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The Balance Of Power During The Cold War

1237 words - 5 pages

The concept of 'balance of power is an important consideration in the analysis of the cold war which in theory was successful in avoiding any global conflict during the years 1945-1989. It was an ideologically based concept; communism versus democracy, USSR and its allies versus USA and its allies. Balance of power speaks to a situation in which peace is ensured by maintaining equilibrium of alliances between major powers. This equilibrium places checks and balances on any move towards hegemony, the political domination of one state over another. Although the hoped for result of the balance of power was the assurance of peace and stability there have been instances during the cold war where instability and regional conflicts occurred. There were three elements during the cold war that emerged and lead to the balance of power situation; alliances, territorial (spheres of influence) and military capabilities.Military alliance is characterized as an alliance of nations based on the belief that security is best maintained by a balance of power. For example the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was introduced as a result of the Czechoslovakian Coup and the Berlin blockade. It was created because the United States feared that without a strong military defensive system, Western Europe was threatened by Soviet expansion NATO was a regional military alliance. It agreed that an act against one member would be interpreted as an attack against all. Alternatively the Warsaw Pact was a defensive military regional alliance of eastern European countries (East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Czechoslovakia) headed by the U.S.S.R. It was created to try to maintain a bipolar balance of power between communist and democratic countries. During the Berlin blockade in 1958 both N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact took a stand. There were tensions between east and West Berlin. West Germany was thriving economically and a member of N.A.T.O. East Germany was economically and politically repressed. In 1958 two million Germans fled to the west. The east and West Germany border was sealed but not West Berlin. President Khrushchev demanded the western powers occupying Berlin to evacuate within six months. N.A.T.O. refused to budge and in March of 59 Khrushchev had to back down. Thus West Berlin remained free of communism.Territorial (sphere of influence) is defined as the extent to which a nation state exerts its power beyond its borders. In 1962 tensions shifted from Europe to Cuba .Khrushchev thus decided to gain the advantage of the East- West balance of power and the upper hand in Berlin negotiations and decided he would install missiles in Cuba. Thus occupying a strong position in the American sphere of influence and negotiate more effectively the removal of western powers from soviet spheres of influence in Berlin. In October of 1962 an American spy plane photographed installations in Cuba that were designed to house nuclear missiles. It was clear that the...

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