Cold War – Era of Geopolitical Tension

United States of America, United Kingdom and Soviet Union joined hands during World War 2 with the common intention of destroying blood thirsty Nazi Germany presided by military dictator Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, peace and harmony between capitalist America and communist Russia vanished immediately after Allies emerged victorious in World War 2.

The human race was horrified to witness the destructive capacity of atomic weapons; undeniably it was a weapon of genocide, perhaps the new definition of terror. Soviet leadership was convinced that its mighty Red Army could not face any opponent armed with weapons of mass destruction. The use of nuclear weapons over Japan alarmed cynical Joseph Stalin who immediately ordered crash development of similar devices. This subsequently sparked arms race between the superpowers. Soviets stunned the world in 1949 by detonating their own atomic device; they added another feather to their cap by becoming pioneers of space exploration. Russian expertise in rocketry and space technology was showcased after successful launch of Sputnik 1.

People republic of China, East Germany, North Korea, Cuba and Eastern European countries were Pro-Soviet communist states. Western European countries, Canada and US supported democracy and abhorred communist ideology. Both USA and USSR competed to influence Latin American, newly independent African and Asian nations. One of the most dangerous phases of Cold War was Cuban missile crisis. Soviet missiles stationed in Cuba posed direct threat to USA. Diplomatic intervention resolved the crisis but both blocks engaged in proxy wars. Vietnam War was one such armed confrontation where USA and USSR flexed their military muscles behind veils supporting their respective ideological allies. North Vietnam, a pro-soviet pastoral state stiffly resisted US air raids with sophisticated soviet supplied anti-aircraft missile systems. The War ended in 1975 with the fall of US backed South Vietnam.

The space race effectively ended with the success of NASA’s Apollo missions. In 1970’s both power blocks were interested in establishing stable and peaceful environment. US President Richard Nixon even visited communist China with the intention of normalizing relations. Of course, this was an attempt to tamper the balance of Cold War. Peace talks collapsed and hostility emerged immediately after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Seeking vengeance for losing Vietnam War, US government armed Afghan guerrilla fighters by supporting mujaheddin insurgency. Afghan mercenaries and guerrilla fighters received vast financial help from Gulf countries. They were also supplied with state of the art weapons to confront well equipped Soviet armed forces. Afghan Insurgents were devoted, patriotic and ready to lay down their life. Hundreds of Soviet tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carrier, fighter planes, and artillery guns were destroyed or damaged by insurgents. Approximately 15,000 Russian soldiers lost their life.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced withdrawing forces from war- torn Afghanistan. Last soviet troops left Afghanistan in 1989. This war is satirically said to be “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War” and one of the major contributing factors that led to dissolution of USSR.

Soviet Union ceased to exist on 26th December 1991. US President George H.W. Bush expressed his contentment of America emerging triumphant in the Cold War. Millions of innocent people lost their lives in proxy wars around the globe. Both USSR and USA had devoted enormous resources towards military programs, covert operations, and proxy wars. The ideological differences continue to form a rift and strained relations between former rivals. Both sides are still engaged in proxy wars with the latest example being the Syrian Civil War.

Source by Shashvat Gethe

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