The Cold War was born at the end of World War II in 1945 as wartime allies, the USSR and the United States, each sought to determine the future of Europe following the defeat of Nazi Germany. It later developed into a worldwide struggle for spheres of influence that lasted until 1991 but whose legacy will continue to be felt well into the twenty-first century.
At the time of the Yalta Conference in February 1945 the Soviet army was one hundred miles (160 kilometers) east of Berlin and in occupation of most of Eastern Europe. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed to Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin's plan to annex large portions of Poland for the Soviet Union. In return, Stalin agreed to allow free elections in what was left of Poland. As it became apparent that the USSR would not allow such elections, the United States protested. Stalin argued that freely elected governments in Eastern Europe would be anti-Soviet and, therefore, not allowable. Since the division of Poland between Germany and the USSR had been the cornerstone of the 1940 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, Poles would presumably vote anti-Soviet in any free elections. From the Soviet perspective, 25 million Soviet/Russian lives had been lost as a result of German aggression in the first half of the century. Under no circumstances would an anti-Soviet government be tolerated along the USSR's western border. With the Soviet army in occupation of the area, there was little the United States or its allies could do.
Initial Points of Conflict.
As wartime cooperation crumbled and the balance of power in Europe seemingly shifted in favor the USSR, the United States developed a coherent policy to deal with Soviet dominance and expansion. The U.S. Foreign Service officer and Soviet expert George Kennan suggested that Soviet leaders viewed the world as divided into two irreconcilable camps: socialist and capitalist. The latter, according to Soviet Marxists, contained “the seeds of its own destruction” so there was nothing the United States might do to reduce the Soviet sense of historical inevitability or hostility. Kennan argued that the United States should accept the Soviet position as a fait accompli and simply contain Soviet expansion anywhere in the world. While containment represented the initial policy toward the USSR, a 1947 crisis in both Greece and Turkey, in which Communist minorities in both countries were receiving aid from Soviet-dominated Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, determined U.S. action. In order to prevent Greece or Turkey from falling to the Communists, U.S. President Harry Truman enunciated what became known as the Truman Doctrine: “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” The U.S. Congress responded with $400 million for military and economic aid for the two countries to prevent them falling into the Soviet sphere of influence. In order to rebuild Western Europe and prevent the same threat, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall proposed a program for European recovery that became known as the Marshall Plan. These programs served to bolster the image of the United States as well as that of capitalism as the favorable option.
In March 1948 the Western powers abandoned the idea of creating a united Germany. Instead they created a single West German Republic (including West Berlin) with a large degree of autonomy. In retaliation, the Soviets unsuccessfully blockaded Berlin, which was deep in the Soviet zone. The Berlin blockade ended peacefully a year later but galvanized the concept of Berlin and its eventual wall as the “front” of the Cold War.
Unlike the United States, which had emerged from World War II unscathed, the USSR lost over 20 million people and suffered grave destruction in the western portion of the country. Throughout the Cold War the USSR did not expand through the use of force, and Soviet influence outside Europe was usually by invitation. Despite this, U.S. security officials defined Soviet behavior in terms of “domination of the world” (NSC 7, 1948) and “the destruction… of civilization itself” (NSC 68, 1950). In 1955 the Soviet-bloc countries created a military agreement known as the Warsaw Pact, a direct response to the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 by the United States and its European allies. The tensions were exacerbated in 1949 when the USSR successfully tested its own atomic weapon (the United States had had the bomb since 1945), initiating what would become known as the nuclear arms race.
Coexistence and Military Buildup.
With the threat of nuclear war looming, the 1950s was a period characterized by fear. American students were taught to “duck and cover” in what many considered the eventual outbreak of global nuclear war. It also saw the expansion of the conflict into the developing world. In June 1950 Soviet-supported Communist forces in North Korea invaded the U.S.–supported South. Moscow had reluctantly approved the invasion but supplied only aid and advice rather than troops. The United States, however, assumed that the USSR had ordered the attack and, under the auspices of the United Nations, launched a conflict that lasted until 1953.
As in Korea, when direct intervention occurred on the part of either the United States or the USSR, the purpose was usually to contain or prevent defection to the other side. So when East German workers rose up against the government in 1953, Soviet troops were sent to suppress the rebellion. The same occurred in Hungary in 1956.
The United States also participated in this type of intervention. The U.S. government supported the overthrow of a leftist government in Guatemala in 1954 and of the democratically elected socialist government in Chile in the early 1970s. The United States also supported the unsuccessful invasion of Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1961. In 1962 the USSR began secretly installing nuclear weapons in Cuba that were within striking distance of major U.S. cities. What became the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the United States and the USSR close to armed confrontation. While the issue peacefully concluded to the advantage of the United States, between 1964 and 1975 the United States failed in a protracted military attempt to prevent Ho Chi Minh's Communist North Vietnam from dominating South Vietnam.
By the end of the 1960s the neat division of the world into Communist and capitalist spheres blurred. In the early 1960s China and the USSR split as the Americans and Soviets began limiting the arms race by prohibiting aboveground nuclear testing (1963). China's break from the Kremlin's influence provided the impetus for Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe to seek more autonomy. By 1968 Czechoslovakia unsuccessfully attempted to abandon its one-party system during the so-called Prague Spring. With the economies of Europe and Japan recovered from war there was a decline in American dependence. Also, many states around the world opted for neutrality rather than the dominating influence of either superpower; the emergence of a Third World movement, headed by states like India, Egypt, and Yugoslavia, provided some organization for this impulse.
Since the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 and U.S. President John Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon by 1970, both the United States and the USSR spent vast resources on science and technology in what was called the space race. This competition in technology would be one of the lasting legacies of the Cold War. For example, what would later be commonly referred to as the Internet initially began as a military communication network that would remain operable in the event of a nuclear attack that destroyed part of the system.
In the context of lessening global influence, a spirit of détente characterized the relationship between the United States and the USSR in the 1970s. This lessening of military and political divisions was characterized by two Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT I and II) signed in 1972 and 1979. Both of these agreements slowed the race to develop a defensive antiballistic missile system (ABM). The treaties also limited the number of nuclear missiles in each superpower's arsenal. Despite these agreements, by the early 1980s, both the United States and the USSR continued a massive arms buildup. In addition, U.S. President Ronald Reagan enunciated a new doctrine toward the USSR. Coming to the presidency in 1981, he suggested that the sole cause for unrest and tension in the Third World was the Soviet Union, which he called an “evil empire.” As a result of this Reagan Doctrine, the United States began supporting regimes such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq by supplying it with credit, intelligence data, conventional arms, and high-tech equipment. Iraq, like many developing states, saw an opportunity to play one superpower against another and have them compete for its loyalty. In 1985–1986 the Soviets sold Baghdad more than $2 billion worth of arms and equipment. In addition, both sides intervened in conflicts involving Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia, often supplying arms and indirectly fomenting violence. The Reagan administration also illegally sold arms to Iran (then at war with Iraq) in order to secure the release of U.S. hostages being held by pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. The proceeds from these illegal sales were used to fund the Contra insurgency in Nicaragua, which was fighting against the democratic yet leftist Sandinista government there.
End of the Cold War.
After six decades of Communism in the USSR, the Soviet economy was beginning to show signs of instability as consumer goods were sacrificed in the name of military spending. Given the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), this deficiency was increasingly intolerable for the average Soviet citizen. According to MAD, a nuclear attack by one side would effectively cause the destruction of both the attacker and the defender, rendering the use of nuclear weapons absurd. When Reagan proposed a Strategic Defensive Initiative (popularly called “Star Wars”) as a way to give the United States the upper hand, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev decided to lessen the more authoritarian policies of the Soviet state to address the U.S. action as well as ameliorate the dire economic conditions of the USSR by the late 1980s. He allowed a modest amount of political debate (glasnost), free-market activity (perestroika), and a degree of democratization.
While Gorbachev was attempting to solve some of the economic and social problems within the Soviet Union itself, his decision may have been influenced by what some consider the first crack in the Iron Curtain, attributed to Pope John Paul II, who became head of the Roman Catholic Church in 1979. In June of that year he traveled to his native Poland. At an outdoor mass in Victory Square—normally the venue for army parades and rallies for the ruling Communist government—the pope issued a challenge to the secular authorities. He said, “Christ cannot be kept out of this part of the world. To try to do this is an act against man.” Despite being an atheist country since 1945, the crowd of 250,000 applauded for eight minutes and then unfurled a banner that read “Freedom, independence, protection of human rights.” The pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, later said, “They [the Communist authorities] knew how to deal with political pressure, but they didn't know what to do with moral pressure.” In the wake of this event, Lech Walesa was able to organize the Communist bloc's first free-trade union: Solidarity.
By the late 1980s the fundamental U.S. assumptions about the Soviet desire to dominate the world no longer applied. Gorbachev made it clear that the Eastern bloc countries in Europe were free from Soviet domination. The rise of democratic governments in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia was followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the reunification of Germany by 1990. The front line of the Cold War, therefore, disappeared. Assigning credit for the end of the Cold War generally falls equally into two camps. Some consider Reagan's tough political rhetoric coupled with his military buildup the impetus while others consider the Soviet collapse to be the result of internal flaws based on political and ideological breakdown that were exacerbated by Gorbachev's reforms.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the problem of former Cold War allies and proliferation became major concerns. The dualistic world of the Cold War where both the United States and the USSR controlled, funded, and often armed allies had given way to a global community dominated by one superpower. States that had strategically played one superpower against the other during the Cold War would use their power to assert independent strength. Even leaders such as Osama bin Laden, who had viewed the USSR as the greater of two evils, turned his attention toward the United States by 1993. The vast nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union was spread among eleven former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States, many of which continued to suffer economic hardship coupled with issues of state security. Preventing proliferation remains a major concern among world leaders. The Cold War is over but its legacies remain.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: Penguin, 2005. This is one of the most accessible texts for anyone looking for a readable, concise yet thorough treatment of the period.
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LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–2002. 9th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. The classic work on the topic, it has been revised to show connections between the Cold War and current relations between the United States and Russia and the War on Terror.
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Powaski, Ronald E. The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917–1991. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
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Westad, Odd Arne. The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
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Impact on Africa
Starting in the late 1950s, African states began to gain political independence from the European colonial powers. As the newly sovereign states entered the world order, Soviet and American policies in Africa came to be defined primarily by the prevailing ideological rivalry between the two superpowers. Within the Cold War context, both the United States and the USSR sought to promote their political, economic, strategic, and ideological interests on the African continent.
The former Soviet Union made an early thrust into Africa when in the late 1950s President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt invited the Soviets to help construct the Aswan Dam, an opportunity that the Kremlin seized to promote closer political and military ties with Cairo. In the 1960s a few African nations such as Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, and Guinea flirted with communism, some of them becoming subsequent recipients of limited Soviet aid. In the 1970s Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Zimbabwe formally proclaimed themselves Marxist states.
Soviet influence in Africa concerned the United States. Particularly in southern and central Africa, the United States sought to contain Soviet influence. Soviet–American rivalry was first clearly manifested during the Congo crisis (1960–1965).
Cold War Support of Repressive Regimes.
The competition for influence in Africa during the Cold War transformed the superpowers into supporters and protectors of the most repressive regimes on the continent. Not only did the superpowers significantly contribute to the continued rule of authoritarian regimes with dismal human rights records, they helped arm some of Africa's worst and most corrupt leaders. Superpower support for African states was contingent on ideology, not good and responsible governance.
U.S. policy from the early 1960s in the Republic of the Congo (later called Zaire and then the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC) perhaps best demonstrates superpower tolerance of dictatorships in Cold War Africa. Almost immediately after achieving its independence from Belgium in 1960, the Congo, richly endowed with natural resources, erupted into ethnic and political turmoil. The escalation of the crisis, and what some view as the failure of the United Nations to respond effectively to the deteriorating situation, led Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba to appeal for Soviet help. This action by Lumumba, a radical nationalist perceived in the West as a pro-Soviet communist, alarmed the United States. With American economic and strategic interests in the Congo and in central Africa directly threatened by the possibility of a Soviet-backed Congolese government led by Lumumba, Washington sought to contain Soviet influence in the country. As a result of this policy, it is widely believed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a pivotal role in Lumumba's assassination in January 1961. The United States' covert backing of the pro-West Congolese military chief, Colonel Joseph Mobutu (later known as Mobutu Sese Seko), ensured his emergence in 1965 as the de facto leader of the country, which he renamed Zaire.
Mobutu became a staunch ally of the United States in the struggle against communism and a protector of U.S. interests in Africa. He allowed Americans to have unrestricted access to his country's vast resources. However, his government achieved the notorious distinction of becoming Africa's most corrupt and repressive regime, with unprecedented graft and economic plunder. The United States turned a blind eye to Mobutu's massive human rights abuses and kleptocratic rule, and steady American financial support as well as military aid in the form of training programs and weapons sales flowed into Zaire. This covert support for Mobutu's dictatorship continued to strengthen his grip on power, which endured for some thirty years.
Although the United States expressed condemnation for the policy of apartheid in South Africa, Cold War considerations prevented it from taking any concrete actions, including economic sanctions, to actively oppose the repressive and racist system. Prior to the late 1980s the United States covertly opposed the African National Congress (ANC), which championed the cause of black nationalism in that nation. Its South African policy was dictated, in part, by its perception of the ANC as a communist-influenced organization. In addition, with a huge financial investment in South Africa, the United States was reluctant to act beyond rhetorical condemnation of apartheid.
In Mengistu Haile Mariam's Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union played a similar role: propping up a brutal dictatorship. After overthrowing the pro-Western imperial government of Emperor Hailie Selassie in 1974, the Left-leaning Mengistu proclaimed a revolutionary government under the rule of a committee known as the Dergue. Ethiopia became a client Soviet state, with the USSR helping the regime to establish itself and to build an arsenal with which to carry out a reign of terror on the population. Under Mengistu, Ethiopia evolved into one of the most repressive nations in Africa, noted for wanton violations of human rights.
Arms Transfer and the Escalation of African Conflicts.
The Cold War brought about the massive militarization of Africa. The West and Eastern Soviet-bloc states exploited African conflicts to inject large amounts of military hardware into the continent through arms sale, either to governments or rebel groups. During the Cold War the United States became the chief supplier of arms to a number of African states, including Zaire, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, and Liberia. Zaire alone received over $300 million worth of U.S.-supplied weapons and another $100 million in military training. In a general context, U.S. arms transfer to African states during this period amounted to at least $1.5 billion. Conversely, the former Soviet Union and some of its allies armed a similarly large number of African nations during the Cold War. Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique were just some of their client states.
The Cold War militarization of Africa significantly escalated and prolonged some African conflicts, particularly in southern and central Africa. For instance, the Soviet and American infusion of weapons into the civil war that engulfed postindependence Angola was responsible, to a large degree, for the prolonged nature of the conflict. The civil war broke out soon after Angola achieved its independence from Portugal in 1975, when the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola, FNLA) and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, UNITA) took up arms against the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, MPLA). Under Agostinho Neto, the MPLA had formed the postindependence government and declared Angola a Marxist state. During a three-decade-long war, the MPLA received its weapons and equipment largely from the Soviet Union and was also assisted by Cuban combat troops.
The United States' Cold War policy of countering Soviet influence in southern Africa dictated Washington's response to the Angolan war. It sought to overthrow the Soviet-backed MPLA government and eliminate Cuban military presence altogether. Toward this end, the United States backed the rebel FNLA and UNITA movements and armed them for the duration of the conflict. Between 1986 and 1991 approximately $250 million in covert military support and weapons were supplied to Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA forces. The CIA was also responsible for financing American and other foreign mercenaries.
Arms proliferation in Africa as a result of weapons transfer from the developed world during the Cold War has continued to exacerbate disagreements and tension on the continent. Many of the top recipients of U.S. and Soviet arms have been involved in hugely destructive conflicts in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the post-Mobutu fighting that has ravaged the Democratic Republic of Congo and the entire Great Lakes region of central Africa being a prime example. Even after the Cold War era, arms continued to flow from the United States to those nations involved in this complex conflict, and military training provided for some under the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.
International Relations and Political and Economic Development.
The Cold War produced profound ideological division within Africa. While many African states professed a policy of nonalignment, superpower and neocolonial influences prevented many of them from truly pursuing independent foreign policies. Having established defense and security arrangements with the superpowers or their allies, they were essentially reduced to pawns in the East–West ideological struggle.
The Cold War environment in which numerous African nations came of age also partly undermined their opportunities for achieving political and economic development. Although not expressly committing to ideological blocs, some African states in expectation of foreign aid assumed either a pro-West or pro-East stance. In the long run, however, external aid, whether from the West or the East, did not translate into sustainable growth. As demonstrated in Zaire, fiscal corruption, waste, mismanagement, and lack of accountability by regimes backed by the superpowers prevented meaningful economic development. In the early twenty-first century the DRC has yet to recover from the economic damage inflicted during the years of Mobutu's rule. This is also true of states such as Angola and Mozambique, caught in prolonged, devastating conflicts and forced to expend meager resources on weapons procurement. The absence of meaningful economic development in much of Africa during the Cold War bears a direct relationship to political underdevelopment in that region. The phenomenon of failed states across the continent, from Somalia to Liberia, is the legacy of the Cold War in Africa.
Arlinghaus, Bruce E., ed. Arms for Africa: Military Assistance and Foreign Policy in the Developing World. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1983.
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Breslauer, George W., ed. Soviet Policy in Africa. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1992.
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Jackson, Henry F. From the Congo to Soweto: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Africa since 1960. New York: Morrow, 1982.
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Keller, Edmond J., and Donald Rothschild, eds. Africa in the New International Order. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1996.
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Nation, Craig R., and Mark V. Kauppi. The Soviet Impact in Africa. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1984.
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Noer, Thomas J. Cold War and Black Liberation: The United States and White Rule in Africa, 1948–1968. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 1985.
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The Cold War in East Asia was a struggle between Asians seeking to adapt two very different politico-economic systems to their own circumstances. Asia was swept by inner turmoil when World War II ended. Japanese colonialism had fostered social tensions that began to boil over with the collapse of Japan's empire. Much of Asia remained comparatively poor, and its old elites had been discredited. Asians looked for new models of economic and political development that would enable them to achieve improved living standards, social justice, and political freedom. The two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, each sought to extend their own models of development in the region. The Soviet model emphasized revolutionary social change, the radical redistribution of wealth, and government ownership of the means of production. Generally these changes were imposed by authoritarian states. The American model emphasized gradual change and modernization along liberal capitalist lines. It tolerated rightist autocrats but also posited democratic government as a long-term goal. The peoples of Japan, China, and Korea appropriated both of these models in different ways, meshing them with their own objectives.
The Early Cold War in East Asia.
The Cold War began in Asia during the years after World War II and had become an inexorable reality of Asian international relations by 1950. The critical issues of these years were which of the two models Asians would choose to adopt and which of the two Cold War superpowers they would align with. The United States and the Soviet Union sometimes encouraged and sometimes coerced Asians to follow their models.
China was perhaps the most important arena for superpower competition. After the Japanese surrender China found itself in the throes of a civil war that pitted forces from the ruling Kuomintang Party (KMT) under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) against those of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of Mao Zedong. Americans and Soviets both sought to maximize their influence over the country. Americans attempted to broker an agreement between the two sides in the hope of establishing a moderate coalition government that would be receptive to U.S. guidance. But the CCP was more organized than the KMT and more capable of appealing to peasants in the countryside. After suffering continuous setbacks, KMT forces fled to the island of Taiwan, and separate Chinese states were formed. Having conquered much of the mainland, the CCP established the People's Republic of China (PRC), which followed Stalinist models of development and aligned itself with the Soviet Union. The PRC's rival, the Republic of China (ROC) occupied only the small island of Taiwan. Dependent on American aid for its survival, the ROC became closely aligned with the United States.
Superpower rivalry also led to the formation of rival states in Korea. Korea had been on the brink of a civil war when the United States and the Soviet Union divided it into separate occupation zones in 1945. With the two superpowers unable to agree on a formula for creating a unified government, however, Korea was divided into two rival states in 1948. Soviet influence was paramount in North Korea, whose leadership had already begun launching reforms that combined socialist and Confucian strains of thought. American influence loomed large in the new South Korean state, where the United States attempted to revive capitalism by reconstituting the colonial Japanese bureaucracy, supporting conservative autocratic political leaders, and providing generous economic aid.
The United States was most successful at imposing its own system on Japan, although even there Americans were forced to compromise. Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the United States at the end of World War II, and during the subsequent occupation of the country Americans sought to bring about rapid demilitarization and democratization. But once the CCP triumphed in China, Americans were forced to revise this agenda in order to turn Japan into a bulwark against the further expansion of communism. The U.S. occupation imposed a new constitution that assured basic human rights and a more democratic political structure. But after 1949 the U.S. occupation supported conservative politicians, especially Yoshida Shigeru, and allowed some of the conglomerates it had broken up during the early years of the occupation to reorganize. The economy remained capitalist, but it was a different kind of capitalism than Americans had envisioned, where the state intervened directly in the economy.
Cold War Competition: The 1950s and 1960s.
Once East Asia was divided into Communist and “Free World” camps, the competition between the two was mainly ideological and economic. It was a contest to see which system could best serve the needs of Asian peoples. The two sides really only competed militarily during the Korean War. The Korean War itself was a tragic three-year conflict that wrought devastating consequences for both Koreas, but it did not resolve the conflict that existed between and among Koreans. Instead, it hardened the Cold War divisions that existed in Korea and in Asia.
During the 1950s triumphs and setbacks occurred on both sides, but neither system seemed to be clearly superior to the other. In the Free World, the Japanese economy, aided by the Korean War, began to expand, but finding trading partners for Japan remained a problem for American foreign-policy makers. Moreover, American hegemony produced frictions in the United States–Japan alliance that manifested themselves during the protests sparked by the renewal of the treaty between the two countries in 1960. South Korea achieved some degree of stability after the war, but its government, led by the recalcitrant autocrat Syngman Rhee, wasted American aid and failed to stimulate economic growth. On the other hand, China and North Korea both launched five-year plans during the years after the Korean War which led to increases in industrial production. Their initial successes in the economic arena increased the influence and appeal of the Communist model throughout Asia.
During the 1960s, however, the greater dynamism and flexibility of Free World capitalism became apparent. Variants of capitalism in which the state played a central role in stimulating economic growth enabled Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea to make significant strides toward prosperity and independence. North Korea and Communist China, however, were having increasing difficulty meshing the demands of international socialist solidarity with their own nationalistic proclivities. Over the course of the decade both countries turned inward economically, politically, and culturally. The Great Leap Forward in China, which had been launched in 1958, and the increasing emphasis on Juch'e (self-reliance) in North Korea resulted in highly autarkic policies that stunted economic growth and enabled Free World nations to race ahead of them.
The End of the Cold War in Asia.
By 1970 there was increasing recognition among the PRC's political leaders that their quest for isolation and self-sufficiency had impaired national development. In Mao's final years he turned away from strict self-reliance and toward accommodation with the West. A historic meeting between President Richard Nixon and Mao in 1972 marked the beginning of the end of Sino-American frictions. Mao's move toward accommodation was accelerated when Deng Xiaoping emerged as China's most important political leader in 1978. Deng carried out a series of market reforms and began the process of integrating China into the world economy. Although at the dawn of the twenty-first century North Korea continued to adhere to its own distinctive version of communism and remained a potential flashpoint in the region, elsewhere in Asia few could deny that the Cold War had ended on terms that were far more conducive to American than Soviet influence.
Brazinsky, Gregg. Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans and the Making of a Democracy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
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Chen, Jian. Mao's China and the Cold War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. The definitive work on Communist China's foreign policy.
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Cohen, Warren I. America's Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations. 4th ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. An overview of Sino-American relations.
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Dower, John W. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War. New York: Norton, 1999. A masterful account of the American occupation of Japan.
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LaFeber, Walter. The Clash: A History of U.S.-Japanese Relations. New York: Norton, 1997. A thorough overview of American relations with Japan since the nineteenth century.
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