Cold War
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Cold War

1998, History  -   22 Comments
Ratings: 6.55/10 from 69 users.

Cold WarThe Cold War was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939–1945), primarily between the Soviet Union and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, particularly the United States. Although the primary participants' military forces never officially clashed directly, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, extensive aid to states deemed vulnerable, proxy wars, espionage, propaganda, a nuclear arms race, and economic and technological competitions, such as the Space Race.

Despite being allies against the Axis powers and having the most powerful military forces among peer nations, the USSR on the one side, and the UK, France, China and the USA on the other, disagreed about the configuration of the post-war world while occupying most of Europe. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc with the eastern European countries it occupied, annexing some as Soviet Socialist Republics and maintaining others as satellite states, some of which were later consolidated as the Warsaw Pact (1955–1991). The US and some western European countries established containment of communism as a defensive policy, establishing alliances such as NATO to that end.

Several such countries also coordinated the Marshall Plan, especially in West Germany, which the USSR opposed. Elsewhere, in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the USSR assisted and helped foster communist revolutions, opposed by several Western countries and their regional allies; some they attempted to roll back, with mixed results. Some countries aligned with NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and others formed the Non-Aligned Movement.

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2 years ago

There will always be suffering in this world - always. It's inescapable, but being blessed to live in the freest nation on earth affords us the opportunity to rise as high as we choose to go without the iron fist of a totalitarian state crushing our dreams.

10 years ago

There is always going to be 'suffering' in a democracy. The majority wins, yes, but they win, often at the cost of the minority.

12 years ago

Having now watched pretty much the whole series over the last several days, I'm simply in awe of it. Yes, each of the episodes could be developed further (and have been by countless authors from countless perspectives), but to dismiss the series as having a "pro-American bias" would have to deny the ruthlessness of Stalin's regime and the legacy that it carried. Indeed, I'm more convinced than ever that the main reason why this series has been buried since its making is that does not fit the prevailing post 9/11 narrative in the U.S. that the United States (and its most right-wing ideologues) are basically infallible, immune to making any mistakes as all. Yet, the CNN series shows that the U.S. made some enormous mistakes -- in Cuba (for supporting Battista and then trying to overthrow Castro) and Iran (for supporting the Shah) among others -- for which it is paying to this day.

12 years ago

After watching the first three episodes, I'm not sure what Epicurian and @ E are talking about when they talking about when they complain about a pro-American bias unless one is totally unwilling to see Stalin for who he was.

It is objectively true that in their march East in the latter stages of World War II the Soviet forces stopped on the east bank of the Vistula and waited for two months for the Nazis to crush the Polish home army's uprising in Warsaw before continuing their offensive westward toward Berlin. (Part 4 of Episode 1) The Soviets offered reasons for giving the Polish home army assistance (saying that their lines of communication were stretched, etc). But needless to say, neither the Poles nor the British EVER accepted those excuses.

Similarly, it was simply objective fact that when Czechoslovakia had initially accepted the United States' invitation to join the Marshall Plan, Stalin called the Czechoslovak leadership to Moscow, met with them at 11 PM and demanded that by 4 AM they retract their acceptance of the U.S.'s invitation (Part 3 of Episode 3 entitled "Marshall Plan") and the Czechoslovak leadership was shaken. Even the Communist prime minister was visibly shaken (clip shown) reading a terse statement pledging "unending loyalty" to the Soviet Union, and the Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk (quoted by a former Czechoslovak foreign ministry official in the CNN program) famously said "I arrived in Moscow as the Foreign Minister of a sovereign state and return to Prague as Stalin's slave." AND two weeks after the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia some months later, OBJECTIVELY Jan Masaryk was dead, having fallen out of his bathroom window. The objective explanation was that it was a suicide, but the window from which he would have fallen was very awkward, jumping out of other windows in his apartment would have been far easier to do. From day 1, many simply assumed that he had been thrown out of the window by either Czech or Soviet (NKVD) security forces.

On the other hand, the CNN program presents very well the pressures that the U.S. and other anti-communist forces (the Catholic Church) put on countries like Italy. Days before a pivotal Italian election in 1948, Pope Pius XII excommunicated dozens of Italian communist leaders. (Part 5, Episode 3 on the Marshall Plan). The Italians interviewed in the program explained very movingly what those excommunications meant both to them personally and to the Italian nation at the time.

So the series does try really hard to show "the good, the bad and the ugly" of the time from a very large number of perspectives.

And unless one is a Communist idealogue simply incapable of admiting that Stalin's role in causing the Cold War, one would appreciate just how hard Ted Turner's CNN tried to present the story of the Cold War from as many perspectives as realistically possible. (I'd have additions. I would have loved to see an entire episode devoted to "Cold War Humor" -- from Stalnley Kuberick's "Dr Strangelove", to the Italian-French "Dom Camillo" movies to Milos Forman's Czech "Loves of a Blonde").

Indeed, having watched now episodes 1-3 again, I really do suspect that this series has been largely buried in the U.S. since its making because it does not conform well to the post 9/11 American narrative that the U.S. is "almost always right."

The CNN's "Cold War" Series reminds us that the U.S. was often wrong, Cuba, Chile, Iran, etc, and that its mistakes often had consequences.

12 years ago

I honestly believe that this is one of the best documentary series ever made. Yes, the documentary was made by an American production company (CNN). So yes, there will be some American bias within it. That's inevitable. Instead of complaining, does anyone have a recommendation for an English-subtitled documentary series on the same period coming from Russia, even Putin's Russia?

What surprises/disturbs me more is that this documentary series has been largely buried since its initial airing. Why?

Other similarly ambitious series like the PBS series on the Civil War has aired a number of times since (though with some "redaction" I believe). The docudrama "Band of Brothers" airs every Memorial Day or D-Day. Why is this series buried? Is it too long? Has the America the world "moved on"? Or is it, in fact, not "flagwaving / pro-American" enough for American viewership?

12 years ago

what a great history lesson.

i found in the detailed unfolding of events a lot of opportunity for insight into the subtleties of the regimes, the leaders, the satellites powers, the oppositional figures.

what a great game it all was!

the game had these functions:
preserve some sort of perception of balance between the powers
reinforce nationalism at home (both sides)
rationalize internal deprivation (russian side)
provide platforms for domestic politics (u.s. side)
rationalize technological investment (u.s. side)
rationalize imperialistic goals (both sides)

the top three russki gamesmen:
stalin, kruschev, gorbychev
the top three u.s. gamesmen:
truman, nixon, reagan
the top euro gamesmen:
nagy, brandt, dubcek, walesa
the wild-cards:
castro, tito, allende, jeruzelski

what's clear is that this was not a black v white struggle. both sides played dirty. much constructive development in the americas, the far-east, and the middle-east was thwarted
then and through the present by the cold war rivalry.

in short:
the soviets were brutal, oppressive, ham-handed and rigidly ideological. as well, the americans - though mostly by proxy.

13 years ago

Communism is ideal (on paper). But humans aren't robots. It will never work.

Rachael White
13 years ago

Thank you will be watching this soon.


13 years ago

that was really informative for someone who didn't learn about the cold war at school, thanks vlatko...
on another note i do believe stalin was right in essence, the ideals of socialism and communism will come to be accepted across the globe, as castro said we will not survive endorsing greed and capital.

13 years ago

fascinating stuff, thanks v man.

13 years ago

One of the best documentaries I've seen on this subject. Didn't thought that an US production company can be so neutral in exposing the facts.

13 years ago

@ E

After watching the first 4 episodes i totally agree with you. It does have a US bias. After that i cherry picked some of the later episodes found the same to be true.

Still has some good facts and insight. 6.5/10

13 years ago

Thanks Vlatko, this site is awesome. Have a good one

13 years ago

@Epicurean your right, upon watching part one a second time there isn't much of a bias however some of the episodes have hints of an american bias, which can only be expected since its CNN.

13 years ago

I haven't watched all the videos , but from the first 4 episodes the american bias is evident. I know watching the other episodes might prove otherwise, but its like Uncle Sam wrote the script for the first four. I'm not anti-american however i like balance in my docs, but who am I. This doc is worth watching though if your put off by the 20+ episodes you have to go through.

13 years ago

I love this series. Many hours of great viewing. It seems in Part 20 there is no mention of Osama Binladen. which I thought was strange consdering the important others who were mentioned on previous parts.

13 years ago

Part one seemed unbiased and well made. Plus its always nice to see previously banned information.

Oh Vlatko you evil f*ck. I now have to spend 24 hours of my life watching this.

13 years ago

It took a while, but after watching every video all i can say is, We should all be ashamed to call ourselves Humans.

Damn Yankee
13 years ago

I've seen this series before...well worth the watch (it is a commitment though). Thanks Vlatko!