The Cold War (1945-1989) essay part 2
The Cold War (1945-1989) essay part 1
- The significance of the Cold War in Modern World History
The significance of the Cold War in Modern World History is obvious. Giving an overview of the origins, the major causes and consequences of the Cold War, it is necessary to consider that the Cold War is truly over. It has had considerable effects on Europe, and the former USSR, as well as the U.S. foreign policy.
The Cold War provided massive opportunities for technological progress in space exploration. The so-called Space Race played an important role in the Modern World History. The leader of the USSR Khrushchev was “keen to take on the USA in the race to explore space” (Waugh 257). The USSR was focused on increasing Soviet influence in different spheres of human activity in order to demonstrate superiority of Soviet technological progress. The first satellite Sputnik was launched in 1957. It was the start of the Space Race that ended in the 1980s. The United States failed to launch their satellite in the same year or earlier (Waugh 258).
In addition, the Cold War can be defined as a cultural conflict between the two nations, which is based on ideological differences. There were two directions of events in the Cold War, which led to the final victory of the West and the formation of the world government (Rosati & Scott 43). The communist model of the USSR was based on competitive economic approach in relation to the economy of the United States. According to researchers, “the end of the Cold War in 1989-1990 made the world an even more complex place, with contradictory implications for American power and the U.S. foreign policy” (Rosati & Scott 43).
In fact, for the U.S. foreign policy, there were two important trends: first, “the collapse of the USSR as a powerful communist state and the growth of globalization worldwide, and second, “the continuation of global conflicts, crises and wars” (Rosati & Scott 43). The collapse of communism led to reinforcement and intensification of global changes and the changes in the U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War. Besides, the collapse of communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe contributed to the development of international political relationships based on growing interdependence and complexity, which led to the promotion of globalization processes (Rosati & Scott 43).
- Representation of some aspects of the event that helped to shape Modern World History
Some important aspects of the Cold War helped to shape Modern World History. The Cold War promoted the idea of the spread of communism, although the main source of Communism, the USSR collapsed in 1990. A series of events encouraged by the Cold War had a strong impact on shaping shape Modern World History. For example, in 1949, China became communist, establishing the People’s Republic of China with Mao Zedong at the head. In 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan to spread communist ideology. In 1950, the Korean War started and lasted 3 years to spread communism in South Korea. In addition, the Cold War dominated many other international affairs, which led to crises and military conflicts, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War, Cuban Revolution and the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Berlin Crisis of 1961, Czechoslovakia invasion and other events.
Nevertheless, the end of the Cold War in 1990 failed to signify the end of all military conflicts and wars in the world. According to Jerel Rosati and James Scott, “the Cold War’s end led to a world of greater complexity, where global issues proliferated and power became more defused” (44). This fact means the event like the Cold War helped to shape Modern World History, making it more complex. The end of the Cold War led to the creation of new conflicts and crises because of the increased United States intervention in the world. For example, since the end of the Cold War, the new problems which involve international conflicts have already become acute. These problems are connected with terrorism. The event of 9/11 has become a tragedy for the nation. According to researchers, there are other types of conflicts and wars that occurred since the end of the Cold War and reflected some aspects of that event (Rosati & Scott 44). Some of these conflicts are
- Political and economic disputes that refer to the issues regarding the state boundaries (e.g. Middle East, India and Pakistan);
- Considerable changes in political powers of such countries as China, Russia and the countries of the EU;
- Nuclear proliferation (Gottfried 52);
- Migration of people caused by military conflicts;
- Scarce water resources;
- Economic problems caused by social inequalities;
- International instability in economy and other fields caused by limited opportunities of developing countries;
- Technological progress in ICT, which can be categorized as the “profound technological development occurring with greater speed and uncertainty” (Rosati & Scott 44);
- Environmental problems, including global warming, pollution and deforestation.
In general, the Cold War led to considerable changes in global economy and politics, increased global complexity and the rise of globalization worldwide, as well as led to the spread of continuing conflicts and wars, promoting uncertainty in the future of humanity. The Cold War shaped many countries, making their economies more complex.
- Discussion: Would Modern World History be different if not for the occurrence of the Cold War?
Modern World History would be different if not for the occurrence of the Cold War for a number of reasons. First, the Cold War prevented the use of nuclear weapons. Due to the established policy, the only use of nuclear weapons in war was Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945. Undoubtedly, the development of nuclear weapons had an enormous impact on humanity, especially the subsequent arms race, which put humanity at risk of nuclear war between the two superpowers, the United States and the USSR. Everyone on the planet would consider nuclear war impractical and destructive for civilization (McKay & Crowson 12).
Second, Modern World History would be different if not for the occurrence of the Cold War because the Cold War led to the collapse of the USSR and its communist system. This fact means that the U.S. economic system won the competition due to more progressive economic approaches and more powerful ideology. The USSR was unable to continue competition in the form of the Cold War practices (Jerel & James 72).
Third, Modern World History would be different if not for the occurrence of the Cold War because the event contributed to the increased role of international diplomacy. Since the end of the Cold War, the “changing shape of global governance has been influenced by a range of actors other than those tied to the nation state” (McKay & Crowson 13).
Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the Cold War was an important global conflict, which was based on different ideological perceptions and experiences, depending on individuals’ locations and social positions. The significance of the Cold War in Modern World History is obvious. Both the United States and the USSR were founded on the ideas aimed at improvement of human lives. However, different approaches to economy and social development led to the conflict between two superpowers. The Cold War helped to shape Modern World History, providing massive opportunities for political, economic and social development of the nations. Modern World History would be different if not for the occurrence of the Cold War. The collapse of the USSR and its communist system provided considerable changes in foreign policies of many countries, including the United States.
In its attempts to harness the power of the atom, mankind has itself in the possession of weapons with unbelievable, destructive power. Nations now have the ability to destroy entire cities from hundreds of miles away, in only minutes.
These weapons are nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons cost the citizens of the United States billions of dollars in taxes each year, the testing and maintenance of these weapons pose serious health risks, and the actual need for these weapons is not and has not been around for years. For the above reasons, I feel the United States should reduce its nuclear arsenal.
Nuclear weapons derive their power from the energy released when a heavy nucleus is divided, called fission or when light nuclei are forced together, called fusion. In fission, a nucleus from a heavy element is bombarded with neutrons. The nucleus breaks into two pieces, releasing energy and two or more neutrons. Each of these neutrons has enough energy to split another heavy nucleus, allowing the process to repeat itself.
This is the chain reaction that makes nuclear weapons possible. In a fusion nuclear device such as a hydrogen bomb, lightweight nuclei are forced to fuse at very high temperatures into heavier nuclei, releasing energy and a neutron. In order to squeeze the two nuclei together, an atomic fission bomb is usually used. A fusion reaction releases about four times more energy per unit mass than a fission reaction. The United States supervised the development of the atomic bomb under the code name Manhattan Project, during World War II. The first nuclear chain reaction occurred in December 1942, at the University of Chicago. Soon after the first bomb test, atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The first hydrogen bomb was developed by a team of United States scientists and was first tested on November 1, 1952. After World War II, a new age of military strategy occurred. The United States built up massive nuclear weapons arsenals and developed highly sophisticated systems of delivery and defense. Today’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) carry one or more multiple, independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIBVs), each with its own nuclear war head.
Billions of dollars are wasted in taxes, each year, to pay for nuclear weapons. The United States has spent about four trillion dollars for its nuclear arsenal since government supported work began on the atomic bomb in 1940 (Schwartz 1). This number is three times larger than the entire United States budget for World War II (Schwartz 1). This number covers most, but not all, of the costs required to develop, produce, display, operate, support and control nuclear forces over the past fifty years. Anywhere from five-hundred billion to one trillion dollars could be added to this, to cover the remaining costs (Schwartz 1). Nuclear weapons are estimated to have used between one quarter and one third of all military spending since World War II (Schwartz 2). Today, Congress and the Administration are watching government spending, shrinking and eliminating programs and taking other measures to reduce the deficit. Despite this, the central feature of national security spending for the past fifty years, nuclear weapons, has been rarely touched. The United States spends at least thirty-three billion dollars a year on nuclear weapons and their related activities (Schwartz 3). Although, about eight billion dollars is being spent on waste management, environmental remediation, dismantlement and disposition activities, most of it goes to maintaining, improving and controlling the existing arsenal and toward the capability to produce new weapons (Schwartz 3).
The United States nuclear weapons program poses serious health risks to its citizens. A combination of secrecy, lax enforcement, reckless neglect and an emphasis on production at the cost of health, safety and the environment created toxic and radioactive pollution at thousands of sites around the country. United States nuclear weapons production facilities have left a mess that, if it can be cleaned up at all, will take decades and billions of dollars. Also, a great amount of United States citizens were needlessly exposed to high levels of radiation.
Those most affected were the workers at the Atomic Energy Commission (Department of Energy) weapons facilities (Schwartz 5). Another quarter of a million military personnel took part in exercises in the Pacific and Nevada test sites, to see their ability to engage the enemy on an atomic battlefield (Schwartz 5).
Nuclear weapons are not needed, and have not been, for years. While nuclear weapons have influenced politics, public opinion and defense budget, they have not had a significant impact on world affairs since World War II. Nor have they been crucial assets in the cold war developments, alliance patterns, or the way the major world powers have acted in times of crisis (Cameron 64). The main question is, would there actually have been another world war if these weapons did not exist? In my opinion, probably not. A nuclear war would be costly and destructive (Cameron 65). Anyone with the experiences of World War II behind them would not want to repeat the horror of that.
Even before the nuclear bomb had been perfected, world war had become spectacularly costly and destructive, killing over fifty million people world wide (Cameron 66).
Nuclear weapons are weapons of great destruction. Our government wastes over thirty-three billion dollars a year of our tax money. Also, nuclear weapons pose serious health risks to those around them, including the citizens of the United States. There has not been a significant impact on world affairs by nuclear weapons since World War II. For these reasons, I feel that the United States should reduce its nuclear arsenal.
1) Cameron, Kevin. “Taking Apart the Bomb.” Popular Science.
April 1993: 64-70.
2) “Nuclear Weapons.” Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia.
3) Schwartz, Stephen, Project Director. “The U.S. Nuclear Cost
Study Project.” Prodigy Web Browser. started in 1994
Filed Under: Law & Politics, Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Weapons, Science & Technology, Social Issues, War