The Cold War was a period of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union resulted after the end of the World War II in 1945, which left both the United States and the Soviet Union as the World Super Powers. A bipolar international system spurred competition and suspicion between the United States and the Soviet. This suspicion emanated from the fact that both powers fought for the balance of relative power. This means that the progress of one power would negatively severe the power of the other power. In this case the most important power between both the United States was military power. Considering the competition that existed between both powers security was the uttermost priority of each of the superpowers.
In order to maintain a balance of power between both states, it was paramount that each state focusses on the building and strengthening its military capability. In order to realize this, both superpowers had to invest on power weapons that had the capacity to cause great harm to the other superpower if any of them attacked the other. According to the deterrence theory, armament prevents either state from attacking the other since doing so would not only be expensive but would have dire consequences. The continued armament of these two superpowers assured each of the states of destruction if they invaded each other. Theorists have referred to this phenomenon as mutually assured destruction. Bearing in mind that each state had the power to destroy each other, it was important that each state seeks support from other smaller powers. This means that both the United States began a campaign to expand their sphere of influence across the world (Duiker, 2002, p.153). Some of the countries formed military alliances and bilateral ties with the United States, while other nations aligned themselves with the Soviet Union. This paper focuses on two countries that were involved in the Cold war and the consequences. In order, to better look at the consequences of communism of either country, this paper select one country that was for and another that was against communism. The two countries that are selected in this paper are Cuba and Britain. Cuba was in support of communism while the United Kingdom aligned itself with the United States.
- Cuba & its alignment with the Soviet Union
Cuba was an integral player during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro of Cuba were great allies during the Cold War. Relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union began before the end of World War II. In 1943, the Soviet Union had erected military bases in Havana, Cuba. At the time, both the United States and the Soviet Union were part of the Allied Powers. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were of the view that the US was in control of Western Hemisphere.
Therefore the Soviet at the time did not view Cuba as being an important partner. However, ties between Cuba and the Soviet Union began to solidify and strengthen in 1959 when Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959. At the time, there was heightened competition and suspicion between the United States and Cuba. Since Cuba was located in the Western hemisphere, officials in the Soviet Union were of the view that Fidel Castro was an agent of the United States. Contrary to beliefs of the Soviet Union regarding Fidel Castro, the United States did not approve him. Castro’s ascension to power in Cuba prompted the United States to impose trade embargoes on Cuba. Castro’s efforts to negotiate with Washington were not welcomed by the United States.
Cuba continued to face economic recessions as a result of the embargoes imposed on the country by the United States. Continued urge for economic support of Cuba from the Soviet Union build bilateral ties between both countries. Cuba became a source of sugar for the Soviet Union and provided ready market for fuel for the USSR. Considering the fact that USSR had been able to expand its sphere of influence to the Western hemisphere by allying Cuba, the Soviet Union perceived Cuba- Soviet relations as a great prestige. The Soviet Union sought to protect and maintain Cuba –Soviet ties by any means possible. Cuba acted as a strategic ally for USSR’s military and nuclear building and construction. Nuclear missiles were transported from Russia to Cuba via sea.
As a reactionary measure to the actions of the Soviet Union, the United States used Turkey as the strategic partner in the region. The continued partnership between the Soviet Union and Cuba created a risk of converting the Cold War from an ideological war between the United States and Cuba to a nuclear war. This partnership in 1962 led to the famous Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962(Chrisp 49). It took the intervention of the United Nations Security Council to negotiate for retreat of both nations from the armament exercise. Each of the nations was convinced to dismantle their nuclear armaments in both Cuba and Turkey respectively. Ties between Cuba and the Soviet Union were maintained even after the collapse of USSR. Cuba remains to be a communist state and a strong partner of modern Russia. For instance, Russia still has a communist party. In addition, basic social services such as healthcare are government controlled in Cuba. As a result of communist forms of economy and governments in Cuba, the country continues to grapple with problems such as immense poverty among its citizenry. In addition, Cuba and the United States still have tensed foreign relations between the two countries.
- Britain as an ally of the United States
Unlike other nations that aligned themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, Britain initially intended to stay aloof of the Cold War. Britain intended to have an independent foreign policy that was not influenced by either the United States or the Soviet Union. The United Kingdom focused on strengthening its own military capability. As the Soviet Union and the United States continued to build their nuclear weapons, Britain also constructed its own nuclear sites. However, Britain faces a major challenge in the process of strengthening its own nuclear weapons construction and tests. Britain is small in size which means that the country did not have enough space for nuclear tests. In an effort to expand its nuclear capacities Britain negotiate with Australia such that Britain could use the Australian coast to test its nuclear weapons.
However, with the passing of the International Atomic Act, Britain finally decided to align with the United States. Britain became an ardent supporter of the United States in the Cold War offering the nation military aid against the Soviet Union. For example, the partnership of Britain and the United States was evident in 1953 during the Overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, a democratically elected leader in Iran (Schama 41). Britain was concerned by the move of the Iranian government under the leadership of Mossadeqh to nationalize its oil. At the time, Britain was the major controller of Iranian oil. A move to nationalize Iranian oil by Mossadeqh would negatively impact of Britain’s economy. As an ally of Britain, the United States came to the aid of Britain arguing that Mossadegh was in support of the Soviet Union. Considering that the United States had a zero tolerance policy towards communism based on its policy of containment, the United States using CIA staged an operation to overthrow Mossadeqh. The process of overthrow of Mossadeqh came to be referred to as Operation Ajax.
Therefore, the unity of the United States and the United Kingdom in the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran illustrates that both Britain and the United States were key allies during the cold war. The ties between the United States and Britain have remained to exist even during the post-cold war period. For example, the United States and Britain were united on the idea of invading Iraq in 2003 based on the assertion that Iraq and Saddam Hussein was in possession of Weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Therefore Britain was a key ally of the United States during the Cold War and therefore benefited from the support of the United States in securing Britain’s economic and security interests.
Chrisp, Peter. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Milwaukee, WI: World Almanac Library, 2002. Print.
Duiker, William J. Contemporary world history. 5th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
Schama, Simon. A history of Britain. New York: Hyperion, 2002. Print.