Cold War Essay, Research Paper
Explain the U.S. & Russian Positions
The Cold War between the superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union was a clash of distant ideologies in a changing world. Friction developed between the two on many occasions as either side tried to expand their spheres of influence in politics, geographical surroundings, and even space. Continued clashes between the US and Soviet Union began to tense their relations during this era as it became evident to all that the cord of discontent could snap at any given moment.
Nasser and the Aswan Dam
Throughout the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union attempted to acquire more and more territories into their spheres of influence. It was on one such occasion that Egypt became their center of attention as they both attempted to gain its favor. The Americans initially offered the Egyptian leader Nasser money in December of 1955 for the development of a dam at Aswan in order to harness the Nile for both irrigation and hydroelectric power. This attempt to befriend him altered when the US became known of Nasser’s arms deal with the communist satellite country of Czechoslovakia; therefore, they immediately revoked the offer.
The move by the US to cancel their deal would lead to the intervention of Russia, as they were more than willing to aid Egypt in order to increase their sphere of influence in the Middle East. The Soviet Union considered the possibility that they could ultimately establish a communist government in Egypt; this action helped lead to the Suez conflict.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
Russian aid to the country of Cuba caused the US to be faced with the problem of nuclear missiles being within striking distance of every one of it’s major cities. President Kennedy was faced with three possible options for the dilemma: a nuclear strike on the missile sites in Cuba, an air attack with conventional bombs, or a naval blockade to prevent the Russians from transporting more missiles to Cuba. Upon the consideration of his brother, Robert, President Kennedy decided on a “quarantine” of Cuba through a naval blockade. After stiff negotiations, the Soviet Union agreed to remove it missiles from Cuba without the addition of anymore. Although the US was not cooperative on removing its nuclear weapons from Turkey, it did, however, agree to remove its naval blockade on Cuba; in addition, President Kennedy assured Krushchev that the US would not invade Cuba.
The Russian aim throughout the ordeal was for the removal of American nuclear weapons in the country of Turkey as it sat dangerously close to their border. Krushchev planned to extend Soviet influence into the Western country of Cuba; while at the same time demonstrating their particular situation with Turkey by placing similar devices in Cuba to make the Americans understand how they felt. The confrontation was settled on November 20, 1962 when the Soviet Union agreed to remove it missiles from Cuba.
The Berlin Wall
The Soviet Union erected the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961; therefore, separating both Berlin and Germany. Krushchev built the wall in order to remove the Western Powers from their outpost (Berlin) in East Germany. He also intended to stop the emigration of East Germans to the West through West Berlin. Some Russians saw Krushchev’s solution as being a weak and unsatisfactory solution for expelling Americans from the East.
The US had intended to strengthen their positions in East Germany before the wall was built. Kennedy’s reaction was that of minor protest; as a result, he was accused of being soft on communism because he didn’t send any troops in to tear down the wall.
The Space Race
The Space Race was a competition in which the United States and the Soviet Union tried to display their superiority over the other through advancements in space technology and exploration. The Russians succeeded in beating the Americans at sending both the first satellite and man, Yuri Gagarin, into space in 1957. This advancement earned the Russian prestige and the power to demand concessions from the West.
The American public felt disappointed at the Russian advancements in space and as a result, President Kennedy responded by promising that the US would land the first man on the moon before 1970, and before the Russians. In July of 1969, Kennedy’s promise became authentic when Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. After the landing, A new American President, Reagan, devised a plan to develop a space based anti-missile system to destroy any Soviet nuclear missiles before reaching its target. Krushchev also wanted to develop an anti-missile space system in order to out-perform the Americans.
Nuclear Weapons Development
Following Krushchev’s decision on the Berlin Wall, he received much criticism from the Russian people. In response, he ordered new nuclear tests that eventually led to the creation of the Hydrogen bomb. This advancement caused the Americans to soon follow with their own Hydrogen bomb as the arms race began to heat up with increased funding by both sides in order to out perform the other. These advancements caused either country to gain a greater respect for the other. This respect led to the Geneva Summit in November 1985; President Reagan met with Gorbachev in order to discuss the control of nuclear weapons, as either side was willing to make huge cuts to their nuclear arsenal. Gorbachev was determined for Reagan to end the development of the space based anti-missile system because he said that it just created further tension between the two. Gorbachev argued that Russia would inevitable just create their own space system; however, Reagan was strongly opposed. The development of nuclear weapons soon took a backseat to the development of more advanced defense systems against nuclear attack as each country tried to ensure the safety of it’s people.
Relations between the Soviet Union and the United States began to increase as a result of the out of control arms race. They each had enough nuclear weapons t annihilate each other and for that matter, the entire world. They wanted to decrease military expenditure and decrease armaments, as this had become a huge part of both countries national budgets. The two powers and the UK signed a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as they invited other counties to sign for the control of nuclear weapons. There was still, however, apprehension on either side as they still suspected a surprise attack from the other. Although it would be some time before a trusting relationship was established between the two country’s, tension was finally beginning to ease as the Cold War’s icy grip on the world began to thaw.
The Cold War was a rivalry that held the two great superpowers of the world at each other’s throats for the greater part of the century. Their mistrust and competitive instincts resulted in many avoidable confrontations as either side held firm to their ideals. The US and Soviet struggle for supremacy held the entire world in a panic as it was known that a nuclear holocaust would spell the end of civilization as we know it. The eventual outcome helped ease the fears of either side as the arms race began to slowly end.