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How did the Cold War begin?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

11K Ryutaro Tanno 28/10/07 Cold War How did the Cold War begin? How did the Cold War affect America's policy toward Vietnam? When the Second World War ended in 1945, many European countries that had once been powerful were in ruin and were exhausted by six years of fighting. Only two Super Powers - The USA and The USSR remained after 1945 and a state of extreme tension developed between them. This tense rivalry is called "The Cold War" and this strangely named rivalry is generally regarded as a conflict between communism (East) led by the USSR and capitalism (West) led by the USA, "characterized by mutual perceptions of hostile intention between political alliances or blocs" (quote 1; L. Dockrill and F.Hopkins, 2006, The Cold War Pg 1), without open armed direct fighting between the Great Powers. There were some conflicts in the Cold War but they were called proxy wars because the two Super Powers did not fight directly and just supported the interests of one of their allies against the other. The fabric of the rivalry was said to consist of the following two competitions - politically to compete for the ascendancy of each ideology, and economically for the wealth of people. However it was just a superficial front to hide the fact that the rivalry was a competition for spreading their ideology to as many countries as possible by expanding their controllable areas. Both sides were trying to prevent the other side from expanding its controllable area and also to stop the spread of the enemy's ideology. Therefore the rivalry had many features of a conventional war, such as, causes, weapons, tactics, events, results, spies and propaganda, and the rivalry actually resulted in many tragedies, for instance Korean Warfare, Vietnam War, Cambodia civil war and Afghanistan civil war, though all-out war between the USSR and the USA was avoided. In this essay I shall talk about how the Cold War began and how it affected America's Policy towards Vietnam. ...read more.

Middle

Vietminh was helped with weapons and ammunition by the USSR, but after the bombardment of Pearl Harbor, they also had the help of the OSS (organization of strategic service) that was a USA's intelligence service. As the USA was fighting with Japan at that time, the OSS not only supplied equipments but also trained Vietminh and taught them about military tactics in order to enable them to attack Japanese troops in Northern Vietnam. The USA took advantage of Vietnamese hopes for independence, so as to damage Japan. On 15 August 1945, the Second World War was over as Japan surrendered. However, the hope to independence of Vietnam was not achieved yet and a new war was about to break out. After the Second World War, in December, 1946, a conflict between France that wanted to keep Vietnam in its empire and Vietminh whom wanted to free from foreign domination began. The Indochina War broke out. The Indochina War lasted for seven and half years until the armistice signed in January, 1954. Vietminh was supported by the communist party of Indochina, China and the USSR as it had communist ideology. On the other hand, America was on the side of France that opposed the independence of Vietnam. The presence of "Domino theory" - if one country in East Asia falls into communism, other neighboring countries would also fall under the control of communist government - influenced the United State's action in Asia. This theory had emerged in the NSC (National Security Council) for the first time in 1951 and over the next few years it was developed profusely and by 1954 the USA's President anticipated that if one country in East Asia fell into communism, it was highly likely to happen that not only other neighboring countries but also Japan and India would fall. The speed of spreading communist ideology was very fast and President Eisenhower who had seen that China was under the control of communism and had intervened in the Korean War, was afraid of the possibility of all Asian countries falling into communism. ...read more.

Conclusion

This antagonism did not result in open, armed wars between West and East, owing to the presence of atomic weapons but it led to the Cold War when the distrustful mood of both countries reached the highest level. After the Cold War began, the frosty atmosphere of mistrust was increased and resulted in many tragedies such as, Vietnam War. In the Vietnam War, the USA was horrified by the speed of the spread of communism and was desperately trying to stop Communist aggression in East Asia. This fear of the USA made them to believe in the Domino Theory that was proved wrong after the war, created more futile fights and killed an uncountable number of people. On the other hand, as US troops were acting on mere conjecture given by the US government, they failed many times and the situation gradually got closer to that which the USA did not desire (e.g. intervention of US troops in the Vietnam War, the bombardment of South and North Vietnam). At the end, it resulted in defeat of the USA in the war. It was the first time the American people experienced the loss of war. In spite of sending five hundred thousand soldiers to Vietnam, they could not defeat the troops of a small Asian country. In order to stop the spread of communist ideology, the USA left no stone unturned, this caused much bloodshed and the USA failed to understand the simple hope Vietnam had for independence. The US government could only regard movements opposing their political power as maneuvers or strategies of evil communist. It was one of the tragedies that came from the ideological conflict. I understand how difficult it is for two different ideologies to coexist peacefully through writing this essay. However I still hope that a war will not happen in the future due to a mere ideological difference. To hope may be just a little thing, but it is an important first step to achieving results.. ...read more.

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