The US and the cold war

Tarek Ali Hassan
Political and Social

Searching for the roots of negative perceptions of the US and the West:

The very concept of the cold war ?

Is it an injurious double standards syndrome? or an expression of deep self-defeating unconscious ego-centrism?


The continued reference to the great war of 1945 - 1991 as the cold war is a reminder that in the minds of the leading powers of the world, even

In the mind of many intellectuals and historians in the West,

 The people of the south, especially when they belong to other cultures, do not really register or count in a comparable way.  Yet to the others in the South the cold war was the hottest and, in human terms, the most costly war in man's history. We all need to understand that reality in order to understand the wounds, the disruptions, the ruin and the continued after effects of the hot part of the cold war. The term cold war is an extreme example of Euro-American centrism. In human terms it has been a veritable holocaust. The understanding of how it can be simply dismissed as the cold war is a subject of utmost interest and importance to all of us and certainly to students of sociology and relations between races, cultures and disparate socio-political entities. Normally the affected peoples deserve -by precedent- compensation and support for effective restitution and rehabilitation. A sort of a Marshall plan for the victim nations of the cold/hot war 1945 -1991.


In the South, outside the arena of Euro American-centrism, the cold war was in every way one of the bloodiest, and most costly and long hot wars in human history. It lasted forty five years from 1945 to 1991, dovetailing into the horror of the second world war, and the after-shocks are still unleashing themselves on the inhabitants outside Euro-America*. 



Millions were killed or uprooted;  many social, political and ecologically balanced life systems completely disrupted;  as the Western and Eastern blocks struggled over zones of influence and strategic advantages, each pouring expensive and sophisticated arms into the interface areas as the dynamics of the hot confrontations in the south unfolded.


The voice, suffering, frustrations, dreams, tragedies and frustrations of the other peoples involved were largely not heard.  There was no attempt to hear that voice or to discover it by the power-hungry regimes instituted to harness their own people into the Western block camp or into the Eastern block camp. There was no attempt to listen by the super-power in whose sphere of influence the particular southern hemisphere people had been placed. There was very little joy from the International community representative bodies whose channels of communication with the relevant voices remained incomplete. For the US and the Western block the priority was simple and clear; contain communism! All other considerations were subservient to this highest priority. Dictators and oppressive military and quasi military regimes were Okay ed and fully supported if they were anti-communist. It was a case of war emergency there was no space, but how about AFTER the cold war was lost and won?  Has a non-participatory world order where fear rules and mistrust towards the great powers is the norm, become an accepted ingrained pattern? I certainly hope not but there is work to be done to surmount this legacy of the cold-hot war.


What after the anti-communist hysteria is over?  To contain communism at any price regardless of the interest of the weak and the different, was the guiding principle of US and Western block policy.  As was the Eastern block  policy a mirror image of the same attitude i.e. gain points in the global power struggle with complete disregard to the real interests of  the peoples of the zone-of-influence-interface countries. 


Arms were poured into interface areas.  Power hungry adventurers mostly from the petty military ranks were encouraged and supported to set up dictatorships of one revolutionary description or another. Religious fundamentalism and fanaticism was condoned, encouraged and supported by the West as an excellent barrier against communism.  The big mess was all justifiable as part of the fight against communism which had to be contained and destroyed. From the other side it was all justified in the cause of the fight against capitalism which had to be contained and destroyed. What now ?


It is important not to cast a blind eye to this recent history, because it underlines that in spite of all easy presence to the contrary, we have a long way to go towards validating a new belief in plurality and in the inalienable right to human rights of those millions of others so ruthlessly entangled in the big superpower struggle of the great war of 1945-1991. 




*Study casualty statistics in all the nations and groups of nations that became an arena for the cold/hot war confrontations. Study in particular the high percentage of casualties in non-combatants, civilians, women, children and the elderly. Study also the numbers of refugees and displaced persons and detainees without trials sometimes for the duration of their effective lifetime.



To turn into reality the declaration of human rights and to validate in action the belief in pluralism is a difficult and expensive process at all levels. It is necessary. In the end it is our least costly and most effective road to peace and security.


A concerted policy of re-rehabilitation, restitution, compensation and support is imperative*. We need to reconstruct the history of that great war 1945 - 1991 and assess the real losses inflicted on its silent and voiceless and sometimes unsuspecting victims.  It is unfair to all and certainly to the US to have the syndrome of accumulated hurt and anger erupt periodically into anti-US sentiment or actions regardless of present commitment and honest aspirations for a just and pluralistic global peace in the future. Past hurt must be understood and resolved in order to build present and future on a sound basis.










* It is informative to analyse representative examples in Asia, in the middle east, in Ethiopia, Uganda, Zaire, in  Angola, in Rwanda, in Iran, in Afghanistan, in Cambodia, in Indonesia,  in South and Central America, not only in the form of casualties and displaced persons but in the form of modification of normal socio-political dynamics conducive of natural growth and development etc.  Syndromes of development-arrest secondary to variations of involvement in the cold war front are worthy of deep study.