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Cold War in Europe
Transcript of Cold War in Europe
Europe after WWII
The Cold War
After World War II, there were only two great powers left: The U.S. and the Soviet Union. Both powers would spend the next 50 years competing with each other in something called the Cold War.
However, our focus is Europe, so let's look there.
Decline of Empire
Remember all those cool empires European countries had? Well, those are dissapearing. The French lose their African colonies, England loses India (thanks to Ghandi) and Germany loses everything.
European countries just couldn't afford them- they lost more money than they made.
The United Nations
In 1945, a body called the United Nations was founded, or the UN.
The UN included most of the world's countries and meets in New York (we still have it today). They can get together and discuss problems in order to avoid war.
U.N. Security Council
Not all U.N. members are created equal. Five countries- the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia (then the Soviet Union) and China are part of the "security council", which means they can veto any act passed.
This means the U.N. doesn't get a lot of stuff done.
Nato vs Warsaw Pact
During the Cold War, there were two major alliances.
First was NATO- (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). These were the countries on the U.S.' side and would protect each other if the Soviets got into shenanigens (like Thermonuclear annihilation).
In response, the Soviets created the Warsaw Pact- these countries would be on the Russian side.
We still have NATO today.
Mutually Assured Destruction
The U.S. and the Soviet Union both had a policy of "mutual assured destruction" or MAD.
Basically, this meant that if either side launched their nukes at the other, all the enemy countries would launch all their nukes back no matter what. This way, neither sides win- both die.
As you can imagine, the Cold War was a period of complete paranoia.
Partition of Germany
One big problem after WWII was what to do with Germany.
A compromise was reached for Germany to be split in two- the pro-US allies (France, Britain) would control the western half while Russia would control the east. Berlin the capital would also be split in two.
The Soviets built a massive wall to keep people in the East from fleeing to the west- the Berlin Wall, which was largest in the city of Berlin itself but also spread into the country.
European countries weren't just part of NATO or the UN- there was another organization arising called the European Union.
The intention of the EU was to unite European countries to make trade easier and also so they would be friends, not enemies.
In 1992, most EU members signed on to use the Euro as currency.
The Cold War Ends
In the 1980s, it became obvious to the Soviets that communism wasn't working- without incentive, their workers just weren't productive.
Finally in 1991 the Soviets gave up on their empire. Their premiere Mikhael Gorbechev allowed soviet states to revolt. Communism was banned and the Soviet Union became Russia again.
Soviet Union's Problems
The Soviet Union's economy began to falter in the 1970s and continued its decline into the 90s.
Government corruption was rampant. Political purges trampled innovation. Worse, people had little incentive to innovate or work hard- unlike in America, one could not become rich through hard work.
Compare at the side two grocery stores.