The Cold War Era Class 12 | Cuban Missiles Crisis | Chapter 1 |


  The Cold War Era Class 12 | Cuban Missiles Crisis | Chapter 1 | 

Cuban Missile Crises

  • Cuba is the island in the West Indies. In January 1959 Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista government and took the reins of power in his hands.
  • Fidel Castro established a Communist regime in Cuba reversing the Batista government’s order. This caused a setback to the American Capitalists who had invested millions of dollar in Cuban enterprises.
  • The Castro government brought them under state control. Hence, he feared of invasion from America and sought military and economic assistance from Nikita Khrushchev, leader of Soviet Union.
  • The Soviet Union began to equip Cuba with weapons which included nuclear missiles in 1962. This posed a serious threat to security of US as Cuba was located mere 140 km from the mainland of USA.
  • The American President John F. Kennedy declared that American Warships would stop all Russian ships and aircrafts moving towards Cuba as a warning to USSR.
  • But on 23 October 1962, USSR announced withdrawing of its missiles from Cuba and was ready to dismantle all its military bases there.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis was the highest point of the cold war because it brought the two superpowers on the verge of war.

Cold War

The Cold War Era : It referred to the competition, the tensions and a series of confrontations between the US and USSR.  The intense rivalry, the clash of ambitions, the opposing ideologies and acute differences gave rise to this situation.


     The origin and evolution of Cold War goes back to the end of Second World War.

  • Second world war – the second world war ended with the Allied Forces ( US, Soviet Union, Britain and France ) garnering victory over the Axis Power ( Germany, Italy and Japan) and US dropping atom bombs on two cities of Japan namely, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This end paved the way for beginning of Cold War where two new superpowers were now rising and competing with each other.
  • Different type of governments – Russian dictator Stalin installed Communist government in USSR  and took everything under state control. On the other hand US was a liberal democracy .
  • Ideological differences – there were serious ideological differences between the two super powers. The western powers stood for free enterprise, market economy, religious and social freedom. The eastern power stood for abolition of capitalism and spread of Communism.
  • Military Alliances – there were many advantages of establishing hold over smaller countries and forging military alliances with them. First , the economic interest of the countries can be promoted. Second , military bases can be established in these nations. Third, the two superpowers wanted to extend their sphere of influence and ensure their domination.

Logic of Deterrence – In spite of both the countries capable of nuclear war, the cold war never escalated into full fledged hot war due to logic of deterrence. which states that during a nuclear war both the sides will be devastated to a great and hence it is logical to avoid to war altogether. Because the other side will be always be in the position to retaliate in much more destructive way

Consequences of the Cold War

The cold war created rifts and tensions in international order and relations. Its main results were as follows :-

  • Bipolarity – the term referred to division of the world power blocs: the Anglo-American Bloc and Soviet Bloc.
  • Formation of military alliances – under the leadership of USA the western power created a shield of security organization called North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April 1949. In reply to NATO , the Soviet Russia together with the communist countries signed a WARSAW Pact in 1955. In the South East Asia under the American leadership another Treaty organization called the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). America brought Turkey, Iraq and Iran together by yet another treaty organization called CENTO ( Central Treaty Organization ).
  • Arms race and nuclear danger – mad race for arms started as a result of cold war, all nations started spending a large portion of their resources on amassing deadly weapons.
  • Emergence of new independent nations in Asia and Africa– the world was divided into two blocs and hence the newly independent countries were worried to ally themselves fearing they would lose their freedom again.
  • Growth of NAM ( Non Aligned Movement )– this was the policy of keeping out of military alliances.

Arenas of Cold War

Cuban Crisis

  • Korean war- after second world war Korea got divided into North and South Korea. North was supported by USSR and South by US.  In 1950 , North Korea invaded South Korea and the war went on till 1953.
  • Berlin blockade- the city of Germany was partitioned after the second world war. Berlin was also divided.  In 1948 , the communist Russia tried to block all communication between West Berlin and Western Germany to pressurize West Berlin to join Russian zone.
  • Vietnam war – the USA intervened in the Vietnam war in 1964 and waged an undeclared war against Vietnam. USSR condemned this action and supported the Vietnam army to fight against US.
  • The Marshall Plan – under the Marshall plan , US undertook the European Recovery Programme to economic aid to the countries. USSR was strongly opposed to it.

End of Cold War

The cold war had many ups and downs, but in spite of all these tensions, Cold War never led the two superpowers to direct military confrontation. The following factors contributed to a thaw in the Cold War:-

  • Arms control Treaties– LTBT ( Limited Test Ban Treaty)was signed on 5 August 1963 and nations agreed that they would not test nuclear weapons in the outer space and under water. NPT ( Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty) was signed and this treaty provided that Nuclear States would not extend any help to non-nuclear states in acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Slackening of ideological conflict– the Russian President Gorbachev played a key role in bringing restraint on Russia’s aggressive policies. Several allies of of the USA began to establish trade relations with the Communist countries.
  • The role of Non- Aligned Nations – the number of NAM nations was constantly on rise and they made valuable contribution to reducing the intensity of the cold war.
  • The Economic Factors– the US suffered heavy military and economic losses during Vietnam war and Russia’s balance of trade was worsening at an alarming rate. Hence it was better to extend hand of friendship to each other.

Non Aligned Movement

The newly decolonized countries of Asia and  Africa decided not to join any of the bloc but  constitute a third order called the NAM.


     Although NAM formally came into existence in 1961 but it had begun soon after second world war . In 1947 India hosted a Conference of the leaders of Asian Nations. In 1955, President Sukarno of Indonesia convened a conference of 29 Asian and African countries at Badung.

     Five founding fathers of NAM are

  •      Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia
  •       Jawaharlal Nehru of India
  •      Sukarno of Indonesia
  •      Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana   
  •      Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt

     The first non aligned summit was held in Belgrade in 1961.

      Factors leading to the development of NAM :

  • Growing cold war and its widening arena
  • Cooperation among these countries because they shared same colonialism experience.
  • Need for Peace and Economic development
  • Dramatic entry of newly decolonized countries in the international order.

     Characteristics of NAM

  • Non alignment does not mean Isolationism – it did not bar any country from forging bonds of friendship and cooperation with any nation. On the contrary the leaders laid stress on strengthening ties of peace and cooperation.
  • Non alignment does not mean Neutrality – neutral nations maintain a stance of strict neutrality towards a warring state. As against this, non aligned countries helped in resolving the crisis.
  • It is a policy of keeping out of alliances in general and military pacts in particular.
  • Non aligned nations do not lose their identity. They judge each issue on its merit and do not toe the line of one or the other superpower.

New International Economic Order

At the first summit in 1961, economic issue were not very important . in the 1970’s the NAM however stressed upon importance of New International Economic order.

The widespread economic inequalities had divided the world into two parts ; the developed nations and the developing nations.

And the NAM Nations were the Least Developed Countries and hence economic development was very vital for their independence.

And with NAM and Afro-Asian solidarity there was now a platform for developing nations from where they could place their demand for fairer terms of trade.

In 1972, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) prepared a report with the  title ‘Towards a new trade policy for development’. It proposed the following changes in international trade system;

  1. Give the LDC’s control over their natural resources.
  2. Obtain access to western markets so that LDC’s can sell their products.
  3. Reduce the cost of technology from the western countries.
  4. Provide the LDC’s with a greater role in international economic institutions.

India and the Cold War

  • India took care in staying away from the two alliances.
  • It raised its voice against the newly decolonized countries becoming part of their alliance.
  • India tried to reduce the differences between the alliances, e.g. Korean War.
  • During cold war, India repeatedly tried to activate those regional and international organizations which were not part of the alliances.

    Non alignment advanced India’s national interests in the following ways:-

  • It allowed India to take international decisions and stances that served its interests rather than the interests of the superpowers.
  • India was often able to balance one superpower against the other.
  • We kept away from the race of armaments. Therefore, we could use resources for other development in the nation.
  • The US, Russia, France, Germany and other nations greatly helped us in economic development.
  • India was always in a position to show its resentment whenever any of the super powers committed any wrong. In 1956 during the Suez Canal crisis India strongly opposed the action of Britain and supported Egypt.


  1. Unprincipled – it was said in the name of pursuing its national interest, India refused to take a firm stand on crucial grounds
  2. Inconsistent – India took contradictory postures . having criticized others for joining alliances , it itself signed the Treaty of Friendship with USSR.

Relevance of NAM

  • NAM was based on recognition that decolonized states share a historical affiliation and can become a powerful force if they come together.
  • Poor and small countries of the world could pursue their independent foreign policy .
  • Resolve to democratize the international system by thinking alternative world order.
  • Core issues like colonialism or more recently neo-colonialism, disarmament, democracy and human rights are still relevant today.
  • We still have to redress the existing inequities.


  • The Cold War Era

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