Vietnam’s Impact

Over $100 billion?! Come on!

This was the longest war that the Americans were a part of. It rendered as a total defeat, as they spent billions and brought in several soldiers only to have the communists take control. This gave confidence to the Soviet Union. They didn’t even have to bring in any of their troops to allow their ideology to seep through North Vietnam and take control over the entire country. This definitely strained the relations between the superpowers, as the Americans tried to expand their sphere of influence. It was because of the domino theory, which was just an excuse to attack Vietnam. The lengths that Americans go to to try to contain communism…it’s ridiculous!

It was like the Korean War, where a proxy war was fought by the Americans and the Soviets. This was the biggest war, and really exemplified the true struggle between communism and democracy. America’s efforts to maintain a corrupt democratic leader was futile under the communist leader. This was also a great example of how the Marshall Plan failed miserably. Like all other wars, the tension between the superpowers grew. And the ideologies continued to struggle throughout the years. Which would become the victor, and at what price?


Afghanistan’s Impact

It is probably safe to assume that Afghanistan was the last Cold War case study before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia does not seem like a threat to America anymore; in fact, they haven’t done much to communist countries due to the suspicion that they might be carrying nuclear arms. Russia is no longer a super power today, but the American economy and dollar has a huge effect on most of the world. It is as if the Americans won the Cold War, or at least democracy seems like the dominant choice in all countries–however communism still remains a threat today. We still believe that communists are bad and should be gone!

However, let’s get back to Afghanistan. The ideological struggle was prevalent in the Afghan War. Clearly the citizens aimed for a democratic society, despite the communist government and the Soviets’ invasion. Guerrilla troops fought against the Soviets, and the mujahideen managed to overthrow Najibullah. The Americans were involved by supplying arms (unlike in the Hungarian Revolution), which meant that they wanted to expand their own sphere of influence and defeat the Soviets. It was definitely a bloody victory for the Afghans, as the Taliban eventually rose into power. This was because the Americans were so concerned about the Soviets that they foolishly gave their arms to a group that were reactionary. It was as if they were so blinded with the Red Scare, that they didn’t think about the consequences of their actions.

But I suppose that was what the Cold War did to the superpowers. It blinded both of them, caused proxy wars, meaningless deaths and destruction. And for what? To retain their sphere of influence? Pointless. Even in the Cuban Missile Crisis where diplomacy was used, brinkmanship shouldn’t have to be used in order to get a point across. Such a silly time during the 20th century.

Hungary’s Impact

The word of a Hungarian is to be trusted Imre Nagy: No reason for panic, the government is in control…

Even though the Americans were not involved in this, their ideas manage to extend towards the Hungarians. Clearly they were dissatisfied with the ideas of communism, so they stood up for what they believed in. However they were brutally defeated and remained under the Soviet sphere of influence. This was a huge conflict for both the Soviet Union and Hungary; clearly their ideologies clash, but the Soviets had more military power so whatever they wanted happened.

I would assume that the Americans didn’t care about Hungary. Since they were already under Communist rule, it seems that they did not care what happened to them. However many British Communists did leave the party after the uprising. This alerted the Western countries as they became even more determined to contain communism. If the Soviets were so obsessed about maintaining their own sphere of influence, the West would have even more incentive to prevent that from happening.

Korea’s Impact

As I mentioned before, Korea was an ideological battleground where the superpowers fought. It was a proxy war, as well as a hot war (as troops and battles were in direct conflict) which led to a large number of civilian casualties as well as the deaths of soldiers. The Korean War was a huge impact on the superpowers as the country was split into two, both sides favoring opposing ideas. The North followed communism and the South followed democracy–it seemed like it would emulate the actions if the US and the USSR lived beside each other.

The Korean War showed how disastrous splitting up a country can be, especially when both of the superpowers extended their sphere of influence. It’s impossible to have two directly opposing societies living beside each other. It just can’t work that way! Perhaps this war proved how detrimental splitting up a country and extending different ideologies towards either side can be. The lesson from this war carried on for about two years until the Vietnam War.

The world is a silly place, especially during the Cold War.

Cuba’s Impact

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the start of a nuclear war came very, very close. Tensions decreased between the superpowers as they realized the destruction they could have brought onto the world. A period of détente happened after this crisis, and treaties and agreements were signed to push a peaceful coexistence between America and the Soviet Union.

This illustrated the ideological struggle between the two, because with such contrasting ideas, both superpowers would try to fight to increase their sphere of influence. It is interesting to note that Cuba is located closer to American than it is to the Soviet Union. Even though the USA tried to maintain their ideas when Castro was leader, the USSR proved victorious in maintaining their sphere of influence. Obviously this brought fear to Americans, as they believed that if one country was communist, all countries around it would become under the Soviets’ rule as well.

The Soviets used the policy of brinkmanship to place missiles in a country that gave them geographic advantage and instill fear to their rivals. They were able to spread their sphere of influence, proving that communism could be victorious against democracy. This was a big conflict, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which in turn resulted in a period of détente. But like I said, with all good things comes an end, and tensions between the superpowers increased.

Berlin’s Impact

The Berlin Case Study was essentially the beginning of the Cold War–the ideological struggle between democratic capitalism and communist dictatorships. It had a huge impact on superpower relations, as the tension increased heavily while deciding on Europe’s, and Berlin’s post-war state. USA and USSR had directly opposing economic and political views. The Americans (along with the British and the French), wanted post-war Europe to become democratic and receive financial aid from the Marshall Plan. However the Soviets (who were completely alone), tried to thwart the American sphere of influence and force countries to be under communist rule. When NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created in April 1949, the USSR created the Warsaw Pact 6 years later. As Stalin was defeated (in terms of backing out with the Berlin Blockade), he increased atomic testing so that the Soviets could stand a chance against the Americans. The increase in nuclear weapons would eventually be a worldwide fear.

The Berlin Wall was the ultimate symbol between communism and capitalism. The West were able to claim that the Communist people had to build walls to imprison people, proving as effective propaganda. This was a clear illustration of the ideological struggle between America and the Soviet Union. Not only was Stalin left out in the final word in the London Program, he was alone with the Berlin Blockade. It was his response to the instigation of democratic views for post-war Europe. However, the USA responded with the Berlin Airlift, and eventually Stalin backed out after that. There was no way that the two superpowers could live in peace–not during these times when tension increased rapidly as well as paranoia.

The constant push of one ideology, and the immediate resistance towards it continued to happen for decades. Think of it as a hopeless tug-of-war where no one is able to win, but during this battle one side obtains a small advantage over the other. That’s what the Cold War was like, and the Berlin case study was just the beginning of it.