Cold War

The Cold War (1947–1991)
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall, 1961
A U.S. Navy aircraft patrolling a Soviet freighter during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Soviet frigate Bezzavetny bumping USS Yorktown, 1988
Mushroom cloud of the Ivy Mike nuclear test, 1952; one of more than a thousand such tests conducted by the US between 1945 and 1992
The fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989

The Cold War was a state of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states (the Eastern Bloc), and the United States with its allies (the Western Bloc) after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins with 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989 and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, which ended communism in Eastern Europe. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional wars known as proxy wars.

The Cold War split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the Soviet Union and the United States as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. The USSR was a Marxist–Leninist state led by its Communist Party, which in turn was dominated by a leader with different titles over time, and a small committee called the Politburo. The Party controlled the state, the press, the military, the economy and many organizations throughout the Second World, including the Warsaw Pact and other satellites, and funded Communist parties around the world, sometimes in competition with Communist China, particularly following the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s. In opposition stood the capitalist West, led by the United States, a federal republic with a two-party presidential system. The First World nations of the Western Bloc were generally liberal democratic with a free press and independent organizations, but were economically and politically entwined with a network of banana republics and other authoritarian regimes throughout the Third World, most of which were the Western Bloc's former colonies.[1][2] Some major Cold War frontlines such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Congo were still Western colonies in 1947.

A neutral bloc arose with the Non-Aligned Movement, which sought good relations with both sides. The two superpowers never engaged directly in full-scale armed combat, but they were heavily armed in preparation for a possible all-out nuclear world war. Each side had a nuclear strategy that discouraged an attack by the other side, on the basis that such an attack would lead to the total destruction of the attacker—the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Aside from the development of the two sides’ nuclear arsenals, and their deployment of conventional military forces, the struggle for dominance was expressed via proxy wars around the globe, psychological warfare, massive propaganda campaigns and espionage, far-reaching embargos, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The first phase of the Cold War began in the first two years after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The USSR consolidated its control over the states of the Eastern Bloc, while the United States began a strategy of global containment to challenge Soviet power, extending military and financial aid to the countries of Western Europe (for example, supporting the anti-communist side in the Greek Civil War) and creating the NATO alliance. The Berlin Blockade (1948–49) was the first major crisis of the Cold War. With the victory of the Communist side in the Chinese Civil War and the outbreak of the Korean War (1950–53), the conflict expanded. The USSR and the USA competed for influence in Latin America and the decolonizing states of Africa and Asia. The Soviets suppressed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The expansion and escalation sparked more crises, such as the Suez Crisis (1956), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which was perhaps the closest the two sides came to nuclear war. Meanwhile, an international peace movement took root and grew among citizens around the world, first in Japan from 1954, when people became concerned about nuclear weapons testing, but soon also in Europe and the US. The peace movement, and in particular the anti-nuclear movement, gained pace and popularity from the late 1950s and early 1960s, and continued to grow through the '70s and '80s with large protest marches, demonstrations and various non-parliamentary activism opposing war and calling for global nuclear disarmament. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, a new phase began that saw the Sino-Soviet split complicate relations within the Communist sphere, while US allies, particularly France, demonstrated greater independence of action. The USSR crushed the 1968 Prague Spring liberalization program in Czechoslovakia, while the US experienced internal turmoil from the Civil Rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War (1955–75), which ended with the defeat of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam, prompting further adjustments.

By the 1970s, both sides had become interested in making allowances in order to create a more stable and predictable international system, ushering in a period of détente that saw Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and the US opening relations with the People's Republic of China as a strategic counterweight to the Soviet Union. Détente collapsed at the end of the decade with the beginning of the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. The early 1980s were another period of elevated tension, with the Soviet downing of KAL Flight 007 and the "Able Archer" NATO military exercises, both in 1983. The United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when the communist state was already suffering from economic stagnation. On 12 June 1982, a million protesters gathered in Central Park, New York to call for an end to the Cold War arms race and nuclear weapons in particular. In the mid-1980s, the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika ("reorganization", 1987) and glasnost ("openness", c. 1985) and ended Soviet involvement in Afghanistan. Pressures for national independence grew stronger in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Gorbachev meanwhile refused to use Soviet troops to bolster the faltering Warsaw Pact regimes as had occurred in the past. The result in 1989 was a wave of revolutions that peacefully (with the exception of the Romanian Revolution) overthrew all of the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union itself lost control and was banned following an abortive coup attempt in August 1991. This in turn led to the formal dissolution of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse of communist regimes in other countries such as Mongolia, Cambodia and South Yemen. The United States remained as the world's only superpower.

The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy. It is often referred to in popular culture, especially in media featuring themes of espionage (notably the internationally successful James Bond book and film franchise) and the threat of nuclear warfare. Meanwhile, a renewed state of tension between the Soviet Union's successor state, Russia, and the United States in the 2010s (including its Western allies) has been referred to as the Second Cold War.[3]

Origins of the term

West and East Germans at the Brandenburg Gate in 1989.jpg

Part of a series on the
History of the Cold War

Origins of the Cold War
World War II
(Hiroshima and Nagasaki)
War conferences
Eastern Bloc
Western Bloc
Iron Curtain
Cold War (1947–1953)
Cold War (1953–1962)
Cold War (1962–1979)
Cold War (1979–1985)
Cold War (1985–1991)
Frozen conflicts
Timeline · Conflicts
Historiography
Cold War II

At the end of World War II, English writer George Orwell used cold war, as a general term, in his essay "You and the Atomic Bomb", published 19 October 1945 in the British newspaper Tribune. Contemplating a world living in the shadow of the threat of nuclear warfare, Orwell looked at James Burnham's predictions of a polarized world, writing:

Looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery... James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications—that is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of "cold war" with its neighbours.[4]

In The Observer of 10 March 1946, Orwell wrote, "after the Moscow conference last December, Russia began to make a 'cold war' on Britain and the British Empire."[5]

The first use of the term to describe the specific post-war geopolitical confrontation between the USSR and the United States came in a speech by Bernard Baruch, an influential advisor to Democratic presidents,[6] on 16 April 1947. The speech, written by journalist Herbert Bayard Swope,[7] proclaimed, "Let us not be deceived: we are today in the midst of a cold war."[8] Newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann gave the term wide currency with his book The Cold War. When asked in 1947 about the source of the term, Lippmann traced it to a French term from the 1930s, la guerre froide.[9]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Koue Oorlog
Alemannisch: Kalter Krieg
aragonés: Guerra Fría
অসমীয়া: শীতল যুদ্ধ
asturianu: Guerra Fría
azərbaycanca: Soyuq müharibə
تۆرکجه: سویوق ساواش
Bân-lâm-gú: Léng-chiàn
башҡортса: Һалҡын һуғыш
беларуская: Халодная вайна
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Халодная вайна
български: Студена война
Boarisch: Koida Kriag
bosanski: Hladni rat
brezhoneg: Brezel Yen
буряад: Хүйтэн дайн
català: Guerra Freda
Чӑвашла: Сивлек вăрçă
čeština: Studená válka
Cymraeg: Y Rhyfel Oer
Deutsch: Kalter Krieg
Ελληνικά: Ψυχρός Πόλεμος
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Guèra fradda
español: Guerra Fría
Esperanto: Malvarma milito
estremeñu: Guerra Fria
euskara: Gerra Hotza
فارسی: جنگ سرد
Fiji Hindi: Cold War
føroyskt: Kalda kríggið
français: Guerre froide
Gaeilge: Cogadh Fuar
Gàidhlig: Cogadh Fuar
galego: Guerra fría
ГӀалгӀай: Шийла тIом
贛語: 冷戰
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Lâng-chan
한국어: 냉전
हिन्दी: शीतयुद्ध
hrvatski: Hladni rat
Bahasa Indonesia: Perang Dingin
interlingua: Guerra Frigide
íslenska: Kalda stríðið
italiano: Guerra fredda
Basa Jawa: Perang Adhem
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಶೀತಲ ಸಮರ
къарачай-малкъар: Сууукъ къазауат
ქართული: ცივი ომი
қазақша: Суық соғыс
kernowek: Bresel Yeyn
Kiswahili: Vita baridi
kurdî: Şerê Sar
Кыргызча: Кансыз согуш
Ladino: Gerra Friya
latviešu: Aukstais karš
Lëtzebuergesch: Kale Krich
lietuvių: Šaltasis karas
Limburgs: Kouwe Oorlog
lumbaart: Guèra frègia
македонски: Студена војна
മലയാളം: ശീതയുദ്ധം
मराठी: शीत युद्ध
მარგალური: რგილი ლჷმა
مازِرونی: سرد جنگ
Bahasa Melayu: Perang Dingin
Mirandés: Guerra Frie
монгол: Хүйтэн дайн
မြန်မာဘာသာ: စစ်အေးတိုက်ပွဲ
Nederlands: Koude Oorlog
Nedersaksies: Koolden Oorlog
नेपाली: शीतयुद्ध
नेपाल भाषा: शीत हताः
日本語: 冷戦
norsk nynorsk: Den kalde krigen
Nouormand: Fraide Dgèrre
occitan: Guèrra Freja
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sovuq urush
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਠੰਢੀ ਜੰਗ
پنجابی: ٹھنڈی لڑائی
Papiamentu: Guera Friu
Patois: Kuol Waar
Piemontèis: Guèra frèida
Plattdüütsch: Koolt Krieg
polski: Zimna wojna
português: Guerra Fria
Qaraqalpaqsha: Salqın urıs
română: Războiul Rece
rumantsch: Guerra fraida
русиньскый: Холодна война
саха тыла: Уота суох сэрии
Scots: Cauld War
Seeltersk: Koolde Kriech
sicilianu: Guerra Fridda
Simple English: Cold War
slovenčina: Studená vojna
slovenščina: Hladna vojna
Soomaaliga: Dagaalkii Qaboobaa
српски / srpski: Хладни рат
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Hladni rat
Basa Sunda: Perang Tiis
svenska: Kalla kriget
Tagalog: Cold War
татарча/tatarça: Салкын сугыш
тоҷикӣ: Ҷанги Сард
Türkçe: Soğuk Savaş
Türkmençe: Sowuk uruş
українська: Холодна війна
اردو: سرد جنگ
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: سوغۇق ئۇرۇش
Vahcuengh: Lengx Can
vèneto: Guera Freda
vepsän kel’: Vilusoda
Tiếng Việt: Chiến tranh Lạnh
文言: 冷戰
吴语: 冷战
ייִדיש: קאלטער קריג
粵語: 冷戰
Zeêuws: Kouwe Oôrlog
žemaitėška: Šaltuojė vaina
中文: 冷战