Respond to both peer responses below
The Cold War greatly influenced European politics, and continues to have an impact today. The authors viewed the Cold War as a turning point in the history of modern Europe, and detail why this is the case in the reading. The authors note that moderate economic growth took place at the inception of the Soviet Union, which allowed states within it to believe that the repression of personal liberties for the sake of economic prosperity was at least somewhat justified. However, this mindset evolved throughout the latter half of the 20th century, and many nations (and the citizens within them) decided that the harms of remaining part of the USSR outweighed the benefits. Moreover, the authors note the importance of mass protests among nations in the Warsaw Pact area, which were instrumental in leading to the collapse of various regimes by the late 1980s.
As for the second part of the question, the impact of the Cold War on the geopolitical landscape of Europe is evidenced by a variety of organizations and governing structures that continue to exist today. For example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) acts as a bulwark against Russian aggression more than thirty years after the end of the Cold War. This internationally alliance is an outgrowth of the Cold War, and seeks to deter Russian military aggression; this is especially relevant given the situation on the Ukrainian border. A lingering memory of the USSR has inspired actions by the Russian military that have provoked condemnations, as well as threats of retaliation from Western European countries and the United States.
Additionally, a continuing lag in economic development between Western and Eastern European nations persists to this day as a result of the Cold War. While this gap — as well as the disparity in life expectancy — has shrunk in recent years, this difference can still be observed. This is clearly the result of a late arrival to the global economy, as a result of their membership in the Soviet Union. Overall, the Cold War significantly influenced European politics, and continues to be relevant in this regard today.
Gallagher, Michael, Laver, Michael and Mair, Peter (2011). Representative Government in Modern Europe (5th Edition). New York: McGraw Hill.
peer response 2
The Cold War left effects all across the world by the time it was considered at an end. Whether it come from increased military strength in countries (especially the USA and now Russia), the results from the wars such as Korea, Vietnam and others and many other things. However, arguably, the most important effect the Cold War left is on the politics of Europe.
Personally, I like to point to a position of power that gained a noticeable amount of strength during the events of the Cold War. The office of the President of the United States had one of its most power-increasing times in history during the Cold War, near the levels of President Roosevelt’s increase and post 9/11’s increase of power to the office of the Presidency. One of the biggest powers given to the acting President during the Cold War is the ability to deploy nuclear weapons. While I have been focusing on the United States in this scenario, I’d like to point out that the United States has various agreements with European countries regarding stationing bombs within Europe as a defense mechanism. On top of this, there are some European nations that have adopted the same strategy as the United States – allowing their executive leader to be the one who can authorize the use of the nuclear bomb, such as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister.
Looking back near the end of the Cold War where Gorbachev was the head figure of the USSR, we can acknowledge Gorbachev’s more lenient stance on allowing the states of the Soviet Union to slowly move to a more democratic and capitalistic structure within their nations. After a long period of being under Soviet rule that essentially made any attempt to move towards democracy or private economic structures, states wanted to finally make those moves now that they had this leniency and eventually full freedom from Gorbachev. I would argue that while the Soviets attempted to hide away the West’s economic success with things like the Berlin Wall and state-ran media sources that spewed out propaganda, people and states under the Soviet rule still heard about the West’s progress. Because of this, while I do not know specific claims, I would feel confident enough to hypothesize that people under Soviet rule wished to push for the same type of policies the West used, ie democratic governments and capitalistic markets.
I inputted some of my own knowledge as well as the authors, but I would say that the information the authors provided are similar to what I had already learned/knew prior to reading the text as well as this course. Therefor, I would have to come to the conclusion that I find it a bit difficult to provide any criticism towards the authors and actually have to agree with their points regarding how the Cold War left effects on European politics both right after the end of the Cold War as well as into today.