Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Cold War

For some of the younger readers it's difficult to imagine what the Cold War actually was and some of the older readers have quickly forgotten some of the dark moments in our recent history. Although the Cold War is often referred to as an almost-but-just-not war between the United States and the Soviet Union, it was far more than that, and nearly every country on this planet was affected by it. The Cold War was more than spies, nuclear missiles and submarines.

Indeed, in Europe, the Cold War brought peace and - a bit of - stability for more than 60 years. However, the real face of the Cold War were the many not-so-cold wars, battled out in many Asian, African, Middle eastern and South American countries. Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran, Cuba, Angola, Somalia, Uganda, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and so on. You name it. The list is endless. All of these countries have know many years of war or guerrilla fighting and political, economical or military influence by either the US or the Soviets.

Not surprisingly, many of these countries still suffer from many years of instability and violence, and the post-Cold War era has enabled many ethnic groups, once suppressed by the great powers, to come forward now and claim their rights, either politically or with weapons. Therefore, to understand what's behind the Afghan Taliban, Lebanese fractions or the Colombian FARC, to name a few, you need to know the past, and the Cold War influenced that past enormously.

Many books and web pages are written about the Cold War and one could easily get lost in that jungle of information. Fortunately, there are some very good sites that bring you the complete history of the Cold War in an orderly fashion. The Cold War Museum has a clear time line, presenting the key moments of each decade. Inside the Cold War at the BBC History pages is also a good starting point. Lots of information is also found at the CNN's Cold War series and at the National Security Archive you will find some most interesting Cold War interviews about all aspects of the Cold War with many of the key players. If you work your way through them you'll get a much better understanding of today's conflicts. As we say, you need to know the past to understand the present!

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