Phases of the Cold War and Global Conflicts: A Historical Overview

Phases of the Cold War:

Containment: In March 1947, the US President Harry S. Truman asks Congress to support the Greek government against communism in the Greek Civil War. To get the economy going again, the USA comes up with the European Recovery Programme for Europe, nicknamed the Marshall Plan. Stalin sets up the Communist Information Bureau.

Peaceful Coexistence: In 1953, Stalin dies and Nikita comes to power in the Soviet Union. During this period, the leaders of the USSR, the USA, UK, and France meet at the Geneva Conference in 1955 to discuss the ending of the Cold War.

End of Peaceful Coexistence: Relations come tense again in 1960 when the Soviets shoot down an American spy plane over the Soviet Union, and a nuclear war almost breaks out.

Detente: Tensions facilitate between the two superpowers, and there is more cooperation in trade. In 1972 and 1979, the 2 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty agreements.

Freeze in Relations: When Jimmy Carter becomes President of the USA, he demands more human rights in the USSR.

The End of the Cold War: It ends with the fall of the communist bloc.

Cold War Conflicts:

  1. The Greek Civil War: This was the first intervention resulting from the Truman Doctrine.
  2. Korean War: At the end of WWI, North Korea and South Korea were separated near the 38th parallel. On 25 June 1950, the troops from communist North Korea crossed into South Korea. Today the border is still a place of international tension.
  3. Hungarian Uprising: In October, workers marched into the city peacefully. When the Hungarian leader, Nagy, said they wanted to leave the Warsaw Pact.
  4. Suez Crisis: The Egyptian President, Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal. Great Britain, France, and Israel attacked Egypt.
  5. Spy Plane Incident: An American spy plane was shot out of the sky as it flew over the Soviet Union.
  6. Berlin Wall: Faced with large numbers of people moving from East Germany to West Berlin for economic reasons, they stopped this by building a wall which separated both.
  7. Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba: On April 17th, there was an attempt to take Fidel Castro out of power. An army of Cuban exiles opposed to Castro landed at the Bay of Pigs.
  8. Cuban Missile Crisis: The USA found Soviet missile sites in Cuba, which were very close to the American coast.
  9. Vietnam War: After WWII, Vietnam was divided in two: North and South. An armed communist group from North Vietnam, the Vietcong, invaded the South and attacked American bases.

The USA and Western Europe at the End of the Cold War:

Western Europe: In the 1950s and 1960s, the capitalist economy experienced one of the greatest periods of growth in its history. This led to an expansion of the welfare state in many Western countries. However, the 1970s brought a severe economic recession. Among the causes was the oil crisis. Among the consequences of the crisis was a weakening of the welfare state and the implementation of a new model of economic liberalism, which is still dominant today. Also important during 1970 was the fall of dictatorship in Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

The United States: Reagan was succeeded by his Vice-President, George Bush, whose term was marked by economic recession. It was largely due to this crisis that Democrat Bill Clinton was elected, ending 12 years of Republican control.

First Gulf War: In 1991, Bush organized a broad international coalition in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Middle East Peace Process: International recognition of American power allowed the US to lead initiatives like the Middle East peace process.

Economic Growth: Clinton was able to overcome the crisis and eliminate the deficit.

Latin America in the 20th Century:

Constraints on Development: Spain and Portugal American empires had disappeared by the 19th century. However, most Latin American countries did not achieve full sovereignty until the 20th century. The main reasons were:

Rapid Population Growth: This was accompanied by migration to cities and emigration to Europe and the US.

Social Inequality: A minority made up of the descendants of Europeans held considerably greater social and economic power than the large indigenous or mixed population.

Weak Economies: There was little industrial development, and agriculture still played a very important role.

The Mexican Revolution:

One of the most famous revolutions of the 20th century took place in Mexico in 1910, ruled by Porfirio Diaz.

One of the issues which initiated the revolution were reforms that took away land from the peasants who had worked for generations, leaving them unable to survive. The success of the revolution led to the establishment of a democracy controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Globalization of Politics:

UN: The United Nations is the largest international organization, with over 190 member states. It facilitates international cooperation in areas such as international law, peace, social and economic development, and human rights.

WB: The World Bank is an economic and monetary institution. Their objective is to improve the living standards in member countries.

EU: The European Union is an economic and political association made up of 28 countries. A lot of the policies of the member states are led by the union’s institutions.

NGO: Non-governmental organizations have humanitarian functions, which were previously carried out by the state.

The Failure of the State:

Separatist Movements: These movements question the borders of states.

Failed States: Some states can’t guarantee either the safety or the well-being of their citizens.

Mafia Organizations: Mafia organizations use tax havens, located in countries which attract a lot of undeclared money.

Conflicts in Africa:

Demographic Explosion: Africa has the fastest growing population in the world. In 1900, the population of Europe was treble that of Africa. Now they are approximately the same, but predictions for 2050 show that there will be three times more Africans than Europeans. In spite of the high rates of infant mortality caused by epidemics like malaria and Ebola. Furthermore, the birth rate continues to be very high. The highest fertility rate in the world has been recorded in African women. This is why the African population is the youngest on the planet.

Arab Spring and Current Problems: From 2010, a series of protest marches which began in Tunisia spread over a large part of the Arab world. Popular opposition to dictatorships and corrupt governments managed to overthrow the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and produce a civil war in Libya. A large part of the Sahara has become a highly unstable zone, where border divisions are not respected and in which fundamentalist groups operate.

The USA from the End of the Cold War:

  1. Euphoria: Due to its winning position after the collapse of the USSR, its Cold War enemy.
  2. Presidency of George: The climate of the confidence and optimism came to an end with the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington, in which Saudis had taken part.
  3. The Increase in Neoliberal Policies: Which were driven by President Bush, the lack of economic legislation, and the provision of high-risk mortgages led to an economic crisis and bankruptcy of some banks.
  4. Obama Presidency: From 2009 and the presidency of Barack Obama, a more democratic period began, which was marked by attempts to introduce a public system for health insurance.
  5. Presidency of Donald Trump: In November 2016, the businessman Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to the presidency.