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Cold War Era



After the end of 2nd world war in 1945, there emerged two strong powers on world map i.e. USA AND USSR. With emergence of these two powers, power politics engulfed almost the whole world. To be much accurate and precise the hostile relations between the two super powers from 1945 to 1991 has been marked as era of Cold War. This term was first coined by Bernard Baruch,
popularised by Prof. Lippman and officially declared by Winston Churchill. So the history of relations between USA and USSR from 1945 to 1991 is known as Era of cold War.

1. What is Cold war? Discuss the various causes of cold war?

Ans. Cold war denotes the existence of strained and tense relations between two rival competitors in international relations. In the post war period, the term cold war came to be used for describing the highly strained relations which came to be gradually developed between the erstwhile Soviet Union and United States. It envisaged an era of neither peace nor war between Soviet Union and her dozen allies on the one hand and the United States and core of its allies on the other hand.

The term 'cold war' was first of all used by Bernard Baruch, an American statesman. But Prof. Lippman popularized the term 'cold war'. The term 'cold war' came to be used for describing the situation, in which war was not fought but a war type hysteria. 


1. Florence Elliot and Michael summer skill, "A state of tension between countries in which each side adopts policies, designed to strengthen itself and weaken the other. Line falling short of actual hot war".

2. Fleming, A war that is fought not in the battle field but in the minds of men, one tries to control the minds of others" 

3. Pt. Nehru, "Cold war is a brain war, a nerve war and a propaganda war"

Causes of Cold war: 

1. The ideological conflict: The differences between the Soviet Union and western democracies were the direct product of contradicting ideologies of communism and capitalism. East Europe and a few states in Asia came under the influence of communism and west Europe under the capitalism.The spreading of communism alarmed the USA and led to a serious ideological rift between USA and USSR. 

2. Secret of atomic weapons disclosed by America to England but not to Soviet Union: America gave the secret of atomic weapons to Britain and not to the Soviet Union. The test of atom bomb made over Hiroshima brought an end to the remaining friendship and sympathy between USSR and USA

3. USA's delay in the opening of second front against Germany: When the German forces were advancing into Soviet Union, Stalin believed that there was an urgent need to immediately open a second front against Germany but US took it into a slumber The Soviets felt that the Western Powers were not inclined to accept the communist USSR as an active and powerful member of the international community.

4. Truman Doctrine: The American President Truman started a programme of "containment' of Soviet Union by providing aid to western European states and any country threatened by communism. It was thus transparent for USSR to see the intentions of USA, contribution to the growth of cold war.

5. Fulton Speech: In March 1946, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister instigated the Soviet Union by his speech at Fulton, Missouri. He emphasised that it was only through the use of force to curb the menace of communism. Fulton speech is also known as Iron curtain Speech

6. Formation of military blocs: To preserve democracy and capitalism. North Atlantic Treaty organisation (NATO) w formed in 1949 under the leadership of USA. Other treaties like Shto (1954) and CENTO (1955) were also formed by USA. As a string response, the Soviet Union came up with the Warsaw Pact' of its allies Both these opposing military groupings gave a boost to the cold war.

7. Different economic models: In the USA, there was free trade and open competition but in the USSR there was state control over the means of Production. Both of the counted to propagate their own economic models which gave rise to negative feelings.

8. Efforts at enlarging areas of influence: The western allies on the one hand and the USSR on the other, started their most effective endeavours of winning over to their own side the chief political parties of the various countries.


1) What is Cold War?
2) Define Cold War?
3) What resulted in cold war?
4) Ideological difference came in way between USA & USSR. Explain?

Effects/Consequences of Cold War 

Cold war era is demarked from 1945 to 1991.This period witnessed interesting and decisive 
impacts on international politics. These effects and consequences are as under:- 
a. Bi-polarity. 
b. Alliance formation. 
c. Arms race/Arms control. 
d. NAM. 
e. Supremacy of Capitalism. 
f. Unipolarity. 


1. Bi-Polarity:-

The cold war divided the world into two rival blocs. One blocK was led by USA and another by USSR. 

2. Alliance Formation:-

Cold war forced both super powers to expand their sphere of influence. This resulted in alliance formation like NATO/Warsaw Pact.

3. Arms Race/Arms Control:-

It was effect of cold war that compelled the rivals, USA and USSR to enhance their fourfold power. This resulted in arms race. Again it was effect of cold war which forced both USA and USSR to go for arms control 
as none of them could afford to initiate the hot war. 

4. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM):-

It was a big consequence of cold war that some countries of the world decided not to join bi-polarity so third world countries decided to follow policy of NAM. This movement helped them to have equal distance from both super powers. 

5. Supremacy of Capitalism:-

During cold war it was difference of ideologies that become centre of conflicts. But at the end it was the USA ideology capitalism which led at the front. It proved its supremacy by weakening the socialist ideology propounded by Soviet Union. 

6. Unipolarity: 

It was infact, the shade of cold war which finally resulted in unipolarity. Throughout the era of cold war both USA and USSR tried to weaken the other. This struggle finally resulted in the end of Bi-polarity as USSR collapsed. This paying the way for unipolarity.
In short cold war has ever-lasting effects; initially it resulted in alliance formation, latter give birth
to NAM and finally gave us a world of unipolarity.


1) Cold war is what kind of war?
2) Explain the shadow of cold war?
3) What are major effects of cold war?
4) Cold war resulted in Arms race as well as Arms control. Explain?

Arenas of Cold War

As we know that cold war was the reflection of strained and tense relations between two super
powers USA and USSR. The period of cold war is denoted from 1945 to 1991. All though during
1962 to 1979, there come instances when both powers tried to deescalate the tensions. Major
agreements were signed like (I) LBT in August 1963 (ii) NPT in July 1968. SALT -I in May 1972 and
SALT-II in 1979 was signed. Despite these efforts the relations sometimes got utmost tense. So
when we talk about arenas of cold war we simply refer to the times where crises and war occurred
between USA and USSR but not cross certain limits. These are simply hot spots in cold war and can
be summed as:-

1. Korean Crises:-

The two powers were poised for direct confrontation in Korea (1950-1953) as Korea was divided into two parts, North Korea and South Korea. North Korea followed Soviet ideology while South Korea followed ideology of USA. In 1950 North Korea attacked South Korea, This war was apparently between two Korea’s but in reality it
was war between USA and USSR.

2. Cuban Missile Crises:-

In 1958 in Cuba USA backed Govt. was replaced by a communist revolution. In April 1961 Soviet Union doubted that USA sponsored stragty may topple
communist regime, sensing threat. USSR decided to convert Cuba into a Russian base. In 1962 USSR installed nuclear Missiles there. Since USA targets to USSR were so close that US President John Kennedy ordered American warships to intercept Soviet ships heading to Cuba. A clash seemed on cards. Fortunately good sense prevailed and direct war was avoided.

3. Vietnam Crises (1954-1750):-

The Vietnam war was long, costly and divisive conflict
between communist Govt. of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its ally, The USA.The conflict intensified by the on-going cold war between USA and USSR. Hence can be termed as an arena of Cold.

4. Afghan Crises:-

In 1979 Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. This war lasted up to 1989. This was not liked by USA. So USA armed and financed Jihadi warriors as a response to USSR action. Afghan crises went up to that extent that it looked that cold war may change into a hot war.To conclude, the Cold War Arena is the decisive and interesting feature of international politics. It Infact revolutionised international relations.


1) Cuban Crises almost pushed the world into another war. Explain?
2) There are some spots in cold war which created fear of real war. Discuss?
1.See and collect information regarding “Detente”
2.Agreements and talks during cold war

Challenges to Bi-polarity (NAM & NIEO)

In real sense and practically there was no challenge to Bipolarity though it broke off its own.During cold war still there were two minor challenges to it. One is from of NAM and 2nd from of NIEO

1. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

We know that cold war resulted in divided of world in two military blocks namely USA and USSR. There were some countries of the world who did not want to join either block USA or USSR. They tried to have equi distance from both blocks. They therefore, put forth the idea of NAM. This idea of NAM was initially propounded by five great leaders of the world namely


(I) Pt. Nehru of Indian,
(II) Joseph Borg of Tito of Yugoslavia,
(III) Col. Abdul Nasser of Egypt
(IV) Sukarno of Indonesia and
(V) Kwame Nkrumoh of Gana.


The first NAM summit was held in 1961 at Belgrade. 25 states attended and obtained its membership. At present it has 125 members and 25 observers.

1.1. Principles of NAM

NAM principles are actually from “Paschal”.
(I) They are mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty.
(II) To settle disputes in a peaceful way.
(III) Not to interfere in international matters of states.
(IV) Mutual no aggression.
(V) Not to join any military alliance.

1.2. Relevance of NAM

As we have read and understand that NAM was a result or effect of cold war. So this has created two schools of thoughts related to its relevance. One school of thought is of the view that since NAM is a product of cold war, since cold war has ended. Thus NAM has become irrelevant. It has lost its importance. However the 2nd school of thought holds the view, the ideology on which Nam is established is much relevant in modern world. The situation and the circumstances recommend the l implementation of NAM principles. The world of today faces such problems and issues which NAM came address and solve. It can see peaceful settlement of world issues like, terrorism, extremism drug and human trafficking, global warming, restructuring and democratization of UNO etc.
In short NAM has a role to play. It is policy which could help in peaceful settlement of issues and disputes confronting the present world. Nam in real sense does not mean to remain aloof or run away from international politics.It has to play a vital role to do way the political and economic issues and problems faced by the world.


NIEO stands for new international economic order. Since majority of the countries of the world are least developed. The existing world economic order is not helping the poor countries either for economic upliftment nor for eradication of poverty. It is also true without sustained development a country is not free. It becomes victim of circumstances. As the existing economic order favours the developed countries, there arose voice against it. The idea of NIEO originated with the realization against disparities. The UN conference on trade and development brought out a report in 1972 entitled towards a new trade policy for development. 
Report proposed a reform in the world trading system. It recommended:-

a. Give the LDC control over their natural resources exploited by the developed countries. 
b. Give them excess to western markets. 
c. Give them greater role in international economic institutions. 
d. Technology transfer e made easy and cheap.


In short underdeveloped and developing countries regarded the “Breton Woods” system as unequal, unjust, unfair and exploitive. The least developed countries LDC demanded the replacement of the existing economic system by NIEO. This system is too based on justice, firemen and equality. For the same, NAM become a 
pressure group. But as the casual for this new economic system was made in 70’s in many international forums, the desired countries continue to struggle for its implementation even today. But due to stiff resistance by the developed countries its implementation is a dream even today. 


1. What were challenges to Bi-polarity? 
2. Is NAM relevant even today? 
3. What are the principles of NAM? 
4. LDC’s want a new economic order. Explain? 
5. What is NIEO? 
6. What in real sense NAM stands for?
During cold war arms control treaties and talks were hold.

India’s Role During Cold War

As a leader of NAM India’s response to the cold war was twofold. At one level, it took particular care in staying away from the two alliances. Second it raised its voice against the newly decolonised countries becoming the part of these alliances. India’s policy was neither negative nor passive. As Pt. Nehru reminded the world, NAM was not a policy of “fleeing away” on the contrary India was in favour of actively intervening in world affairs to soften Cold war rivalries.

Although sometimes India was also blamed that its tilt was towards USSR. Despite following NAM ideology India played a remarkable role during cold war. It repeatedly tried to activate those regional and international organisations which were not part of the alliances led by USA and USSR.

In short India played and independent neutral and decisive role during cold war. Its efforts resulted in forming NAM which resulted in Afro-Asian unity and that balances international relations.


  1. What is cold war? How did it originate?
  2. What is cold war? Explain its arenas?
  3. What were effects of cold war?
  4. Is NAM relevant even today?
  5. Third world countries desired for NIEO. Explain?
  6. What are challenges to Bi-polarity?
  7. Explain Marshall Plan?
  8. List causes of cold war?
  9. What is “Detente”? During cold war?
  10. Cold war resulted in both Arms race and Arm control. Discuss?
  11. What was India’s role during cold war?
  12. Cold war is considered as Brain War. Explain?
  13. Infact cold war was not ideological conflict but power struggle. Explain?

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