Various dimensions and phases of the cold war between 1947 and 1962



A significant result of the World War II was the division of the world into two power blocs - one led by the US and the other led by the Soviet Union.

These two blocs soon got engaged in a long period of war known as the cold war. The war raged with vary­ing intensity for almost four decades after the end of the World War II.

Though little actual fighting took place directly between the two opposing camps, they attacked each other with propaganda and economic measures and with a general policy of non-coopera­tion. The period 1947 to 1962 was the most crucial and singing phase of the cold war. With its various di­mensions and phases, the world used to be from one moment to another on the brink of another World War.

Though feelings of animosity between the both blocs had its genesis since the Russian Revolution of 1917, it was only post World War II that the hitherto covert war came out first in the open. The Soviet ef­fort to topple the Greek monarchy and established communist regime there provided the first concrete manifestation of the cold war.

The capitalist group under the USA made it their policy to lend support to free people everywhere who are resisting subjuga­tion by armed minorities backed by outside pressures. As a result, the US reined in massive arms and mate­rial supplies and the communist forces were defeated in 1949.

As a natural corollary to this, the US Presi­dent Truman came out with his policy of containment of communism known as the Truman Doctrine, which committed the US to contain commission not just in Europe, but throughout the world. This was followed by the Marshall plan, which offered economic help to countries so that they do not fall under communist trap. It was economic part of the Truman doctrine.

The Plan formally known as the European Recovery Programme aimed to promote economic recovery of Europe and to contain communism, as communism was less likely to gain in prosperous Western Europe.

In response to the Truman doctrine and the Marshall Plan, the Soviet Union came out with Cominform. It aimed at drawing together various Eu­ropean communist parties and introducing programme of industrialization collectivization and centralization of Eastern Europe.

In 1949, Molotov Plan came which offered Russian aid to the satellite states of URRS. In order to coordinate the economic policies of these countries COMECON - "Communist of Mutual Eco­nomic Assistance" was set up by USSR. The suc­ceeding years witnessed lightening of tensions be­tween the power blocs. As a first move, the commu­nists with the support armed coup in 1948. The inclu­sion of Czechoslovakia, the only remaining democratic state in Eastern Europe completed the descent of the Iron curtain which divided the western capitalist Eu­rope from Eastern Europe.

The next important aspect of the cold war during this phase was the Berlin block­ade by Russia from June 1948 to May 1949. Soviet Union was irritated by the West's attempt to intro­duce a new economy and ending of price control in their sphere.

Embarrassed by the contrast between the prosperity of West Berlin and the pecuniary of areas under its control, Soviet Union decided to cut off all links - rail, road and canal - between West Berlin and West Germany. The western powers not to be bogged down responded with massive emit of supplies to Berlin forcing Soviet Union to end the blockade.

The Berlin blockade had exposed the west's mili­tary unpreparedness and it led them to a military al­liance called Brussels Treaty in 1948. The original five European nations were joined by others includ­ing the USA in 1949 to make it North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The members of NATO agreed to re­gard an attack on any one of them as attack on all, and placed their defenses under a joint NATO com­mand. Thus, the cold war realities ended the US policy of Isolation, which was an important development in this phase.

The other dimensions of the cold war during this period extended the cold war to outside Europe. The triumph of communism in China in 1949 had raised the hackles of the USA. The cold war spotlight in the meanwhile shifted to Korea in Asia. Here a commu­nist North Korea had been created in 1948 with the support of the Russians. In 1950, the North Korea attacked the South Korea.

The USA ordered invasion of North Korea to unite Korea and to hold free elec­tions. This opened another theatre of cold war when an alarmed China mobilized its troops into Korea. Ul­timately, peace talks ended the crisis in 1953 by ap­proving the division of two Koreas at the 38th parallel.

The Korean experience led to the formation of several defensive military allowances under the aegis of the USA. In 1954 was formed South East Asia treaty Organisation (SEATU), and in 1955 was signed the Baghdad Pact to contain communism in Asia. The Soviet Union responded by forming Warsaw Pact in 1955 as a mutual defense agreement.

The cold war entered the phase of thaw in the post-1953 period. Several factors led to thaw. Firstly, both the powers the USA and the Soviet Union had developed hydrogen bomb by them which led to real­ization of mutually assured destruction.

Further, the death of Stalin led to coursing to fore of the new lead­ers who were keen to improve relations with the USA. In this relaxed atmosphere, Russia took the measures like abandoning Co inform, giving up military bases in Finland, and ending the quarrel with Yugoslavia.

However, the thaw was not without setbacks. The Berlin issue provided the first spanner with Khrushchev announcing that Soviet Union no longer recognized the rights of western powers in Berlin. In 1961, he demanded withdrawal of western troops from Berlin and on its refusal Berlin wall was erected in 1961.

Further dimension to cold war added by the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962. Khrushchev decided to set up nuclear Missile Launchers in Cuba aimed at the USA. This incident almost brought the world to war, but somehow tensions got diffused by the mediation of the United Nations.

Thus, the cold war in the period between 1947 and 1962 developed different dimensions which were not limited only to Europe, but also got extended to Asia, Africa and America.