The cold war was a period in history when the Soviet Union and the United States of America were competing in an arms race to have the best, the largest, and the most nuclear weapons possible. The cold war was a result of growing tensions from the resolutions of the Second World War. This "war" continued from the 1950's to through the 1980's. It is considered a "cold" war as opposed to a "hot" war because there were no actual military battles. The majority of the war was comprised of diplomatic and psychological events.
The most visible part of the Cold War was the arms race. The ability for nations to entirely destroy each other in the event of an attack was labeled "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD). This theory includes the ideas of a nation having enough weapons to destroy another nation, being able to detect a first strike before it arrives, and being able to respond adequately before being hit by the first strike. The beginning of MAD may be marked by the invention and perfection of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
The key to the nuclear defense system was to shorten the response time as much as possible. The easiest way to accomplish this was to put missiles as close to the other country as possible. This is evident in U.S. missiles in Turkey and short-lived Soviet missiles in Cuba. The next step in shortening the response time was the invention of the submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM). This weapon made it possible for nuclear missiles to be launched offshore of the enemy's coastline undetected. A complete nuclear victory could be made possible if an SLBM was launched and destroyed the enemy response system before any action could be taken.
This specific page was last updated on: 01/04/2000 at 10:50pm EST