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Nuclear Weapons & Cold War Essay

1) How did nuclear weapons affect the course of the cold war? The Cold War period of much conflict and tension was between the United States and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies, was from the middle of the1940s until the early part of the 1990s. The building up of nuclear weapons was maybe, the most important of the many arenas that the rivaling countries played in. It became known as the nuclear arms race or the “competition for supremacy” The discovery that uranium was a plenty around the world shortly after the second world ar, helped to solidify the nuclear monopoly held by both the United States and USSR.

While the United States had their own resources for uranium, they soon discovered that Eastern Europe was providing a steady supply to the Soviets, until they could develop a source of their own. The United States, who had predicted that the USSR would not have any nuclear weapons until the mid-1950s, was massively surprised when the Soviets detonated their first bomb “Joe One” on August 29, 1949. It was much like the bomb that the US had dropped on Japan in 1945 nown as the “Fat Man”. From that point on both governments devoted massive amounts of money, time and resources to increasing their nuclear arsenals.

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First off, it was the hydrogen bombs and then next came the Intercontinental ballistic missile or “ICBMs” as they are known. And on Oct. 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched the “Sputnik”, the US followed with their own on Oct. 31, 1959. During this period of innovation, the world became nervous and scared; they discovered just how vulnerable they were. Large underground bunkers were built to save the presidents and he leadership of the nations, individuals were encouraged to construct fallout shelters and they were often taught how to react in the case of a nuclear attack.

When both sides realized that any attack upon the other would be suicide for themselves as well, a new policy know as the “Mutually Assured Destruction” was adapted, and this would, in theory restrain both sides from attacking one another. “The number of nuclear weapons held by the two superpowers during the Cold War increased drastically because of the need for a first strike and later a second strike force. The highest numbers of nuclear warheads held by these powers was approximately 12,000 for the USSR and 10,000 by the US.

This many nuclear weapons has the potential to destroy life on earth more than 1,500 times over” http://www. pwc. k12. nf. ca/coldwar/plain/armsrace. html. And yet, both sides kept exploring and spending large amounts of money and resources on developing nuclear weapons. In many respects, the stockpiling of these weapons was by far the most important contribution made to the world during the cold war period, than any other resource added by any other country.

2) Why has the European Union found it so difficult to achieve political, social and economic integration amongst the member states? Shortly after the Second World War at the University of Zurich, Winston Churchill gave a speech that called for a “United States of Europe” and the creation of a “Council of Europe”. This council became the oldest organization in favor of European integration since 1949. But, in spite all the enthusiasm of the European citizens, the Council’s idea of integration has struggled for many reasons. One of the main reasons is because at the same time as the evelopment of the council another “European Union” was being formed.

This Union was made up of twenty-seven European countries. It was established as the European Economic Community in 1957 under the Treaty of Rome and has undergone many changes since, most notably in 1992 by the Maastricht Treaty”. At first this Union was a welcome relief, growth and restructure was happening over night. The European Union was founded upon a number of treaties, and their laws cover a wide range of topics. Both, a legislative branch and the Parliament govern them. And the politics of he European Union primarily covered the economy.

However, there is still a disagreement on how far the Union should expand. Because of the disagreement, the integration and expansion of the European Union has been slow since the end of the cold war period. Enlargement or expansion, together with the signing of new treaties, are seen by some as parallel processes, vital to the Union’s welfare. To many this is known as the “bicycle theory”. “The European Union is often compared to a bicycle: if it stops moving forwards it will fall over. The bicycle theory also applies to multilateral trade talks”. Bounds, Andrew (2007).

Brussels blog: Bicycle wobbles on the way to Doha, Financial Times. And like most trade talks, both parties want to come out ahead in the end. Thus, the ongoing integration of the European Union and its member states are becoming contested on the grounds that it reduces it’s members’ national sovereignty too much. Politically, the Union struggles because neither they’re laws or their political theory offer the concept of a democracy. Their attitudes remain fixed by the idea of a nation state organization and its people. Socially, this makes them still behind the times.

Economically, They struggle with the different economic and resource levels of each of the member states. All these along with the concept of Euroscepticism, or better known as the opposition to the process of European integration, the Union continues to move forward and yet has been forced to make changes to its policies. Amid the post war trauma, the European Union has become a beacon for organized political growth and upbringing. And today, in spite all the worldwide turmoil and confusion, The Union still spreads forth it’s hand in every effort to encourage global peace and umanitarian aid to its member states. There is no set standard in the process of integration, but today there is a new focus on the complex policy making of the European Union.

3) What was `containment` and how did it influence US cold war thinking? The word containment means to isolate or to make stagnate. In the terms of the cold war, it refers to the foreign policies adapted by the United States under the direction of George Kennan. In the beginning, their policy was to stop all of the outside nations from moving politically towards Soviet Union communism and to ensure that the United States continued to ave, what they thought would be, the upper hand.

For ideology as we have seen taught them that the outside world was hostile and that it was their duty to overthrow the political forces beyond their borders. “(X[Kennan], Foreign Affairs, 1947). They hoped that ultimately in the end thecontainment policies would cause the fall of the Soviet Union and its ally nations. Back in the early days of history, containment was accomplished with the use of brute force or tactics much like an army taking over a castle and then came the use of treaties and political policies, thus being the cold war period.

Today this is often accomplished by politically using severe sanctions, as in the United States’ dealings with Iraq and Iran. Espionage and sabotage are other ways of creating a containment among a group of people or nations. During the United States’ cold war containment period the policies adapted by President Truman experienced some major setbacks through the opposition of the Soviet Union, and by the Time the United States pulled out of the Vietnam war and the Koran conflict, there wasn’t mush credit given to the containment policies and ideas, anymore.

So the United States started a new heory of “detente” or peaceful co-existence. Until the election of Ronald Reagan this was a believable concept. President Regan believed that the containment policies did not expand far enough, He felt uneasy about the weapons being held by the foreign nations. He wanted new missiles, placed in Europe to help the United States to become immune to the first strike concept. His new policies become highly controversial and very unpopular in many of the surrounding foreign countries.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed under the direction of Gorbachev and the wanted nd result of the original containment policy had been achieved, this marked the official close of that policy. All though, the US still keeps its military and missile bases in the areas around the former Soviet Union, “just to be on the safe side they say”, many events have effected the world and the current containment policies. As of 2005, the United States are listed as having at least 700 military bases around the world, like the ones in Iceland and Germany. Some up to date estimates suggest that the real number is much higher.

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