Expanding the Frontiers: Superpower Intervention in the Cold War

By Karen A. Feste | Go to book overview

TWO
Rationale and Argument for Global Reach

The Cold War was a complex mixture of competition and restraint characterized by harsh rhetoric, intense struggle over allies, and the dominance of ideological assumptions about the adversary, including mutual denunciation of each other's system. Too woo support from other nations, each superpower portrayed its own political and economic system as "something to be emulated and that of the adversary as something to be reviled" ( Bowker and Williams 1988:12). As geopolitical challenges became more significant, these images, superimposed on a bipolar structure, gave way to symbolic importance attached to the allegiance of central and also minor states (13). The belief that commitments were interdependent led to a firm stand in regions of marginal importance in order to deter challenges in more strategic areas. Stich an approach emphasized strength and resolve -- a basic response to the nature of the Cold War and attendant superpower rivalry.

Spheres of influence have traditionally provided a method of restraint against direct great power conflict by, forming a protection belt of geographic area around great power territory. Indeed, during the Cold War the super- powers developed codes of conduct relating to spheres of influence that were quite important. In the early, phases of intense Cold War competition, the battle between the United States and the Soviet Union was fought over issues of the internal character and external orientation of postwar European states. The system advanced by each of the superpowers seemed to pose "a credible philosophical and organizational substitute for the old order of European politics" ( Seabury 1967:136). When this aspect of the conflict diminished due to Europe's recovery, the military stalemate, and the stabilization of regimes on both sides of the Iron Curtain, the focus of confrontation shifted to the colonial world and the emerging nations. Here, unlike the European situa

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