What is the Cold War
Cold War is a phrase used to define the tensions both political and military that characterized the relationship between eastern bloc powers (the USSR) and the Western powers that included the U.S, and its allies in the NATO. The tense relationship followed after the World War II for most of the second part of the 20th century. It is referred to as the Cold War since none of the neither of the nations involved attacked each other physically. Rather, it was through other non-combative actions. The war influenced many international affairs with several crises along the way. Issues that arose due to the war include those to do with the Berlin Wall, Vietnam War, Hungary and the Cuban missile crisis among others. The period saw a strong buildup of weapon capabilities by both the U.S. and Russia causing much worry the world over. There was a competition of ideologies such as capitalism versus communism as both sides tried to prove the viability of their ideologies over those of their perceived rivals. Each of the two country’s strong conviction to their own beliefs informed an international struggle for dominance with each side seeking to spread its influence to as many nations as possible. There was a tendency by each of the countries to exploit any opportunity coming its way that would enable it to promote its ideologies. One cannot stop to wonder how two nations, the U.S. and the soviet union that fought successfully on the same side during the World War II would turn out to be such great enemies suspicious of each other’s intentions. The Cold War provides insights into how ideological differences influenced many of the political and military decisions of the U.S. and Russia after the World War II and some of the international events.
The US as the Cold War Winner
Certain unfolding events made it clear that the U.S. was the winner of the cold war. One of them is the collapse of the Soviet Union. Communism also failed badly serving as a blow to modern day Russia. The dismantling of the Soviet Union is seen as one of the biggest signs of America’s win in the Cold War. America’s victory did not just end there (Zakaria 40). Its influence seems to have affected numerous other aspects of the initially strong and united Soviet Union. The satellite states that formed part of the USSR all renounced communism and sought to institute democracy. Some of the American multinational corporations were able to expand into Russia and dominate some of the markets there. America’s economic power surpassed that of Russia with Russia severally finding itself with limited resources that could not match those of the United States.
President Ronald Reagan was instrumental in America’s win. When he took office, the U.S. was not doing very well against Russia. There had been significant setbacks to its efforts in countering communism (Zakaria 40). The Soviet Union was gaining ground managing to spread its communist ideology to more countries across the world. The U.S. military had become demoralized, a factor that had seen the country lose to Vietnam in a fiercely fought battle. Countries such as Nicaragua, Grenada, Mozambique, Cambodia and Angola among others had been subscribed to communist ideals. During his tenure as America’s 40th president, Reagan had over the eight years managed to reduce soviet influence. He won several key battles. For instance, he had been able to topple the communist dictatorship that caused immense fear among the citizens of Nicaragua. El Salvador, Nicaragua’s neighbor also managed to shake off communism in favor democracy. Around the world, most communist states were struggling economically while the capitalist economies seemed to perform better, giving capitalism, America’s ideology greater popularity.
Strength of the American Policies
The strength of the American policies and success they experienced elaborate further on the reasons as to why the U.S., is considered as the winner of the Cold War (Watts). President Reagan saw communism as evil and used his terms in office to institute policies that deal a total blow to communism. He found old ways of handling the Soviets as being ineffective. The U.S. had initially between always struggling to match Soviet’s military capabilities often producing weapons similar to those of Russia. Whenever, the Soviets released a new bomber or missile, the Americas would produce their own that matched the capabilities of those produced by Russia. However, this only served to favor Russia as it was seen to be a step ahead at all times. Winning over them, according to Reagan meant identifying and exploiting USSR’s weaknesses.
One of the Soviet’s weaknesses was an economy that was facing numerous enormous challenges that threatened its stability. Reagan saw a great opportunity in Russia's bad economy, that the U.S. could exploit and maximize on (Tirman). The Soviet had been offering inaccurate economic data and forecast that presented it as a strong economy. It is a practice that had been happening for years. CIA analysts detected a flaw in the figures and set out to determine the raw figures through a thorough assessment. In their investigations, the CIA would not leave anything to chance and would check anything that they felt could add value to their findings. They would in their investigations consider the number of people queuing to receive food supplements. Another item that interested them was the rate at which factories were closing down. The availability or lack of hard currency also received deserving attention. The findings of the investigation depicted the Soviet government as one unable to help its citizens meet their basic needs.
The discoveries bolstered Regan’s plans of using economic might to overpower and defeat Russia and its communist ideals. He intended to invest in the military and strengthen it considering that there had been insignificant change the army’s loss to Vietnam. He decided to invest in extensive strengthening and equipping of the military. He knew that the Soviets were very predictable, they would be tempted to try and match up to the U.S. a part of the domestic budget was dedicated to Reagan’s plans. As for the Soviets, the internal budget could not be used to fund new military build ups as the money available was barely enough to fund its domestic expenditures. They were compelled to hold back any such plans as they would negatively impact on the economy. Soviet was also left behind technologically. The U.S. president also enforced new laws that restricted sharing of technology with other countries further complicating things for Russia making it hard for them to keep up the pace (Watts).
The War on Terror as a By-product of the Cold War
The war on terrorism has its roots in the cold war. Those at the forefront of the war on terrorism make it a key issue in the American politics. They tend to bring the whole world into the issue. War on terror is significantly an extension of the cold pitting the U.S. against Russia in their ideological differences (Birnbaum). In countries headed by dictatorships, the U.S. is seen to support insurgent movements that are keen on toppling such regimes. Russia, on the other hand, has been seen to be supporting the governments that are in power during such scenarios. The case can be seen with Syria which is currently in a state of civil war with various insurgent groups fighting to overthrow the government which a run by a dictatorial regime and bring about democracy. The war on terror idea is being used to cover up for the issues of capitalism and communism that pit the U.S. against Russia. Sometimes, terrorism has been used as an excuse to bring regime change in countries where the leadership has been seen not to favor the U.S.
The United States Relationship with Russia
Russia and the United States uphold trade and diplomatic relations. Their affiliation was generally affectionate under Boris Yeltsin (1991–1999), the president of Russia in the 1990s until the spring of 1999 when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was bombed by NATO. However, due to recent events, it has presently deteriorated drastically under Vladimir Putin (TheHuffingtonPost). In 2014, the relationship greatly strained because of the Russia's annexation of Crimea and the Ukraine turmoil. The intense difference concerning the intervention of the Russian military in the Syrian Civil War Mutual sanctions imposed in 2014 continued to worsen the Russian-American bilateral relationship (TheHuffingtonPost). The US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Winter Olympics, the issue Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor and the uncharted penalties of the shale gas boom has all had hands in creating new difficulties and irritants between these two nations.
Today, and just after 2013 the breach between Russia and USA is clear with every nation blaming the other. For instance, Ibragimova posits that Russia argues that America fails to heed its opinions, for example on Ukraine and dishonored new relationship’s spirit by intruding into Russian politics. America, on the other hand, denies and points to a stable stream of anti-American actions and proclamations by Putin’s government. From these factors, the loss of trust in each other between America and Russia is evident. With the communal trust vanished, it is no doubt that Russia and America are getting into another decade full of the challenges, which will check whether the globe’s nuclear monsters will reclaim their correlation.
Clearly, the Cold War avails vital lessons on how ideological differences between the Soviet and U.S. have impacted both political and military decisions of the two countries and numerous international events. The turn of events in the later stages of the Cold War shows that the U.S. was the clear winner. The collapse of the Soviet Union and a failure of communism in its satellite states are proof of its defeat. President Reagan was instrumental in steering America’s capitalism to dominance over communism. War on terror is seen to have its roots in the Cold War. Most of the events surrounding it point to an ideological struggle between communists and capitalists.
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