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The End Of The Cold War

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Forty-four seconds, this is the amount of time the citizens of Hiroshima had in between the dropping of the atomic bomb named “Little Boy” and the detonation of the bomb. This nuclear weapon proved efficient, killing 220,000 citizens. Soon after this, a hunger for power erupted in the North-East. The ultimate battle of democracy versus communism, good versus evil, broke loose. The U.S.S.R. wanted to ultimately prove they were not inferior to the United States. For years the world had seemed frozen, with each superpower having their finger on the trigger. The Cold War is responsible for our current revisions on nuclear warfare, and changed the political battlefield forever.

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This standoff was never about annihilation, but the fear of it. The race for arms soon became a race for power. With tensions of the war rising, each side was eager, yet fearful to make the first move. Joseph Stalin was the leader of the U.S.S.R. at the time, while the U.S. followed behind President Harry S. Truman (“Cold War History”). Both leaders knew if this nuclear war took place, there would be no winner. This war of threats had the potential to be the worst war in the planet’s history. The most dangerous war of all time had no aggressor, no loser or winner, but the ability to destroy the planet in seconds.

At the start of this war, Joseph Stalin attempted strategic placements across the world. Taking places such as Germany, East Berlin, and even Cuba. President Harry S. Truman and the United States also had a plan of action. The Allies had already begun to prepare for this. The U.S. set up camp in many places in Europe, including West Berlin and three fourths of Germany, with the remainder of the Allies (Wegner).

The middle of the Cold War may be the most frightening. The war went silent, all activities went cold. No one knew the next step, no one knew what to expect. Then, the silence grew louder and louder, until it was no longer silent. The divide of Germany created dangerous issues. The Soviets blocked off any contact with the Allies in West Germany, but the Allies prevailed. The Allies began to airlift supplies and produce to West Germany. This kept the war in a peaceful state, while standing toe to toe (Cleveland).

The ending of this war did not stem from violence, nor from military action, but from the inside of the Soviet Union. With the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the leader of the Soviet Union. This caused uproars and outrage in many satellite countries under Soviet control; including the Hungarian revolt in 1953 which left over two thousand Hungarians dead (“Nikita Khrushchev”). Many satellite countries had peaceful protests at this time, including Hungary and Poland.

Khrushchev endured many issues while being the leader of the communist country. Every country under the control of the Soviet Union was thrown into anarchy. Khrushchev was thrown into the middle of this crisis. The Soviet leader tried everything he could, including speeches and even discussion of peacefully coexisting with the capitalist society. Though he was a communist believer, he wished to avoid war and violence and wanted peace with other countries. When he became leader, he even set out to take away the set values of Stalin. This was called “Destalinization.” Though Stalin was someone Khrushchev admired, Khrushchev saw the problems his plans of violence created and vowed to do away with it. Destalinization was about more than criticizing Stalin. It was about restoring power to the communist party and not letting any leader above the party itself (“Nikita Khrushchev”).

New leaders arose towards the end of the Cold War. After the fall and death of Nikita Khrushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev took charge of the U.S.S.R. During all of this chaos, the U.S. was suffering from heavy casualties during the Vietnam War. It was apparent the end of this metaphorical war was near. Between the media, speeches, and threats, this war was a war of propaganda, and each country was well passed the pinnacle of it.

Life during the end of the Cold War was just as fearful as the beginning. As time passed, a new leader arose. Ronald Reagan became the President of the United States while Mikhail Gorbachev continued as the Supreme Leader of the U.S.S.R. Reagan is largely credited for the end of the Cold War. This was rightfully due to the detente, or an easing of tensions between countries, that Reagan pushed for. Reagan visits Moscow and China in hopes of relieving tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R (Ronald Reagan “We the People”). Reagan followed closely behind John F. Kennedy’s new frontier plan. Reagan began talking about the “Star Wars” which was a plan to send satellites into space in hopes of defending the United States from foreign nuclear missile attacks. This was now the beginning of the end of this long war.

With the war coming to an end, the enslaved citizens of the Soviet Union became uncontrollable. Many rebellions spread across Soviet land. Many of these were seen as signs of the coming of an end. Then, in Eastern Europe, the first non-communist government appears for the first time since 1948 with the elections in Poland (“Revolutions of 1989 Chronology”). The Soviet Union fell apart from the inside, while the United States stood united.

After all the riots across Eastern Europe, the destruction of the Berlin Wall stood as a burning symbol of the end of the Cold War. This was the most defining moment in the history of the Cold War. The destruction of the wall represented so much more than peace, for this meant the freedom of every European country running from the threat of communist control. This seemed like a big slap in the face to the Soviet Union because now ultimate Soviet control was over once and for all.

The life of the average person remained the same, although that growing fear of ultimate annihilation was no longer there. The war was now over, the constant threat of destruction had faded. Although the war was between the two superpowers, it is important to note that Americans never saw the Russians as the enemy, but the spread of the communist regime. Communism was never fully eradicated, but it was contained. Containment was always the goal of the United States (Service 4).

Even today we still face the stigma between the United States and Russia. A great example is the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Many Americans accused Russia of meddling within the elections through electronics and hacking. Russia denied all claims of having anything to do with President Donald Trump’s election. These claims spread like wildfire through the media and sparked many different political discussions about Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics. This is just one of the long-lasting affects the Cold War had on not only the U.S., but the entire world (Cohen).

The Cold War left an undeniable mark on our society as a whole. From warfare revisions to political accusations, the Cold War stirred up the world. Nuclear warfare will never be the same, the dangers of nuclear weapons have been discovered and will long be avoided. The media and political propaganda now tend to play a huge part in the everyday life of many politicians. These revisions and additions were brought about through the progression of society during wartime. Today, The Cold War is responsible for our current revisions on nuclear warfare, and changed the political battlefield forever.

07 September 2020

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