Nuclear weapons and the Cold War

Authored by: Ruud van Dijk

The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415677011
eBook ISBN: 9781315882284
Adobe ISBN: 9781134700653

10.4324/9781315882284.ch20

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Abstract

Even without the nuclear revolution there would, in all likelihood, still have developed a cold war. It would probably still also have been the Cold War: an escalating, ideology-driven rivalry between a United States-led West and the Soviet Union and its allies over the shape of the post-World War II world, and influence in it, that dominated international affairs until one side decided to yield to the other. However, it would not have been the Cold War as we have come to know it, characterized by the widespread fear of nuclear annihilation but also the absence of a new great-power war. The post-World War II world was shaped in profound ways by the development of nuclear weapons and the subsequent nuclear arms race, but these remained, in some cases only just, secondary to politics and ideology.

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