The political and military realignment of global superpowers and other states during the post-World War II era left a lasting mark in the history of the world. While the struggle, poignantly termed as Cold War, primarily pitied the U.S. and the Soviet Union, numerous proxy cold wars played out in various countries around the globe. It was an arms race fuelled by propaganda and catapulted by two seemingly antagonistic economic and political ideologies: capitalism and democratic liberalism versus socialism and Communism. The ideological differences and military tensions pushed the world closer to even a more dangerous and deadly world war as both sides of the conflicts prepped for war through armament with deadly weapons such as nuclear warheads placed in strategic locations.
In his 1947 “Iron Curtain” speech, I believe that Winston Churchill was drawing from his experience as a statesman and former leader with World War II experience to predict that the world would stand on the precipice of catastrophe if the Cold War rift continued unabated. Churchill notes that the desire by Soviet Russia “for fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines” was increasingly threatening the democracies in the united and liberated Europe (1, 276). In my opinion, Churchill’s assertions point at Soviet Russia as the instigator of the Cold War with the U.S. through its unquenched desire for world dominance.
In contrasts Nikolai Novikov holds U.S. responsible for stirring the flames of war by continuing with its military expansion including increasing military spending and moving of military bases and weaponry closer to Soviet territories and beyond its borders. I believe that Novikov is seeking to point out that any actions taken by the Soviets with regards to expanding its military bases was reactionary and not proactive like in the case of the U.S. In his view, the post-war world was being shaped by the actions of the U.S. I believe that Novikov is highlighting is trivializing the world peace by its military actions; a move he views as indicative of the country’s quest “to establish world dominance” (2, 275).
In my opinion, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former USSR Ambassador to the U.S. Nikolai Novikov rightly predicted that the policies pursued by both the U.S. and the Soviet were aimed at monopolizing the world economically and militarily. However, they take a subjective approach to analyzing the post-war world which is indicative of the Cold War tactics: a counter accusation contest that spiraled into military armament and propaganda.
True to the predictions of the two leaders, the post-war world descendent into cutthroat competition for power between the U.S. and the Soviets. In some countries such as Germany, Churchill’s iron curtain became a reality not only on ideologies but also in the form of a physical wall that divided the country into East and West. As predicted by Churchill, national boundaries realigned into Soviet and U.S. leaning states which part of the continent falling under Soviet territory. Many countries lost their boundaries while others expanded theirs. Many countries in Europe including Poland and Czechoslovakia descended into chaos due to differences in political ideologies that emanated from the fight for dominance between the two superpowers. The resulting political realignments led to the emergence of new states and territories such as Slovenia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovakia among others due to reorientation and realignment (3, n.pag).
1. “27.3. Winston Churchill, “The Iron Curtain” Speech, March 5, 1947. ”
2. “27.2. Nikolai Novikov, On Post-war American Policy, 1946.”
3. BBC News. Europe’s Changing Borders. BBC News, n.d.