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End of Cold War

  • Date Submitted: 11/24/2015 01:28 AM
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Why did the Cold War last so long?   Arms races and the prolongation of Cold War conflict

The development of atomic and hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles exposed most of the globe to attack and devastation.

Technological advances threatened to give one superpower or the other a dangerous edge over its rival, thereby triggering vigorous counter-measures and increasing the risk of nuclear disaster.

There were also deep flaws in the command and control systems of both superpowers.   With both US and Soviet nuclear geared to “launch on warning”, the danger of an accidental nuclear war was extremely high.

The resulting arms race led to ever higher levels of military spending, more destabilizing technological competition, and constantly growing nuclear arsenals.

Such military expenditures created constituencies that benefited from the continuation of Cold War tensions.

Atomic weapons and the near certainty of retaliation did not prevent numerous non-nuclear conflict in the Third World.

The history of the arms race highlights the impact of what internal relations scholars call the security dilemma.   Actions taken by one nation for its security can easily be construed by its adversary as threatening and lead to countermeasures that further reduce security for both sides.

The workings of the security dilemma had an especially stark impact on the Soviet Union.   Most of the measures the Soviets adopted to enhance their security resulted in less security because they provoked countermeasures by the more powerful United States and its allies that preserved or increased Western supremacy.

Why did the Cold War last so long?   Ideology and the prolongation of Cold War conflict

During the Cold War, the direction of social and economic development was the subject of great contention.

The potential impact of internal political alignments on the global balance of power invested domestic political struggles with international political and strategic...


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