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Cold War Politics: Shaped By The Global Economic Crises Of The Usa And Ussr

1540 words - 6 pages

One of the most remarkable events in the early history at the end of the twentieth century was the period post Second World War also known as Cold War. The Cold War began in 1945, leaving the door open for the search of the world dominance between the two most powerful countries at that time: The United States of America (USA) and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). This struggle for power had to be developed under the fluctuating economic conditions of the age. Even though, the world economy was facing a critical stage due to the variable price of the oil and other economic effects such as unemployment and inflation not only in the USA, but also in the USSR; both empires had to make enormous efforts to demonstrate his opponent how resistant they were, and how far they could reach in this ‘dangerous race’ for the control of global power. This essay will demonstrate how the global economic crises of the late 1970s and 1980s in the United States of America and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics shaped the cold war politics.
To begin with, it is necessary to mention that by the early 1970s, the USA had just abandoned the Vietnam War without relevant results either in the military aspect, or in the social international environment of the public opinion of its citizens. According to LaFeber (1997, p.252) ‘On the battlefields the war dragged on, while at home the inflation rate doubled to 5 percent and antiwar protests intensified’. The economy of the USA was not passing through its best moment and the civilian population had started to reconsider how beneficial was the involvement of the USA in foreign conflicts. At the same time, the United Kingdom (UK), as the principal ally of the USA, was also confronting a serious economic situation due to the innovative measures implemented by Margaret Thatcher to reduce inflation and interest rates which resulted in an ‘unexpected cost to the economy in terms of unemployment and lost output’ (Roy 1994, pp.101-102). Meanwhile, the USSR had managed to maintain a stable economic condition due to the profitability of the steel industry and oil production. ‘In 1974, […], the Soviet Union exported 60 million tonnes of oil and petroleum products to Eastern Europe at a price ranging from $16 to $20 per tonne. […] which meant an annual subsidy of $3 billion to the Warsaw Pact allies in energy supplies alone’ (Walker 1994, p.280). Russia also took advantage of the fact that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporters Countries (OPEC) and the Arab world had applied sanctions through oil embargoes to the USA for his support and participation in the recently Yom Kippur war (1973) in defense of Israel, and started to improve their offensive capability by investing one-third of their GNP in armament. To sum up this decade, one could think that by the end of the 1970s, the USSR visualized the opportunity to gain more terrain in the military and an outstanding chance to leave the USA out of the...

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