The Cold War was a period from 1945 to 1991 that saw the world divided into two factions: the United States and NATO-led Western Bloc and the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact-led Eastern Bloc. The division of the world followed the end of World War II, with the Soviets imposing communism in areas that they had occupied; the Western Allies installed democratic governments in liberated countries that were capitalist. Although the United States and Soviet Union never went to all-out war, they waged a series of proxy wars, with the United States and Soviets supporting opposing sides in wars and giving weapons, money, training and, occasionally, soldiers to their allied governments to fight against their enemies. In the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Afghanistan War, major wars were fought directly involving either the US or USSR, and the Cold War era saw several wars and coups. Terrorism skyrocketed as idealist terrorist groups such as the communist PFLP, Revolutionary Cells, and Baader-Meinhof Gang and the pro-West Ustase, Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations, and Mujahideen carried out terrorist attacks. In addition, espionage was taken to a new level as the US CIA, French DST, and British MI6 competed with the Soviet KGB and East German Stasi in an intelligence war that often involved coups and assassinations. In 1989, a series of revolutions broke out in Eastern Europe against the communist regimes, and in 1991, the Soviet Union itself fragmented into smaller states. The fall of communism and the end of the USSR ended the Cold War, with the threat of communism collapsing and the West emerging victorious.
- 1 Prelude
- 2 The Cold War
- 3 Aftermath
During the last stages of World War II, Europe was a battleground between the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers, seeing millions of deaths. Cities were destroyed and the infrastructure of society badly damaged, and Europe was gradually liberated from Nazi Germany's forces as the Soviet Union's Red Army pushed on Berlin through Eastern Europe and the combined forces of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Western Allies liberated countries in Western Europe from German occupation. At the war in Europe's end in May 1945, Europe was divided in half at the Elbe River, where Soviet and American forces met. It seemed that the worst was over, with fascism being destroyed and Europe being liberated from Adolf Hitler's rule. However, the Soviets refused to liberate the countries that they had occupied, instead installing communist puppet governments led by powerful dictators. The Western Allies restored democracy to the countries that they had liberated, and those governments had free market economies that promoted capitalism. Europe was now divided between the capitalist and pro-US Western Bloc and the pro-USSR Eastern Bloc, with an Iron Curtain dividing Europe from Stettin in the Baltic Sea to Trieste in the Adriatic Sea, with Germany being divided into a capitalist West Germany and a communist East Germany and with the capital being divided into West Berlin and East Berlin. Soviet troops occupied the communist countries, while US, British, and French troops were stationed in West Germany. Some people believed that the only solution to the standoff would be "Operation Unthinkable", the Allied attack against the communist forces in Eastern Europe. However, this war would not go hot in open conflict, but would be a "cold war" without direct fighting.
The Cold War
On 24 June 1948, the Soviet premier Joseph Stalin made a daring move when he decided to encircle and blockade West Berlin. Stalin's goal was to besiege the Allied forces in the city and force them to withdraw in order to prevent a war; it was also meant to pressure the Allies into withdrawing the new Deutschmark currency from West Germany so that the Soviets could keep Germay in poverty as a punishment for World War II. US President Harry Truman decided to react to this issue by beginning the "Berlin Airlift", in which 8,893 tons of fuel and food were dropped to civilians in West Berlin to help them survive the blockade. Although this action was risky, with war being a possible reaction by the Soviets, Truman was able to force the Soviets into backing down, and on 12 May 1949 Stalin decided to end the blockade to prevent a war from breaking out.
The Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine
Truman's assistance of West Berlin would be just one example of his efforts to rebuild Europe after the disaster of World War II. In the following years, Truman would implement the Marshall Plan to give economic assistance to all countries affected by the war, and he would also follow his own "Truman Doctrine", providing military assistance to any countries endangered by the spread of communism. The first example of a country in need of assistance was Greece: the Greek Civil War broke out between the Kingdom of Greece and communist rebels of the Provisional Democratic Government. The United States helped in funding the Greek Army, and the USA gave its support to the pro-West government against the pro-Yugoslavia rebels. The civil war would end in 1949 in a victory for the government, and Greece would remain a US ally.
Another example would be the Republic of China; immediately after the end of World War II, the Chinese Civil War continued from the 1920s as the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong fought against Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang government. The United States gave equipment and training to the KMT forces, but the communists fought a successful war against Chiang Kai-shek's government, which lacked skilled generals. The civil war would end in 1949 when the communists entered Beijing, forcing the Kuomintang nationalists to flee to the island of Taiwan, where they set up a government-in-exile at Taipei. The newly-established People's Republic of China would become a powerful East Asian communist regime, and the United States would have to deal with both the USSR and China as they attempted to influence other revolutionary struggles in Asia.
Formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact
On 4 April 1949, the Western Bloc nations united as a military alliance called the "North Atlantic Treaty Organization" (NATO) in order to counter the growing influence of the Soviets and their communist allies. The United States would invest in alliances with Turkey and Israel in the Middle East to check the Soviets in the region, while the Soviets would later make alliances with the Arab countries in the region such as Egypt and Syria, enemies of Israel and therefore the United States by proxy. Also in 1949, the Soviets formed Comecon (the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), followed by the Warsaw Pact on 14 May 1955. The formation of these alliances made the Cold War as much a struggle between East and West as it was between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. NATO, however, did not include all Western Bloc countries; it was instead composed mostly of the European and North American allies of the United States - similarly, the Warsaw Pact was mostly USSR-aligned countries in Europe.
Although the Cold War is often labelled as a bloodless standoff between the Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc, the Korean War saw the Americans and Chinese fight in a bloody war with each other. Korea had been occupied by both the Americans and Soviets after Japan's surrender during World War II, and the Soviets would withdraw from Korea after installing Kim Il-sung as dictator of North Korea, a communist state; the Americans would place Syngman Rhee in power as the head of South Korea. On 25 June 1950, an ambitious Kim Il-sung decided to invade South Korea in a massive offensive to unify Korea under communism, so the United States decided to file a complaint to the United Nations. The UN agreed to intervene, with the Soviets boycotting the session and the Chinese delegation (representing the Kuomintang and not mainland China) voting for the war. Thousands of soldiers from both NATO and other unaffiliated countries such as Colombia, Ethiopia, Thailand, and India were sent to Korea, with 327,000 US and 14,200 British troops being sent to aid the 603,000-strong South Korean Army. The North Koreans overran much of the country, including the South Korean capital of Seoul, but on 15 September 1950 the Americans reversed the course of the war by landing at Inchon and attacking the North Koreans from behind, with World War II hero Douglas MacArthur being given command of the Allied troops for the invasion. The ensuing Battle of Inchon - the last major amphibious assault landing in history - saw the North Koreans be pushed back, and the UN forces would go on to push north. They liberated Seoul and captured the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, pushing north until they reached the Yalu River border with China. Truman warned MacArthur that the People's Liberation Army was ready to go to war if provoked, but MacArthur's careless advance led to the Chinese forces in the mountains fighting against the Allies. In 1950-1951, the Chinese pushed the UN forces back down south to the 38th Parallel, and the war would be stalemate until 27 July 1953, when the Korean Armistice Agreement laid down a ceasefire that left Korea divided. The war left 178,426 UN and 750,282 communist soldiers dead, with as many as 2,500,000 civilians being killed. The Korean War saw the peninsula remain divided with minor adjustments, and US forces were stationed on the Korean DMZ alongside South Korean troops to watch over the North Korean troops on the opposite side, enforcing the ceasefire for over sixty years.
Suppression of dissent
The 1950s saw a climate of fear develop both in the United States and the Eastern Bloc nations. In America, Klaus Fuchs passed information on the Manhattan Project to the USSR, allowing for the Soviets to develop their own atomic bombs. Nuclear testing boomed in America as thousands of nuclear weapons were tested to rival the Soviets, and the Soviets performed their own tests. In 1952, the Soviets gained the advantage when Julius Rosenberg passed information on the hydrogen bomb to the USSR; Rosenberg was electrocuted to death along with his wife Ethel Rosenberg after the US government convicted them of treason. In the years 1950-1956, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin took advantage of the climate of fear to make accusations that communists had infiltrated the government and Hollywood, and the House Un-American Activities Commission(HUAC) investigated suspected communists and told people to rat out their neighbors if they were suspected communists. The fear of communist infiltration died out as the American public began to see their favorite actors and directors face prosecution for alleged leftist sympathies, and the Army-McCarthy hearings led to the US Senate censuring McCarthy and ending the Second Red Scare. McCarthy died in 1957 of alcoholism, ending the life of a hoodlum senator whose fiery rherotic and demagogy made America a land of afraid people.
In the Soviet Union, dissidents were also crushed, with the 1953 East German protests and 1956 Hungarian Revolution being crushed by the Red Army soon after they began; bullets were used, and protesters and rebels died. In addition, the Soviets made sure to crack down on all liberal reforms, including the 1968 Prague Spring reforms of Alexander Dubcek. The Soviets enforced their strict view of communism across Eastern Europe, putting down all who disagreed with them. Stalin died in 1953, and Nikita Khrushchev succeeded him as Premier. Khrushchev liberalized the USSR and crushed Stalinism, although he continued to enforce the strict rule of the USSR, as did his successor Leonid Brezhnev.
While McCarthyism gripped the minds of the American public, a real threat to the United States came to exist on 26 July 1953 when the Cuban Revolution broke out. The 26th of July Movement, led by Fidel Castro, seized power in Cuba on 1 January 1959, overthrowing Fulgencio Batista's pro-US government. Castro nationalized Cuba's fruit resources, driving the United Fruit Company out, and his purchase of oil from the USSR led to a deterioration of relations with the USA, leading to the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles. The Cuban government defeated the Cuban exiles easily, and the United States was thwarted in its attempt to stop Cuba's revolution. In 1962, Cuba threatened the USA when it allowed Soviet missiles to be placed on the island, just 90 miles away from Florida; Cuba saw it as a way to defend the island, while the Americans saw it as a threat. The ensuing Cuban Missile Crisis almost saw a US invasion or bombing of Cuba, but it ended when the two sides agreed on the removal of missiles; the US removed theirs from Turkey, while the Soviets removed theirs from Cuba. The crisis' end left Cuba blockaded by the US, which was also obligated to not invade Cuba. In fact, they were allowed to keep Guantanamo Bay as a naval base as per an agreement with the previous government of Batista.
Unfortunately for America, Castro's revolution was only the first of its kind in Latin America. Leftist governments rose to power across the region (both in Central America and South America), so the United States resorted to backing coups, such as the 1954 overthrow of the popular Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala and the ouster of Juan Bosch in 1965 in the Dominican Republic, the latter of which led to the Dominican Civil War and the US occupation of the republic that year. The United States supported coups that installed dictators in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and other countries, and they set up the School of the Americas to train future dictators like Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina and Manuel Noriega of Panama. Some dictators' rules led to civil wars, such as the Nicaraguan Civil War, Salvadoran Civil War, and Guatemalan Civil War in the 1970s-1990s, and the United States backed governments that used death squads to massacre villagers and priests accused of siding with leftists. These civil wars would end with the end of the Cold War, resulting in the communist guerrillas becoming legal political parties, and many of them would proceed to rule over the country, such as the Sandinistas of Nicaragua and FMLN of El Salvador.
The situation in the Middle East from 1918 to 1955 was purely ethnic and religious due to the rivalry between the Jews and Arabs, but in September 1955, President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt made an arms deal with Czechoslovakia. The Egyptian-Czech arms deal led to Egypt becoming an ally of the USSR in the Middle East/North Africa, and Syria, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern Arab nations would align towards the USSR. In response, the USA began to give support to Israel, which would fight against the Arabs with US weaponry. The Six-Day War of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War were won by the Israelis in a short amount of time due to US assistance, and the United States was decried as supporters of a racist regime by supporters of Palestine, who viewed the Jewish presence in the West Bank as illegal. After the Yom Kippur War, OPEC began an embargo against the USA to raise oil prices and to punish the US for its support of Israel, and the USA suffered as a result of its policies. During the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s, the US continued its support of Israel, even bombarding Syrian Arab Army forces in Lebanon to prevent them from occupying the country. In 1990, they decided to ally with Syria against Ba'athist Iraq during the Iraq War in exchange for allowing for Syria to occupy Lebanon, an occupation which would last for 15 years.
In 1973, the Kingdom of Afghanistan was overthrown by Mohammed Daud Khan in the Saur Revolution, with the kingdom being replaced by a democracy. The Soviets took advantage of this by helping Hafizullah Amin in a 1978 coup that established a communist country, and the USA counterattacked by giving support to the Mujahideen resistance in Pakistan against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989 saw Soviet troops move into the country to fight against the Mujahideen, but they were ultimately forced out of the country in a guerrilla war by the Mujahideen.
After World War II, many European colonies occupied by Japan in Southeast Asia began a struggle for independence before the colonial authorities could return to power. The Dutch East Indies, French Indochina, and Malaya were among the first countries to begin their struggle for independence, with the East Indies fighting for independence from the Netherlands while Indochina also gained its independence after a long struggle against France; Malaya was granted independence by the United Kingdom despite its defeat by the British during their insurgency in the 1950s. These newly-independent regions had to deal with the Cold War, with Indonesia taking a socialist and secular stance and Vietnam being divided in half in a Korea-like situation with a communist north and a southern pro-US dictatorship. Ho Chi Minh was the popular leader of North Vietnam, while Ngo Dinh Diem was the unpopular dictator of South Vietnam. Diem's persecution of Buddhists led to many in the south affiliating themselves with the pro-North Vietnam Viet Cong guerrilla group in South Vietnam. In September 1959, the North and South went to war as the Viet Cong began a North Vietnamese Army-backed uprising in the South. The Vietnam War saw the United States send advisers to the South to help them fight against the Viet Cong and the NVA, who were supported by both the USSR and China. In 1964, after a clash between USS Maddox and NVA patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, the US president Lyndon B. Johnson used this "Gulf of Tonkin incident" to justify the United States' deployment of troops to Vietnam to help South Vietnam in fighting against the communists that threatened their country. The USA implemented the draft, but 75% of the soldiers in the US Military at the time were volunteers and not draftees. The war saw 500,000 US troops be deployed to Vietnam by 1969, and the American public was outraged by the cruelty of the war. The soldiers had to march through razor-sharp elephant grass and deal with ambushes every day, and the 1968 Tet Offensive and the 1969 My Lai massacre turned public opinion against the war. A 1970 invasion of Cambodia by President Richard Nixon to disrupt Viet Cong supply routes led to protests in the US, leading to the Kent State massacre. To react to public opinion turning against the war, Nixon began a policy of Vietnamization, withdrawing US troops and training South Vietnamese troops. In January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords ended the war, with the US making peace with North Vietnam and the North Vietnamese not invading the south. However, in 1974 war broke out once more, and in April 1975 the NVA entered the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, ending the war. Shortly after, the Khmer Rouge communists in neighboring Cambodia overthrew the monarchy there, and the Pathet Lao proceeded to take over Laos as well.
In the years following the end of the Indochinese conflicts, the new countries there competed for power. Cambodia and Vietnam waged war against each other due to border issues, and the Soviets backed Vietnam against the Chinese and US-backed Cambodia following the Sino-Soviet Split and the ensuing Cambodian-Vietnamese War. China even invaded Vietnam in 1979, but their forces were held back until a ceasefire was signed. Laos stayed out of the conflict, although Hmong insurgents began an insurgency in the country against the communist government. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began the Cambodian Genocide against the educated people of the country to impose their communist rule over the country with Pol Pot as ruler, and the war with Vietnam would go on until Pol Pot's overthrow in the 1980s and the replacement of Democratic Kampuchea with the present-day Cambodian government.
Decolonization in Africa
In Africa, several former European colonies also fought for their independence. In Kenya, Mau Mau insurgents rose up against the British East African government, and the British quelled the revolt in the 1950s before Jomo Kenyatta won independence for the country democratically. Algeria was even worse; from 1956 to 1962, the FLN waged a guerrilla war against the French government, including both terrorist attacks (bombings, assassinations, etc.) in the city and ambushes in the countryside. The French Army was brutal during the Battle of Algiers, using torture against Algerians suspected of ties to the FLN, and they won the battle. However, Algeria's fighters continued the struggle until 1962, when Algeria overwhelmingly voted for independence in a referendum. Houari Boumediene became its first president at the head of a socialist government, and Algeria drifted away from NATO and towards the Warsaw Pact.
Conflict among the new African nations was common. Most of them were granted independence peacefully, but these new nations underwent civil wars and coups. In Nigeria, anti-Igbo violence led to the secession of Biafra in 1967, leading to the Nigerian Civil War and a blockade by the USSR and United Kingdom that led to widespread famine. Nigeria was later able to restore order, crushing the Biafran government of Odumegwu Ojukwu, and order was restored under a dictatorship. In Ghana in 1981, another coup occurred, and the country of Burkina Faso - following its declaration of independence from Upper Volta - waged war with Mali over the Agacher Strip. Egypt and Libya fought a brief war in 1977, while Libya made a vain attempt to invade Chad during the 1980s; although they were successful in taking over the north of the country due to the Chadian Civil War, Chadian and French troops were later successful in forcing the Libyans back in 1987. The conflicts between the governments would leave the continent in a divided state that would see coups, civil wars, and international conflicts.
Some countries, however, continued the struggle for independence. In Rhodesia, a white minority government led by Ian Smith oppressed the African majority, leading to the Zimbabwean African National Union of Robert Mugabe rising in rebellion in the Rhodesian Bush War of 1964-1979. The ZANU and the socialist ZAPU both received support from the Eastern Bloc against the racist government, which was backed by the Western Bloc, specifically by the United Kingdom, South Africa, and other British Commonwealth nations. The war would only end when Mugabe was elected as President in 1979, and he imposed dictatorial rule over the country. South Africa teetered on the brink of civil war, with the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela protesting against the racist apartheid laws of the government and fighting some guerrilla actions against the government via use of landmines and assassination. South Africa's struggle coincided with Namibia's struggle for independence from the South African colony of South-West Africa. In the "South African Border War", the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) waged a guerrilla war against the South African government in hopes for independence. The campaign would continue until Nelson Mandela's election as President of South Africa in 1994, ending the apartheid era and giving Namibia independence.
The worst of the civil wars took place in the former colonies of Portugal. The Portuguese government refused to grant its colonies independence, and it was one of the last colonial empires. In Angola, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, and Cape Verde, resistance movements fought against the government, and only after the 1976 Carnation Revolution in Portugal did the countries finally gain their independence from Portugal. Angola and Mozambique would proceed to go through their own civil wars afterwards, with the RENAMO democrats fighting against the FRELIMO socialists in the Mozambican Civil War and the communist MPLA fighting against the democratic UNITA and FNLA in the Angolan Civil War. Both of these wars would last until the 1990s, with Mozambique remaining a dictatorship while Angola would become a power-sharing government after UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was assassinated in 2002. The civil wars in these countries saw Soviet and Cuban forces be deployed to help the communists, while US advisers helped the democrats.
In East Africa, more civil warfare occurred, beginning with the Eritrean War of Independence in 1964. Eritrean freedom fighters, with the assistance of Cuba, fought against the Ethiopian Empire until the 1977 coup that overthrew Haile Selassie; the new communist Derg government of Mengistu Haile Mariam had the assistance of the USSR and Cuba in fighting against the Eritreans, now backed by the Western Bloc in their struggle for independence. Matters were complicated when Somalia went to war with the Derg over the Ogaden region in the "Ogaden War", with the socialist dictatorship of Somalia moving away from the USSR into an alliance with the USA and China against the USSR-aligned Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian Civil War also broke out, and Ethiopia's involvement in three wars led to much violence and famine in the country. It would only end upon the end of the Derg's rule in 1987, and a democratic government returned to power in Ethiopia.
At the end of World War II, the independence movement of India, led by Mahatma Gandhi, stepped up its campaign for the freedom of British Raj, which had been promised at the end of World War I but never delivered upon. In 1947, Governor-General Louis Mountbatten of British Raj agreed to grant India its independence as a dominion of the United Kingdom, and it tied together the various Hindu and Buddhist regions of British Raj. However, the Muslim regions decided to form their own rival country, Pakistan, which was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In 1947, the decision of the Maharajah of Kashmir to join India despite his principality's large Muslim population led to Pakistani troops invading Kashmir, beginning the First Indo-Pakistani War. From 1947 to 1948, the two countries fought a war along their border that would eventually result in a ceasefire line being drawn in 1949, and India and Pakistan were engaged in stalemate. Because of Gandhi and his successor Jawaharlal Nehru's socialist views, the USSR courted India's friendship; the United States decided to support the dictators of Pakistan. Pakistan received US aid in the 1965 war over Kashmir and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, which saw India help Mukti Bahini guerrillas in winning independence for the East Pakistan colony of Pakistan as "Bangladesh", another pro-Soviet government. The United States would go on to support Pakistan during its rivalry with the USSR during the Soviet-Afghan War, sending advisers to help the Pakistan in training the Mujahideen to fight the Soviets. The conflict would no longer be a part of the Cold War with the fall of the USSR and the end of India's alignment towards the Russians, and the US would end relations with Pakistan after Islamic terrorism became an issue and Pakistan was accused of supporting it.
End of the Cold War
The years of intrigue, plotting, coups, warfare, and violence would draw to a close in the late 1980s. In 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev became the new leader of the USSR, and he would establish friendly relations with US President Ronald Reagan. They both backed Ba'athist Iraq in its war with the government of Iran from 1979-1989, and the two sides both wanted to avoid a world war. They signed the SALT treaties to limit their nuclear stockpiles, and Reagan's "Star Wars" missile program scared the Soviets into agreeing to mutual disarmament. Later, Gorbachev withdrew the 500,000 Soviet troops in Eastern Europe, prompting the US to withdraw its forces from West Germany. However, the Soviet withdrawal allowed for the people of the Eastern European countries to rise up against the dictators that ruled them, and on 25 December 1989, Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were publicly executed by firing squad as the Romanians won their revolution against the communist government. The communist states fell quickly, and only the USSR was left in the former Warsaw Pact alliance in 1990, with Czechoslovakia backing out following the Velvet Revolution. In 1991, Boris Yeltsin led a coup in Moscow and declared an end to the USSR, which fragmented into Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and the result was the USA becoming the world's only superpower.
While it can be said that the end of the Cold War was the end of an era and a relief to the scared people of the world, violence still continued. The USSR's former states would mostly become dictatorships, and Armenia and Azerbaijan would fight over land in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The fall of the Warsaw Pact did not result in the fall of NATO, as it was maintained in order to prevent the large country of Russia from expanding. A lack of trust between the US and Russia led to further tensions between the two countries, and in 2014 "Cold War II" began after the Donbass War in Ukraine. The world was no longer divided between communism and capitalism, but it was now a world where the Cold War dictatorships would have to be overthrown. The government of Siad Barre in Somalia was overthrown in 1990, leading to the ongoing Somali Civil War; the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in Cambodia, but an insurgency still continued in the country; the Arab-Israeli Conflict continued, with the US continuing to support Israel against the Arab states surrounding it. Pakistan was no longer a US ally due to state-sponsored terrorism, and the country realigned to ally with India instead. Alliances changed, and NATO would become much larger as many former Soviet countries wary of Russian influence flocked to the banner of the organization, which was now a military alliance. Europe united as the European Union to share a common currency and stand strong against the external threats of Russia and terrorism, while the United States resumed its militarization and took on the role of a "global policeman", now fighting against dictators and terrorists instead of supporting them as they had during the Cold War. The Cold War's end ushered in a new era of warfare, not between countries, but between rival groups in countries seeking to establish new societies and abolish the ancient dictatorships that had seized power during the last years of the 20th century.