Word Count: 972 words
Running Head: Cold War 1945-1991
Lessons of the Cold War
The Cold war started almost immediately after the Second World War and is often quoted as the “last of the 20th Century last war of Super Powers” (Williamson, 2006). The countries, which participated in the cold war, were the United States and the Soviet Union. The cold war got its title from the fact that the two countries United States and the Soviet Union were perceivably ‘scared’ of fighting each other directly. In such a war, the use of nuclear weapons would have caused mass destruction, citing their then present military and political might. It was for this reason that the two countries fought indirectly. They caused devastation with spurring opportunistic conflicts in different parts of the world. They used words as weapons alternatives to frighten and disparage each other. The cold war was the main topic in world politics, occupying most of the second half of the twentieth century. The United States and the Soviet Union were the superpowers, which came after the Second World War. The fact that the two countries owned nuclear weapons worsened the Cold War’s situation. The Cold War was divided into three groups with the West being led by United States. The people from West included countries with democratic political systems. The East was led by the Soviet Union and it included people with communist political systems (Smith, 1998). The third group included the nonpartisan countries that did not want to belong to any of the two groups.
The idea that there was a winner in the Cold War between the super powers was a political formulation rather than one founded on the historical facts. It was believed that United States forced the fall of the Soviet Union, conquering communism. The cold war ended after both countries were involved in a negotiated settlement, which was for the benefit of both sides. Communist rule ended because Gorbachev maneuvered the political system out of restricted power. Gorbachev was responsible for ending the communist rule but he did it for it was in the Soviet Union’s interest. In this sense, it cannot be drawn that United States won the Cold War but it can be said to be a victory for Gorbachev’s ideas of terminating communism. The war was ended without making use of nuclear weapons since the leaders from the western and eastern group amicably came into an agreement to end communistic governance, which was the political system of Soviet Unions Group. It was after Soviet Union collapsed after ending communism that United States was seen as the winner of the Cold War.
The major lessons that can be learned from the Cold War are the strategies that were used by the West to defeat communism, which should be employed in the current effort to defeat the free worlds new autocratic enemies. The Canadian anti-communist containment accommodation strategy assisted the Western in their search for victory. The anti- communists worked hard in stopping communism in its tracks in many parts of the world too. Concurrently it facilitated the exposure of a post salinist Soviet system to ideas that would eventually ignite the communist self-destruction. This (Gorbachev’s) strategy aimed at increasing East-West unity and Soviet liberalization. These developments helped in the degeneration of the Soviet Empire (Williamson, 2006). From the cold war experience, American leaders have embraced a democratic and diplomatic way of decision-making where a committee of experts is involved in providing solutions to problems that might come up in the country. This saves a country from wars that may arise resulting from conflicts between different countries or states in the world. Leaders look forward into ensuring peace prevails in all countries in the entire world.
The lessons from the Cold War that are not taken into consideration in modern American foreign policy decisions are depicted through the implementation of temporary, non-strategic and inconsistency specific agreements. The Americans have failed to establish inclusive peace agreements, which have quantitatively increased the diversification of global peace saboteurs and have qualitatively complicated the foreign policy making. For example, instead of Americans establishing peace with the Afghanistan’s and Iraqi, they retaliated by attacking them citing the terrorist attacks in the United States of America. The Americans should have learnt from the Cold War that fighting against other countries would not provide solutions to problems. It would only result into injuries and mass deaths of individuals from the countries, which again participate in the war. Instead of fighting the countries, it would make sense if they negotiated with the enemy country to come into an agreement; saving lives of many people from these countries.
The war on terror can be characterized as a by product of the Cold War for it involves the United States of America, which has a democratic political system and the Islamist decedent states that embraced the communist political system. It is because of the existence of different political systems that the two groups do not come into an agreement (Mason, 1996). This is similar to the Cold War, which existed between the United States and the Soviet Union, which had different political systems. It is therefore possible for the United States to use the same strategies it adopted during the Cold War to win against their Islamic opponents. In the current war on terrorism, the west should therefore borrow from its experiences with the Soviet Union. The West should take a hard line against militant Islamists while concurrently fostering democratization and coalitions within the Islamic world. In so doing, the West defends itself while fuelling liberalization and fragmentation of its enemy.
In conclusion, the Cold war was the indirect war that took place between the people from the West and individuals from the East Political State groupings. The western groups were the people from United Sates whereas the Eastern groups were people from Soviet Union Block. The war ended after the fall of the Soviet Union. This was after Gorbachev maneuvered his way into ending communism in Soviet Union. The war cannot be described as military outcome for it was terminated after both participants came into agreement. It is a good idea that the modern American policy take into account the lessons learnt from the Cold War experience in their foreign policy decisions.
Mason, J. W. (1996).The Cold War, 1945-1991, Jacksonville, AR: Routledge.
Smith, J. (1998). The Cold War, 1945-1991, Salt Lake City, UT: Wiley-Blackwell.
Williamson, D. (2006).Europe and the Cold War 1945-1991, Cincinnati, OH: Hodder Education.