Expanding the Frontiers: Superpower Intervention in the Cold War

By Karen A. Feste | Go to book overview

THREE
General Trends in Superpower Intervention

PREVIOUS RESEARCH

Where did the Superpowers concentrate their intervention efforts during the Cold War? The nature and extent of interventionary moves into a country facing domestic upheaval or regime change was a function of various elements that reflected the importance of these states for U.S. and Soviet foreign policy. The first factor was whether a potential target country was located in the primary geopolitical sphere of influence claimed by each superpower. The application of the Monroe Doctrine governing U.S.-Latin American connections and the Brezhnev Doctrine extending the Soviet umbrella over Eastern Europe has been one obvious predictor of superpower intervention decisions. Other factors important in evaluating situations outside the sphere of protected territorial jurisdiction marked by policy doctrine have included the history of military support and alliance commitments, and economic ties and resource dependencies between a target country and each superpower. Finally, the pover and strategic significance of the country formed part of the assessment in decisions to intervene ( Pearson 1974a:265; Weede 1978:498; Pearson and Baumann 1986:187).

When did the superpowers decide to intervene? Theoretically, the freedom to choose an intervention strategy could be enhanced or restrained by common inhibitions on the part of the United States or the Soviet Union about their own strength. They might be constrained from engaging in intervention by their need to avoid crises with each other, coupled with the fear of approaching a nuclear confrontation. Yet, it could be argued that because destruction would be mutually assured, it became rather unlikely that nuclear war would erupt, and therefore, the superpowers could afford to pursue adventures and multiple forms of intervention to a great extent. Previous

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