The Cold War and the Third World

The Cold War was the result of growing political and military tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Many are taught the Cold War was a nuclear stalemate between the two super powers, and that it caused the alliance that fought against Nazi Germany in World War II to end. And while all this is correct a major part of the Cold War that is often overlooked it the involvement of The United States and Soviet Union in the Third World. Roger Kanet’s essay “The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation,’” focus on the Third World conflicts between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. “In this essay we examine the ways in which the superpowers expand their initially European based conflict thought the developing world.”[1]

Kent’s essay focuses on why the two countries become involved in a war over developing countries. Both countries wanted to spread their beliefs on what the correct on political and economic practices were, and neither country wanted the others ideas to spread. Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan were three of the countries affected by this conflict. Many people do not realize that the United States involvement in these countries is a result of the Cold War.

Another aspect of the cold war that has been overlooked, according to Kent, is the lasting impact it had on the world. Kanet points out that the conflict has “faded into the historical background” and the lasting effects it had on the Third World are ignored. Kanet explains that the Third World is still suffering form the Cold War today and we should not overlook this.

Thought his essay Kanet uses treaties made during the conflict and plans by political leaders such as The Regan Doctrine and Gorbachev’s New Thinking to give a reliable take on the conflict. Kanet’s essay gives important insight to aspects of the Cold War many people do not know about and his ideas should be shared to give people more knowledge on their history and its impact on the world they live in today.

[1] Kanet, Roger E. “The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation’”. Cold War History. Routledge August 2006. 331-352.

2 thoughts on “The Cold War and the Third World

  1. I agree with your analysis of Kanet’s article and how it presents the reasons for the initial involvement of both the U.S. and Soviet Union in Developing World conflicts, as well as their lingering effects. However, I do not believe that the multiple conflicts apparent in the Developing World were caused by both countries wanting to spread their beliefs and ideas. The U.S. involvement was absolutely a reaction to Soviet expansion. There was no reason for U.S. ideas and beliefs to be spread, as the U.S. was not trying to influence the world, only prevent the Soviet Union from doing so. The Soviet Union on the other hand was the expansionist country. They were the ones trying to spread beliefs and promote their system of government, not as a defense from western ideas, but rather as a way to catch up to the progressiveness of the west. The poor attitudes of U.S. citizens, especially during the Vietnam War, solidify claims that the U.S. were not acting in an attempt to influence others but rather restrain Soviet expansion of communist and socialist ideas.

  2. I agree with you analysis, but I disagree with Kanet’s view that the Cold War is not felt at the present day, and that its already forgotten. The Cold War is a very long and dangerous part of U.S. and Russian history, that forgetting 60 years worth of the U.S.’ past (which is about 25% of its entire history) seems extreme. Especially in the current political climate, the Cold War is more present then it has been since the end of the war.

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