Cuban Missile Crisis
(i) Cuba was an allay of the Soviet Union and received diplomatic and financial aid from it. In April 1961, leaders of the USSR were worried that the United States of America would invade communist-ruled Cuba and overthrow its President Fidel Castro.
(ii) In 1962, the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, placed nuclear missiles in Cuba for converting it into a Russian base.
(iii) Three weeks later, Americans became aware of it. The US President John F. Kennedy and his advisers tried to find a solution to avoid full-scale nuclear war. But they were determined to get Khrushchev to remove the missiles and nuclear weapons from Cuba.
(iv) Kennedy ordered American warships to intercepts any Soviet ships heading to Cuba as a way of warning the USSR. This clash between the USA and USSR came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. It made the whole world nervous.
(v) The Cuba Missile Crisis was a high point which came to be known as the Cold War. It refers to the competition, the tensions and a series of confrontations between the United States and Soviet Union.
(i) The Cold War was the war of ideologies. The US followed the ideology of liberal democracy and capitalism while the USSR backed the ideology of socialism and communism.
(ii) The Second World War (1939-1945) came to an end with the defeat of the Axis powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan by the Allied Forces led by the U.S., Soviet Union, Britain and France.
(iii) It marked the beginning of the Cold War. The Second World War ended when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, causing Japan to surrender.
(iv) This decision of the US was both criticised and supported. But the consequence of the end of the Second World War was the rise of two new powers on the global state.
(v) The United States and the Soviet Union became the greatest powers in the world with the ability to influence events anywhere on Earth.
(vi) But the Cold War inspite of being an intense form of rivalry between great powers, remained a ‘cold’ and not hot or shooting war. It was due to the ‘logic of deterrence’.
(vii) The ‘logic of deterrence’ means when both sides have the capacity to respond against an attack and to cause so much destruction that neither can afford to initiate war.
(viii) The two superpowers and their allies were expected to behave as rational and responsible actors.
The Emergence of Two Power Blocs
(i) The tow superpowers, i.e. the US and USSR wanted to expand the spheres of influence in different parts of the world. Hence, they decided to take help of the smaller countries.
(ii) These smaller states got the promise of protection, weapons and economic aid against their local rivals, mostly regional neighbours.
(iii) The first division took place in Europe. Most countries of Western Europe sided with the US and thus, came to known as ‘Western alliance’.
(iv) The countries of the Eastern Europe joined the Soviet camp and came to known as ‘Eastern alliance’.
(v) The Western alliance formed itself into an organisation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It came into existence in April, 1949 with twelve states.
(vi) The NATO declared that armed attack on any one of them in Europe or North America would be regarded as an attack on all of them.
(vii) The Eastern alliance, also known as the Warsaw Pact, was led by the Soviet Union. It was established in 1955. Its principle function was to counter NATO’s forces in Europe.
(viii) In East and South East Asia an in West Asia (Middle East) , the United States built an alliance system called the South-East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO).
(ix) Many newly independent countries were worried of losing their freedom. Cracks and splits within the alliances were quick to appear.
(x) Communist China quarreled with the USSR towards the late 1950s. The other important development was the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
(xi) The smaller countries were of more help to the superpowers because they were the means to gain vital resources such as oil and minerals; locations to spy each other and launch weapons.
Arenas of the Cold War
(i) The arenas of the Cold War refer to areas where crisis and war occurred or threatened to occur between the alliance systems but did not cross certain limits.
(ii) The Cold War was also responsible for several shooting wars.
(iii) The two superpowers were poised for direct encounter in Korea (1950-53), Berlin (1958-62), the Congo (the ear 1960s) and in several other places.
(iv) Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the key leader of the NAM played a key role in meditating between the two Koreans. In the Congo crisis, the UN Secretary General played a key mediatory role.
(v) The US and USSR decided to collaborate in limiting or eliminating certain kinds of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.
(vi) The two sides signed three significant agreements within a decade. These were:
- Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
- Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT)
Challenge of the Bipolarity
(i) Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) offered the newly decolonised countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America a third option i.e. not to join any of the alliances.
(ii) NAM was founded by three leaders-Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, India’s Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Indonesia’s Sukarno and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah strongly supported them. The first NAM summit was held in 1961 at Belgrade.
(iii) Non-Alignment neither means isolationism nor neutrality. It played a role in mediating between the two rival alliances.
New International Economic Order
(i) The challenge for the newly decolonised countries was to become more developed economically and to lift their people out of poverty. The idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) originated with this realisation.
(ii) The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brought out a report in 1972 entitled ‘Towards a New Trade Policy for Development’.
(iii) The nature of Non-Alignment changed to give greater importance to economic issues. As a result, NAM became an economic pressure group.
India and the Cold War
(i) India followed a two way policy regarding the Cold War. It did not join any of the alliances and raised voice against the newly decolonised countries becoming part of these alliances.
(ii) The policy of India was not ‘fleeing away’ but was in favour of actively intervening in world affairs to soften Cold War rivalries.
(iii) The Non-Alignment gave India the power to take international decisions and to balance one superpower against the other.
(iv) India’s policy of Non-Alignment was criticised on a number of counts. But still it has become both as an international movement and a core of India’s foreign policy.