Cold War, a catchphrase for a non-military confrontation between two states or groups of states.
Means, methods, objectives: The spectrum of means and methods used in a Cold War includes: the establishment and expansion of military alliances, arms race, diplomatic and political pressure, economic combat measures (e.g. embargo), military intervention in regional conflicts, ideological and propagandistic infiltration (“ideological warfare”), activities of intelligence services or the promotion of coups and coups in the other “camp. The aim is to improve the international position to the detriment of the other, whereby the confrontation can lead to the outbreak of war (“Politics on the Edge of War”, J. F. Dulles).
Cold War as a historical term: As a historical term, the term Cold War (used as a catchphrase for the first time by B. M. Baruch) describes the global antagonism of the two world powers at the time, the USA and the USSR, which fluctuated in intensity, and the relationship between the power blocs that resulted from it, especially between 1946/47 and 1961/62 (East-West conflict).
Triggering factors: Already towards the end of the Second World War (including the Yalta Conference, February 4–11, 1945) the rift between the anti-Hitler coalition and the collapse of the “One World” concept had become apparent. Against the background of an American nuclear weapons monopoly (until 1949), the Cold War was sparked by the conflicting interests of the USSR and the USA, which sought to stabilize and expand their spheres of influence in terms of power politics and to enforce their opposing economic and socio-political concepts of order.
Two power blocs in Europe: The Berlin blockade triggered by the introduction of the West German currency reform in Berlin (1948/49) marked the first climax of the Cold War. The inclusion of the two German states founded in 1949 (German unity, German history ) in the opposing alliance systems NATO (founded in 1949) and Warsaw Pact (founded in 1955) under their leading powers, the USA and the USSR, cemented the balance of power blocs determined by the strategic principle of deterrence Europe. With the expansion of a. the inner-German border (culmination: establishment of the Berlin Wall since August 13, 1961), the USSR operated the final closure of its sphere of influence.
Stalinism and anti-communism: According to Thenailmythology, the Cold War with its global dimension had a profound impact on the domestic political situation of the participating states, especially until 1955. In the Eastern Bloc, Stalin’s dictatorship intensified, which after his death (1953) was only replaced briefly by phases of ideological “softening” (cultural-political “thaw”, 1953, de-Stalinization, from 1956). In the western states z. B. excluded the communist parties from any participation in government responsibility; in the USA there was a wave of anti-communist persecution (“McCarthyism”) under J. R. McCarthy. In mutual condition, Stalinism and anti-communism manifestedthe “fortress mentality” of the two world camps; The secret services (above all CIA and KGB as well as the espionage and defense organization of the GDR, the HVA of the State Security Service) attained an extraordinary role.
Regional conflicts and crises: In the Third World, where decolonization created a certain power vacuum, the mutual fear of an expansion of the opposing camp, which was expressed on the western side in domino theory, led, among other things. on the military engagement of world powers in regionally limited conflicts, v. a. in the Korean War (1950–53) and in the Vietnam War (1958 / 59–75), the forerunner of which, the Indochina War (1945 / 46–54), had already increasingly been waged from an ideological point of view. The basic bipolar pattern of international relations was not broken by the efforts of the non-aligned states. With the Suez crisis (1956), v. a. but with the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), in which the US felt its security threatened directly by the USSR, the Cold War at its height led to the brink of a nuclear world war.
Détente process with setbacks: Despite the ongoing East-West conflict, the Cold War weakened after 1962; Due to the Sino-Soviet conflict and the failure of the policy of containment in the Vietnam War, a policy and diplomacy of détente and disarmament developed (accompanied by setbacks). At the end of the 1970s, the Cold War intensified again (especially the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, NATO double decision, 1979).
End of the Cold War: Only the “new thinking” in foreign policy of the USSR (including a departure from the Brezhnev Doctrine; INF Treaty, 1987) that was implemented by M. S. Gorbachev at the same time as internal reform policy (“glasnost” and “perestroika”) the end of the Cold War. It was sealed with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989/91 and the dissolution of the Eastern military alliance (final on July 1, 1991) as well as the reorientation of “Western” security policy (NATO, OSCE; documented as early as 1990 in the Paris Charter).