A New Cold War Narrative: The Superpower Quest for Empire

Spies. The Space Race. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Iron Curtain. These are all aspects that the general public closely associate with the era of the Cold War. Save for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, people do not immediately associate the conflict between capitalist United States and communist Soviet Union with hostilities in the Middle East, Latin America, or South Asia. However, in his article, “The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation,’” Roger Kanet focuses strictly on the affect the Cold War had on the developing countries in these regions. Kanet argues that the superpowers, America and the Soviet Union, drew their attentions away from Europe and towards the developing world after the mid-late 1950s in an effort to establish their economic and political dominance.

He supports his main argument through an analysis of the increase in Soviet involvement in support of “progressive forces” across developing nations in their campaigns against Israeli and American imperialism. He also explores the United States’ response to these efforts by providing its own support to countries in the Third World against Soviet expansion. All of which led to military conflicts spread out throughout West Asia, Africa, and Central America. Kanet cites various treaties made during the Cold War to illustrate the new alliances that formed during this period between Third World countries and either the United States or Soviet Union. However, he relies heavily on secondary sources with few primary texts mostly in the form of memoirs of American political leaders such as Henry Kissinger. The lack of primary documents detailing either superpower’s decisions to enter into conflicts in the Third World as a way of attacking the other’s authority and power is surprising. Even with their biases, one would expect to see newspaper articles mentioned throughout the essay or even in the bibliography. Certainly, government documents should be included in a discussion regarding a nation’s military campaigns.

Regardless, the narrative Kanet presents in his article is one that few Americans know or understand. Americans generally associate the conflicts in Korea, Egypt, or the Middle East during this period as individual isolated occurrences not as the larger Cold War. Therefore, Kanet’s article is important to furthering the United States’ understanding of the Cold War.

Nazism or Fascism

Today we categorize the regimes of the Nazis and Mussolini as both being a Fascist state. In the early years of their regimes however if one looks closely would find that there is a stark difference in ideals of the two Dictators. One’s early ideals were to create the genetically perfect populace. While the second’s focused on empowering the individual and expanding to create a vast territorial empire.

Reading the Fordham university article The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program It could be understood that the Nazis viewed the well fair and purification of Germany as their main objective. Within these 25 points there is no mention of territorial expansion. At an early glance of these points and the lack of any territorial policies one could not categorize the early Nazi party with the regime of Mussolini.

In 1932 in order to put a defining definition of fascism Mussolini sat down with Giovanni Gentile and wrote Bento Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932. Mussolini argues that Fascism believes in that the support of the individual takes priority over that of the state. However it is also mentioned within his article that the growth of an empire where during this expansion the people can be invigorated.

While today it is easy to say that these two leaders were similar it is not completely true. Mussolini believed that Fascism is the system to invigorate a people and expand to become an empire. The early Nazi belief was much different in that they only believed in a genetically pure country. It can be argued that the two eventually merged into one and the same but the early parts of the regimes had a different idea of what it meant to be a Fascist.