The Cold War: A Bipolar World Divided

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Cold War

Period permanently tense international relations between 1945 and 1991. The world was divided into 2 blocs:

Western Bloc

Leading by USA, had a political system based on democracy.

Eastern Bloc

By Soviet Union, a totalitarian regime and centrally planned economy.


Bipolar Order: The 2 superpowers had similar military destructive capabilities maintained tensions based on distrust, threats.

Arms Race: Rivalry between both superpowers for authority in countries within their area of influence.

Propaganda: Used extensive propaganda on countries in their area of influence to announce them of the dangers of the opposing bloc.

Regional Conflicts: Directly or indirectly resolved with responding superpower.

Espionage and Secret Services: The CIA and KGB spied on each other to obtain scientific, military secrets from the enemy.

United Nations: Ineffective as an intermediary because the USA and USSR had control of the UN organs like the Security Council and they had their right to veto.

Western Bloc

United States had strong influence over the countries of Western Council. Western bloc countries received political, military, economic assistance from the USA.

Marshall Plan: US government decided to give 13 billion in aid to reactive the economies of Western Europe to help the threat of communism (1948).

The North Treaty Organisation (NATO): Several countries signed the treaty in Washington established international military alliance against passive attacks on the Western world.

Eastern Bloc

Comecon (1949) was founded in response to Marshall plan to coordinate the economic plan of the member countries and set up a system of mutual help.

Warsaw Pact (1955) was established in response to the founding of NATO, the plan was a military alliance between the countries of the East offering protection against attacks from the West.

Later State of Cold War

Mikhail Gorbachev (1985) came to power, the USSR faced economic problems, political tensions with the Soviet republic. Gorbachev carries out a series of reforms to the Communist party. Gorbachev and Reagan met at the Geneva Summit (1985) and Washington Conference (1987) in order to eliminate nuclear weapons. Changes in the Soviet regime favored the end of Cold War. Communist of Eastern European countries fell and began their transition to democracy. (November 1989) the fall of the Berlin wall led to reunification of Germany in (1990). December 25th, Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union. This worked break-up of the USSR and the end of the Cold War.

Berlin Blockade

London conference (1948) decided to create a West German single economic area controlled by the Western powers. The USSR saw this new division as a threat and blocked all land water transport coming into Berlin from the West. Allies kept West Berlin supplied through a massive airlift. Result of crisis (1949) Germany was partitioned into 2: Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Support by The Soviet Union had a communist regime.

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