The Cold War is a term referring to a tense relationship and rivalry between the United States of America and the Soviet Union that developed after the Second World War. It did not involve actual fighting, and took part on political, propaganda and economic fronts. The Cold War was characterized by a clash between capitalism and communism- two rather different ideologies and beliefs. Each of them was held with an almost fanatical conviction, paving way for international power struggle whereby both sides sought dominance by capitalizing on any opportunity to expand across the world.
The Cold War came into existence in 1945 when the Nazi Germany surrendered and the Second World War came to an end. A tense wartime alliance between the US and the Soviet Union started to unravel. A few years later, the soviets put in place left-leaning governments in several eastern European countries. This situation did not go down well the Americans, who feared that the soviets would extend their communist influence to the democracies of western European countries. On the other hand, the soviets wished to maintain a firm grip on Eastern Europe so that they could prevent any possible re-awakening of Germany. They were also keen to spread communism across the world, mainly for ideological reasons. Between 1947 and 1948, the US provided aid to Western Europe under the Marshall Plan, while the soviet installed communist governments in Eastern Europe, hence solidifying the Cold War.
A notable controversy arising from the Cold War was the arms race. Starting from the late 1940s, both the US and the Soviet Union began building huge stockpiles of arms, particularly nuclear weapons, with the aim of outdoing each other and appearing the most powerful. It was unlikely that the weapons would ever be used, and some economists argued that the money spent on them could have been put to better use such as improving the standards of living of the nations citizens.
Two of the most notable scholars of the Cold War are historians Walter LaFeber and Gabriel Kolko. According to LaFeber, the significance of the Cold War had to do with Americas self-interests. The US wished to ensure that every nation in the world was subject to its economic influence. Kolko is in agreement, stating that the US was not necessarily fighting against Soviet influence, but rather any kind of challenge to American political and economic interests.
West Doesnt Want New Cold War, Says U.K. Foreign Minister is an article that appeared on the March 17, 2017 edition of The Wall Street Journal. It reports that Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, said that Britain and its allies do not want another cold war with Russia.
In July 2016, a BBC Radio 4 presenter called Bridget Kendall presented an oral history of the early period of the Cold War on a daily basis.
The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction is a book by Robert J. McMahon that discusses the topic.
A book titled Edward Lansdale's Cold War is the weirdest source addressing the topic that I have ever heard.
PART THREE: Analyzing Research
Walter LaFebers book titled America, Russia, and the Cold War offers comprehensive research on the role played by the two nations in the war. The Limits of Power: The World and U.S. Foreign Policy, 19451954 by Gabriel Kolko correctly highlights Americas foreign policy after the Second World War.
The two books cannot be said to be equally credible since they discuss different aspects of the Cold War. While LaFebers book looks at the actions taken by the two nations to consolidate power and influence, Kolkos source focuses only on US exploits.
The Cold War Isnt Back. So Dont Think Like It Is, an article that appeared on the December 21, 2016 edition of The New York Times, differs significantly from what is contained in the two books. It rubbishes some of the accounts contained in the sources, and offers a modern and updated analysis of the effects of the Cold War.
Bruce Martin Russet has written several books on the Cold War. However, his last book titled Grasping the democratic peace: Principles for a post-Cold War world was published in 1994 and thus may be considered outdated in terms of analysis.
Of the sources I used to research on the topic, only the secondary ones turned out to be useful. The primary sources only provided a first-hand account of the Cold War but did not offer any analysis on its aftermath and impact.
PART FOUR: The Learning Curve
In my experience, Jstor.org was the most useful library database for research.
Primary sources should be consulted last since they offer little or no analysis to the topic at hand.
The best search terms to use are those containing the actual words of the title topic.
Upon completing this assignment, I have learnt that research is a detailed and exhaustive process that should be carried out as meticulously as possible.
Bell, Judith. Doing Your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers. McGraw-Hill Education (UK), 2014.
Davis, Lynn Etheridge. The Cold War Begins: Soviet-American Conflict Over East Europe. Princeton University Press, 2015.
Fischer, Dusan. "Mission failure: America and the world in the post-Cold War era. By Michael Mandelbaum." International Issues & Slovak Foreign Policy Affairs 25.3-4 (2016): 96-99.
Herken, Gregg. The winning weapon: The atomic bomb in the cold war, 1945-1950. Princeton University Press, 2014.
Kolko, Joyce, and Gabriel Kolko. The limits of power: The world and United States foreign policy, 1945-1954. Harper & Row, 1972.
Kuniholm, Bruce Robellet. The origins of the Cold War in the Near East: Great power conflict and diplomacy in Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Princeton University Press, 2014.
LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia and the Cold War 1945-2006. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2008.
Scott, John. A matter of record: Documentary sources in social research. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.
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