Samuel, aged 15

“Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice we must be just.” – Dag Hammarskjöld  

The Cold war was a proxy war between the two superpowers of the world, the U.S.A and the USSR. It lasted about 44 years and ended with the fall of the Soviet Union. There were various situations during the Cold War period that threatened the peace. Between 1947 and 1991 there were about 26 different noticeable problems. But the major encounters were what happened in 1949, the Berlin Blockade, the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. But I’ll only be explaining two of the above.

In 1949, many people were scared that World War III would happen considering all the proxy wars, and the contradiction between the two superpowers. The Soviets controlled most of Europe in 1949; they left their soldiers stationed in the countries they were in after WWII. The U.S reacted by creating the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Aid. The Truman Doctrine was stating that it would help Greece and Turkey economically and with military aid so they wouldn’t fall into the ‘Soviet sphere of influence’. President Truman stated, “The policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” The Marshall plan was a 4 year operation to start the rebuilding of Europe. Europe was in financial and economic crisis, the Soviets tried to help the countries in their own communist way, while the Americans overreacted and thought this was a threat to Europe. So the Americans agreed to send approximately 17$ billion to the devastated European countries help. But the Americans were doing this so they looked like the angels; they tried to make the Soviets look like the bad guys as well. The USSR wanted to help them as well but they just didn’t have the money and resources the Americans had.

On the 13th of August, 1961, Eastern Germany (the Communist side) started to build vast concrete walls with various anti-vehicle defences within the ‘Death Strip’. The Death Strip was the empty bit of land between the two concrete walls that split the West from the East. The reason the Soviet side gave was that they didn’t want fascist elements to collude the will of their population. When Germany tried to rebuild their currency, the West side realized they had to help economically. So they began to start a massive airlift of supplies over the wall. The Soviets were so surprised by this. They cut off all communications in Eastern Germany so they couldn’t communicate. But the Eastern Germans pleaded for the international airlifts to continue, so the Soviets started the communications once again. This shows how the Western side (in this situation) was the side trying to keep the peace, by trying to help the civilians on their side from starvation and death; while the Soviets were trying to control all of Germany greedily.

These two superpowers seem to have not fought throughout this war but they actually have, indirectly. They had many proxy wars such as; Afghanistan. The Soviets went into Afghanistan supporting the communist government; the Americans saw this and reacted once again. They trained and armed an insurgency named the Mujahidin to oppose the Communist parties that the USSR was helping. Another proxy war, Korea. The North Koreans went into South Korea after the Soviets got rid of the Japanese. The Americans went in with multiple countries such as South Korea, the U.K, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Turkey, Holland, France, Greece, New Zealand, Thailand, Ethiopia, Colombia, Belgium, South Africa, and Luxembourg. And the other side contained of North Korea, USSR, and China. They fought for 3 years but just ended up remaining on the 38th parallel, it ended with the signing of an armistice, but it’s technically still happening.

I believe what Dag Hammarskjöld in the quote above is that you must be at peace with yourself to be at peace with others. Also that we should trust each other, like the U.S and the USSR should trust each other, otherwise the world will end up in a nuclear war. We should be just as well so that criminals and people who disobey the law are tried and are put to justice. This man was saying this trying to keep the peace during the cold war, his successor (Trygve Lie) explained this job to be, “the most impossible job on earth.”


About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
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