Essay on Autonomy and Political Responsibility after the Cold War

2592 Words 11 Pages
Autonomy and Political Responsibility after the Cold War

After World War II, Europe emerged as a continent torn between two very different political ideologies, Communism and Democracy. As the two major superpowers, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States, struggled to defend their respective governmental policies, the European Continent was caught in an intrinsic struggle to preserve the autonomy which had taken so long to achieve. During the Cold War, Eastern European nations struggled to achieve autonomy with the help of the West's dedication to break the Soviet sphere of influence. After the disintegration of the USSR, the struggle for autonomy among nations shifted from an intense, inward, nationalistic
…show more content…
They believed it was necessary to destroy capitalism in their immediate neighboring countries as a means to protect their own autonomy which had been seriously threatened during both the first and second world wars. They did this by seizing control of the nearby Eastern countries and forcing them to adopt the Communist Party policies. As Nikita Khrushchev described in his speech to the 22nd Communist Party Congress, "Our party clearly understands its tasks, its responsibility, and will do everything in its power to see to it that the world socialist system continues to grow stronger, gathers fresh strength and develops. We believe that in competitions with capitalism, socialism will win."2

The Western nations reacted strongly to this Soviet policy of expansion and domination. Winston Churchill described the growing Soviet control as "an iron curtain (which) has descended upon the continent. Behind that line lie 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 and the populations around them lie in the Soviet sphere."3 Churchill and other democratic leaders believed that all the Western democracies should "stand together" and defend the Eastern nations from the Communist influence or else "catastrophe may overwhelm us all."4

Among the Western nations, the United States took the strongest stance against the USSR.
Open Document