Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War


Cold war refers to strained relationship between the two superpowers that emerged after the Second World War. The two super powers were the United States (USA) and the Soviet Union (USSR). Before the world wars, we had various super powers including Russia, Britain, China, United States and Italy. The super power is the synonym of polarity meaning the pole of power; it is a political entity or empire dominating the whole world. After the cold war, we only have single super power, which is the United States. A super power is a combination of military power, economic strength, cultural influence, and availability of massive natural resources, political and diplomatic domination. They all combine to offer the state with strength necessary to dominate the whole world.

Henry Kessinger defined cold war as the hot piece meaning unstable relations between the two antagonistic powers. There were hostilities short of war that is; there was no real war. The war that existed was fought by other means, which were mainly ideological, and weaponry formation. The war had three dimensions.

Military Dimension

The cold war was viewed by many in terms of arms race it involved production of weapons. Each super power tried to outdo the other in terms of weaponry. This kind of relations threatened world security. It introduced the use of weapons of mass destruction such as the nuclear weapons (Parrish, 1998). The Soviet Union was powerful in terms of conventional forces while the United States was well known in terms of weapons. In 1949, the USSR had obtained an atomic bomb prompting the United States to come up with a more lethal bomb called the hydrogen bomb. In the early 1950s, there were intense discoveries in military related scientific technology. In 1955, the world powers produced intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). The discoveries threatened the world security since they placed the missiles pointing at each other. It created a lot of tension among the citizens and government institutions.

By 1955, the USSR took the weapon domination to the space; it sent sputnik missile. The program called NASA was established by the USSR to arrange and coordinate all the activities pertaining space wars. The USSR progressed further by coming up with a military pact called Warsaw pact, it was responsible for countering any military threats from the U.S. In response, the United States established a strong military organization that still exists today called NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Formation of military pacts worsened the relations between the Capitalist West and the Communist East. The world security was in real danger, the two superpowers held the whole world at ransom (Friedman, 200).

The arms race reached a climax in 1962 when the Cuban missile crisis emerged; it signaled the danger of missile formation. The USSR place weapons in Cuba facing the United States. A compromise was reached between the two powers to solve the conflict; the weapons were removed after the United States also agreed to withdraw weapons in Turkey that were facing USSR. The crisis proved that both super powers were a threat to each other hence prompting discussions. In 1963, the two powers sat down to agree on how to deescalate the crisis leading to the signing of the NPT.

Détente Relation

By 1970s, the two super powers had acquired the second strike capability meaning each of them could attack the other and absorb retaliation in equal measure. They discovered that such a situation does not facilitate wining instead it creates a no win situation. The second strike capability produced a mutually assured destruction where both of them would be destroyed. The two super powers were forced to begin strategic arms talks (SALTS). There was SALT one and two talks that brought a thaw in relation meaning the relationship between the West and East improved. It facilitated a détente relation implying that the relations were peaceful; they could co-exist. Détente relation also established the mutual relationship between United States and China.

Star Wars

In 1980, the United States president Ronald Reagan came up with star wars program aimed at taking the war to the stars. The program was an expensive undertaking that cost the United States taxpayers 3trillion dollars. It brought economic deficits leading to the government abandoning it. The United States established another program, which was building a nuclear blanket in Western Europe. The arms race militarized the international relations. Resources were diverted to military technology at an expense of economic development. The war led to profound discoveries in scientific technology that could be used in development. The nuclear energy can be used peacefully such as in producing electricity.

Central Europe

The super powers took the war to these states hence causing the real war to be fought by the super powers. The powers wanted to build the world in their own image. The USSR had communism international responsible for transmitting communist ideas while the United States formed Pax American. It led to claim of territorial influence causing military takeover in central European States such as Hungary. The states were bifurcated by either the West or the East. The two powers engaged in zero-sum games. There was also the demolition of the wall dividing one of the central European states that is, East and West Germany. The war ended in 1989 when the wall was demolished.


Glasnost is one of the changes that were brought by Gorbachov in Russia. It meant that Russia was to be an open society; it was to impress democracy. Governmental powers and authority was to be shared by the people through democratic processes. Institutions were created to handle the prevailing condition which had deteriorated due kleptocracy practiced by leaders (Gaddis, 1997). Russia had been under the rule of a few who exercised governmental powers without consultation.


Gorbachov initiated perestroika strategy in order to reconstructed Russia. Russia was to abandon the traditional orthodox of communism. This was to be followed by withdrawal of troops in foreign states since the economy could no longer support. The state was also supposed to allow individual ownership of capital. Companies had to be privatized and be run professionally. The state could no longer dictate the movement of factor products such. There was to be free market economy that operates according to its own internal market logics.

Common Wealth of Independent States (CIS)

In December 1991, the 15 republics went their own way leaving Russia alone. They formed a federation that would assist them grow independently. They included Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bosnia and many others. The states distanced themselves from the activities of Russia with communism. The states tried everything possible to strengthen their relations with the West since they had undergone great financial deficits (Murphy, 1998). They blame Russia for their deprived position.


It is a population found in central Europe, they were responsible for the major world wars including the cold war. Their unification led to the Second World War, they comprised the armies that jointly fought the Western forces. They have a very strong culture in terms of military they are loyal and good instructors in training. Their hard work ensured that the interest of communism was distributed to other places.


The organization was formed to counter the activities of Warsaw pact from Russia. It is an effective organization headed by the United States that has restored peace in many parts of the world, including the ongoing revolution in the Arab countries. It is well represented and managed by experienced personnel from different military backgrounds. The organization should not be expanded to include Russia; this is because of the conflicting ideologies between the two. While communism advocates for one party system, capitalism is for multi party politics. Communism does not recognize the efforts of an individual; the community is the whole while members are just parts. The power of the overall overwhelms the individual to give in to societal norms and regulations. Capitalism on its part appreciates the efforts made by individuals. The state is more of a utility for facilitating individual fulfillment of potentials. The ideas cannot be brought together since it will result to conflict of interests.


Friedman, N. (2000). The fifty-year war: conflict and strategy in the Cold War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.

Gaddis, J.L. (1997). We now know: rethinking Cold War history. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Murphy, D.E. (1997). Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Parrish, T.D. (1998). Berlin in the balance, 1945-1949: the blockade, the airlift, the first major battle of the Cold War. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

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