The Cold War Era And Non-Aligned Movement
The Cold War was an intense but yet COLD, was a period of ideological and geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective allies (the Western Alliance and the Eastern Alliance, after World War II.
This period is generally considered to have started in the 1947 Truman Doctrine (12 March 1947) to the 1991 Dissolution of the Soviet Union (26 December 1991).
Main ideological conflicts of the Cold War were capitalism, communism, democracy and dictatorship.
The US followed the ideology of liberal democracy and capitalism while the USSR backed the ideology of dictatorship, socialism and communism.
The Second World War (1939-1945) ended with the defeat of the Axis powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan by the Allied forces led by the US, Soviet Union, Britain and France.
It marked the beginning of the Cold War. The consequence of the end of the Second World War was the rise of two new powers viz. The United States and the Soviet Union on the global stage.
The Cold War Rivalry
The Cold War rivalry resulted in anti-communist suspicions and international incidents that led the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear disaster.
The Cold War in spite of being an intense form of rivalry between great powers, remained a ‘cold’.
This term is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers.
No direct fighting was due to the ‘logic of deterrence’. Which means- when both sides have the capacity to respond against an attack and to cause so much destruction that neither can afford to initiate war.
The doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) discouraged a pre-emptive attack by either side.
Both superpowers and their allies were expected to behave as rational and responsible as possible.
But both supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means such as propaganda campaigns, psychological warfare, espionage, rivalry at sports events and technological competitions such as the Space Race.
The two superpowers i.e. the US and USSR wanted to expand in different parts of the world. Hence, they decided to take help of the smaller countries.
These smaller states got the assurance of protection, weapons and economic aid against their local rivals, mostly regional neighbours.
The first division took place in Europe. Most countries of Western Europe joined with the US and thus known as ‘Western alliance.
The countries of the Eastern Europe sided with the Soviet Union (USSR) and came to be known as ‘Eastern alliance.’
The Western alliance formed an organisation in April, 1949 with twelve states. known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
The NATO declared that armed attack on any of these states in Europe or North America would be regarded as an attack on all of them.
The Eastern alliance,was established in 1955, also known as the Warsaw Pact, was led by the Soviet Union. This Alliance principle function was to counter NATO’s forces in Europe.
Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuba was one of the ally of the Soviet Union and received diplomatic and financial aid from it. In April 1961, top leaders of the USSR were worried that the United States of America would occupy communist – ruled Cuba and overthrow its President Fidel Castro.
In 1962, one of the leader of Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, placed nuclear missiles in Cuba for converting it into a Russian base.
Three weeks later, The US came to know of it. The US President John F. Kennedy along with his advisers tried to find a solution to avoid full-scale nuclear war. They were decid to remove the missiles and nuclear weapons from Cuba.
Kennedy ordered American warships to intercept any Soviet ships heading to Cuba as a way of warning the USSR. Thus this clash between the USA and the USSR came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a main point which came to be known as the Cold War. It led to much competition, tensions and a series of confrontations between the United States and Soviet Union.
Later The US and USSR decided to collaborate in limiting certain kinds of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.
The two sides signed three significant agreements within a decade.
These were :
- Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT).
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
- Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT)
- Challenge to Bipolarity
Arenas of the Cold War
The arenas of the Cold War refer to areas where crisis and war occurred or threatened to occur between the alliance systems but did not cross certain limits.
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
The other important development was the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The smaller countries were of more help to the superpowers because they were the means to gain vital resources such as oil and minerals; locations to spy each other and to launch weapons.
NAM was founded by five leaders-
- Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito
- India’s Jawaharlal Nehru
- Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser
- Indonesia’s Sukarno
- Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah
The first NAM summit was held in 1961 at Belgrade. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) offered the newly decolonised countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America a third option i.e. not to join any of the alliances.
Non-Alignment neither means isolationism nor neutrality. It played a role in mediating between the two rival alliances.
Jawaharlal Nehru, played a major role in mediating between the two Koreas. In the Congo crisis, the UN Secretary General played a key mediatory role.
The main nature of Non-Alignment is to give greater importance to economic issues. As a result, NAM became an economic pressure group.
New International Economic Order
The major challenge for the newly decolonised countries was to become more developed economically and to lift their people out of poverty.
The idea of New International Economic Order (NIEO) originated with this realisation.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brought out a report in 1972 entitled ‘Towards a New Trade Policy for Development’.
India and the Cold War
India followed a two way policy regarding the Cold War. It did not join any of the alliances and raised its voice against the newly decolonised countries becoming part of these alliances.
The policy of India was not ‘fleeing away’ but was in favour of actively intervening in world affairs to soften Cold War rivalries.
The Non-Alignment gave India the power to take international decisions and to balance one superpower against the other.
India’s policy of Non-Alignment was criticised on a number of counts. But still it has become both an international movement and a core of India’s foreign policy.
Things To Remember
- Cuban Missile Crisis, that made the whole world nervous by creating clashes between the two superpowers, the US and Soviet Union, namely the Cold War.
- The Cold War referred to competitions, tensions and series of confrontations between the US and USSR.
- In 1945, with the end of the Second World War, the Cold War began when the US dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a diplomatic manner to warn Soviet Union.
- The greed of expansion of their spheres of influence divided the world into alliances. The US built NATO, SouthEast Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO). The Soviet Union (USSR) created Eastern alliance known as the WARSAW PACT.
- Smaller states get the promises of protection, weapons and economic aid against their local rivals.
- Superpower required them to gain access to vital resources, territory to launch weapons and troops, to spy on each other and economic support.
- Despite the occurring crisis in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, both the superpowers behaved rationally and responsibly.
- Both the superpowers maintained ‘arms control’ by signing various treaties as Limited Test Ban Treaty, Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
- Countries outside the two alliances known as NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), joined by decolonised countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, played a crucial role in reducing cold war conflicts to maintain peace and stability all over the world.
- Five founder members of NAM were Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, India’s JL Nehru, Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indonesia’s Sukarno and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.
- The majority of NAM members who were categorised as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), initiated economic development under the head of New International Economic Order (NIEO).
- The United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brought out a report in 1972 to propose to give the LDCs full control over their natural resources, to make western market available to them to reduce cost of technology and to provide a greater role in international economic institutions.
- India responded to the growth of the Cold War into two fold. Firstly, it stayed away from the alliances and secondly, it raised its voice against newly decolonised countries becoming part of either alliance.
- NAM served India’s interests to participate in international decisions and maintained balance between two superpowers.
- India’s policy was criticised by some countries on grounds of possessing contradictory positions i.e. signed a treaty of friendship with the USSR in August 1971 for 20 years and developed good relations with the US during the Bangladesh crisis.
- It is said that NAM has lost its relevance after the disintegration of the USSR and the end of the cold war in 1991.
- NAM is based on a resolve to democratise the international system to redress existing inequities that poor and small countries need not to follow any of the big powers instead they can pursue an independent foreign policy also.
- These core values make NAM relevant even in today’s scenario as it has stood on adverse circumstances and served an important purpose of protecting the interests of third world countries.
- 1947: American President Harry Truman’s Doctrine about containment of communism.
- 1947-52: Marshall Plan: US aid for reconstruction of Western Europe.
- 1948-49: Berlin blockade by the Soviet Union.
- 1949: NATO
- 1950-53: Korean War
- 1954: Defeat of the French by Vietnamese at Dien Bien Phu; Signing of Geneva Accord; Division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel formation of SEATO.
- 1954-75: American intervention in Vietnam.
- 1955: Signing of Baghdad Pact, later CENTO.
- 1956: Soviet intervention in Hungary.
- 1961: US-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba construction of Berlin Wall.
- 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis
- 1965: American Intervention in the Dominican Republic
- 1968: Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia.
- 1972: US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China
- 1978-89: Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia
- 1979-89: Soviet intervention in Afghanistan
- 1985: Gorbachev becomes the president of the USSR and begins the reform process.
- 1989: Fall of Berlin Wall
- 1990: Unification of Germany
- 1991: Disintegration of Soviet Union, End of the Cold War
Political Science All Chapter Notes
- Class 12 Political Science Syllabus
- Chapter 1: Cold War Era
- Chapter 2: The End of Bipolarity
- Chapter 3: New Centre Of Power
- Chapter 4: South Asia and The Contemporary World
- Chapter 5: United Nation And Its Organisations
- Chapter 6: Globalization
- Chapter 7: Challenge Of Nation Building
- Chapter 8: Planned Development
- Chapter 9: India’s Foreign Policy
- Chapter 10: Parties And The Party Systems In India
- Chapter 11: Democratic Resurgence
- Chapter 12: Indian Politics: Trends And Developments
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. When does the cold war Era started?
Answer: This period is generally considered to have started in the 1947 Truman Doctrine (12 March 1947) to the 1991 Dissolution of the Soviet Union (26 December 1991).
Q2. What was arenas of cold War?
Answer: The arenas of the Cold War refer to areas where crisis and war occurred or threatened to occur between the alliance systems but did not cross certain limits.
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