Free «The Cold War» Essay
The World War II had significant consequences for the whole world and all the nations who were involved in this horrible period of human history. Europe was lying in ruins and the Soviet Union experienced severe economic crisis. The United States had slightly better condition after WWII because there was no open armed conflict on the territory of the state. The international relations were intense. Neutrality between the Soviet Union and the USA was especially fragile. These countries were the representatives of the opposing political coalitions. This tension developed into a full-grown conflict of many years that was called the Cold War period. The Cold War significantly influenced the course of political and economic development of both countries. It had severe consequences for the relations between America and the Soviet Union that may be observed even today. This essay explores the period of the Cold War and discusses its influence on the economic, political, and social development of the Soviet Union and the United States.
The Cold War had several distinctive features that characterized this period of history from different sides. First of all, it was a confrontation between the Western Block and the Eastern Block headed by the most powerful states at that time, namely the United States of America and the Soviet Union. This confrontation was built on the differences over totalitarian communism of the USSR and capitalist democracy of the US. The two superpowers held a technological race and armaments drive which was the major cause of a serious international tension. Both countries had a nuclear weapon and invested a considerable amount of resources in its development that only intensified the conflict. Other important aspects of the Cold War were a powerful propaganda from both sides and the space race. All this confrontation seriously impaired relations between the US and the USSR and affected the international relations in general (Sibley,1998).
The major idea of the Cold War was to demonstrate the superiority and ideology of either the US with its capitalist democracy or the USSR with its totalitarian communism. All the efforts of both countries were aimed at fulfilling this purpose. It is hard to say whether there were any true winners in this war, but there is no doubt that capitalist democracy overcame communism after all. Historians suggest that the Cold War ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union felt. It was the definitive defeat of the communist regime. However, the results of this long period are still present in the relations between the United States and Russian Federation that became the successor of the USSR after its fall.
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In the United States, disapproval of communism gained enormous scale and sometimes was absurd. The policy against communist propaganda was developed by the US senator Joseph McCarthy. This hunt for communists was named McCarthyism after its founder. McCarthy’s policy was often rude and straightforward, sometimes even paranoid. In his speech “Lincoln Day Address” (1950), McCarthy announced a hunt for communists who were present in the US government as he claimed (Boller & Story, 2000). However, this claim was never proved by any facts and was not based on any argumentation. McCarthyism was based on fears of Americans about communism, and that was the reason why such policy became popular among the population. However, it was often absurd and irrational. For instance, McCarthy never explained why communists were considered such a threat to the United States. It was clear that the anti-communist policy was rather the instrument of propaganda during the Cold War than a well-reasoned tactic of defense.
The population of the United States got under influence of McCarthy’s anti-communist hysteria. The hunt for communists acquired national character. While republican government fought communiists through the efforts of intelligence, both inner and foreign, ordinary Americans defended national values from the red threat in various anti-communist organizations. Among such organizations were the American Legion, the American Public Relations Forum, and the Minute of Women of the USA. The policy of McCarthyism endangered many people who were considered the supporters of communism. Thousands of people were persecuted by McCarthy’s administration and a number of public organizations provided the anti-communist propaganda. Ironically, the actions of anti-communists may be considered as terror while their major goal was to resist totalitarian regime of the communist USSR (Emmons, 2010).
The popularity and support of McCarthyism among population declined in the late 1950s. Many aspects of McCarthy’s policy were considered unconstitutional and cruel. Loyalty checking agencies soon became the matter of the past. Many Americans realized that there was nothing to fight. Blacklists of the communism supporters were no longer topical. McCarthy became the object of a sound criticism and mockery for his inadequate forcing of the idea of the red threat and dreadful methods of fighting against it. McCarthyism demonstrated how people’s fears may become an instrument of politics and lead to absurd. In the conditions of mass hysteria about the horrible communists who wanted to violate true American democratic values, McCarthyism gained significant power that was used by its founder in an inappropriate way (Schrecker, 1998).
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The Cold War and McCarthy’s policy had significant consequences for social, political, and economic life of the United States. This period brought confusion to masses and uncertainty about the future. Even though today the Cold War is over, one can still observe its results through the attitudes of people towards communist ideology and intense relationships with the countries of the former Eastern Bloc.
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