Cold War Ethical Reflection
Reflection of the Cold War The Cold War, from 1945 to 1991, is one of the most important periods of time that has greatly influenced and shaped the modern world. It was not just a battle between two super powers, the USA and the Soviet Union, but also a clash of two really popular ideologies during that time. There was the American claim of fighting for freedom and democracy and the Soviet claims of fighting for the interests of the workers and the common people.
Now in theory, these ideologies seemed ethical, but throughout this period, both countries’ actions severely opposed the ideologies they represented on numerous occasions. Some say it all came down to a competition of achieving the most power and influence and just using what they’re supposed to represent as a disguise to hide the true intention of their actions. Now this is partly true and in this reflection I will explain the cynicism caused by both superpowers and decide which one actually represented a greater evil. Let’s start with Soviet Union.
They were communist and actually held true to these values inside their own country but did use brutal force to destroy anyone who opposed their totalitarian rule and this often led to many deaths. Even though life under Soviet Union had its ups and downs, it is the actions that they did in other countries which really gave them a negative image especially in the west, throughout most of the cold war. One of the first atrocious acts they committed was the Berlin Blockade which was an attempt to exercise their power over East Berlin.
They blocked the country from receiving necessary supplies and instead of helping the workers and installing communism, they were oppressing them and this was a major event that deteriorated their image, and they even did this again with the construction of the Berlin Wall. The same thing happened in Czechoslovakia. Although they were supporting Communism in the country, they were not representing the interests of the common people.
Most wanted freedom but the Soviets just rolled in their tanks to stop this from happening, first in 1948 by arranging a coup to put the unpopular communist party in power, and then they rolled in the tanks again in the Prague Spring but this time were unsuccessful in stopping the uprising. The Soviets had a habit of undermining eastern European countries through force and keeping them in the Iron Curtain which later led to popular distaste of their regime like in the Polish solidarity Movement.
But you could argue that they even though they used brute force to install communism, they were in general, supporting their ideologies. Also whenever there was a communist uprising in any foreign country, they would almost always support it either politically, or by supplying arms and finance. They did this for ideological reasons usually because part of the Marxist theory is that communism is inevitable, so it was their duty to help a communist regime in trouble.
They did exactly this by supporting the communist party in the Greek Civil War who were being violently oppressed by the other side (Irony) and there actually was a big social class division in Greece at the time and many people wanted communism as a solution so the soviets justly supported the movement even though it failed. They did this again in the Korean War, and the first Indo China War whose situations were pretty similar. But their greatest success was in the Chinese Civil War and when the Communists won, it drastically strengthened Soviet Russia’s Ideologies.
Now let’s talk about USA. They stood for freedom and democracy and were really against the communist ideology. But throughout most of the cold war, it is impossible to depict USA as a good influence. The Marshal Plan although was one of the greatest actions USA had taken and they gave about 13 million dollars in aid to the war devastated countries in order to help them rebuild. Some might argue that they only did this to improve their trade business with these countries and to help form NATO in order to compete with the Soviets and this is partially true.
Other things they did which showed they actually stood up for democracy was supporting the democratic revolutions in the Korean War, Polish Solidarity Movement, and the Velvet Revolution. They not only did they do this for freedom, but also to stop the authoritarian spread of Communism which they deemed highly undemocratic and even propagandized it as evil especially during the Berlin Airlift which is one of the most famous benevolent event that the USA orchestrated. But those were the only freedom fighting they took. Everything else they did was highly undemocratic.
USA has a tendency to overthrow foreign government if they don’t please their interests. Their first major anti-freedom action was overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran simply because the new leader decided to nationalize the oil for benefit of the Iranian People. Then they did the exact same thing in Guatemala because the interests of their fruit companies were in danger. All of these overthrows were done through US backed coups and the School of America played a key role in this, especially in Latin America.
This Superpower has caused so much devastation in Latin America through that school that it was unbelievable. They would train agents in that school to do the most brutal actions necessary to “stop communism”. The US backed coups in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, along with supporting the PRI in Mexico brought years of terror in those countries that still affect them today. All of this happened only because the elected leaders had some socialist tendencies and that was all the excuse USA needed. So much for freedom and democracy.
They even illegally and secretly invaded Cuba (tried to) and Grenada and brought more horror to those places especially to Grenada whose economy was completely destroyed for a while. They used massive propaganda justify all their illegal actions especially in Vietnam which was their biggest mistake. Three million Vietnamese (mostly Civilians) died in this pointless war to stop the spread of Communism. They were so many opportunities to negotiate a peace treaty but this Superpower was too intent on dragging it on for twenty years.
So many innocents were slaughtered especially during the Cambodian Genocide which was also caused by USA that lies about this war reached American citizens who then protested to stop the war, especially after the coverage of the My Lai Massacre where US soldiers killed over 300 innocent men, women, and children. The country was so anti-communist at one point that the freedom of expression of the people was destroyed during the McCarthy witch-hunt. Anyone who was associated with communism or had communist tendencies was unjustly prosecuted and this lasted for a whole six years from 1950 to 1956.
It was of the greatest tragedies In US history because it greatly destroyed the image of freedom usually associated with the country. The feeling of cynicism towards both Superpowers was definitely justified because both had committed multiple atrocious acts during the cold war, but USA is still definitely in my opinion the greater of the two evils. Even thought the Soviet Union was brutally authoritarian in many cases, they still stayed true in general in their claims about supporting communism and never once did anything anti-communist.
They supported multiple communist struggles across the world economically and militarily, some of these actions were morally justified and others weren’t. The USA on the other hand had overthrown so many democratically elected governments for the most unethical reasons ever that it is hard for me to associate freedom with USA. The Soviets at least kept true to their claims (brutal as they were) but the same cannot be said for the other Superpower. They did considerably a so many undemocratic and anti-freedom actions which massively deteriorated their claims in my opinion.
They only positively influenced Europe but devastated the rest of the world especially Latin America who were pretty much set back a couple of decades thanks to USA’s actions. This country was involved in multiple illegal conflicts that opposed their claims and led to the senseless deaths of millions of people around the world and many more were negatively affected by these actions, especially economically. As much devastation both countries caused to the world, USA defiantly represented a greater evil in the cold war. By: Afzal Manzoor