Cold War Analysis On Superpower Rivalry Modern History Essay

1390 words - 6 pages

The Cold War was a period of world history lasting from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It saw high tensions between the east (largely made up of the Warsaw Pact) and the west (largely made up of NATO) in the midst of the threat of mutually assured nuclear annihilation at the hands of nuclear powers on both sides. The Cold War was mainly the result of the ideological clash between capitalism (the economic and political system championed by the west) and communism (the economic and political system championed by the USSR and to a lesser extent China). However, as the Cold War went on it began to transition into more of a classical superpower rivalry as both sides began to modernise and adapt to the increasingly globalised world political sphere. Major flash points of the Cold War that show how the cold war either an ideological struggle or superpower rivalry were the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nuclear Arms Race, the Space Race, the CIAs Intervention in Chile.
Communism and Capitalism are intrinsically conflicting ideologies; they envision entirely different economic and political systems and present conflicting views on equality versus freedom. Communism was first envisioned by Karl Marx, his teachings were greatly taken on by historical figures such as Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. These figures and their followers would set in motion events that turned the Russian empire into the communist Soviet Union that Stalin would lead into the Cold War. Capitalism wasn’t the product of a person’s philosophical explorations but rather the dynamic/organic evolution of the free market and trade systems that made up the earliest economies. Communism teaches that the means of production should remain in the hands of the state and that every citizen should be compensated equally. This is expressed in the quote from Karl Marx – “The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property”. It emphasises strict market control and authoritarian rule. This contrasts with capitalist values such as freedom, free markets and democracy. Essentially the difference is equality under authoritarianism versus equal opportunity under democracy. This is the basis for the ideological struggle of the cold war as these ideologies are incompatible and both sides demonised the other. As Winston Churchill once put it “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

The Communism and capitalism clashed when the Cuban Missile Crisis was caused when the Soviets deployed nuclear missiles in Communist Cuba (an ally of the USSR) in response to the US placing missiles in Italy and Turkey. This meant that with Soviet Intermediate range nuclear missiles within striking distance of the US mainland, thus the ability of the USSR to perform an effective first strike and devastate the US was greatly increased. The US...

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