Subscribe to our summer-only newsletter to get great reads in your inbox once a week during July and August. Subscribe Magazine Newsletter. Login Sign up Search. Subscribe Login Sign up. Foreign Policy. Courtesy Reuters Until recently a quiet, secure backwater, Central America is now convulsed by revolution, civil war, border clashes, economic disruption, refugee camps and clandestine arms networks. II The roots of the current turbulence in Central America are political sclerosis and uneven economic development.
Then a period of rising expectations was followed by Loading, please wait The U. Afshon Ostovar. Foreign Policy Reagan Administration. Stay informed. The Cold War was a global political and ideological struggle between capitalist and communist countries, particularly between the two surviving superpowers of the postwar world: the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics USSR.
The Cold War reshaped the world and the generations of Americans that lived under its shadow. The Germans had pillaged their way across Eastern Europe, and the Soviets had pillaged their way back. Millions of lives were lost. Stalin considered the newly conquered territory part of a Soviet sphere of influence. At the same time, deliberation began over reparations, tribunals, and the nature of an occupation regime that would initially be divided into American, British, French, and Soviet zones.
Project MUSE - Cold War's Last Battlefield, The
Suspicion and mistrust were already mounting. He committed the United States to a hard-line, anti-Soviet approach. Toward the end of the meeting, the American delegation received word that Manhattan Project scientists had successfully tested an atomic bomb. The Cold War had long roots. The World War II alliance of convenience was not enough to erase decades of mutual suspicions.
Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin urged an immediate worldwide peace that would pave the way for world socialism just as Woodrow Wilson brought the United States into the war with promises of global democracy and free trade. The two powers were brought together only by their common enemy, and without that common enemy, there was little hope for cooperation. On the eve of American involvement in World War II, on August 14, , Roosevelt and Churchill had issued a joint declaration of goals for postwar peace, known as the Atlantic Charter. The Atlantic Charter also set in motion the planning for a reorganized global economy.
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The Soviets rejected it all. Many officials on both sides knew that the Soviet-American relationship would dissolve into renewed hostility at the end of the war, and events proved them right. In alone, the Soviet Union refused to cede parts of occupied Iran, a Soviet defector betrayed a Soviet spy who had worked on the Manhattan Project, and the United States refused Soviet calls to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
In the harsh winter of —, famine loomed in much of continental Europe. Blizzards and freezing cold halted coal production. Factories closed. Unemployment spiked. Amid these conditions, the communist parties of France and Italy gained nearly a third of the seats in their respective parliaments.
To avoid the postwar chaos of World War I, the Marshall Plan was designed to rebuild Western Europe, open markets, and win European support for capitalist democracies. Stalin was jealous of Eastern Europe. The situation in Germany meanwhile deteriorated. Berlin had been divided into communist and capitalist zones. In June , when U. The United States organized and coordinated a massive airlift that flew essential supplies into the beleaguered city for eleven months, until the Soviets lifted the blockade on May 12, Germany was officially broken in half.
Berlin, which lay squarely within the GDR, was divided into two sections and, from August until November , famously separated by physical walls. Navy Douglas R4D and U. Air Force C aircraft unload at Tempelhof Airport in or Foreign Policy , published in Lippmann envisioned a prolonged stalemate between the United States and the USSR, a war of words and ideas in which direct shots would not necessarily be fired between the two.
Despite persistent tensions between the two, this Chinese stamp depicts Joseph Stalin shaking hands with Mao Zedong. On June 25, , as U. After Japan surrendered in September , a U. In November , the UN passed a resolution that a united government in Korea should be created, but the Soviet Union refused to cooperate. Only the south held elections. Both claimed to stand for a unified Korean peninsula. While he did not desire a military confrontation with the United States, Stalin thought correctly that he could encourage his Chinese comrades to support North Korea if the war turned against the DPRK.
The North Koreans launched a successful surprise attack and Seoul, the capital of South Korea, fell to the communists on June The UN passed resolutions demanding that North Korea cease hostilities and withdraw its armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel and calling on member states to provide the ROK military assistance to repulse the northern attack. Troops landed at Inchon, a port city about thirty miles from Seoul, and took the city on September They moved on North Korea.
They were met by three hundred thousand Chinese troops who broke the advance and rolled up the offensive. They returned across the thirty-eighth parallel and abandoned Seoul on January 4, The United Nations forces regrouped, but the war entered into a stalemate. General MacArthur, growing impatient and wanting to eliminate the communist threats, requested authorization to use nuclear weapons against North Korea and China.
Denied, MacArthur publicly denounced Truman. Peace talks continued for two years. More than 1.
The Vietnam War had deep roots in the Cold War world. Ho Chi Minh turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in waging war against the French colonizers in a protracted war.
To stifle communist expansion southward, the United States would send arms, offer military advisors, prop up corrupt politicians, stop elections, and, eventually, send over five hundred thousand troops, of whom nearly sixty thousand would be lost before the communists finally reunified the country.
The world was never the same after the United States leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August with atomic bombs. Not only had perhaps , civilians been killed, the nature of warfare was forever changed. Soviet scientists successfully tested an atomic bomb on August 29, , years before American officials had estimated they would. This unexpectedly quick Russian success not only caught the United States off guard but alarmed the Western world and propelled a nuclear arms race between the United States and the USSR.
The United States detonated the first thermonuclear weapon, or hydrogen bomb using fusion explosives of theoretically limitless power on November 1, The blast measured over ten megatons and generated an inferno five miles wide with a mushroom cloud twenty-five miles high and a hundred miles across.
The irradiated debris—fallout—from the blast circled the earth, occasioning international alarm about the effects of nuclear testing on human health and the environment. It only hastened the arms race, with each side developing increasingly advanced warheads and delivery systems. Both sides, then, would theoretically be deterred from starting a war, through the logic of mutually assured destruction MAD. Detonated on March 1, , it was the most powerful nuclear device ever tested by the U.
But the effects were more gruesome than expected, causing nuclear fall-out and radiation poisoning in nearby Pacific islands. Fears of nuclear war produced a veritable atomic culture. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb plumbed the depths of American anxieties with plots featuring radioactive monsters, nuclear accidents, and doomsday scenarios. Antinuclear protests in the United States and abroad warned against the perils of nuclear testing and highlighted the likelihood that a thermonuclear war would unleash a global environmental catastrophe.
A devastating rocket that had terrorized England, the V-2 was capable of delivering its explosive payload up to a distance of nearly six hundred miles, and both nations sought to capture the scientists, designs, and manufacturing equipment to make it work. After the end of the war, American and Soviet rocket engineering teams worked to adapt German technology in order to create an intercontinental ballistic missile ICBM.
The Soviets achieved success first. It was a decisive Soviet propaganda victory. One of those nations which has already begun to find its historians as far as relations with Latin America are concerned is Czechoslovakia. Some of the articles and books by those historians have appeared in Czech, so I have not been able to read them. Not surprisingly, there has been some interest in the Czech supply of arms for the Jacobo Arbenz government in Guatemala but, regrettably, this still has not been elucidated sufficiently.
It is interesting to note that it was only during the Allende years that the Czech Ministry of Foreign Relations established a separate department for Latin America. The Czech scholar shows that following the coup, Soviet-bloc countries not including Romania suspended diplomatic relations with Chile, which they had not done when similar governments had been established in Brazil and Uruguay. When the military returned to power in Argentina in , the Soviet Union did not break off relations because the targets of the Dirty War were largely members of left-wing groups with which the Soviet Union did not have any sympathy.
Zourek notes that the Argentine government was the only one of its kind recognized by Cuba. Czechoslovakia generally followed suit, of course. The country maintained strong economic ties with Argentina and Brazil during the military years while trade with Uruguay even increased. The government spoke out internationally in opposition to human rights abuses in Chile, but only granted asylum to a limited number of Chilean exiles. Chilean socialists were less welcome in Czechoslovakia than Chilean communists, because the Socialist Party had supported the Prague Spring and opposed the Soviet invasion in Scholars in western as well as in eastern Europe will undoubtedly be providing insights in coming years.
The Italian scholar Raffaele Nocera has demonstrated that although previous scholars have focused almost exclusively on the United States, the Italian Christian Democratic party played a significant role in supporting the Chilean Christian Democratic Party in its victory over Salvador Allende in Given the recent trend in Latin American history to emphasize Pacific connections, one can imagine that more work will be done on the impact of Communist China on Latin America.
More transnational work is just beginning to be done. The Uruguayan scholar Aldo Marchesi is doing some important work on the transnational links between leftists, both academics and militants, who experienced exile in Chile during the Allende years. I must note that I have ignored some books which, to my mind, at this point do not represent larger trends. The books and articles that have appeared in recent years do not convince me that the Cold War was irrelevant, but rather that our understanding of the Cold War has been too narrow. We certainly need to know more about what the Cold War meant to Latin Americans.
Was the Cold War a war of mentalities as much as ideologies? Certainly more is being done all the time on the cultural history of the Cold War that will presumably be of less interest to H-Diplo readers. One can assume that good work will be done on sports and the Cold War in Latin America. An undergraduate student of mine recently tried to do this with Cuban boxing. As noted above, U. We need to distinguish between dynamics that were unique to the period and those which are constants in U.
An awareness of pre-existing conditions can help us with our diagnosis. And we need to be aware of other factors like the process of rapid urbanization during these years which may be more critical than the Cold War itself. We need to be sensitive to shifting internal dynamics in particular countries. In a paper at a recent Latin American Studies Association conference, Jennifer Adair made clear how internally the Cold War was ending in Argentina and, I would argue, other South American countries before it ended elsewhere in the world. We also need to be more aware of how important or how tangential Latin America was at particular moments in the history of U.
Keeping this in mind will help U. We need to recognize the in attention span of officials who serve a global power. It would help, I am convinced, for us to be more engaged with our fellow historians of U. It would help if others who work on the history of U. Historians of U. My colleague Jason Parker, for example, in his forthcoming book intends to shed some light on how and when Latin America became part of the Third World.
And reading important books by scholars like Philip Muehlenbeck and Robert B. Rakove can help U. And the Vietnam War itself, with its varied implications for U. The current state of the field of Cold War Latin American history is sound, but much remains to be done, both in terms of uncovering basic facts and understanding the interactions between countries better, but also in reconceptualizing the historical period itself.
Moreno eds. See also Thomas C. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Kennedy New York: Hyperion, , and The transcript of the latter recording is incorrect, as even a casual listening to the recording itself will confirm. Knopf, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Kelly makes clear how the massive and dispersed Chilean exile community built on antipathy toward the regime of Augusto Pinochet. He might consider in particular the role of Chilean musicians abroad.
- Emerald Island.
- Anti-communist mass killings.
- The Hollow (Kjolvannet Saga Book 1)!
The author kindly allowed me to read a copy of this article.