NCERT Class 12 Political Science Contemporary World Politics Chapter 1: The Cold Era

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NCERT Class 12 Political Science Contemporary World Politics Chapter 1: The Cold Era | CBSE |English
World Politics

Cold War ⇾ NAM ⇾ NIEO


Post War - USA and USSR
  • USA dropping atom bombs on the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki -95 % casualties were civilians
  • Post war – USA & USSR as superpowers
  • Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 - American spy planes discovered Soviet nuclear missiles in neighbouring Cuba. The USA responded by organizing a naval blockade of Cuba - Soviet Union withdrew the missiles – total destruction

Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuben Missile Crisis

Friedrich Nietzsche Vilfredo Pareto

  • Cuban Missile Crisis – 13 days
  • Movie released as “13 Days” in 2000, the movie՚s tagline was “you՚ll never believe how close we came.”
  • 1961 – USSR was afraid that USA could blew off communist led govt in Cuba under Field Castro -
  • Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, decided to convert Cuba into a Russian base. In 1962, he placed nuclear missiles in Cuba.
  • America got to know after 3 weeks when USSR placed nuclear weapons in Cuba
  • Kennedy ordered American warships to intercept any Soviet ships heading to Cuba
  • Cold War referred to the competition, the tensions and a series of confrontations between the United States and Soviet Union, backed by their respective allies
  • Logic of Deterrence was used to check the nuclear war
  • Power rivalries, ideological conflicts and balance of power
  • The western alliance, headed by the US, represented the ideology of liberal democracy and capitalism while the eastern alliance, headed by the Soviet Union, was committed to the ideology of socialism and communism.

History of Cold War

History of Cold War
  • In 1945, the Allied Forces, led by the US, Soviet Union, Britain and France defeated the Axis Powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan, ending the Second World War
  • spread out to regions outside Europe including Southeast Asia, China, Burma (now Myanmar) and parts of India՚s northeast.
  • 1st world war – 1914 to 1918
  • USA dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (Little Boy) and Nagasaki (Fat Man) in August 1945 of 15 and 21 kilotons

Logic Why War Remained Cold?

Logic Why War Remained Cold?
  • US action was intended to stop the Soviet Union from making military and political gains in Asia – and Show US as supreme
  • US believed it was done as it was important to stop war
  • United States and the Soviet Union became the greatest powers in the world – atom bomb could be too costly for any nation – 2 nations could be capable of inflicting death and destruction unacceptable to each other
  • By 1950s, US and the USSR could create 10 and 15 thousand kilotons.
  • In spite of provocations, neither side would want to risk war since no political gains would justify the destruction of their societies
  • unacceptable destruction – both will harm – logic of deterrence - both sides have the capacity to retaliate against an attack and to cause so much destruction that neither can afford to initiate war.

Features of Cold War

Features of Cold War
Features of Cold War
  • The Iron Curtain is the imaginary line dividing Europe between Soviet influence and Western influence and symbolizes efforts by the Soviet Union to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and non-Soviet-controlled areas.
  • The smaller states in the alliances used the link to the superpowers for their own purposes. They got the promise of protection, weapons, and economic aid against their local rivals
  • This division happened first in Europe. Most countries of western Europe sided with the US and those of eastern Europe joined the Soviet camp. That is why these were also called the ‘western’ and the ‘eastern’ alliances.


North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) , which came into existence in April 1949. It was an association of twelve states which declared that armed attack on any one of them in Europe or North America would be regarded as an attack on all of them
  • NATO՚s Headquarters are located in Evere, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.
  • Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members

Warsaw Pact

Warsaw Pact
  • The eastern alliance, known as the Warsaw Pact, was led by the Soviet Union. It was created in 1955 and its principal function was to counter NATO՚s forces in Europe.
  • It was a collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War.
  • East Germany withdrew from the Pact following the reunification of Germany in 1990. On 25 February 1991, at a meeting in Hungary, the Pact was declared at an end by the defense and foreign ministers of the six remaining member states. The USSR itself was dissolved in December 1991, although most of the former Soviet republics formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization shortly thereafter. Throughout the following 20 years, the seven Warsaw Pact countries outside the USSR each joined NATO (East Germany through its reunification with West Germany; and the Czech Republic and Slovakia as separate countries) , as did the Baltic states which had been part of the Soviet Union.
  • The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations, or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term, typically used to group the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania


Conflict between the Superpowers
  • Europe became the main arena of conflict between the superpowers.
  • Soviet intervention in east Europe provides an example – Domino effect – due to large armies
  • In East and Southeast Asia and in West Asia (Middle East) , the United States built an alliance system called — the Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) . The Soviet Union and communist China responded by having close relations with regional countries such as North Vietnam, North Korea and Iraq.
  • The Cold War threatened to divide the world into two alliances. Newly independent countries from colonial rule were worried about independence. Communist China quarreled with the USSR towards the late 1950s, and, in 1969, they fought a brief war over a territorial dispute.
  • Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) , which gave the newly independent countries a way of staying out of the alliances

How Small States Helped Superpowers?

Smaller states were helpful for the superpowers in gaining access to:

  • vital resources, such as oil and minerals,
  • territory, from where the superpowers could launch their weapons and troops,
  • locations from where they could spy on each other, and
  • economic support, in that many small allies together could help pay for military expenses.

Arenas of Cold War

  • The two superpowers were poised for direct confrontations in Korea (1950 - 53) , Berlin (1958 - 62) , the Congo (the early 1960s) , Crises deepened, as neither of the parties involved was willing to back down
  • areas where crisis and war occurred or threatened to occur between the alliance systems but did not cross certain limits. A great many lives were lost in some of these arenas like Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, but the world was spared a nuclear war and global hostilities
  • Miscalculations: Either side might miscalculate the number of weapons in the possession of the other side. They might misunderstand the intentions of the other side. Besides, what if there was a nuclear accident? What would happen if someone fired off a nuclear weapon by
  • mistake or if a soldier mischievously shot off a weapon deliberately to start a war? What if an accident occurred with a nuclear weapon? How would the leaders of that country know it was an accident and not an act of sabotage by the enemy or that a missile had not landed from the other side?
  • A stable balance of weapons, they decided, could be maintained through ‘arms control’ . Starting in the 1960s, the two sides signed three significant agreements within a decade. These were the Limited Test Ban Treaty, Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Treaties – Important LTBT NPT Salt I & II Start I & II

  • Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) : Banned nuclear weapon tests in atmosphere, in outer space and underwater. Signed by US, UK and USSR in Moscow on 5 August 1963 and entered on force in 10 October.
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) : Allows only the nuclear weapon states to have nuclear weapons and stops others from acquiring them. For the purposes of the NPT, a nuclear weapon state is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967.5 Nuclear weapon states are US, USSR (later Russia) , Britain, France and China. Signed in Washington, London, and Moscow on 1 July 1968. In force on 5 March 1970. Extended indefinitely in 1995.
  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks I (Salt-I) : 1st round of talks in November 1969. US & USSR signed treaty on the limitation of Anti- Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) ; and Interim Agreement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms. Entered into force on 3 October 1972.
  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II (Salt-II) : Round of talks in November 1972. US & USSR signed the Treaty on the limitation of strategic offensive arms in Vienna on 18 June 1979.
  • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (Start-I) : Treaty signed by the USSR and US on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms in Moscow on 31 July 1991.
  • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (Start-II) : Treaty signed by the USSR and US on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms in Moscow on 3 Jan 1993.

Timeline of Cold War

  • 1947
  • 1947 - 52
  • 1948 - 49
  • 1950 - 53
  • 1954
  • 1955
  • 1956
  • 1961
  • 1962
  • 1965
  • 1968
  • 1972
  • 1978
  • 1985
  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1991
  • 1947 US Harry Truman՚s Doctrine about the containment of communism
  • 1947 - 52 Marshall Plan: US aid for the reconstruction of the Western Europe
  • 1948 - 49 Berlin blockade by the Soviet Union and the airlift of supplies to the citizens of West Berlin by the US and its allies
  • 1950 - 53 Korean War; division of Korea along the 38th Parallel
  • 1954 Defeat of the French by the Vietname seat Dien Bien Phu, Signing of the Geneva Accords Division of Vietnam along the 17th Parallel Formation of SEATO
  • 1954 - 75 American intervention in Vietnam
  • 1955 Signing of the Baghdad Pact, later CENTO
  • 1956 Soviet intervention in Hungary
  • 1961 US- sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba Construction of the Berlin Wall
  • 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
  • 1965 American intervention in the Dominican Republic
  • 1968 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia
  • 1972 US President Richard Nixon՚s visit to China
  • 1978 - 89 Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia
  • 1979 - 89 Soviet intervention in Afghanistan
  • 1985 Gorbachev becomes the President of the USSR; begins the reform process
  • 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall; mass protests against governments in eastern Europe
  • 1990 Unification of Germany
  • 1991 Disintegration of the Soviet Union End of the Cold War era

Changing Bipolarity – NAM

Changing Bipolarity - NAM

The roots of NAM went back to the friendship between three leaders as Yugoslavia՚s Josip Broz Tito, India՚s Jawaharlal Nehru, and Egypt՚s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser who held a meeting in 1956. Indonesia՚s Sukarno and Ghana՚s Kwame Nkrumah strongly supported them.

  • cooperation among these five countries,
  • growing Cold War tensions and its widening arenas
  • dramatic entry of many newly decolonized African countries into the international arena

By 1960, there were 16 new African members in the UN.

  • 1st summit – 25 member states
  • In 2006 - 116 member states and 15 observer countries.
  • In 2018, the movement had 125 members and 25 observer countries
  • Non-alignment is not isolationism since isolationism means remaining aloof from world affairs. Isolationism sums up the foreign policy of the US from the American War of Independence in 1787 up to the beginning of the First World War
  • India mediated 2 rival alliances for peace and stability - soften Cold War rivalries - reduce the differences between the alliances and thereby
  • prevent differences from escalating into a full-scale war
  • Neutrality refers principally to a policy of staying out of war. States Practicing neutrality are not required to help end a war. They do not get involved in wars and do not take any position on the appropriateness or morality of a war.

India՚s Cold War Response

  • it took particular care in staying away from the two alliances.
  • it raised its voice against the newly decolonized countries becoming part of these alliances.
  • First, non-alignment allowed India to take international decisions and stances
  • Second, India was often able to balance one superpower against the other.

Critics for India

  • India՚s non-alignment was said to be ‘unprincipled’ . In the name of pursuing its national interest, India, it was said, often refused to take a firm stand on crucial international issues.
  • India was inconsistent and took contradictory position. Having criticized others for joining alliances, India signed the Treaty of Friendship in August 1971 with the USSR for 20 years. This was regarded, particularly by outside observers, as virtually joining the Soviet alliance system. India needed military support for Bangladesh crisis.
  • NAM lost its relevance with disintegration of the USSR and the end of the Cold War in 1991. It meant that the poor and often very small countries of the world need not become followers of any of the big powers, that they could pursue an independent foreign policy. It was also based on a resolve to democratize the international system by thinking about an alternative world order to redress existing inequities.
Critics for India
  • Kwame Nkrumah (1909 - 72) – 1st PM of Ghana – socialism African unity, against colonialism, removed military coup
  • Sukarno (1901 - 70) First President of Indonesia (1945 - 65) ; anti-imperialism – Bandung conference
  • Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918 - 70) Ruled Egypt from 1952 to 1970, Arab nationalism, nationalized Suez Canal
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964) First Prime Minister of India (1947 - 64) ; Asian Unity, decolonialization, disarmament, peaceful coexistence
  • Josip Broz Tito (1892 - 1980) President of Yugoslavia (1945 - 80) ; Fought against Germany in WW-II


NAM Leader Mediated
  • NAM leader mediated b/w 2 Koreas. In the Congo crisis, the UN Secretary-General played a key mediatory role. Stocks of arms were necessary to prevent war.
  • Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization (group of countries) who do not want to be officially aligned with or against any major power bloc (group of countries) . In 2018, the movement had 125 members and 25 observer countries.
  • The group was started in Belgrade in 1961. It was created by Yugoslavia՚s President, Josip Broz Tito, India՚s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt՚s second President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana՚s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia՚s first President, Sukarno. All five leaders believed that developing countries should not help either the Western or Eastern blocs in the Cold War. They also believed that developing countries should not be capitalist or communist but should try to find a different way to help their people.
  • The Havana Declaration of 1979 said that the purpose of the organization is to help countries keep their ″ the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries ″ in their ″ struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.


  • The non-aligned countries were more than merely mediators during the Cold War. The challenge for most of the non-aligned countries — a majority of them were categorized as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) — was to be more developed economically and to lift their people out of poverty. Without sustained development, a country could not be truly free. It would remain dependent on the richer countries including the colonial powers from which political freedom had been achieved.
  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brought out a report in 1972 entitled Towards a New Trade Policy for Development.

The report proposed a reform of the global trading system so as to:

  • give the LDCs control over their natural resources exploited by the developed Western countries,
  • obtain access to Western markets so that the LDCs could sell their products and make trade more beneficial for the poorer countries,
  • reduce the cost of technology from the Western countries
  • provide the LDCs with a greater role in international economic institutions

In 1960s – not economic upliftment was motive. After 1970s – economic upliftment By the late 1980s, however, the NIEO initiative had faded, mainly because of the stiff opposition from the developed countries who acted as a united group while the non-aligned countries struggled to maintain their unity in the face of this opposition.