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Old October 25th, 2008, 09:54 PM   #1

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The Cold War- Really cold?

Considering the number of conflicts that took place during the period defined as the Cold War (Korea, Vietnam etc) is it fair to say that the Cold War was not cold at all but rather quite hot?
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Old October 28th, 2008, 12:47 AM   #2

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Re: The Cold War- Really cold?

There were a lot of colonial conflicts and conflicts in the Third World, but no direct armed conflict between United States and NATO and the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

Nevertheless IMHO to portray the Cold War as a tense but largely peaceful period for the world in general (which is what many history books do) is false, given the conflicts that did took place.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 04:00 AM   #3

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Re: The Cold War- Really cold?

Originally Posted by Son of Cathal View Post
Considering the number of conflicts that took place during the period defined as the Cold War (Korea, Vietnam etc) is it fair to say that the Cold War was not cold at all but rather quite hot?
There was a lot of indirect stone throwing, as you say Vietnam and Korea being good examples. With the exception of Cuba which nearly got out of hand and the stones were about to become rocks, the bigger powers behaved themselves within reason, maybe not hot but very warm at times.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 07:03 AM   #4
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Re: The Cold War- Really cold?

You're correct, the Cold War was quite heated. The term was coined by a journalist during the conflict (rather early on too, if I recall correctly) so it isn't necessarily an accurate description of the conflict. The 'war' was basically fought via proxies to avoid any actual fighting between the nuclear powers. For example, Korea was fought between the UN, S.Korea and N.Korea and later China, but most supplies and resources came from the US and USSR. Vietnam was also similar. The Soviet-Afghan conflict also pitted the US backed Muhjahideen against the Russians.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 08:29 AM   #5

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Re: The Cold War- Really cold?

Cold and/or hot compared to what?

As I recall, the adjective "cold" referred to the absence nuclear bomb explosions. It's easy enough today to look back and think, "Well, that was never really going to happen anyway." Believe me, it was not so very apparent then.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #6

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Re: The Cold War- Really cold?

The "cold war" was mostly about establishing, expanding, and maintaining ideological, political, and military spheres of influence. In an oversimplified sense, the world was to be divided ideologically into those nations who were allied or affiliated in some way with either the NATO nations or the Warsaw Pact nations. This paranoid process of "either you're with us or you're against us" occurred globally, mostly through political alliances, weapons sales, economic incentives, and (in some cases) coercion. Only in that sense was it "cold."

In a few obvious places, the cold war flared into a actual "hot" shooting wars with or between the proxies (such as Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan). In other places, such as the Middle East and Central America, the influences of the United States and the Soviet Union were somewhat less overt, but no less insidious. Both the United States and the Soviet Union propped up repressive dictatorships to try to keep particular nations on "their side", regardless of the implications to the populace of those nations - and without regard to any legitimate benefit or threat that these alliances actually created.

The spectre of nuclear war hovered over all of it, fueling the paranoia - the apex of which was probably the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Those who grew up in the United States during the 1960s or 1970s can speak to the very legitimate fear of nuclear attack. Both the USA and the USSR engaged in propaganda to stoke those fears and maintain political support for their paranoid foreign policy. At times, the brinksmanship between the United States and the Soviet Union was intense enough that many people thought that nuclear war was an inevitability - the only question was when. In this environment, it was pretty easy to sell the idea that the more countries that were on "our side" ideologically, the better...
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