The Cold War aftermath
- After the destruction of the Soviet Union, Russia significantly cut military spending, and restructure of the economy left millions of people unemployed. The capitalist reforms culminated in a recession during the early 1990s, more severe than the Great Depression, as experienced by Germany and the United States.
- The Cold War continues to have an impact on world affairs. The world after the Cold War is considered to be unipolar, with the U.S. as the sole remaining superpower. The Cold War distinctly defined the political role of the U.S. after World War II—by 1989, the nation had military alliances with 50 countries, with 526,000 troops stationed abroad, with 130,000 in Asia and 326,000). The Cold War also marked the peak of peacetime military-industrial complexes, especially in the U.S., and significant military funding of science. These complexes, even though their origins may be found as early as the 19th century, increased significantly during the Cold War. Some experts believe that up to 50 nuclear weapons were lost during the Cold War.
- Total U.S. military expenses throughout the entire Cold War were estimated at $8 trillion. Further, almost 100,000 Americans lost their lives in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Even though Soviet casualties are hard to estimate, as a share of their gross national product, the financial cost for the USSR was considerably higher than in the United States.
- Besides the loss of life by uniformed soldiers, millions died in the proxy wars around the world, especially in Southeast Asia. The majority of the proxy wars and subsidies for local conflicts ended along with the Cold War; ethnic wars, interstate wars, revolutionary wars, as well as displaced and refugee person crises have declined distinctly in the post-Cold War years.
- However, the consequence of the Cold War is not considered to be concluded. Many of the social and economic tensions that were used to fuel Cold War competition in parts of the Third World remain sharp. The breakdown of state control in several areas previously ruled by communist governments produced new ethnic and civil conflicts, especially in the former Yugoslavia. In Eastern and Central Europe, the end of the Cold War has led by an era of economic growth and an increased number of liberal democracies, while in other parts of the world, like Afghanistan, independence was followed by state failure.
In popular culture
During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the USSR were heavily invested in propaganda intended to influence people around the world, especially by using motion pictures. The Cold War continues to exist as a popular subject reflected broadly in entertainment media and continuing to the present with many post-1991 Cold War-themed feature movies, television, novels, and other media.
- When the term “Cold War” was popularized to refer to post-war tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, describing the development and roots of the conflict has been a cause of fiery controversy among political scientists, historians, and journalists.
- Historians have sharply disagreed about who was accountable for the breakdown of relations between Soviet and the U.S. relations after the Second World War, and whether the dispute between the two superpowers was inevitable, or possibly could have been avoided. Historians also argue on what precisely the Cold War represented, what the origins of the conflict were, and how to disentangle actions and reactions between the two sides.
- Even though explanations of the roots of the conflict in academic discussions are diverse and complex, some general schools of thought on the subject can be identified. Historians commonly divide into three different approaches to the study of the Cold War: “revisionism,” “post-revisionism,” and “orthodox” accounts.