The end of the Second World War saw the rise of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. as Super Powers. The strained relationship between these two countries till the collapse of the U.S.S.R is known as the Cold War. The term 'Cold War' was used for the first time by Bernard Baruch. Thereafter this term gained popularity through the journalist Walter Lippman.
The Cold War may be described as the existence of continued tensions and conflicts between the western world and the Communist countries in general and between the United States and the Soviet Union in particular. The Cold War was otherwise an ideological war or a propaganda war or a diplomatic war. It was neither a condition of war nor a condition of peace. It was a state of uneasy peace.
Even before the end of the Second World War the Soviet Union had imposed Communist regimes in the East European countries of Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Immediately after the War the Soviet Union brought East Germany under her influence. West Germany came under the influence of the U.S.A.
The Soviet Union blocked all roads to the west-occupied zones in Berlin. This is known as Berlin Blockade. Thus, a tense situation developed between the two blocs of the Cold War groups. The West was now concerned about the Russian influence. The U.S.A. had then assumed the responsibility of containing Communism. On 5th June 1947, the Marshall Plan was announced by the U.S.A. by which economic assistance was to be provided to the western European nations. It was a step to save the European Continent from the growing influence of Communism. In response to American Marshall Plan, the Soviet Union initiated Molotov Plan. On 12th March 1948, Truman Doctrine [Truman was the President of USA] was announced and accordingly the U.S.A. provided economic and the military aid to Greece and Turkey to the tune of 400 million dollars in order to stop the Soviet influence in those countries.
The U.S.A. had created a military alliance to prevent further spread of communism into Western Europe. A beginning in this direction was made by the signing of the Brussels Treaty in March 1948. Britain, France, Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg signed this treaty promising military collaboration in case of war. On 4th April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed thus forming a military power bloc, commonly known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. The U.S.A., Canada, Britain, France,Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg, Portugal, Denmark, Italy and Norway became its members. They had agreed to mutually extend military help in case of an attack on any one of them. It was formed against the Soviet Union.
Between 1955 and 1958, West Asia remained the centre of the Cold War. In the series of western military pacts, the Baghdad Pactwas concluded in 1955, later known as Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). In response to these western military pacts, the Soviet Union concluded the Warsaw Pact on 14th May 1955 with her satellite powers. During this phase a number of military pacts were concluded, but the tension between East and West was somewhat reduced.
The establishment of People's' Republic of China by Mao-Tse Tung in October 1949 strengthened the Soviet bloc. The U.S.A. refused to recognize the Communist Government of China. On the other hand the U.S.A. helped Chiang Kai-Sheik to establish his Nationalist Government in Taiwan. The U.S.A. recognised the Nationalist Government as the legal Government of China and made her as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. The Communist China or the People's Republic of China was prevented by the U.S.A. to become a member in the UNO.
In 1950, the arena of the cold war was changed from Europe to East Asia. After the Second World War Korea was split into north and south Korea. In the North Korea the Soviet - supported communist government was formed, while the South Korea had an American - sponsored government. The two Korean governments were in conflict with each other. On 25th June 1950 North Korea attacked South Korea. North Korea was fighting with Soviet weapons and Chinese troops, while the U.S.A. in the name of U.N. force was fighting on behalf of South Korea. The Korean War turned the Cold War into an open armed conflict.
Cold War was extended to Vietnam also. The fall of Dien Bien Phu on 7th May 1954 brought the final collapse of France in Indo-China. By Geneva Agreement, Vietnam was partitioned at the 17th parallel between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. A conflict developed between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The U.S.A. entered the war supporting South Vietnam. Further, in order to contain Communism in South East Asia, the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was formed in 1954.
The Soviet Union stationed her nuclear missiles in Cuba, which was a communist country and Soviet ally. The U.S.A. considered this as a great threat to her security. John F. Kennedy sent the 7th Nuclear fleet towards Cuba. This literally brought the two super - powers to the verge of war. However, the good sense prevailed on both the sides and the crisis was averted. Subsequently, the U.S.S.R. dismantled missiles in Cuba.
After 1960, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. had developed equality in nuclear weapons. Thus any nuclear war would lead to co-destruction. This awareness led both the super powers to believe in the inevitability
of peaceful co-existence. They were, therefore, prompted to conclude the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. This treaty was followed by a 'Hot Line Agreement' between Washington and Kremlin.
After the 1970s, the friction between the Soviet Union and Communist China led to Sino-Soviet rift. The People's Republic of China was admitted into the UN. President Nixon of U.S.A. visited Moscow in May 1972 and concluded the SALT -I Treaty (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty). In June 1973, Brezhnev paid a nine-day visit to the United States and further progress was made in the direction of strategic arms limitation. This reduction of tension between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. is known as era of d-tente.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe occurred. The bi-polar world became unipolar world. On 31st July 1991, American President George Bush and Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev signed the 'historic' START - I Treaty in the Moscow Summit. This marks the end of the Era of Cold War.
The ideological war otherwise known as Cold War was fought for about five decades since 1945. The world saw the vertical division of nation states. Military alliances were made. Arms race developed. Nuclear holocaust threatened the world on many occasions. However, after the 1970s d-tente resulted in the gradual relaxation of tension between the two super powers which ultimately ended with the dissolution of Soviet Union.