On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill took the podium at Westminster College in Fulton, America, and delivered the famous speech that finally fixed the division of the world into two hostile camps and marked the beginning of the Cold War. Over the years of confrontation between the USSR and the United States, the superpowers have accumulated such a powerful arsenal of weapons that it was enough to destroy the planet. It was only by a happy coincidence that this arms race did not turn into a nuclear war. Now, decades after the formal fall of the Iron Curtain, there are more and more claims that the level of confrontation between.

The United States And Russia

Quite comparable to the atmosphere in which Churchill delivered his famous speech. I recalled the circumstances and consequences of the fateful speech of the British Prime Minister and figured out how close the world has come to a new Cold War. The world would hardly have known about the small American town of Fulton if in 1946 Winston Churchill had not made his famous speech there, which will forever go down in world history as the Fulton speech. At that time, he was no longer the prime minister of Great Britain and came to Missouri, the home state of US President Harry Truman, at his invitation, to address students at Westminster College.

In his 15-minute speech, entitled The Muscles of the World Churchill devoted his reflections on the new world order. He called the United States “the most powerful power in the world”, talked about the lack of democracy and the violation of human rights outside the English-speaking countries, called for avoiding a repetition of the horrors of World War II and turning the recently established United Nations (UN) into a “rostrum of idle talk. To this day, these theses can often be heard from Western politicians. But they did not go down in history, but a paragraph announcing the division of the world into two warring camps.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, across the continent, the Iron Curtain was drawn. Behind this line are all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities with the population around them are in what I should call the Soviet sphere, and that’s all in one form or another, they are objects of not only Soviet influence, but also very high, and in some cases growing, control by MoscowChurchill’s speech not only stated the beginning of the confrontation between the two superpowers but also predicted the creation of NATO. The politician proposed the idea of ​​a “fraternal union of English-speaking countries the USA, Great Britain, and the countries of the British Commonwealth. According to his idea, the members of such an alliance were supposed to jointly respond to common threats, develop weapons, exchange troops and provide each other with their military bases.

Nuclear weapons were also given a special place in Churchill’s speech. The British politician has warned against disclosing information about the production and use of the atomic bomb. Churchill explained: the world has not yet calmed down and united enough to gain access to secret knowledge and not a single person in any country” began to sleep worse from the fact that only the United States has the most deadly weapon.

But I don’t think that we would all sleep so well if the situation were just the opposite and the monopoly on this terrible means of mass destruction was seized – at least temporarily – by some communist or neo-fascist state. The fear of the atomic bomb alone would be enough for them to be able to impose one of their totalitarian systems on the free, democratic world, and the consequences of this would be simply monstrous. Churchill did not mention whether the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki slept more calmly after America’s use of nuclear weapons.

The politician’s speech caused a wide public outcry and a barrage of criticism, including in the United States. Truman even suggested that Stalin come to Fulton and give his own speech – but the Soviet leader refused. Instead, he gave an interview to the newspaper Pravda, in which he compared Churchill’s statements about the special role of English-speaking countries with Hitler’s racial theory. He also considered them an ultimatum for all other nations: either voluntarily accept our dominance, or there will be war.

Undoubtedly, Mr. Churchill’s attitude is an attitude towards war, a call for war with the USSR.

The Role Of Personality In The History

From the moment of the Fulton speech, it is customary to count the beginning of the Cold War. However, it would be wrong to believe that it was the speech of the British politician that caused it. Rather, it simply stated those irreversible geopolitical processes that finally turned former allies into new enemies.

The USA and the USSR emerged from the Second World War as victorious superpowers, the ideological and political contradictions between which did not smooth out with the victory over Germany, but, on the contrary, became even more clearly visible and tangible, Alan Kafruni, professor of international relations at Hamilton College (USA), in an interview with Lenta.ru, noted that the premises of the Cold War lie in the 1917 revolution and the subsequent intervention in Russia by capitalist countries, including the United States. According to the expert, the confrontation between the two superpowers at the end of World War II “was inevitable.”

In turn, the chairman of the Vision & Global Trends think tank, Tiberio Graziani, in an interview with Lenta.ru pointed out two important documents that preceded Churchill’s Fulton speech. One is the 1940 Welles Declaration, in which the United States condemned Soviet expansion into the Baltics. The second is the 1941 Atlantic Charter, signed by Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt. In it, the countries outlined their vision of the structure of the world after the end of the Second World War. And this is even though the United States has not yet joined it at that moment. At the same time, the charter does not even contain a mention of the USSR and its future role. Thus, these two documents have already laid the foundation for the formation of a transatlantic alliance and the containment of the USSR, calls for which will sound from the rostrum of Westminster College a few years later.

The main turning point that predetermined the discord between the former allies and the beginning of their global confrontation was the appearance of nuclear weapons in the United States in 1945. “Churchill’s belligerent rhetoric and Truman’s support, who stood side by side on the podium, helped convince the American public of the need for rearmament, the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan,” said Kafruni.

Boiling point for the next decade and a half, the two superpowers threw all their strength into the arms race. Scientists in the USA and the USSR developed more and more advanced warheads, missiles, airplanes, helicopters, submarines – in short, everything that can kill. Soon the arms race reached the space level, and in the truest sense of the word. The USSR was the first to launch an artificial satellite, send animals, and then a person into near-earth orbit, and carry out the first manned spacewalk. The United States responds with the first communications satellites, the first flyby near Mars, and images of the Red Planet, the first flight, and landing on the Moon.

The superpowers also fought for influence on their home planet. In Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America – often through revolutions – socialist and anti-Soviet governments are being formed, warmly supported by the USSR and the USA. With the formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact Organization, the two opposing camps finally received geographical and political boundaries.

The peak of tension between the United States and the USSR was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1961, the Cuban opposition, at the behest of Washington, made an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. At the same time, the Americans were active in Europe: by that time, they had deployed 45 nuclear missiles in the USSR’s reach – in southern Italy and Turkish Izmir. In response, the Soviet Union began to smuggle its nuclear weapons and military into Cuba. On October 14, 1962, they were discovered by an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. On the morning of October 16, images of Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba were handed over to US President John F. Kennedy. From that moment on, the acute phase of the conflict began.

Over the next 13 days, events developed rapidly. The United States declared a naval blockade against Cuba, pulled over 180 warships into the Caribbean, and brought its troops in Europe to full combat readiness. Squadrons of American warplanes circled over the island nation. October 27 – the day that went down in history as “Black Saturday” one of them was shot down. Major Rudolph Anderson, who was at the helm, was killed. On the same day, a Soviet submarine was attacked in the Caribbean. She was at great depths and had no connection with the surface, so her commander assumed that the war had already begun, and thought about using a nuclear torpedo. To press the button, which at that moment literally separated humanity from the nuclear apocalypse, he needed the consent of three officers – one of them, Vasily Arkhipov, voted against.

It was during the Cuban missile crisis that the leadership of the United States and the USSR clearly realized that the option of a nuclear war, in which the opponents would exchange only single strikes, was impossible. A much more realistic scenario is with massive volleys and a nuclear winter that will result in tens of millions of deaths. Politicians on both sides understood that no one would emerge victorious from such a war. This means that you need to negotiate.

The USSR withdrew nuclear missiles from Cuba and the USA from Italy and Turkey. In the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, the Americans had to spend 12 hours getting and decrypting a message from Nikita Khrushchev. To save precious time, the parties established a hotline that allowed the leaders of the two states to urgently contact each other. The crisis also pushed Moscow and Washington to negotiate agreements that would help achieve nuclear parity, reduce the number of ballistic missiles to mutually acceptable limits, and establish control over remaining weapons. In 1972, the USSR and the United States signed the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Arms, in 1974 – the Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapons Tests. There was a “detente” in the relations between the two superpowers. The arms race, of course, will continue, but nuclear weapons have finally passed into the status of a deterrent.

By the end of the 1980s, the confrontation between the two superpowers began to fade away, and the Iron Curtain was opening up. In 1988, George W. Bush, then vice-president in the administration of Ronald Reagan, addressed students at Westminster College and, of course, recalled the famous speech given within these walls more than 40 years ago.The Iron Curtain still stretches from Stettin to Trieste. But this curtain is rusty. Rays of light from the West, from our side, free and prosperous, pierce the gloom of despondency and despair from the other side 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, which became, in a sense, the physical symbol of the Iron Curtain. Two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, and with it the socialist camp. The Cold War has officially ended.

Cold War 2.0?

Since the early 2010s, tensions between the United States and Russia have begun to rise again. The arrival of Donald Trump, on whom Moscow had pinned great hopes, on the contrary, only exacerbated the crisis in bilateral relations. Over the course of four years, the Trump administration has abandoned arms control agreements one after another, the result of years of painful negotiations between Soviet and American diplomats.

The last of the treaties – on measures to further reduce and limit strategic offensive arms (START-3) – expired in early February 2021. But literally, a few days before the final collapse of the arms control system, the new administration under the leadership of Joe Biden and the Kremlin nevertheless agreed to extend the agreement for five years. Nevertheless, the prospects for a non-proliferation and disarmament system are very dim. START-3 was extended, but whether the parties will be able to agree on a conditional START-4 within five years is an open question. Moreover, although the United States and Russia have reduced the number of nuclear warheads in recent years, they have actively set about modernizing their carriers and developing new weapons systems. That is, in a sense, the arms race has moved from quantity to quality. However, the arsenal of both countries is now enough to wipe out our civilization from the face of the Earth.

All these circumstances, along with the increasingly hostile and aggressive rhetoric of Russia and the United States towards each other, and sometimes outright saber-rattling, make one think – are we on the verge of a new Cold War? Maybe she’s been going for a long time?

Political scientist Gratsiani notes that the current situation in the international arena is rather uncertain. According to the expert, America’s awareness of the fact that it is losing its former global dominance may push Washington to make erroneous steps, which will only increase the tensions that persist in different parts of the planet. However, while there are some similarities between the Cold War and the ongoing tensions between the US and Russia, history does not repeat itself. The picture of the world has completely changed, ”the expert emphasizes. Although in the information field one can still find calls for the reunification of the West “under the wing of the United States,” Germany and France are striving for more and more autonomy from Washington, Graziani notes.

Professor Kafruni, in turn, believes that the confrontation between the United States and China poses a much greater danger to the world. Here, an aggravating factor is the desire of the parties to continuous economic expansion. China is indeed increasingly called the main threat by both the United States and NATO, although this is still being done in conjunction with Russia. In the South China Sea, tensions flare up now and then, and Washington and Beijing constantly blame each other for “militaristic manners.” In the economic field between countries, you only hear that about a trade war. And while there is an impression that with the arrival of the Joe Biden administration, the situation is unlikely to change for the better.

But calling the confrontation between these two economic and technological titans, as well as the tensions between the US and Russia, would be an oversimplification to call the second cold war. At the same time, no one can guarantee that the 1962 crisis will not repeat itself albeit more likely in the South China Sea than in the Caribbean. And it is not a fact that this time in China or the United States there will be Vasily Arkhipov, who will stop the first nuclear salvo.