Towards ‘Hot War’ in
Asia became the second major theatre of the Cold War – and the place where the Cold War first turned hot. Europe, of course, generated more controversy and received far more attention from the United States and the Soviet Union, emerging as the principal focus of tensions between the former allies in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Each identified interests there that appeared vital both to its short—term and long—term security needs and economic well—being. The development and hardening of an American sphere of influence in Western Europe and a corresponding Soviet sphere in Eastern Europe forms the very essence of the Cold War's opening phase, as the previous chapter has argued, with Germany serving as ground zero of the Cold War. Yet open conflict between East and West was averted in Europe – in the late 1940s and throughout the four decades that followed. Asia, where Washington and Moscow also had important, if decidedly less vital, interests, proved not so fortunate. As many as 6 million soldiers and civilians would ultimately lose their lives in Cold Warrelated conflicts in Korea and Indo—China. It was the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, moreover, that precipitated the first direct military showdown between US and communist forces and, as much as any other single event, turned the Cold War into a worldwide struggle.