The twenty-five years following World War II symbolize all the political institutions of an international warfare without the actual combat. But does it become constructive to deem this same period as a Cold War system? Well, in fact, it does, because, for one, the structure and composition of the world during these two and a half decades were certainly parallel to the definition of what it is to be involved in a Cold War system. And secondly, by labeling this era a Cold War system one accounts for the fact that the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was at a level that escalated up to the brink of nuclear war several times, and to technical warfare once or twice, thus to call it much less than war is misleading and unacceptable.
Thinking about the international and global history of post World War II period as a Cold War system is essential to conveying the feelings and moods of the people during the time period. The connotations that people will forever connect to the word “war” are so strong, dire, and horrific, that one begins to get a sense for how people felt during the Cold War period when you call it such. The attitudes of the people who lived and were involved in this system were much like the mindsets of people who experienced the outer atmosphere of World War II. Everyday, people across the globe were confronted with the possibility of nuclear destruction; Americans faced advertisements for fallout shelters, and Soviets in East Berlin were scared by the threat of attack by the Allies who were no more than a hop, skip and jump over the Berlin wall. The world was really at a standstill during the aforementioned period, and there was very little progress that could be seen as a result of the Veteran’s Day besides the end of combat and Nazi authority. People’s lives were still being threatened and protected by agencies and governments bigger and more important than they; thus, leaving them helpless, much like the civilians of the war. And looking back on this 25 year period as a Cold War system best conveys the attitude and disposition of the people who experienced it because of the entities of which a Cold War system is said to contain.
An international system of any sort contains four main things, while a more specific Cold War system embodies a few more elements. An international system first includes agreed aims on what multiple nations’ intentions are in the world. This corresponds to nations agreeing upon avoiding revolution, forestalling nuclear war, and prevention a separation of non-involved nations’ allegiance. An international system then includes a structure for position and power. This structure system could be all against one belief, two against 3, or one-on-one, and a bipolar structure system. Thirdly, an international system has accepted procedures for crisis management, disbarment and summits in cases where such things or occurrences are of dire need. Lastly, an international system requires that both nations are adaptable, and that they can both adapt to adverse situations, as they often do exist in situations of dire international concern.
A Cold War system embodies most of what an international system does, with the addition of several other things. One of those being that a Cold War system requires that the structure of power is bipolar; one belief versus another. Where it becomes useful to think of the 25 years after WWII as bipolar is that it accurately describes the situation, because as a country, you were either democratic, communist, or third world, which eventually mean your involvement. Secondly, both major powers have to agree to disagree; thereby, the fact that they are not in connection or are of use to one another is apparent. Thirdly, in a cold war system, two nations have to establish that the increasing researching and creation of arms was to be ceased. And where it become necessary to think of the post WWII period as an effort to not have an arms race is because there was actually an arms race many people fail to remember that ceasing arms racing was the goal, and in rare moments when that did occur, it often eased the tension of the Cold War. One last thing in reference to the Cold War system between the United States in specific was that the entire cold was just about them, but it was about the independence and safety of those not involved as well. European countries were often used as gambling chips, and third world countries were often targets for consumption by either democracy or communism.
The Berlin Crisis is a prime example of why it is constructive to think of the post WWII years as a Cold War system, starting with the Berlin Airlift right after the war. The Soviets had placed a ban on all access to East Berlin, and in direct rebelliousness of the Soviet’s injunction, Americans flew in all necessary materials, goods, and supplies for the struggling inhabitants of East Berlin. Such an act of defiance is once again symbolic of the war with out combat theme that is symbolic of a cold war system, and thus makes it useful to think of the Berlin Airlift as being a part of that. Following the airlift, growing military power was apparent on both sides of Berlin and . The was stockpiling infantry and arms in the , and the Soviets were countering in the west. Khrushchev, a Soviet leader, was determined on establishing as its transition point to the West and wanted control of it, as well as the removal of NATO, so he threatened that all Allied nations risked warfare with the Soviets for any inclusion in the fight for . This was a threat that was made to discourage the placement of short-ranged missiles on the NATO nations’ soil. Much like an actual war, the threatening of life is apparent here, the endangerment of innocent civilians is also apparent, as one’s nation merely just being in favor of the could result in the nuclear destruction of their very own homeland. But in awareness of this threat came a result that is much aligned with the idea of a cold war system; there was an agreement to hold a meeting between the nations’ leaders at the President’s Camp David home in the mountains of Maryland. As it was said before, an international system and a cold war system both embody accepted procedures on calling summits in times of crisis, and here was no different at the US and Soviets had to meet as the growing tension over Berlin was reaching a critical point. But talks between the President and Khrushchev did not go to well and it led to another summit being called for in Paris with the other NATO nations, but that was called off by none other than Khrushchev himself who refused to attend. His refusal was a result of the growing hostility and pressure toward Soviet leaders from their constituents because of the way that the was withholding the rest of from the Soviets. The addition of the Sino-Soviet split was also evidence of the emergent Communist divide, for it truly shattered the communist bloc where the Soviets were trying to establish themselves as leaders, but the Chinese declared themselves independent and detached from Soviet interests and in the pursuit of leading the Communist bloc themselves
During the Berlin Crisis, the next several building blocks toward some of the most influential points of the cold war make it very easy to see why the word “war” is used in the description of this period even though there was no combat. One incident was that of an American U-2 being shot down over Soviet airspace, which was a direct violation international airspace regulation. This incident made two things extremely clear, the first being that the was not going to trust the ongoings of the Soviets no matter what they were saying, and spying on them was already in place at that point in time. Secondly, it also made it apparent that the Soviets would not tolerate any such espionage and were willing to respond in direct battle to any attempts of it. With these two things now clear, it was evident to the world that the globe was on the brink of warfare, and shooting down planes and espionage would lead to war if things were to get out of hand. Now that particular situation was resolved through agreements with the Soviets looking to come out on top, but the ongoing occurrence of nuclear testing only led to more bad things and the Soviets demise in Berlin. It was clear that the Soviets had been testing nuclear bombs when one had actually been detonated with 3500 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. This incident truly forced Americans to start panicking, which then resulted in the creation of family-size fallout shelters and duck and cover drills in schools. But because there was a cold war system in place, the Soviets themselves were not trying to incur a nuclear showdown, and thus decided that the construction of the Berlin wall would best ease the tensions of the Berlin Crisis. This result did not work out too well for the Soviets, and only resulted in the Americans holding on to their claim in Berlin and thereby fending of the Soviets’ desire to control . The construction of the Berlin wall eventually ended the Berlin Crisis, and upon looking back on the occurrences that happened, it is arduous not to be ware of the fact that an embargo had occurred, soil had been fought for, controlled and claimed, planes had been shot down, and nuclear bombs had been tested, and yet with all these acts of rivalry there remained no actual declaration of war. Thus, making this crisis apart of the Cold War useful, but it is a time of increased tension, warring desires, and threats, without the consequence of actual combat.
From the want for control of Berlin, came the want for control of . The wanted to establish the Western hemisphere would not be under any influence of the communist bloc. The Organization of American States was established in order to do just that; it was much like a NATO for the American states. And the assemblage of the Organization of American States was very effective, but as the Latin countries of the organization began to realize they would not receive the assistance and aid that the reconstructing nations of NATO were receiving from the United States, they quickly turned on the U.S. and thus the U.S. became quite concerned with the entire operation of the Organization of American States. Eventually the lack of American support led to the rising of rebellious leaders in the Latin countries, one of the first being Colonel Arbenz of . Arbenz eventually made mention of communist influence in his entourage, and that was not of interest to the This incident clearly was not well taken by the and led to his being overthrown. Bringing communist influence into the western hemisphere was not to be accepted by the . And while the was still trying to avoid war, its mini-operatives that occurred to overthrow Arbenz were evidence to the contrary from the perspective of the rest of the world. Fidel Castro was the next Latin leader to seek communist influence and help in order to alleviate his country’s independence on the . In Castro’s attempt to make dealings with the Soviets, he made enemies with the , and Kennedy wasted no time after coming into office to try and exile him at the Bay of Pigs. This was another move by United States to prevent nuclear warfare, and although this event actually included combat, the combat that was most preeminent and expected, nuclear combat that is, was not going to occur if they could exile Castro and rid of all communist influence in the west. The combat at the Bay of Pigs failed miserably, and Castro went on to make further dealings with the Soviets which included an agreement for him to place medium-range ballistic missiles on Cuban soil in exchange for the Soviets purchasing Cuba’s cash crop, sugar. The now had the pressure of having missiles aimed right at their country, right in their backyard. Once again, it is important to note that these actions are all much like a game of poker. The missiles being placed off the coast of was a bet by the Soviets that the would let down some of their attempts at the destruction of the Communist bloc if for once their own soil and civilians were actually threatened. Such a bet, or act of warfare without the combat, was just another allusion to the effects of a cold war system where the purpose is to avoid war and nuclear destruction. But the seemingly called the Soviet’s bet a bluff, as they instituted a blockade of that they would not be removed until missiles from were removed first. Of course, President Kennedy called it a quarantine, as calling it a blockade symbolized an act of war as deemed by international law, and thus would be against establishing a true cold war system. President Kennedy also let it be known that any missile attack from would be considered a Soviet attack, and thus would probably result in nuclear warfare as an American response. The Soviets eventually backed off and removed the missiles under the stipulation that the would not invade . In the end, by thinking of this a cold war system, one can understand the influence of cold war politics in place. The Soviets backing off the missile stockpiling in was a result of their agreed avoidance of war. It was much like two kids warning one another not to “touch me,” but then getting as close to their face and body to provoke them to just that, knowing that they still will not touch you because of your agreement. The U.S.’s blockade made it so that the Soviets could only deliver missiles if they went through the U.S.’s ships, and that would only cause war, which a was the very thing both powers of influence had agreed not to do. Acts like this were very prominent in the Cold War, because acting in such a way that provoked possible nuclear warfare had to be respected on the basis of a cold war agreement and the safety of billions, even though both nations were usually doing nothing but bluffing.
The SALT I Treaty is also a useful example to describe how thinking of the post WWII period as a cold war system is valuable. The SALT I Treaty aimed to reduce the tension of the arms race, and any other races the Soviets and were involved in. The hope for nuclear dominance was in both of the powers’ minds, and racing toward that dominance only increased the actuality of nuclear warfare. But in the spirit of a cold war system, the two nations made this very treaty so that the event of warfare would not happen. It also served as a means to rid of the tension in where the Soviets were attempting to institute a Communist regime, which would also serve as another bargaining chip in their outright purpose to establish themselves as the leader of the communist movement. However, the development of the American-Soviet collaboration to keep in check the race for nuclear arms during the early parts of the 1970’s deterred the Vietnam confliction from eventually turning into a nuclear onslaught. And that would not have been possible without the previous accomplishment of the reduction of political tensions through this cold war system in other such situations (i.e. Berlin and ). The eventual removal of American troops from resulted in decreasing the tensions between the Soviets and the even more, and it also most likely symbolized the plodding dissolution of the two power influences in the former stages of the Cold War. The emergence of third world and neutral nations made the power blocks of American and the Soviet Union less influential and rid of the once strong bi-polar international system that had dominated more than 20 of years to follow the end of WWII. But in the end, it was the reduction of the nuclear arms race that made any of this possible, for without that agreement, the threat of people’s lives would have forced the cold war system to continue as the only means of the protection of people across the globe.
Little by little, the Cold War system of the post WWII period was not only a correct way of labeling the era, but was influential in itself. After all, many people back then labeled it the cold war, and if that is how the people of the times recall their nation’s involvement in it, then it would seem that their portrayal of the occurrence is possibly the best means for describing their history. That makes thinking about the global history of the era, in this way, undoubtedly helpful to understanding the mindsets of people, the settings they lived in, and effects of the government on the grass roots of society. Understanding history in that matter is always going to be beneficial because so many things can be taken out of context, but political analysis of certain situations can be studied to understand how the world is functioning and operating, which makes the assertion of a cold war system on this period so vital to understanding it.