Western Bloc

Western Bloc

The Western Bloc during the Cold War refers to the powers allied with the United States and NATO against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The latter were referred to as the "Eastern Bloc", a more common term in English than "Western Bloc", because the governments and press of the Western Bloc were more inclined to refer to themselves as the "Free world".

At the end of World War II the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the two superpowers. According to Matloff, “…the Second World War represented a fundamental shift in the international balance of power, for which a coalition strategy fashioned for victory provided no real or grand solutions” ( 702). Most of Europe had been divided by Nazi occupation and these two superpowers were responsible for setting up new governments within these countries. It was agreed that free elections would ensue, however the Soviet Union did not keep their end of the deal. Soviet non-compliance with establishing free elections in war torn European countries eventually led to a strained relationship with the United States and severe tension. According to Kissinger, “Tension with the outside world was inherent in the very nature of communist philosophy and, above all, in the way the Soviet system was being run domestically. Thus the Soviet Union’s implacable hostility to the outside world was an attempt to gear international affairs to its own internal rhythm” (Kissinger 454). Relations between the Soviet Union and the United States continued to be strained and “Truman perceived the emerging struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union as a contest between good and evil, not as having to do with spheres of political influence” (Kissinger 447). Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe prompted the United States and a few European countries to form NATO. NATO existed “to coordinate the military defenses of member nations against possible Soviet aggression” ( [http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/nato49/nato49.html] ). The Warsaw pact was formed as a direct response to NATO. It existed to protect Soviet Satellite countries that were formed after World War II; and to insure that no enemy invaded any of the Soviet satellite countries. It also had the power to intervene militarily if any one of its countries tried to establish independence. Kissinger states: “Although the Soviet Union cemented its dominance over Eastern Europe by means of the Warsaw Pact, this nominal alliance was obviously being held together by coercion” (447). The Soviets “became concerned when the West actively pushed West Germany towards rearmament, to help balance the power of the Soviet Union. The fear of a strong German military on the borders of Soviet controlled countries prompted action. In 14 May 1955, all nations under the control of the Soviet Union signed the Warsaw Pact agreement.” ( [http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/history20/unit4/sec2_03.html] )


[1] http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/nato49/nato49.html

[2] http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/history20/unit4/sec2_03.html

Matloff, Maurice. Makers of Modern Strategy. Ed. Peter Paret. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971. 702.

Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994. 447,454.

See also

* First World

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