The Cold War, besides being fought initially against an European-dominated background, was also extended to the Third World later. This globalization of the Cold War is inextricably linked to the entanglement of the two superpowers, the United States (US) and the Soviet Union, in several proxy wars throughout its entire duration from 1945 to 1991, two case studies of which are the Korean War and the Vietnam War, which will be used in the course of my discussion. Through my study of the Cold War, it seems to me that the US and the Soviet Union, superpowers by virtue of territorial influence, nuclear strength, economic influence, and arguably even political say in world matters, caused these regional conflicts only to a small extent; rather, they were often drawn into them, albeit not always absolutely reluctantly. This is to say that although both superpowers were involved in the proxy wars, they played merely a small part in actively starting these wars. They had to be implicated as the conflicts had a crucial bearing on their national interests.
In my opinion, Korean and Vietnamese nationalism played the key part in causing the Korean War and the Vietnam War respectively, as opposed to the superpowers in each instance. In the process of illustrating the indirect and secondary role of the superpowers, I will confine my argument to the time frame of 1945-1975, a time span in which both conflicts occurred, exploring their origins in order to better expound the situation as well.
[...] It is also prudent to note that the geographical distance of Korea from the Soviet Union was too great for the former to be of substantial significance to the latter. Therefore in my opinion the Soviet Union caused the Korean War only to a small extent, having little reason to do so. The Soviet Union's role played in the Korean War was belated and limited relative to the US'; it can be seen to have been drawn in gradually at later stages of the war, but it cannot be ascertained if its involvement was reluctant. [...]
[...] However, as soon as the Cold War situation in Europe stabilised, significantly more forces drove the US to be drawn into the Vietnam conflict. Instead of contributing to the economic vitality of the Western European colonial masters as before, the anti-colonialism See Moise, Edwin E., Modern China: A History. New York: Longman page 145. Ibid, page 52. struggles proved to be a drain to their resources, impeding economic recovery. This problem had to be solved because poverty and misery were seen to breed communism. [...]
[...] Lightbody, Bradley, The Cold War. London: Routledge McMahon, Robert J., The Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press Moise, Edwin E., Modern China: A History. New York: Longman Painter, David S., The Cold War: An International History. London: Routledge Sewell, Mike, The Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Walker, Martin, The Cold War: A History. United States of America: Henry Holt & Company, 1995. [...]
[...] Thus, the US tended to view the communist Vietminh of the North and their leader Ho Chi Minh (and following this, the Vietcong insurgents in the South) as subsumed under the Soviet communist threat. In this it failed to distinguish between local nationalist struggles against French colonialism and Soviet expansionism. Even when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 at the start of the second phase of the Vietnam War, the US saw previous French attempts at actually preserving colonialism as resistance against Soviet communist expansionism. [...]
[...] First, it is certainly improbable that the US could actively provoke the Vietnam War into occurrence. Already tied up with the post-war problems and arising Cold War in the central backdrop of Europe in the years of 1945-1949 (examples being Containment in Europe, the German question, and the Berlin Blockade), it is highly unlikely that it had the resources to cause the Vietnam War's outbreak. Second, it could not appear to be too ready to commit itself to any one side of this conflict and had to maintain some form of public posture of impartiality this further implies that it probably did not start the Vietnam War. [...]
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