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- Australia's Cold War
- Love, Peter
- In arguing the Cold War, commentators have usually attempted either to blame or explain. Some presented the prospect of a third world war between the United States and the Soviet Union as a 'clear and present danger' where a desperate struggle between liberty and tyranny might provoke a super power conflict that could only end in mutually assured destruction. From the 1940s to the 1970s, when the debates were more insistently partisan, the central preoccupation was to assign responsibility for the collapse of the Grand Alliance after World War Two. Both sides were blamed for the subsequent escalation of great power rivalry that threatened a nuclear holocaust and, in the contest for 'spheres of influence' that turned regional conflicts into proxy wars, commentators occupied entrenched adversarial positions. The more measured scholarly analyses, however, tended to view the Cold War through different models of conflict The conventional approach saw it as similar to previous periods of great power rivalry between competing imperial ambitions. Others viewed it as a process where the protagonists were trapped in a system of mutually hostile misunderstanding with potentially tragic consequences for all concerned. Some reckoned that the two power blocs were as much concerned with maintaining control over their own people and territorial possessions as they were with victory over their apparent rival. A further, more expansive view presented the Cold War as a fundamental contest between two social systems for global supremacy. While Australian arguments about the Cold War are not as wide-ranging as these international debates, there are elements of those interpretations embedded in the Australian literature. Indeed, some are implicit in the chapters of this book. Another argument about the Cold War concerns its beginning. The most common view is that it can be dated from the end of World War Two in 1945 when the victorious Allies drifted towards enmity while contesting hegemonic influence in post-war Europe. The end is usually given as 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down or 1991 with the fall of Gorbachev and Yeltsin's election as President of the Russian Republic. An equally persuasive argument suggests that it began with the Russian Revolution in October 1917. In Australia's case, there is some evidence for this proposition.
- Publication type
- Book chapter
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. School of Social and Behavioural Sciences
- Arguing the Cold War, Chapter 2, pp. 11-22
- Publication year
- Red Rag Publications
- Copyright © 2001 Peter Love.