However, this was not due to lack of trying as throughout the later part of the 20th century the two factions previously mentioned, characterized by the Warsaw pact and the acronym NATO respectively, were at each others throats in a tense, bloodless struggle that came to be known as he Cold War; a war during which no shots were fired, but was a thousandth more dangerous than any other conflict.
This potentially catastrophic struggle for world domination was caused by diverse international factors, however, one of the largest of said factors was the division of the world into two camps; the NATO countries and the Warsaw pact nations, or, as George bush said it, “the Cold War began with the division of Europe” (1 which was what these two factions accomplished. What, then. Were the circumstances that surrounded the creation of these two entities and how exactly did they intricate to the tensions during the Cold War?
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These are the very questions that shall be examined in this essay, beginning with a brief explanation of the creation of the organizations referred to as NATO and the Warsaw Pact and the circumstances surrounding their creations. After World War II, the state of international diplomacy seemed bright: the major powers were allied together, Japan and Germany had been defeated, and all the soldiers could return home. With the USSR and the LOS as allies, it seemed that war was now a thing of the past.
This soon changed, however, as East-West relations continued to deteriorate. Because they faced a common enemy in Hitler, the Grand Alliance became a marriage of necessity forged by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union” (2) and with the war over the differences between the communism of the USSR and the capitalism of the IIS became more and more apparent. What followed was a serious set of political faux pas and incidents that served to confound East-West relations in the postwar world.
Two major incidents that set the stage for the coming rivalry were the Czechoslovakian crisis and the Berlin Blockade. The Czechoslovakian crisis refers to the Soviet coup that occurred in the state of Czechoslovakia in 1 948 where the leaders of the government were deposed and pro-Soviet leaders were appointed. This resulted in the “American Senate (voting)…. To extend the Marshall Plan (, which was a plan of economic aid to the hope of preventing communist success elsewhere” (3). The Berlin blockade was far more serious as it involved “the Soviets… Imposing) a blockade on all road and rail traffic into the former national capital” (4) of West Berlin, which was under allied control. These two incidents, and other similar ones, forged an atmosphere of growing distrust and set the world long the road to the Cold War and the formation of NATO and the Warsaw pact. NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was a military alliance between what became the western bloc countries against the perceived threat of the USSR and communism.
The original countries, which included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States, who was essentially the dominate member, signed the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1 949 which pledged them to protect one another in the event of a war with the USSR. Since most of these nations were generally on “the same side”, if you will, during World War II, NATO was, in many respects, a continuation of wartime alliances into a new era during which the previously allied countries thought that they were threatened by a new threat.
This threat was Russia, now the USSR. At the end of World War II, Soviet Russia was basking in its victory of Nazi Germany and though the war “left Russia with 1700 towns, 70000 villages, 80000 miles of railroad, and 800 bridges destroyed” (5), Russia was launching another of its five year plans for economic and industrial cover and appeared to be one of the major powers of the postwar world. Also, the USSR had successfully set up several puppet regimes in Eastern Europe, which were referred to as satellite states of the USSR, in such countries as Albania and Czechoslovakia.
The US began to see these acquisitions with fear since “the key geopolitical problem has long been considered the alignment of Europe, because imbalances in that alignment have touched off TTY. To wars in this century” (6). Thus, to counter the growing influence of the USSR, the US pushed for an alliance between the remaining “free” nations of Europe and North America. With this step, the NATO powers began a policy that “the West called…. Containment” (7), which was essentially a policy of matching the USSR Step for Step to maintain a world peace.
Though this policy, in effect, maintained a semblance of world peace and prosperity, the true feeling in the international arena of politics at the time was one of suspicion, tension and fear. What the creation of NATO really began was half a century of political struggle between the two major blocs of the world; the NATO countries, and the countries of the soon to be formed Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw pact became the soviet response to the formation of NATO-
Generally speaking, the Warsaw Pact was a treaty between 7 eastern European countries, namely Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Russia (LESS) which stipulated the member countries obligation of mutual defense in regards to one another in the event Of a war between them and the Western bloc nations. Like NATO, the Warsaw Pact would have its dominant member, and this member was clearly Russia as she had installed puppet communist regimes in all of these nations prior to the signing of the Warsaw Pact.
In fact, Soviet troops already occupied most f the regions defined by the Warsaw Pact nations, and thus ‘”the signing (of the pact) is interpreted as simply a De cure recognition of the existing state of affairs” (8). However, it did serve some purpose, as the end of the Austrian Treaty threatened troop placements in Eastern Europe, which was previously done under the pretense of guarding lines of communication, as it terminated the agreement through which Russia had previously stationed troops in this area. Thus, one of the most important stipulation of the Warsaw Pact was the ability of Russia to occupy the member countries of the Warsaw
Pact in the name of self defense and the defense of the other member states. This, in effect, insured Russian’s dominance in the region. Finally, the act can also be seen as the result of “the presence of and outside threat and the need for a Soviet sponsored security system to deal with it” (9). The final result of this pact, though, beyond the immediate military implications for Eastern Europe, was to create a counterpart for NATO; a foe towards which the hostility of nearly fifty years would be directed. The world had again been divided into two camps, and it then looked like war Was again possible.