International System and the Cold War
What is the “international system”?
Anarchy is the “Fundamental ordering principle” in that there
is an absence of a single overarching authority
States are constrained by the relative power of other states
Systematic forces heavily effect the way in which states
behave with regard to foreign policy
Neo-realists such as Kenneth Waltz generally view the
international system as the product of state power.
o International system itself will define how states act
Neo-liberals such as Robert Keohane generally agree with
neo-realists, but contend that other non-state forces,
primarily economic, also impact the international system.
While these two interpretations will not be the focus of
discussion, they are important to know for further examining
the international system
Neo – have a chance to see some of the weaknesses in
original view points, also the strengths
Origins of the Bipolar Era
End of WWII
o Arrival of two super powers. Requirements of defeating
the double threat of imperialistic Japan and Germany.
US and Soviet Union achieved Super Power status.
Outweighed everyone else. Part economics, part nuclear
weapons, part surviving WWII.
Nuclear Weapons (USA 1945, USSR 1949) and Mutually
Assured Destruction (MAD)
United States gains military and economic supremacy in the
o Development of a Cold War. Stemmed from ongoing
suspicions of who was the bigger threat to the
international system and who the US would align with.
These suspicions returned. Soviets were aggressive
after the war (take over and restructure governments)
o 1947 – Dropping of the Iron Curtain. 1950 – Seal the
Deal. North Korea invades South Korea. (Not certain if
Soviets had something to do with it) West took this as
the Soviets were trying to copy the Germans. o Canada comes up with NATO. Means of protecting
against Soviet Union. Terrified that Americans would
disengage from the International System.
Growth in the Soviet sphere of influence
o North Korea vs. South Korea. Physical force to extend
their sphere of influence.
o Asia leading the rush of decolonization
o British gave up quickly due to increased opposition.
o French tried to fight against the process but were
o Americans were anti-colonial.
o Idea in international system that colonization is
unacceptable. Rule us when you can‟t rule yourself?
Initial American Influence (1945-1955)
Development of favourable economic and military treaties and
Europe and Canada
o Marshall Plan (1948)
o Establishment of NATO (1949)
Called upon to ask. Russia left the room and
couldn‟t vote. American called for a vote and
ended up having military influence moved in.
Middle East (Turkey, Gulf States, Iran)
o Occupation of Japan 1945
o Korean War (1950-1953) and subsequent military
Early Soviet Influence (1945-1955)
Eastern Europe (Warsaw Pact 1955)
o Chinese Revolution (1949)
Fighting multidimensional war against Japan +
Series of ongoing battle (mobile civil war,
nationalists and communists). Japanese try to
Up until 1949 at the UN – the security chair was
held by a nationalist chair until 70‟s Taiwan, critical friction point where America says
they will support its independence.
2013 – String of Pearls strategy. Intercept
America before they can help Taiwan.
o North Korea (1945/1948/ 1953)
Numerous Revolutionary groups…
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
The so-called “third world”
Primarily former European Colonies
o Show the ability of being independent from the West
and Soviet union. Worked better in principle than
Major members included Egypt, India, Indonesia, Yugoslavia
(was communist, not a direct Soviet satellite)
Never really free of influence of major powers
Many countries became the sites of proxy wars between the
Most leaned toward one side or another
o Because of overall power happening in this particular
Major Points of Tension…
o “Iron Curtain”
o Berlin (divided into four sectors) (Especially after the
construction of the wall in1961) East and West
The Middle East
o As Egypt moved into independence and has issue over
Suez Canal Zone with British. British give independence
to Egypt but didn‟t want to give the canal.
o Where Canada creates the idea of Peace keeping (to
ensure that NATO would be protected?).
o Suez Canal Zone
o US Missiles in Turkey
Useless. Soviet Union can see where they are
being prepared and Russia would be preemptive.
o China/ Taiwan
o Vietnam (French Defeat in Indochina 1954)
Three small wars against the Chinese
Americas o Cuba after 1959
Bottom line series of conflicts through this period with an
overlay of nuclear weapons
Two critical turning points