The Cold War represents a significant period in the world’s history that lasted for decades and had a substantial impact on the current perception of a global society. The international political arena faced a confrontation of two dominant powers of that time, the USA and the USSR. A prolonged conflict started to escalate before the end of World War II, although the two countries were allies at that moment. Thus, the 1947 Truman Doctrine stating that the USA would help any nation resist communism, became a hallmark of the Cold War that lasted until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 (National Archives). The struggle for influence in different spheres, espionage wars, arms race, and the expansion of the regimes are some of the primary characteristics of those two powers’ relationship. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the USSR and America’s ideological division and argue on the probability of a new war emerging between the USA and China.
First, it is essential to understand that the Soviet Union and the US wanted different things and had different beliefs, which resulted in a critical clash of ideologies. The primary aspect of the confrontation was the fact that the USSR spread communism or scientific socialism philosophy, while America based its actions on capitalism (Romero 690). Hence, it is possible to say that the USA focused on realism, while the Eastern side took idealism as a foundation for its actions and expansion. In other words, the end of World War II signalized the beginning of “socialism’s ideological struggle against capitalism” to the USSR (Nadzhafov 140). It is also crucial to mention the early onset of the escalating ideological fight, which originated in Churchill’s speech. This speech declared the ‘iron curtain’ that served as a barrier to isolating socialist countries from the Western capitalist ideology (Nadzhafov 142). One can say that this historical period can be characterized by political resistance, which, although did not burst out into serious fights, was extremely strained.
Another crucial point in the course of the Cold War was the emphasis on nuclear weapons in two countries. The arms race or the nuclear race portrays the battle between America and the Soviet Union for political and military supremacy. Originally, the USA had atomic weapons, but in 1949, the USSR started to test them, and the race, where both powers were trying to build more bombs, began (American Museum of Natural History para. 1). The confrontation was intensifying with the two opponents striving to increase their dominance. The US administration had “heavy reliance on nuclear deterrence,” and Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Dulles, started to forge alliances around the globe against communism (Keylor 286). Each of the sides wanted to prove its superiority by any possible means. In response to the deepening conflict, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was signed in 1972 to control the arms race (Arms Control Association para. 3). The agreement served to limit the exploitation of nuclear weapons to minimize the tension between the countries.
The Cold War became a reflection of silent confrontation with the utilization of political moves targeted at proving one’s dominance in the global arena. The struggle between the USA and the USSR lasted for several decades and had numerous outbreaks. Today, the world can face a new cold war, originating between American and China, in attempts to establish their supremacy. China is growing as a superpower in the global economy and, therefore, becomes one of the primary USA’s competitors for governance. The point is that a powerful Asian country started to use its wealth and influence to create a less democratic community with a smaller incline towards the US trade and investment (Ratner para. 1). Hence, China strives to adjust the norms and rules, limit economic relationships with the USA, and become more resistant to the military presence.
Hence, the two powers of a modern world are in the position of a quiet conflict. In 2017, the National Security Strategy report stated that China is a “revisionist power and strategic competitor” that strives to shape the world differently from American interests and values (Zhao 371). It is possible to say that the two countries hold substantial ideological dissimilarities. Global society has already witnessed the development of confrontation based on socio-political disagreements in the case of the USSR and America struggle. The divergence started to escalate when Washington initiated an unprecedented trade war with China and through the efforts to “counterbalance” the existing Belt and Road Initiative with Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (Zhao 372). One can claim that the issue’s roots lie not only in the attempts to prove superiority but in significantly different political systems.
Numerous views on the problem of a new war’s probability exist. In such a way, some of the scholars encourage the American administration to integrate more competitive policies (Zhao 373). This position implicates the opinion that the likelihood of intensifying opposition is possible. In contrast, some policymakers believe that the competition between the countries should be ‘smart’ and that the lessons from the Soviet Union and the US conflict should be learned (Zhao 373). The point underlines the significance of restraining the deepening issue. Hal Brand, a professor at John Hopkins University, suggested that a prolonged strategic competition can provide “a wealth of insights that can inform the conduct of modern. State-craft” (Zhao 373). Still, the tension between China and America is growing, which can be seen through the actions taken by the countries. Consequently, the emergence of a battle between current players cannot be excluded and is highly possible.
The probability of a full-blown cold war between China and the USA can provoke a new stage of de-globalization and aggravate the division of the world economy into two incompatible economic blocks. It is critical to note that the increased rigidity in China-America relationships was predicted during the outburst of the global financial crisis (Zhao 374). Therefore, the prerequisites for the emergence of the rivalry between the powers originated more than a decade ago. It was the point when the differences between communist China with socialist development and capitalist America became apparent, which can start to transform into a new cold war. In conclusion, the Cold War that represented the fight between the USSR and the US serves as a long-lasting lesson for the global society and the world’s superpowers. The divergence in ideologies and different perspectives of politics and development can lead to severe problems. A particular level of competition between China and the US is inevitable and can create a state of friction in the global arena.
- American Museum of Natural History. Nuclear Arms Race. n.d. Web.
- Arms Control Association. The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty at a Glance. 2017. Web.
- Keylor, Wiiliam R. The Twentieth-Century World and Beyond: An International History Since 1900. 6th ed., Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Nadzhafov, Dzhahangir G. “The beginning of The Cold War Between East and West: The Aggravation of Ideological Confrontation.” Cold War History, vol. 4, no. 2, 2004, pp. 140-174.
- National Archives. Timeline of The Cold War. n.d. Web.
- Ratner, Ely S. The US-China Competition. n.d., Web.
- Romero, Federico. “Cold War Historiography at The Crossroads.” Cold War History, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 685-703.
- Zhao, Minghao. “Is a New Cold War Inevitable? Chinese Perspectives on US-China Strategic Competition.” The Chinese Journal of International Politics, vol. 12, no. 3, 2019, pp. 371-394.