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Lecture

A assembl of points on cold war realism


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL101Y1
Professor
Jeffrey Kopstein

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November 29th 2010
Cold-War Realism
x Cold war saw its origins in Europe in 1948
x Political and military lines had divided the European continent between affiliates of the United
States and affiliates of the Soviet Union
x After the Soviet invasion of Hungary there is a break in political stability since the US was a
supporter of Hungarian revolution
x Germany ended up divided between East and West; the Berlin wall soon followed and tension
rose between the United States and the Soviets
x Despite subtle, miniature confrontations, the war eventually reached a point of stalemate
x The threat of nuclear weapons is a prospect so terrifying that war became an unlikely possibility
due to the sheer consequences of what a nuclear conflict would mean for the world
x Nuclear power became a deterrent to war instead of defence against it
x Initially, the US had a monopoly over nuclear weapons (1949)
x When they lost this monopoly, the nuclear race began
x It got to the point that there were so many warheads that a scenario of mutually assured
destruction occurred (1949-1968)
x Initial strike capability was replaced in priority by second strike capability; the ability to take hits
and respond afterward was key to nuclear strategy
x Ironically, despite the constant threat of nuclear weapons, this situation, in realist terms was
politically stable; the world had only two major players that supported their associated
^oo]_
x The support for these client states led to several micro wars such as Korea, Vietnam, Guatemala,
and Angola; these conflicts involved both the US and the Soviets directly and indirectly; rarely
did US-Soviet confrontation ever really occur
x Realists take into account state interests and the anarchic form of world governance; such is the
state of the world, not how it is ideologically perceived
x Realists ignore what is happening inside a state, only its position towards what its goals are and
its means to achieve them
x In 1962, the US discovers the presence of long range missiles in Cuba
x This broke the stability by adding a third player into the game
x The new conflict was between democracy and communism, civilian views and military ones, and
between the personalities of the leaders involved
x Political administration sought often to limit the power and activities of the military
x After the war, the weapons monopoly has diminished and the world s entering a state of multi-
lateral conflict of ideas, politics and interests
x The Cold War is a perfect example of the use of force as a political instrument to achieve state
goals and the danger of pushing things too far
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