, in its initial stages it served as little more than a customs union (allowing for the free circulation of goods), known as the Common/Single Market.


The British denial to adhere to the Treaty of Rome was obeying a triple cause: the transference of its sovereignty; the interests that Great Britain was maintaining with the Commonwealth; and the desire to maintain privilege relations with the United States. Therefore its initial answer was the creation of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association), whose members were the United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria, only reducing tariffs between themselves.

In 1961 Britain applied for membership of the EEC. This was vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle (twice, second in 1969), who was concerned that British membership would weaken the French voice within Europe. Britain joined the EEC in 1973, after Charles de Gaulle’s resignation in 1969.

Paises de la Unión Europea:

Alemania (1952),Bélgica (1952),Francia (1952),Luxemburgo (1952),Países Bajos (1952),Italia (1952),Dinamarca (1973),Reino Unido (1973),Irlanda (1973),Grecia (1981), España (1986),Portugal (1986), Austria (1995) ,Finlandia (1995), Suecia (1995) ,Chipre (2004), Eslovaquia (2004), Eslovenia (2004), Estonia (2004), Hungría (2004), Letonia (2004) ,Lituania (2004),República Checa (2004),Polonia (2004), Malta (2004), Rumanía (2007), Bulgaria (2007),Croacia (2013).

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