As nearly all the colonial states achieved independence in the period —, they became Third World battlefields in the Cold War. India, Indonesia, and Yugoslavia took the lead in promoting neutrality with the Non-Aligned Movement , but it never had much power in its own right.
The Soviet Union and the United States never engaged directly in full-scale armed combat. However, both were heavily armed in preparation for a possible all-out nuclear world war. China and the United States fought an undeclared high-casualty war in Korea —53 that resulted in a stalemate. Each side had a nuclear strategy that discouraged an attack by the other side, on the basis that such an attack would lead to the total destruction of the attacker —the doctrine of mutually assured destruction MAD.
Aside from the development of the two sides' nuclear arsenals , and their deployment of conventional military forces, the struggle for dominance was expressed via proxy wars around the globe, psychological warfare , massive propaganda campaigns and espionage , far-reaching embargoes , rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race. The first phase of the Cold War began in the first two years after the end of the Second World War in The Soviet Union consolidated its control over the states of the Eastern Bloc, while the United States began a strategy of global containment to challenge Soviet power, extending military and financial aid to the countries of Western Europe for example, supporting the anti-communist side in the Greek Civil War and creating the NATO alliance.
The Berlin Blockade —49 was the first major crisis of the Cold War.
With the victory of the Communist side in the Chinese Civil War and the outbreak of the Korean War — , the conflict expanded. The Soviets suppressed the Hungarian Revolution of The expansion and escalation sparked more crises, such as the Suez Crisis , the Berlin Crisis of , and the Cuban Missile Crisis of , which was perhaps the closest the two sides came to nuclear war.
Meanwhile, an international peace movement took root and grew among citizens around the world, first in Japan from , when people became concerned about nuclear weapons testing , but soon also in Europe and the US. The peace movement, and in particular the anti-nuclear movement , gained pace and popularity from the late s and early s, and continued to grow through the '70s and '80s with large protest marches, demonstrations, and various non-parliamentary activism opposing war and calling for global nuclear disarmament.
Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, a new phase began that saw the Sino-Soviet split complicate relations within the Communist sphere, while US allies, particularly France, demonstrated greater independence of action.
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The USSR crushed the Prague Spring liberalization program in Czechoslovakia , while the US experienced internal turmoil from the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War —75 , which ended with the defeat of the US-backed South Vietnam , prompting further adjustments. The United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when the communist state was already suffering from economic stagnation. On 12 June , a million protesters gathered in Central Park , New York to call for an end to the Cold War arms race and nuclear weapons in particular.
In the mids , the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika "reorganization", and glasnost "openness", c. Pressures for national sovereignty grew stronger in Eastern Europe , especially Poland. Gorbachev meanwhile refused to use Soviet troops to bolster the faltering Warsaw Pact regimes as had occurred in the past. The result in was a wave of revolutions that peacefully with the exception of the Romanian Revolution overthrew all of the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union itself lost control and was banned following an abortive coup attempt in August This in turn led to the formal dissolution of the USSR in December and the collapse of communist regimes in other countries such as Mongolia , Cambodia , and South Yemen. The United States remained as the world's only superpower. The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy.
It is often referred to in popular culture , especially in media featuring themes of espionage notably the internationally successful James Bond book and film franchise and the threat of nuclear warfare. Meanwhile, a renewed state of tension between the Soviet Union's successor state, Russia , and the United States in the s including its Western allies and growing tension between an increasingly powerful China and the U. Contemplating a world living in the shadow of the threat of nuclear warfare , Orwell looked at James Burnham 's predictions of a polarized world, writing:.
Looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications—that is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of "cold war" with its neighbours.
The first use of the term to describe the specific post-war geopolitical confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States came in a speech by Bernard Baruch , an influential advisor to Democratic presidents,  on 16 April The speech, written by journalist Herbert Bayard Swope ,  proclaimed, "Let us not be deceived: we are today in the midst of a cold war.
When asked in about the source of the term, Lippmann traced it to a French term from the s, la guerre froide. While most historians trace the origins of the Cold War to the period immediately following World War II, others argue that it began with the October Revolution in Russia in when the Bolsheviks took power. The Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in November but German armies advanced rapidly across the borderlands.
The Allies responded with an economic blockade against all of Russia.
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In the eyes of some Allies, Russia now was helping Germany win the war by freeing up a million German soldiers for the Western Front  and by "relinquishing much of Russia's food supply, industrial base, fuel supplies, and communications with Western Europe. With Brest-Litovsk the spectre of German domination in Eastern Europe threatened to become reality, and the Allies now began to think seriously about military intervention," and proceeded to step up their " economic warfare " against the Bolsheviks. In Britain sent in money and some troops to support the anti-Bolshevik "White" counter-revolutionaries.
This policy was spearheaded by Minister of War Winston Churchill , a committed anti-communist. Lenin made peace overtures to Wilson, and the American leader responded by sending diplomat William Bullitt to Moscow. The Allies ultimately rejected the ceasefire terms which Bullitt negotiated, believing that a White victory was imminent. Nonetheless, the Bolsheviks defeated all opposition and took full control of Russia, as well as breakaway provinces such as Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
Soviet Russia found itself isolated in international diplomacy. By , old fears of Communist threats had faded, and the American business community, as well as newspaper editors, were calling for diplomatic recognition. President Franklin D.
Roosevelt used presidential authority to normalize relations in November Historians Justus D. Doenecke and Mark A.
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Stoler note that, "Both nations were soon disillusioned by the accord. Roosevelt named William Bullitt as ambassador from to Bullitt arrived in Moscow with high hopes for Soviet—American relations, but his view of the Soviet leadership soured on closer inspection. By the end of his tenure, Bullitt was openly hostile to the Soviet government, and he remained an outspoken anti-communist for the rest of his life.
In the late s, Stalin had worked with Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov to promote popular fronts with capitalist parties and governments to oppose fascism. The Soviets were embittered when Western governments chose to practice appeasement with Nazi Germany instead. Facing an aggressive Japan at Russia's borders as well, Stalin changed directions and replaced Litvinov with Vyacheslav Molotov , who negotiated closer relations with Germany. The resulting Winter War ended in March with Finnish concessions. Britain signed a formal alliance and the United States made an informal agreement.
According to this view, the Western Allies had deliberately delayed opening a second anti-German front in order to step in at the last minute and shape the peace settlement. Thus, Soviet perceptions of the West left a strong undercurrent of tension and hostility between the Allied powers. The Allies disagreed about how the European map should look, and how borders would be drawn, following the war. Roosevelt's goals—military victory in both Europe and Asia, the achievement of global American economic supremacy over the British Empire , and the creation of a world peace organization—were more global than Churchill's, which were mainly centered on securing control over the Mediterranean , ensuring the survival of the British Empire, and the independence of Central and Eastern European countries as a buffer between the Soviets and the United Kingdom.
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The Soviet Union sought to dominate the internal affairs of countries in its border regions. Soviet agents took control of the media, especially radio; they quickly harassed and then banned all independent civic institutions, from youth groups to schools, churches and rival political parties. In the American view, Stalin seemed a potential ally in accomplishing their goals, whereas in the British approach Stalin appeared as the greatest threat to the fulfillment of their agenda.
With the Soviets already occupying most of Central and Eastern Europe, Stalin was at an advantage, and the two western leaders vied for his favors. The differences between Roosevelt and Churchill led to several separate deals with the Soviets. In October , Churchill traveled to Moscow and proposed the " percentages agreement " to divide the Balkans into respective spheres of influence , including giving Stalin predominance over Romania and Bulgaria and Churchill carte blanche over Greece.
At the Yalta Conference of February , Roosevelt signed a separate deal with Stalin in regard of Asia and refused to support Churchill on the issues of Poland and Reparations. At the Second Quebec Conference , a high-level military conference held in Quebec City, 12—16 September , Churchill and Roosevelt reached agreement on a number of matters, including a plan for Germany based on Henry Morgenthau Jr. The memorandum drafted by Churchill provided for "eliminating the warmaking industries in the Ruhr and the Saar It directed the U.
The Soviet Union was not allowed to participate and the dispute led to heated correspondence between Franklin Roosevelt and Stalin. Wolff and his forces were being considered to help implement Operation Unthinkable , a secret plan to invade the Soviet Union which Winston Churchill advocated during this period.
Truman , who distrusted Stalin and turned for advice to an elite group of foreign policy intellectuals. Both Churchill and Truman opposed, among other things, the Soviets' decision to prop up the Lublin government , the Soviet-controlled rival to the Polish government-in-exile in London, whose relations with the Soviets had been severed.
In Germany and Austria , France, Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States established zones of occupation and a loose framework for parceled four-power control. The Allied conference in San Francisco established the multi-national United Nations UN for the maintenance of world peace , but the enforcement capacity of its Security Council was effectively paralyzed by the ability of individual members to exercise veto power. At the Potsdam Conference , which started in late July after Germany's surrender, serious differences emerged over the future development of Germany and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Americans and British refused to fix a dollar amount for reparations, but they permitted the Russians to remove some industry from their zones. Stalin was aware that the Americans were working on the atomic bomb, and he reacted to the news calmly.