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Chapter 1 The Cold War Era Class 12 Political Science Notes

Here you will find Class 12 Political Science Notes Chapter 1 The Cold War Era which will be helpful in knowing the important points given inside the chapter. Revision Notes for Class 12 will provide a quick glimpse of the chapter and improve the learning experience. NCERT Solutions for Chapter 1 The Cold War Era will help you in will allow students to cover the entire syllabus effectively without any frustration.

Chapter 1 The Cold War Era Class 12 Political Science Notes

Chapter 1 The Cold War Era Class 12 Political Science Notes


Cuban Missile Crisis

• In April 1961, leaders of the USSR were worried that the United States of America would invade communist-ruled Cuba and overthrow its President Fidel Castro.

• Cuba was an ally of the Soviet Union and received both diplomatic and financial aid from it.

• In 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba.

• Three weeks after this, the Americans became aware of it. The US President, John F. Kennedy, and his advisers were reluctant to do anything that might lead to full-scale nuclear war between the two countries.

• Kennedy ordered American warships to intercept any Soviet ships heading to Cuba as a way of warning the USSR of his seriousness. This clash between the USA and the USSR came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis which made the whole world nervous.

• Eventually, to the world’s great relief, both sides decided to avoid war. The Cuban Missile Crisis was
a high point of what came to be known as the Cold War.

What is the Cold War?

• In 1945, the Allied Forces, led by the US, Soviet Union, Britain and France defeated the Axis Powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan, ending the Second World War (1939- 1945).

• The end of the Second World War was also the beginning of the Cold War. The world war ended
when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, causing Japan to surrender.

• Many critics suggest that the US action was intended to stop the Soviet Union from making military and political gains in Asia and elsewhere and to show Moscow that the United States was supreme.

• US supporters have argued that the dropping of the atomic bombs was necessary to end the war quickly and to stop loss of American and Allied lives.

• The Cold War was an outcome of the emergence of the US and the USSR as two superpowers rival to each other. It refers to a series of confrontation between two ideologies, Capitalism (US) and Communism (USSR) backed by their respective allies.

• Both powers possess nuclear weapons capable of inflicting death and destruction unacceptable to each other making a full-fledged war is unlikely.

• Even if one of them tries to attack and disable the nuclear weapons of its rival, the other would still be left with enough nuclear weapons to inflict unacceptable destruction. This is called the logic of ‘deterrence’: both sides have the capacity to retaliate against an attack and to cause so much destruction that neither can afford to initiate war. Thus, the Cold War in spite of being an intense form of rivalry between great powers remained a ‘cold’ and not hot or shooting war.

The emergence of two Power Blocs

• The two superpowers wanted to expand their spheres of influence in different parts of the world.

• The smaller states in the alliances got the promise of protection, weapons, and economic aid against their local rivals, mostly regional neighbours with whom they had rivalries.

• The alliance systems threatened to divide the entire world into two camps. This division happened first in Europe.

• Most countries of western Europe sided with the US and those of eastern Europe joined the Soviet camp. That is why these were also called the ‘western’ and the ‘eastern’ alliances.

• The western alliance was formalised into an organisation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which came into existence in April 1949. It was an association of twelve states which declared that armed attack on any one of them in Europe or North America would be regarded as an attack on all of them.

• The eastern alliance, known as the Warsaw Pact, was led by the Soviet Union. It was created in 1955 and its principal function was to counter NATO’s forces in Europe.

• In East and Southeast Asia and in West Asia (Middle East), the United States built an alliance system called — the Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO).

• To counter this, the Soviet Union and communist China started building close relations with regional countries such as North Vietnam, North Korea and Iraq.

• However, cracks and splits within the alliances were quick to appear. Communist China quarrelled with the USSR towards the late 1950s, and, in 1969, they fought a brief war over a territorial dispute.

• Many newly independent countries developed Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which gave them a
way of staying out of the alliances.

• The smaller states were helpful for the superpowers in gaining access to
(i) vital resources, such as oil and minerals,
(ii) territory, from where the superpowers could launch their weapons and troops,
(iii) locations from where they could spy on each other, and
(iv) economic support, in that many small allies together could help pay for military expenses.
(v) ideological support

Arenas of the Cold War

• The Cold War also led to several shooting wars, but these crises and wars did not lead to another world war.

• The two superpowers were poised for direct confrontations in Korea (1950 - 53), Berlin (1958 - 62), the Congo (the early 1960s), and in several other places.

• In some cases, huge military build-ups were reported.

• In many cases, diplomatic communication between the superpowers could not be sustained and contributed to the misunderstandings.

• Sometimes, countries outside the two blocs, for example, the non-aligned countries, played a role in reducing Cold War conflicts and averting some grave crises.

• A stable balance of weapons, they decided, could be maintained through ‘arms control’.

• In the 1960s, the two sides signed three significant agreements within a decade. These were the Limited Test Ban Treaty, Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Challenge to Bipolarity

• In 1956, Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, and Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser held a meetin. Indonesia’s Sukarno and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah strongly supported them. These five leaders came to be known as the five founders of NAM.

• The first non-aligned summit was held in Belgrade in 1961 which was the culmination of at least three
factors:
(i) cooperation among these five countries,
(ii) growing Cold War tensions and its widening arenas, and
(iii) the dramatic entry of many newly decolonised African countries into the international arena. By 1960, there were 16 new African members in the UN.

• The first summit was attended by 25 member states.

• The latest meeting, the 18th summit, was held in Azerbaijan in 2019. It included 120 member states and 17 observer countries.

• Non-alignment is not isolationism or neutrality.

New International Economic Order

• Majority of the non-aligned countries were categorised as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

• The idea of a New Inter- national Economic Order (NIEO) originated with this realisation. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brought out a report in 1972 entitled Towards a New Trade Policy for Development. The report proposed a reform of the global trading system so as to:

(i) give the LDCs control over their natural resources exploited by the developed Western countries,
(ii) obtain access to Western markets so that the LDCs could sell their products and, therefore, make trade more beneficial for the poorer countries,
(iii) reduce the cost of technology from the Western countries, and
(iv) provide the LDCs with a greater role in international economic institutions.

• By the late 1980s, however, the NIEO initiative had faded, mainly because of the stiff opposition from the developed countries.

India and the Cold War

• As a leader of NAM, India’s response to the ongoing Cold War was two-fold:
(i) At one level, it took particular care in staying away from the two alliances.
(ii) Second, it raised its voice against the newly decolonised countries becoming part of these alliances.

Non-aligned position of India served her interest in two ways:

(i) First, non-alignment allowed India to take international decisions and stances that served its interests rather than the interests of the super- powers and their allies.

(ii) Second, India was often able to balance one superpower against the other. Neither alliance system could take India for granted or bully it.

Criticism of India’s policy of non-alignment:

(i) First, India’s non-alignment was said to be ‘unprincipled’. In the name of pursuing its national interest, India, it was said, often refused to take a firm stand on crucial international issues.

(ii) Second, India was inconsistent and took contradictory postures. Having criticised others for joining alliances, India signed the Treaty of Friendship in August 1971 with the USSR for 20 years. India needed diplomatic and possibly military support during the Bangladesh crisis and that in any case the treaty did not stop India from having good relations with other countries including the US.

Chapter 1 The Cold War Era Timeline


• 1939-1945 - The Second World War
• August, 1945 - The United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
• 1947 - American President, Harry Truman's Doctrine about containment of communism in Greece and Turkey.
• 1947-1952 - Marshall Plan: US aid for the reconstruction of the Western Europe
• 1948-1949 - Berlin blockade by the Soviet Union and the airlift of supplies to the citizens of West Berlin by the US and its allies.
• April 1949 - The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) formed
• 1950 - 53 - Korean War : division of Korea along the 38th Parallel
• 1954 - Defeat of the French by the Vietnamese at Dien Bein Phu; Signing of the Geneva Accords; Division of Vietnam along the 17th Parallel; Formation of SEATO.
• 1954 - 75 - American intervention in Vietnam
• 1955 - Signing of the Baghdad Pact, later CENTO
• 1956 - Soviet intervention in Hungary
• 1961 - US-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba Construction of the Berlin Wall
• 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis
• 1965 - American intervention in the Dominican Republic
• 1968 - Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia
• 1972 - US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China
• 1978 - 89 - Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia
• 1979 - 89 - Soviet intervention in Afghanistan
• 1985 - Gorbachev becomes the President of the USSR; begins the reform process
• 1989 - Fall of the Berlin Wall; mass protests against governments in eastern Europe
• 1990 - Unification of Germany
• 1991 - Disintegration of the Soviet Union - End of the Cold War era.
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