The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

Cold War

  • Radhika Desai
  • Henry HellerEmail author
Living reference work entry

According to popular Western understanding, the Cold War was a political, geopolitical, and ideological confrontation between capitalism and communism, pitting the advanced capitalist economies of Western Europe, North America, and Japan, led by the USA, against the Communist Soviet Union and allied Eastern Bloc. It began after the Second World War and turned nuclear when the Soviets acquired atomic weapons in 1949. Though the prospect of nuclear Armageddon prompted mass movements against nuclear weapons, and though the world came very close to it at least once, there was no nuclear war: deterrence worked.

The Cold War was conducted with armed alliances. On the model of its 1947 Rio Pact with most Latin American countries, the USA sought to encircle the Communist Bloc with the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to its west, bases in Japan and the 1954 Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) to its east, while the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) to cover the...

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Studies, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of History, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada