Bipolar World Form 1945-1989 Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1248 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Drama - World

Bipolar World

The Bipolar Concept and the Soviet Bloc vs. The West

The bipolar world that developed after World War II represented the basic perceived structure of world politics during the Cold War. The bipolar idea depicts the world as essentially divided into two camps, both militarily and ideologically, with the West representing democratic ideals, and with the Soviet bloc representing Communism in opposition to democracy. Much of the world divided between the two camps, with the two sides creating mutual defense pacts among member nations, and with much of the rhetoric of the age based on the clash of ideologies as well as images of a military threat from the other side. In truth, the bipolar world was never as simple as the term makes it sound, for large areas of the world were unaffiliated. In addition, the bipolar world did not last that long in its pure form because divisions developed between the Soviet Union and Red China, leaving China as an uncertain entity on the world stage much of the time. The very idea of a bipolar world order disintegrated along with the Soviet Union in 1989, creating a less certain picture of friend and foe.

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In the face of uncertainty regarding Germany after World War II, the West also had to face uncertainties about the Soviet Union. Much of American foreign policy after World War II was shaped around anti-Communism. In the 1950s, anti-Communism was bound with ideas of tradition, family values, and the protection of the American way of life. Yet, two images of the world seemed at odds in this era -- on the one hand, a world torn by strife and threatened by Communism, and on the other, the American world of affluent families living in freedom and equality (May 10).

Term Paper on Bipolar World Form 1945-1989 Assignment

The nuclear threat was a key element of the Cold War, as seen in the continuing arms race and the stockpiling of nuclear weapons by both sides. For all the concern nuclear capability had raised as to the potential for world disaster, it can also be seen as true that nuclear weapons affected the behavior of nations and actually inhibited the onset of large-scale war (Newhouse 12). In the earliest period of the nuclear age, the United States was the only nuclear power and believed that the situation would continue, but once the Soviets tested a device in 1949, that belief evaporated. The Cold War was under way with two nuclear powers, and over time there would be more. Throughout the nuclear era, the threat of nuclear war seemed to be enough to prevent it, though there were times when tensions rose to such a pitch that even that was not certain.

The division of the world into two major camps lasted until the Soviet Union dissolved. Over that period of time, the two sides engaged in an escalating arms race, in efforts to curb that race, in periods of agreement, and in periods where other countries and wars between smaller countries served as proxies for the two camps. The Korean War and the War in Vietnam were such wars, though both were waged more against China than the Soviet Union. The Cuban Missile Crisis was one in which th Soviets used Cuba as a test case and lost. Such a race for superiority and dominance was expensive, and the West was better able to absorb these costs because of a stronger economic base than was the Soviet bloc, which was not as developed and not as economically strong. The economic and social situation when Gorbachev assumed power in the 1980s was already in deterioration, and the economy in particular was falling further and further behind the West. In 1985 he inherited a country with a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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