Research Proposal: Westad Cold War

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Westad Cold War

The Cold War According to Westad

When World War II ended, international leaders were faced with the difficult new task of dividing the spoils. With the fall of the Axis powers, two significant allied forces were left standing, in the United States and the Soviet Union. It wasn't long, then, before the strategic allies were in conflict over the appropriate allotment of global properties. More importantly, at least to the outcome of world ideology, was the newly defined distinction between democracy and communism. In extension, and with the aid of much propaganda on both sides, it was the friction between freedom and order, between prosperity and unity, between capitalism and socialism. So essentially, as we left the destruction and atrocity of WWII, we entered the anxiety and mistrust of the Cold War. Odd Arne Westad's the Global Cold War, is an account of the American and Soviet strategic policies that governed global diplomatic and military behaviors over the Cold War's tumultuous duration. Its primary focus is on the many states and nations on the periphery of this conflict which were directly impacted.

As the Cold War pitted two superpowers against one another, each proceeded with a promise of its practical and principled superiority, even as it informed its people and those throughout the world that its foil was a dangerous rogue force. Westad notes that this is a degree of moral relativism with little relevance to the political processes there occurring. To this extent, in Chapter 2, Westad's focus is on the Soviet philosophical disposition, which though it was the antithetical force to that of America's on the global scheme, was seeded by the same principals. Namely, "like the United States, the Soviet state was founded on ideas and plans for the betterment of humanity, rather than on concepts of identity and nation. Both were envisaged by their founders to be grand experiments, on the success of which the future of humankind depended." (Westad, 39) and, with the power of the Soviet Union itself extremely formidable, many of the wars which the United States would fight during the Cold War could not have been considered imperialist in nature. The notion of subjugating weaker nation-states in the interests of a grand-scale geographical powerhouse is one which was tempered by an ongoing Russian resistance. Such is to say that American invasions during that time in nations such as Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea can be characterized as the engagement of a single and equal enemy in a multitude of theatres.

This process of facing off against one another -- always in a location far from the seats of power in Moscow and Washington -- would create many victims across half a century. To this end, in the third chapter of our text, Westad draws some important historical parallels between the era of colonialism and the Cold War. Both of these, according to the premise put forth by this text, relied on the measures of imperial occupation and the dominance of indigenous peoples in order to persist. And in both instances, the result would be continuous and problematic tumult within occupied locals. As Westad denotes, "in spite of the vigorous defense put up in many Third World areas, it often took decades after the attacks before the victims were able to organize comprehensive resistance to colonial rule." (Westad, 73) Indeed, in the following chapter, Westad will go on to elaborate the manner in which numerous aspects of this Cold War approach would actually help to stimulate the opposite impact of that which had been claimed by the nation-building philosophy. Namely, as both the United States and the Soviet Union claimed to offer a chance at advancement in foreign locales, strife and exploitation -- brought on by imperial occupation -- would help to incite greater gaps of living standard and government in such nations.

This is because, as Westad argues centrally in Chapter 4, "in the aftermath of World War II the United States intervened repeatedly to influence the processes of change that were taking place throughout the Third World." (Westad, 110) Indeed, the presumption that the colonial exploitation of the previous centuries had led to the horrible breakdown of civilization that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Westad Cold War.  (2008, October 19).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/westad-cold-war-according/164718

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"Westad Cold War."  19 October 2008.  Web.  17 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/westad-cold-war-according/164718>.

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"Westad Cold War."  Essaytown.com.  October 19, 2008.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/westad-cold-war-according/164718.