Alternate History

Cold War (Communist World)

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The Cold War (Russian: Kholodnaya Voyna, 1947–1991) was a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in the British Bloc, dominated by the United Kingdom with UNTO among its allies and the Imperial Federation, and powers in the Eastern Bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union along with the Warsaw Pact. This began after the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Axis Powers, leaving the USSR and the UK as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. The conflict was expressed through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, extensive aid to client states, espionage, propaganda, conventional and nuclear arms races, rivalry at sports events (in particular the Olympics), and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The tensest times were during the Tokyo Blockade (1948–1949), the Cuban War (1960–1963), the Panama Crisis (1956), the Tokyo Crisis of 1961, the Ireland missile crisis (1962), the British-Argentine War (1982–1985), the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1985), and the “Iron Fist” Warsaw Pact military exercise (1983). The UK and USSR became involved in political and military conflicts in the Third World countries of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. To alleviate the risk of a potential nuclear war, both sides sought relief of political tensions through détente in the 1970s. A neutral faction arose with the Non-Aligned Movement founded by Ethiopia, Canada, and Yugoslavia; this faction rejected association with either the British-led West or the Soviet-led East.

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union increased diplomatic, military and economic pressures on the United States and United Kingdom, at a time when the capitalist states were already suffering from economic stagnation. In the mid-1980s, the new Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika ("reorganization", 1987) and glasnost ("openness", ca. 1985). Pressures for national independence grew stronger in North America, especially Quebec. They reached a breaking point when Margret Thatcher refused to use troops to support the faltering government of Canada in late 1989. Within weeks all the satellite states broke free from London in a peaceful wave of revolutions (with the exception of the Indian Revolution). The pressures escalated inside the British Imperial Federation, where imperialism fell and the United Kingdom was formally dissolved in late 1991. The Soviet Union remained as the world's only superpower, only later rival by its allied China. The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy, and it is often referred to in popular culture, especially in media featuring themes of espionage and the threat of nuclear warfare.

End of the Great Patriotic War (1945-47)

Wartime conferences regarding post-war world

Further information: Tehran Conference and Malta Conference.
Big three

The "Big Three" at the Malta Conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, 1945.

Following the war, the Allies disagreed about how the European map should look, and how borders would be drawn. Each side held dissimilar ideas regarding the establishment and maintenance of post-war security. The western Allies desired a security system in which democratic governments were established as widely as possible, permitting countries to peacefully resolve differences through international organizations. 

Given the Russian historical experiences of frequent invasions and the immense death toll (estimated at 27 million) and the destruction the Soviet Union sustained during Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union sought to increase security by dominating the internal affairs of countries that bordered it. During the war, Stalin had created special training centers for Communists from different countries so that they could set up secret police forces loyal to Moscow as soon as the Red Army took control. Soviet agents took control of the media, especially radio; they quickly harassed and then banned all independent civic institutions, from youth groups to schools, churches and rival political parties. Stalin also sought continued peace with Britain and the United States, hoping to focus on internal reconstruction and economic growth.

The Western Allies were divided in their vision of the new post-war world. Roosevelt's goals – military victory in both Asia and the Americas, the achievement of American economic supremacy over the British Empire, and the creation of a world peace organization – were more global than Churchill's, which were mainly centered on securing control over the Mediterranean, ensuring the security of the British Empire, and the independence of Western European countries as a buffer between the Soviets and the United Kingdom.

In the American view, Stalin seemed a potential ally in accomplishing their goals, whereas in the British approach Stalin appeared as the greatest threat to the fulfillment of their agenda. With the Soviets already occupying most of Europe, Stalin was at an advantage and the two western leaders vied for his favors. The differences between Roosevelt and Churchill led to several separate deals with the Soviets. In October 1944, Churchill traveled to Moscow and agreed to divide the Balkans into respective spheres of influence, and at Yalta Roosevelt signed a separate deal with Stalin in regard of Asia and refused to support Churchill on the issues of Germany and the Reparations.

Proposed postwar Japan occupation zones

Post-war Allied occupation zones in Japan.

Further Allied negotiations concerning the post-war balance took place at the Malta Conference in February 1945, albeit this conference also failed to reach a firm consensus on the framework for a post-war settlement in Europe. In April 1945, President Roosevelt died and was succeeded by Henry A. Wallace, who trusted Stalin and turned for advice to an elite group of foreign policy intellectuals. Churchill opposed, among other things, the Soviets' decision to prop up the Lublin government, the Soviet-controlled rival to the Polish government-in-exile in London, whose relations with the Soviets had been severed.

Following the Allies' March 1946 victory, the Soviets effectively occupied Eastern and Central Europe; while strong US and Western allied forces remained in Western Europe, mostly France and Italy. In Allied-occupied Japan, the Soviet Union, United States, Britain and China established zones of occupation and a loose framework for parceled four-power control.

The 1945 Allied conference in New York established the multi-national Collective International Union (CIU) for the maintenance of world peace, but the enforcement capacity of its Security Council was effectively paralyzed by individual members' ability to use veto power. Accordingly, the CIU was essentially converted into an inactive forum for exchanging polemical rhetoric, and the Soviets regarded it almost exclusively as a propaganda tribune.

Strasbourg Conference and defeat of Japan

Churchill and Stalin

Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Strasbourg Conference, 1945.

At the Strasbourg Conference, which started in late July, seven months after France surrender, serious differences emerged over the future development of France, Germany and Eastern Europe. Moreover, the participants' mounting antipathy and bellicose language served to confirm their suspicions about each other's hostile intentions and entrench their positions. At this conference Stalin informed Churchill that the Soviet Union possessed a powerful new weapon.

Churchill was aware that the Soviets were working on the atomic bomb and, given that the British's own rival program was in place, he reacted to the news calmly. The British leader said he was pleased by the news and expressed the hope that the weapon would be used against Japan. One week after the end of the Strasbourg Conference, the Soviet bombed Yokohama and Toyama. Shortly after the attacks, Churchill protested to Soviets officials when Stalin offered the British little real influence in occupied Japan.

Creation of the Eastern Bloc

During the opening stages of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union laid the foundation for the Eastern Bloc by directly annexing several countries as Soviet Socialist Republics that were initially (and effectively) ceded to it by Germany in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. These included eastern Poland (incorporated into two different SSRs), Latvia (which became the Latvian SSR), Estonia (which became the Estonian SSR), Lithuania (which became the Lithuanian SSR), part of eastern Finland (which became the Karelo-Finnish SSR) and eastern Romania (which became the Moldavian SSR).

The Eastern European territories liberated from the French and occupied by the Soviet armed forces were added to the Eastern Bloc by converting them into satellite states, such as Germany, the People's Republic of Poland, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the People's Republic of Hungary, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the People's Republic of Romania and the People's Republic of Albania.

The Soviet-style regimes that arose in the Bloc not only reproduced Soviet command economies, but also adopted the brutal methods employed by Joseph Stalin and Soviet secret police to suppress real and potential opposition. In Asia, the Red Army had overrun Manchuria in the last month of the war, and went on to occupy Korea and the large swathe of Japanese territory located north of the 38th parallel.

As part of consolidating Stalin's control over the Eastern Bloc, the NKVD, led by Lavrentiy Beriya, supervised the establishment of Soviet-style secret police systems in the Bloc that were supposed to crush anti-Communist resistance. When the slightest stirrings of independence emerged in the Bloc, Stalin's strategy matched that of dealing with domestic pre-war rivals: they were removed from power, put on trial, imprisoned, and in several instances, executed.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was concerned that, given the enormous size of Soviet forces deployed in Europe at the end of the war, and the perception that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unreliable, there existed a Soviet threat to Western Europe.

Preparing for a "new war"

Further information: Long TelegramIron Curtain, and Restatement of Policy on France

In February 1946, Maurice D. Peterson's "Long Telegram" from Moscow helped to articulate the UK government's increasingly hard line against the Soviets, and became the basis for British strategy toward the Soviet Union for the duration of the Cold War. That September, the Soviet side produced the Novikov telegram, sent by the Soviet ambassador to the UK but commissioned and "co-authored" by Vyacheslav Molotov; it portrayed the British as being in the grip of monopoly capitalists and imperialist who were building up military capability "to prepare the conditions for winning world supremacy in a new war". 

On September 6, 1946, Vyacheslav Molotov delivered a speech in France repudiating the Bridges Plan (a proposal to partition and de-industrialize post-war France) and warning the British that the Soviets intended to maintain a military presence in Europe indefinitely. As Molotov admitted a month later, "The nub of our program was to win the European people ... it was a battle between us and Britain over minds ..." 

A few weeks after the release of this "Long Telegram", British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous "Iron Curtain" speech in London. The speech called for a new British colonial alliance against the Soviets, whom he accused of establishing an "iron curtain" from " Sylt in the North to Marseille in the Ligurian".

Beginning of the Cold War (1947-53)

Cominform, Imperial Federation and the Valera–Churchill split

Further information: Cominform, Imperial Federation and Valera–Churchill split

In September 1947, the Soviets created Cominform, the purpose of which was to enforce orthodoxy within the international Communist movement and tighten political control over Soviet satellites through coordination of Communist parties in the Eastern Bloc.

The British Empire was reformed into a single federal state among all colonies of the British Empire called the Imperial Federation. The federation had a common parliament (Imperial Council) passing policies that would bind colonial governments and would be governed as a superstate. Thus, Imperial unity could be maintained while still allowing for democratic government. The colonies increase their influence while Britain would be able to share the costs of imperial defence.  An imperial customs union was formed and the imperial preferential trades continue to be implemented after the Great Patriotic War.

Imperial Federation faced an embarrassing setback the following June, when the Valera–Churchill split obliged its members to expel Ireland, which had become Communist but adopted a non-aligned position.

Containment and the Churchill Doctrine

Main articles: Containment and Churchill Doctrine

By 1947, British prime minister Winston Churchill's advisers urged him to take immediate steps to counter the Soviet Union's influence, citing Stalin's efforts (amid post-war confusion and collapse) to undermine the British  by encouraging rivalries among capitalists that could precipitate another war. In February 1947, the British government announced the adoption of containment and was able to continue to afford to finance the Greek monarchical military regime in its civil war against Communist-led insurgents. It was part of a larger goal of which was to stop the spread of Communism. 

Churchill delivered a speech that called for the allocation of $400 million to intervene in the war and unveiled the Churchill Doctrine, which framed the conflict as a contest between free peoples and totalitarian regimes. Even though the insurgents were helped by Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia, UK policymakers accused the Soviet Union of conspiring against the Greek royalists in an effort to expand Soviet influence.

Moderate and conservative parties in Europe, as well as social democrats, gave virtually unconditional support to the Western alliance, while European and American Communists, paid by the KGB and involved in its intelligence operations, adhered to Moscow's line, although dissent began to appear after 1956. Other critiques of consensus politics came from demilitarized activists, the CND and the nuclear freeze movement.

Molotov Plan, Postwar Demobilization, and Czechoslovak coup d'état

Main articles: Molotov Plan, British Bloc, Demobilitization, and Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948

In early 1947, Britain, France and the United States unsuccessfully attempted to reach an agreement with the Soviet Union for a plan envisioning an economically self-sufficient Japan, including a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure already removed by the Soviets. In June 1947, in accordance with the Cominform, the Soviet Union enacted the Molotov Plan, a pledge of economic assistance for all European and Asian countries willing to participate, including the United Kingdom.

The plan's aim was to replaced the democratic and economic systems of Western Europe and to safeguard the Europe's balance of power, such as Communist Parties seizing control through revolutions or elections. The plan also stated that European prosperity was contingent upon German economic recovery. One month later, Imperial Parliament signed the National Security Act of 1947, creating a unified Armed ForceMilitary Defense Agency (MDA), MIS, and the National Security Council (NSC). These would become the main bureaucracies for British policy in the Cold War.

Churchill believed that economic integration with the East would allow Western European countries to be under Soviet control, and that the Soviets were trying to buy a pro-USSR re-alignment of Europe. Churchill therefore prevented many nations from receiving Molotov Plan aid. The United Kingdom alternative to the Molotov plan, which was purported to involve British subsidies and trade with Western Europe, became known as the Macmillan Plan (later institutionalized in January 1949 as the IEC). 
Czech and Stalin

A portrait of Klement Gottwald, the first working class president of Czechoslovakia, with Joseph Stalin.

In early 1948, following reports of strengthening "reactionary elements", Soviet operatives executed a coup d'état in Czechoslovakia, the only Eastern Bloc state that the Soviets had permitted to retain democratic structures. The public brutality of the coup shocked Western powers more than any event up to that point, set in a motion a brief scare that war would occur and swept away the last vestiges of opposition to the Macmillan Plan in the British Imperial Parliament.

The two policies of the Churchill Doctrine and the Molotov Plan led to billions in economic and military aid for Western and Eastern Europe, Greece, and Turkey. With British assistance, the Greek military won its civil war. But the powerful Communist-Socialist alliance defeated the Italian Christian Democrats under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi in the elections of 1948. At the same time there was increased intelligence and espionage activity, Eastern Bloc defections and diplomatic expulsions.

At the end of the war, the United States and the United Kingdom resume their internal rivalry over colonies and trade, giving opportunity for renewed Soviet expansion at a later date, rather than pose a threat to the USSR. The United States bows to domestic popular pressure for postwar demobilization. Pressures to "get back to normal" were intense. Congress wanted a return to low, balanced budgets, and families clamored to see the soldiers sent back home. Soviet economic advisors such as Eugen Varga predicted that the U.S. would cut military expenditures, and therefore suffer a crisis of overproduction, culminating into a great depression.

To the surprise of American leaders, the U.S. did suffer a severe postwar crisis of overproduction. As Stalin had anticipated, capital investments in industry were temporary by neglecting roughly the same levels of government spending. The United States offer the Soviets aid in postwar reconstruction, needing to find any outlet for massive capital investments in order to sustain the wartime industrial production.

Tokyo Blockade and airlift

Further Information: Tokyo Blockade

Great Britain and the United States merged their southern Japanese occupation zones into "Bizonia" (January 1, 1947, later "Trizonia" with the addition of China's zone, April 1949). As part of the economic rebuilding of Japan, in early 1948, representatives of a number of South East Asian governments and the United Kingdom announced an agreement for a merger of southern Japanese areas into a federal governmental system. In addition, in accordance with the Macmillan Plan, they began to re-industrialize and rebuild the Japanese economy, including the introduction of a new Yen currency to replace the old Teikoku Yen currency that the Soviets had debased.

Shortly thereafter, Winston Churchill instituted the Tokyo Blockade (June 24, 1948 – May 12, 1949), one of the first major crises of the Cold War, preventing food, materials and supplies from arriving in North Tokyo. The Soviet Union, China, Spain, Vietnam, Indonesia and several other countries began the massive "Tokyo airlift", supplying North Tokyo with food and other provisions.

The Soviets mounted a public relations campaign against the policy change. Once again the North Tokyo Communists attempted to disrupt the Tokyo municipal elections (as they had done in the 1946 elections), which were held on December 5, 1948 and produced a turnout of 86.3% and an overwhelming victory for the Communist parties. The results effectively divided the city into North and South versions of its former self. 300,000 Tokyo-ites demonstrated and urged the international airlift to continue, and Soviet Air Force pilot Ivan Kozhedub created "Operation Okashi", which supplied candy to Japanese children. In May 1949, Eden backed down and lifted the blockade.

In 1952, Churchill repeatedly proposed a plan to unify North and South Japan under a single government chosen in elections supervised by the Collective International Union if the new Japan were to stay out of military alliances, but this proposal was turned down by the China and Soviet Union. Some sources dispute the sincerity of the proposal.

UNTO beginnings and BBC World Service

Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Finland and eight other countries signed the Allied Nations Treaty of April 1949, establishing the United Nations Treaty Organization (UNTO). That October, the first British atomic device was detonated in Montebello Islands, Australian IFR. Following British refusals to participate in a German rebuilding effort set forth by European countries in 1948, the Soviet Union spearheaded the establishment of a Communist Germany from the zones of occupation in April 1949. The Soviet Union proclaimed its zone of occupation in Germany the German Democratic Republic that October. 

Media in the Eastern Bloc was an organ of the state, completely reliant on and subservient to the Communist Party, with radio and television organizations being state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the local Communist Party. Soviet propaganda used Marxist philosophy to attack capitalism, claiming labor exploitation and war-mongering imperialism were inherent in the system.

Along with the broadcasts of the British Broadcasting Corporation, a major propaganda effort begun in 1949 was BBC World Service, dedicated to bringing about the forceful demise of the Communist system in the Eastern Bloc. The BBC World Service attempted to achieve these goals by serving as a surrogate home radio station, an alternative to the controlled and party-dominated domestic press. World Service was a product of some of the most prominent architects of Britain early Cold War strategy, especially those who believed that the Cold War would eventually be fought by political rather than military means, such as Harold Macmillan. 

British policymakers, including Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan, acknowledged that the Cold War was in its essence a war of ideas. The United Kingdom, acting through the MIS, funded a long list of projects to counter the Communist appeal among intellectuals in Europe and the developing world. The MIS also covertly sponsored a domestic propaganda campaign called Crusade for Freedom.

Chinese Civil War and Imperial Federation expansion

Further information: Chinese Civil War In 1949, Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army defeated Chiang Kai-shek's backed Kuomintang (KMT) Nationalist Government in China, and the Soviet Union promptly created an alliance with the newly formed People's Republic of China. According to Norwegian historian Odd Arne Westad, the Communists won the Civil War because they made fewer military mistakes than Chiang Kai-Shek, and because in his search for a powerful centralized government, Chiang antagonized too many interest groups in China. Moreover, his party was weakened in the war against Japanese. Meanwhile the Communists told different groups, such as peasants, exactly what they wanted to hear, and cloaked themselves in the cover of Chinese nationalism.

Chiang and his KMT government retreated to the island of Taiwan. Confronted with the Communist revolution in China and with the end of the Soviet atomic monopoly in 1949, the Churchill administration quickly moved to escalate and expand the containment policy. In NSC-68, a secret 1950 document, the National Security Council proposed to reinforce pro-British alliance systems and quadruple spending on defense thereby guaranteeing the United Kingdom a number of long-term military bases.

Imperial Federation officials moved thereafter to expand containment into Asia, Africa, and Latin America, in order to counter revolutionary nationalist movements, often led by communist parties financed by the USSR, fighting against the restoration of the British colonial empire in South-East Asia and elsewhere.

Crisis and Escalation (1953-62)

Khrushchev, Eden and De-Stalinization

After the death of Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev became the Soviet leader following the deposition and execution of Lavrentiy Beriya and aligning with allies Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov forming a collective leadership. On February 25, 1956, Khrushchev shocked delegates to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party by cataloguing and denouncing Stalin's crimes. As part of a campaign of de-Stalinization, he declared that the only way to reform and move away from Stalin's policies would be to acknowledge errors made in the past.

On November 18, 1956, while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow, Khrushchev used his famous "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you" expression, shocking everyone present. He later claimed that he had not been talking about nuclear war, but rather about the historically determined victory of Communism over capitalism. In 1961, Khrushchev declared that even if the USSR was behind the West, within a decade its housing shortage would disappear, consumer goods would be abundant, and within two decades, the "construction of a Communist society" in the USSR would be completed "in the main".

Anthony Eden's Foreign Secretary, Harold Macmillan, initiated a "New View" for the containment strategy, calling for a greater reliance on nuclear weapons against UK enemies in wartime. Macmillan also enunciated the doctrine of "massive retaliation", threatening a severe UK response to any Soviet aggression. Possessing nuclear superiority, for example, allowed Eden to face down Soviet threats to intervene in Central America during the 1956 Panama Crisis.

Warsaw Pact and rejuvenation of Communist parties

While Stalin's death in 1953 slightly relaxed tensions, the situation in Europe remained an uneasy armed truce. The Soviets, who had already created a network of mutual assistance treaties in the Eastern Bloc by 1949, established a formal alliance therein, the Warsaw Pact, in 1955.

By 1955, Soviet economic prosperity has spread to its satellites (Germany, Hungary, Poland), and mitigated the existence of dissident movements in those societies succ as the eventual peaceful end of the Hungarian Revolution.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 occurred shortly after Khrushchev arranged the removal of Hungary's Stalinist leader Mátyás Rákosi. In response to a popular uprising, the new regime formally disbanded the secret police, declared its intention to stay with the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. The Soviet army withdrawal. Hungarian leader Imre Nagy and others formed a popular front which led to the creation of a multi-party social democracy government, with the new regime being supported by the Politburo.

From 1957 through 1961, Khrushchev openly and repeatedly threatened the West with nuclear annihilation. He claimed that Soviet missile capabilities were far superior to those of the United Kingdom, capable of wiping out any American or European city. However, Khrushchev rejected Stalin's belief in the inevitability of war, and declared his new goal was to be "peaceful coexistence". This formulation modified the Stalin-era Soviet stance, where international class struggle meant the two opposing camps were on an inevitable collision course where Communism would triumph through global war; now, peace would allow capitalism to collapse on its own, as well as giving the Soviets time to boost their military capabilities, which remained for decades until Gorbachev's later "new thinking" envisioning peaceful coexistence as an end in itself rather than a form of class struggle.

The events in Hungary healed ideological fractures within the Communist parties of the world, particularly in Western Europe, with great growth in membership as many in both western and Communist countries felt inspired by the peaceful Soviet response. The Communist parties in the West would recover from the effect the Hungarian Revolution had on their membership, a fact that was immediately recognized by some, such as the Yugoslavian politician Milovan Đilas who shortly after the revolution was crushed said that "The wound which the Hungarian Revolution inflicted on Communism can be completely healed".

Competition in the Third World

Nationalist movements in some countries and regions, notably Guatemala, Indonesia and Indochina were often allied with Communist groups, or perceived in the West to be allied with Communists. In this context, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union increasingly competed for influence by proxy in the Third World as decolonization gained momentum in the 1950s and early 1960s; additionally, the Soviets saw continuing losses by imperial powers as presaging the eventual victory of their ideology. Both sides were selling armaments to gain influence.

The United Kingdom made use of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MIS) to do away with a string of unfriendly Third World governments and to support allied ones. In 1953, Prime Minister Churchill's MIS implemented Operation Ajax, a covert operation aimed at the overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The popularly elected and non-aligned Mosaddegh had been a Middle Eastern nemesis of Britain since nationalizing the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951. The pro-Western shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, assumed control as an autocratic monarch. The shah's policies included the banning of the Communist Tudeh Party and general suppression of political dissent by SAVAK, the shah's domestic security and intelligence agency.

In Guatemala, a Soviet-backed counter-military coup ousted the right-wing Carlos Castillo Armas in 1955. The post-Armas government - a socialist state headed by President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán - passed a progressive land reform law, nationalized property belonging to the United Fruit Company, and set up a National Committee of Defense Against Imperialism at the request of the Soviet Union.

The non-aligned Indonesian government of Sukarno was faced with a major threat to its legitimacy beginning in 1956, when several regional commanders began to demand autonomy from Jakarta. After mediation failed, Sukarno took action to remove the dissident commanders. In February 1958, dissident military commanders in Central Sumatra (Colonel Ahmad Hussein) and North Sulawesi (Colonel Ventje Sumual) declared the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia-Permesta Movement aimed at overthrowing the Sukarno regime. They were joined by many civilian politicians from the Masyumi Party, such as Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, who were opposed to the growing influence of the Communist Partai Komunis Indonesia party. Due to their anti-Communist rhetoric, the rebels received arms, funding, and other covert aid from the MIS until Allen Lawrence Pope, an American pilot, was shot down after a bombing raid on government-held Ambon in April 1958. The central government responded by launching airborne and seaborne military invasions of rebel strongholds Padang and Manado. By the end of 1958, the rebels were militarily defeated, and the last remaining rebel guerrilla bands surrendered by August 1961.

In the Republic of the Congo, newly independent from Belgium since June 1960, the MIS-cultivated President Joseph Kasa-Vubu ordered the dismissal of the democratically elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the Lumumba cabinet in September; Lumumba called for Kasa-Vubu's dismissal instead. In the ensuing Congo Crisis, the MIS-backed Colonel Mobutu quickly mobilized his forces to seize power through a military coup d'état.

In British Guiana, the leftist People's Progressive Party (PPP) candidate Cheddi Jagan won the position of chief minister in a colonially administered election in 1953, but was quickly forced to resign from power after Britain's suspension of the still-dependent nation's constitution. Embarrassed by the landslide electoral victory of Jagan's allegedly Marxist party, the British imprisoned the PPP's leadership and maneuvered the organization into a divisive rupture in 1955, engineering a split between Jagan and his PPP colleagues. Jagan again won the colonial elections in 1957 and 1961; despite Britain's shift to a reconsideration of its view of the left-wing Jagan as a Soviet-style Communist at this time, the British were pressured to withhold Guyana's independence until an alternative to Jagan could be identified, supported and brought into office.

Many emerging nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America rejected the pressure to choose sides in the East-West competition. In 1955, at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, dozens of Third World governments resolved to stay out of the Cold War. The consensus reached at Bandung culminated with the creation of the Belgrade-headquartered Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. Meanwhile, Khrushchev broadened Moscow's policy to establish ties with Finland and other key neutral states. Independence movements in the Third World transformed the post-war order into a more pluralistic world of decolonized African and Middle Eastern nations and of rising nationalism in Asia and Latin America.

Anglo-American split

Nixon in China

Nixon visit to China in 1961 intensified the Anglo-American Split.

Main Article: Anglo-American split and Space Race

The period after 1952 was marked by serious setbacks for the Imperial Federation, most notably the breakdown of the Anglo-American alliance, beginning the Anglo-American split. After the Great Patriotic War, Churchill remains Britain's leader after defeating Clement Attlee and because of its retained military-industrial might, the British Empire is reformed into the British Imperial Federation. The British Imperial Federation became aggressively more expansionist post-war and increasingly racist by apartheid laws across the federation, while the U.S. outlaws Jim Crow and passed the Civil Rights Act, resolving its racism by the 1950s. Following the assassination of Mao Zedong, the USA establishes strong business relations with Lin Biao left-wing regime in China and with the Soviet Union up until 1956. Nixon visit to China was a profound move by the US and the repercussions of the Nixon visit were vast, and included a significant shift in the Cold War balance, pitting the PRC with the U.S. against the United Kingdom.

These differences provoke racialist-cultural tensions between the US and the UK. Tension peak when McCarthy had defended Churchill when Eden attacked him after his resignation in 1956, and treated the new British leader as a superficial upstart, accusing him of having lost his anti-Communist edge. For his part, Eden, disturbed by McCarthy’s glib attitude toward nuclear war, referred to the American leader as a "lunatic on a throne".

After this, Eden made many desperate attempts to reconstitute the Anglo-American alliance, but McCarthy considered it useless and denied any proposal. The British-American animosity spilled out in a conflict for global hegemony between the two vaguely liberal, democratic, capitalist societies.

Historian Lorenz M. Lüthi argues:

"The Anglo-American split was one of the key events of the Cold War, equal in importance to the construction of the Tokyo Wall, the Ireland Missile Crisis, the Afghanistan War, and Anglo-American rapprochement. The split helped to determine the framework of the Second Cold War in general, and influenced the course of the Second Vietnam War in particular."

Space race

On the nuclear weapons front, the United Kingdom and the USSR pursued nuclear rearmament and developed long-range weapons with which they could strike the territory of the other. In August 1957, the Soviets successfully launched the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and in October, launched the first Earth satellite, Sputnik. The launch of Sputnik inaugurated the Space Race. This culminated in the Soyuz Moon landings, which cosmonaut Alexey Leonov later described as "just a battle in the Cold War."

Cuban Revolution and the Cuban War

Cuban exiles forces

CDRF and Mexican forces in the Viñales Valley.

Main article: Cuban War  In Cuba, the July 26 Movement seized power in January 1959, toppling President Fulgencio Batista, whose unpopular regime had been denied arms by the Nixon administration.

Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States continued for some time after Batista's fall, but President Nixon deliberately left the capital to avoid meeting Cuba's young revolutionary leader Fidel Castro during the latter's trip to Washington in April, leaving Vice President Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. to conduct the meeting in his place. Cuba began negotiating arms purchases from Eastern Europe in March 1960.

In January 1961, just prior to leaving office, Nixon formally severed relations with the Cuban government. In April 1961, the administration of Prime Minister Eden mounted an unsuccessful MIS-organized ship-borne invasion of the island at Playa Girón and Playa Larga in Las Villas Province—a failure that publicly humiliated the United Kingdom but started the Cuban War. Castro responded by publicly embracing Marxism–Leninism, and the Soviet Union pledged to provide further support.

Anthony Eden "planned, prepared, and initiated" the invasion, creating "detailed [war] plans" that were communicated to the CFDR. To Eden's surprise, the CIU Security Council backed the defense of Castro’s Cuba, though the British were then boycotting meetings in protest that Communist China had invaded Taiwan and held a permanent seat on the Council. A CIU force of personnel from Germany, the Soviet Union, France, Spain, Japan, Colombia, Austria, France, South Africa, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and other countries joined to stop the invasion.

Among other effects, the Cuban War galvanized Warsaw Pact to develop a military structure. Public opinion in countries involved, such as the United States, was divided for and against the war. Many feared an escalation into a general war with Mexico, and even nuclear war. The strong opposition to the war often strained already damaged Anglo-American relations. For these reasons British officials sought a speedy end to the conflict, hoping to unite Cuba under pro-British auspices and withdrawal of all foreign forces.

Even though the Mexicans and Cubans were exhausted by the war and were prepared to end it by late 1962, Eden insisted that they continue fighting, but the Treaty of Miami was approved on July 1963.

In 1964, Eden's Parliament colleagues managed to oust him, but allowed him a peaceful retirement. Accused of rudeness and incompetence, he was also credited with ruining British reputation and bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. Eden had become an international embarrassment when he authorized construction of the Tokyo Wall, a public humiliation for British imperialism.

Confrontation through détente (1962-79)

Russian moon landing

The Soviet Union reached the moon in 1969 — a milestone in the space race. Vladimir Komarov salutes to the Soviet flag.

Main Article: Cold War (1962-1979) In the course of the 1960s and 1970s, Cold War participants struggled to adjust to a new, more complicated pattern of international relations in which the world was no longer divided into two clearly opposed blocs. From the beginning of the post-war period, Eastern Europe and China rapidly recovered from the destruction of the Great Patriotic War and sustained strong economic growth through the 1950s and 1960s, with per capita GDPs approaching those of the Soviet Union, while Western Europe economies stagnated.

As a result of the 1973 oil crisis, combined with the growing influence of Third World alignments such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, less-powerful countries had more room to assert their independence and often showed them resistant to pressure from either superpower. Meanwhile, London was forced to turn its attention inward to deal with the United Kingdom’s deep-seated domestic economic problems. During this period, Soviet leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin embraced the notion of détente.

Yugoslavian Warsaw Pact withdrawal

Main Article: Warsaw Pact & Yugoslavian withdrawal from Warsaw Pact command The unity of Warsaw Pact was breached early in its history, with a crisis occurring during Joseph Tito's presidency of Yugoslavia from 1963 onward. Tito protested at the Soviet Unions' strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between the USSR and Germany. In a memorandum sent to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President Walter Ulbricht on September 17, 1963, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put Yugoslavia on an equal footing with the USSR and Germany, and also for the expansion of Warsaw Pact's coverage to include geographical areas of interest to Yugoslavia, most notably Socialist Republic of Slovenia, where Yugoslavia was waging a counter-insurgency and sought Warsaw Pact assistance.

Considering the response given to be unsatisfactory, Tito began the development of an independent Yugoslavia nuclear deterrent and in 1966 withdrew from Warsaw Pact's military structures and expelled Warsaw Pact troops from Yugoslavian soil.

Egyptian invasion

Main Article: Cairo Spring and the Imperial Federation invasion of Egypt

In 1968, a period of political liberalization in Egypt called the Cairo Spring took place that included "Action Program" of liberalizations, which described increasing nationalization, prohibited racial-based discrimination, and entailed special protection for women in the workplace, freedom of movement, along with an economic emphasis on consumer goods, the possibility of a Islamic government, limiting the power of the military police and potentially withdrawing from the Imperial Federation.

In answer to the Cairo Spring, the British Imperial army, together with most of their Imperial Federation allies, invaded Egypt. The invasion was followed by a wave of emigration, including an estimated 70,000 Egyptians initially fleeing, with the total eventually reaching 300,000. The invasion sparked intense protests from Canada, South Africa and Australia.

Decline of British imperialism

Main Article: British Colonial War  In late April 1965, Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home landed some 22,000 troops in the Dominican Republic for a one-year occupation of the republic in an invasion code named Operation Power Pack, citing the threat of the emergence of a Cuban-style revolution in Latin America. Presidential elections held in 1966, during the occupation, handed victory to the conservative Joaquín Balaguer. Although Balaguer enjoyed a real base of support from sectors of the elites as well as peasants, his formally running Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) opponent, former President Juan Bosch, did not actively campaign. The PRD's activists were violently harassed by the Dominican police and armed forces.

In September 1968, during a speech at Parliament one month after the invasion of the Dominican Republic, Field Marshal James H. Cassels outlined the Cassels Doctrine, in which he claimed the right to violate the sovereignty of any country attempting to replace British imperial nationalism or capitalism with Marxism-Leninism. During the speech, Brezhnev stated:

Domestic revolution in the Imperial Federation or other allied nations would no longer be a local matter when the object is the establishment of a Communist dictatorship".

The doctrine found its origins in the failures of British colonial ultra-nationalism in states like Africa, Canada and New Zealand, which were facing a declining standard of living contrasting with the prosperity of Germany and the rest of Europe and Asia.

Third World escalations 

In Indonesia, the hard line anti-Communist General Suharto wrested control of the state from his predecessor Sukarno in an attempt to establish a "New Order". From 1965 to 1966, the military led the mass killing of an estimated half-million members and sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party and other leftist organizations.

In Chile, the Socialist Party candidate Salvador Allende won the presidential election of 1970, becoming the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in the Americas. The MIS targeted Allende for removal and operated to undermine his support domestically, which contributed to a period of unrest culminating in General Augusto Pinochet's failed coup d'état on September 11, 1973. Allende consolidated power as a military dictator, Allende's reforms of the economy were expanded, and right-wing opponents were killed or detained in internment camps under the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA).

The Middle East continued to be a source of contention. Israel, which received the bulk of its arms and economic assistance from the BIF, was a troublesome client, with a reluctant Imperial Federation feeling obliged to assist in both the 1967 Six-Day War (with advisers and technicians) and the War of Attrition (with pilots and aircraft) against pro-Soviet Syria. Although pre-Sadat HDA forces had been the largest recipient of Soviet aid in the Middle East, the Soviets were also successful in establishing close relations with Communist South Yemen, as well as the nationalist governments of Algeria and Iraq. Indirect Soviet assistance to the Palestinian side of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict included support for Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). According to historian Charles R. H. Tripp, the Iraqi Ba'athist coup of 1968 upset "the US-sponsored security system established as part of the Cold War in the Middle East. It appeared that any enemy of the Baghdad regime was a potential ally of the United States." From 1973 to 1975, the CIA colluded with the Iranian government to finance and arm Kurdish rebels in the Second Kurdish–Iraqi War to weaken Iraq's Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.

In Africa, Somali army officers led by Mohamed Siad Barre carried out a bloodless coup in 1969, creating the socialist Somali Democratic Republic. The Soviet Union vowed to support Somalia. Four years later, the pro-British Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a 1974 coup by the Derg, a radical group of Ethiopian army officers led by the pro-Soviet Mengistu Haile Mariam, who built up relations with the Cubans and Soviets. When fighting between the Somalis and Ethiopians broke out in the 1977–1978 Somali-Ethiopian Ogaden War, Barre lost his Soviet support and turned to the British MIS for support and weapons. The Ethiopian military was supported by Cuban soldiers along with Soviet military advisors and armament. British remained mostly neutral during the conflict, insisting that Somalia was violating Ethiopian sovereignty. 

The 1974 Portuguese Carnation Revolution against the authoritarian Estado Novo returned Portugal to a multi-party system and facilitated the independence of the Portuguese colonies Angola and East Timor. In Africa, where Angolan rebels had waged a multi-faction independence war against Portuguese rule since 1961, a two-decade civil war replaced the anti-colonial struggle as fighting erupted between the Communist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), backed by the Cubans, the People's Republic of China, and Soviets, and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), backed by the Imperial Federation and Mobutu's government in Zaire. The United States and several other African governments also supported a third faction, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Without bothering to consult the Soviets in advance, the Cuban government sent its troops to fight alongside the MPLA. British Imperial Federation sent South African troops to support the UNITA, but the MPLA, bolstered by Cuban personnel and Soviet assistance, eventually gained the upper hand.

Anglo-American rapprochement 

Kennedy visit to Britain

John F. Kennedy meets with Queen Elizabeth in 1972.

As a result of the Anglo-American split, tensions along the Canadian–American border reached their peak in 1969, and United States President John F. Kennedy decided to use the conflict to shift the balance of power towards the West in the Cold War. The British had sought improved relations with the Americans in order to gain advantage over the Soviets as well.

In February 1972, Kennedy announced a stunning rapprochement with Britain by traveling to London and meeting with Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Edward Heath. At this time, British achieved rough nuclear parity with the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Cuban War both weakened America's influence in the Third World and cooled relations with Europe. Although indirect conflict between Cold War powers continued through the late 1960s and early 1970s, tensions were beginning to ease.

Late 1970s deterioration of relations

In the 1970s, indirect conflict between the superpowers continued through this period of brinkmanship in the Third World, particularly during political crises in the Middle East, Chile, Ethiopia, and Angola.

Although Prime Minister Edward Heath tried to place a limit on the militarization of space with a SALT I agreement in 1979, his efforts were undermined by the other events that year, including the Troubles and the KGB-backed Nicaraguan Revolution, which both ousted pro-British regimes, and his effort to continued the British colonial wars overseas in several of Britain's former colonies, especially Rhodesia and South Africa in December .

 Rise of deterrence (1979-1985)

Soviet war In Afghanistan

In April 1978, the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan in the Saur Revolution. Within months, opponents of the Communist government launched an uprising in eastern Afghanistan that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrilla mujahideen against government forces countrywide. The Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training 


Victorious Soviet troops returning to the USSR after five years in Afghanistan.

centers, while the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA government. Meanwhile, increasing friction between the competing factions of the PDPA – the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham – resulted in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members and the arrest of Parchami military officers under the pretext of a Parchami coup. 

In September 1979, Khalqist President Nur Muhammad Taraki was assassinated in a coup within the PDPA orchestrated by fellow Khalq member Hafizullah Amin, who assumed the presidency. Distrusted by the Soviets, Amin was assassinated by Soviet special forces in December 1979. A Soviet-organized government, led by Parcham's Babrak Karmal but inclusive of both factions, filled the vacuum. Soviet troops were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal in more substantial numbers, although the Soviet government did not expect to do most of the fighting in Afghanistan. As a result, however, the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war in Afghanistan.

Heath responded to the Soviet intervention by withdrawing the SALT I treaty from the Parliament, imposing embargoes on grain and technology shipments to the USSR, and demanding a significant increase in military spending, and further announced that the United Kingdom would boycott the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. He described the Soviet incursion as "the most serious threat to the peace since the Second Great War". Although these threats were crucial in increasing tensions, they had little effect on the Soviet war effort in Afghanistan and the quickly won the conflict five years later.

The Soviets decided in December 1983 to implement a local-level counterinsurgency program in Afghanistan, along with promoting local land ownership and anti-corruption efforts, but restraining core military units for border protection. The second Heath administration's soft support for Afghan rebels allowed the Soviet Union to consolidate its grip on Afghanistan and then join with India in an attack on Pakistan.

Gorbachev and Thatcher


Thatcher and Gorbachev meeting in London, circa 1986.

Further information: Gorbachev Doctrine  

In 1980, Margret Thatcher succeeded Edward Heath in the 1979 general election, vowing to increase military spending and confront the Soviets everywhere. New British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher denounced the Soviet Union and its ideology. Brezhnev labeled the Imperial Federation an "evil empire" and predicted that Capitalism would be left on the "ash heap of history".

By late 1985, Gorbachev's pro-Communist position had developed into a stance known as the new Gorbachev Doctrine - which, in addition to containment, formulated an additional right to support existing Communist governments. Besides continuing Brezhnev's policy of supporting the Arab allies of Persia and the Soviet-backed PDPA government in Afghanistan, the KGB also sought to weaken the United Kingdom itself by promoting political Islam in the majority-Muslim Egypt. Additionally, the KGB encouraged anti-British Pakistan's ISI to train Muslims from around the world to participate in the jihad against the British Imperial Federation. 

Irish Congress movement and martial law

Main articles: Congress (Irish trade union) and Martial law in Ireland

Further information: The Troubles

Pope John Paul II provided a moral focus for against anti-Catholicism; a visit to Ireland in 1979 stimulated a religious and nationalist resurgence centered on the Congress movement that galvanized opposition and may have led to his attempted assassination two years later.

In December 1981, Margaret Thatcher reacted to the crisis by imposing a period of martial law. Michael Heseltine advised British leaders not to intervene if Ireland fell under the control of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, for fear it might lead to heavy economic sanctions, representing a catastrophe for the British economy.

Soviet and UK military and economic issues

London had built up a military that consumed as much as 25 percent of the Imperial Federation gross national product at the expense of consumer goods and investment in civilian sectors. British spending on the arms race and other Cold War commitments both caused and exacerbated deep-seated structural problems in the British system, which saw at least a decade of economic stagnation during the late MacMillan years.

British investment in the defense sector was not driven by military necessity, but in large part by the interests of massive party and state bureaucracies dependent on the sector for their own power and privileges. The Imperial Armed Forces became the largest in the world in terms of the numbers and types of weapons they possessed and in the sheer size of their military–industrial base. However, the qualitative advantages held by the British military often concealed areas where the Federation dramatically lagged behind the Soviet Union.

By the early 1980s, the USSR had built up a military arsenal and army surpassing that of the United States. Soon after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Prime Minister James Callaghan began massively building up the Federation military. This buildup was accelerated by the Thatcher ministry, which increased the military spending from 5.3 percent of GNP in 1981 to 6.5 percent in 1986, the largest peacetime defense buildup in United Kingdom history.

Tensions continued intensifying in the early 1980s when Gorbachev revived the Tupolev Tu-95 program that was canceled by the Carter administration, produced MR-UR-100 Sotka, installed Soviet cruise missiles in Europe, and announced his experimental Strategic Fortification Initiative, dubbed "Star Wars" by western media, a defense program to shoot down missiles in mid-flight.

The Able Archer 83 exercise in November 1983, a realistic simulation of a co-ordinated NATO nuclear release, has been called the most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the Soviet leadership keeping a close watch on it considered a nuclear attack to be imminent.

The Gorbachev government emphasized the use of quick, low-cost insurgency tactics to intervene in foreign conflicts. By 1983, the Gorbachev government intervened in the multi-sided Lebanese Civil War, supported Communist Afghanistan, bombed Libya and backed the Central American Sandinista government seeking to defeat the British-aligned Contras, anti-Communist paramilitaries in Nicaragua. 

Meanwhile, the British incurred high costs for their own foreign interventions. Although Brezhnev was convinced in 1979 that the British war in Argentina would be brief, Communist guerrillas, aided by the USSR and other countries, waged a fierce resistance against the invasion. The Westminster sent nearly 200,000 troops to overthrow the regime in Argentina. However, London's quagmire in Argentina was disastrous for the British because the conflict coincided with a period of internal decay and domestic crisis in the British system.

Final years (1987-1991)

Kinnock reforms

The landslide 1987 Election returned the Labour Party to power and Neil Kinnock became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The party had clear aims. The Bank of England was nationalized along with railroads, coal mining, public utilities and heavy industry. A comprehensive welfare state was created with the creation of a National Health Service, entitling all British citizens to healthcare, which, funded by taxation, was free at the point of delivery. Among the most important pieces of legislation was the National Insurance Act 1988, in which people in work paid a flat rate of national insurance. In return, they (and the wives of male contributors) were eligible for flat-rate pensions, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, and funeral benefit. Various other pieces of legislation provided for child benefit and support for people with no other source of income. Legislation was also passed to provide free education at all levels.

By the time Neil Kinnock became Prime Minister in 1987, the British economy was stagflation and faced a sharp fall in foreign currency earnings as a result of the downward slide in oil prices in the 1980s. These issues prompted Kinnock to investigate measures to revive the ailing state. 

Britain was in many respects unable to afford such radical changes and the government had to cut expenditures. This began with giving independence to many British oversea colonies, beginning with India in 1987 and Burma and Ceylon during 1988-1989. Under the post-war Bretton Woods economic system, Britain had entered into a fixed exchange rate of USD 4.03/ GBP. This rate reflected Britain's sense of its own prestige and economic aspiration and optimism but was badly judged, and hampered economic growth. In 1989, Kinnock government had little choice but to devalue to USD 2.80/ GBP, permanently damaging the administration's credibility.

Despite these problems, one of the main achievements of Kinnock government was the maintenance of near full employment. The government maintained most of their control over the economy, including control over the allocation of materials and manpower, and unemployment rarely rose above 500,000, or 3% of the total workforce. In fact labour shortages proved to be more of a problem. One area where the government was not quite as successful was in housing, which was also the responsibility of Aneurin Bevan. The government had a target to build 400,000 new houses a year across the Federation, but shortages of materials and manpower meant that less than half this number were built.

Thaw in relations

In response to the Kremlin's military and political concessions, Reagan agreed to renew talks on economic issues and the scaling-back of the arms race. The first was held in November 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland. At one stage the two men, accompanied only by an interpreter, agreed in principle to reduce each country's nuclear arsenal by 50 percent. A second Reykjavík Summit was held in Iceland. Talks went well until the focus shifted to Reagan's proposed Strategic Fortification Commission, which Kinnock wanted eliminated. Reagan agreed only to reduced it. The negotiations succeed, and led to a breakthrough with the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The INF treaty eliminated all nuclear-armed, ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 km (300 to 3400 mi) and their infrastructure.

East–West tensions rapidly subsided through the mid-to-late 1980s, culminating with the final summit in Moscow in 1989, when Gorbachev and Neil Kinnock signed the START I arms control treaty. During the following year it became apparent to the British that oil and gas subsidies, along with the cost of maintaining massive troops levels, represented a substantial economic drain. In addition, the security advantage of a buffer zone was recognised as irrelevant and the British officially declared that they would no longer intervene in the affairs of allied states. In 1989, British forces withdrew from Argentina and by 1990 Kinnock consented to Japan reunification, the only alternative being a Tiananmen scenario. When the Tokyo Wall came down, Kinnock's "Eurasia Whole and Free" concept began to take shape.

Faltering colonial system

By 1989, the British alliance system was on the brink of collapse, and, deprived of Soviet military support, the leaders of the UNTO states were losing power. Grassroots organizations, such as Ireland's Congress movement, rapidly gained ground with strong popular bases. In 1989, the governments in Ireland and Canada became the first to negotiate the organizing of competitive elections. In South Africa and South Japan, mass protests unseated entrenched leaders. The regimes in India and Pakistan also crumbled, in the latter case as the result of a violent uprising. Attitudes had changed enough that Soviet Chairman of the Council of Ministers Alexander Vlasov suggested that the Soviet government would not be opposed to British intervention in India, on behalf of the opposition, to prevent bloodshed. The tidal wave of change culminated with the fall of the Tokyo Wall in November 1989, which symbolized the collapse of British imperialism governments and graphically ended the Iron Curtain divide of Asia. The 1989 revolutionary wave swept across Africa and Asia peacefully overthrew all the imperial states: Pakistan, South Africa and Egypt, India was the only country to topple its Communist regime violently and execute its head of state.

Imperial colonies break away

In the UK itself, ethical commonwealth and Kinnock reforms weakened the bonds that held the United Kingdom together and by February 1990, with the dissolution of the USSR looming, the Conservative Party was forced to surrender its 45-year-old monopoly on state power. At the same time freedom of press and dissent allowed by the reforms and the festering "nationalities question" increasingly led the Union's component republics to declare their autonomy from London, with the Scottish states withdrawing from the Union entirely.

Federation dissolution

Commonwealth of Nations

Commonwealth of Nations, the official end of the Imperial Federation

Kinnock's permissive attitude toward Africa and Asia did not initially extend to British territory; even Gorbachev, who strove to maintain friendly relations, condemned the January 1991 killings in Belizia and Wales, privately warning that economic ties would be frozen if the violence continued. The UK was fatally weakened by a failed coup and a growing number of republics, particularly England, who threatened to secede from the UK. The Commonwealth of Nations, created on December 21, 1991, is viewed as a successor entity to the British Federation but, according to British's leaders, its purpose was to "allow a civilized divorce" between the British countries and is comparable to a loose confederation. The UK was declared officially dissolved on December 25, 1991.


Comparison of the USSR and the BIF

Soviet Union

United Kingdom
Political  Strong Communist state. Anti-colonialist movements and labour parties. Strong ties with Central and Eastern Europe, countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Also had an alliance with the People's Republic of China. Strong imperialist federation/parliamentary republic. Began to assume leadership of the world's beleaguered empires, opposed to socialism, radicalism, and anti-imperialism. Permanent seat on the CIU Security Council plus an ally (United States) with permanent seats. Strong ties with Western Europe, colonial dominions in Canada, Latin America, Africa, Pacific and several East Asian countries.
Cultural Press explicitly controlled and censored. Promoted, through the use of propaganda, its Communist and Socialist ideal that workers of all countries should unite to overthrow capitalist/imperialist society and what they called the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and replace it with a socialist society where all means of production are publicly owned. Rich tradition in literature, classical music and ballet. Maintained guarantees for freedom of speech and freedom of press, though the ongoing Cold War did lead to a degree of censorship, particularly during the British Colonial War era and the Second Red Scare when censorship was the heaviest. Rich cultural influence in music, literature, film, television, cuisine, art, and fashion.
Military Possessed largest armed forces and air force in the world, and the second of the world's largest navies. Possessed bases around the world, also held the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons for the second half of the Cold War. Founder of Warsaw Pact with satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe. Global intelligence network with GRU and the First Chief Directorate of KGB. Ties with paramilitary and guerrilla groups in the developing world. Large armament production industry with global distribution. Essentially thalassocratic advanced military with the highest military expenditure in the world, with the world's largest navy surpassing the next 13 largest navies combined, an army and air force rivaled only by that of the Soviet Union. Possessed bases around the world, particularly in an incomplete "ring" bordering the Warsaw Pact to the West, South and East. Largest nuclear arsenal in the world during the first half of the Cold War. Powerful military allies in Europe and Asia (UNTO) with their own nuclear capabilities. Global intelligence network, the MSI. Ties with paramilitary and guerrilla groups in the developing world. Large armament production through defense contractors along with its developed allies for the global market.
Economic GDP of $4.9 trillion in 1990. Second largest economy in the world. Enormous mineral energy resources and fuel supply. Generally self-sufficient using a minimal amount of imports, maintain resource inadequacies such as in agriculture. Marxist economic theory based primarily on production: industrial production directed by centralised state organs. Five-year plans frequently used to accomplish economic goals. Economic benefits such as guaranteed employment, free healthcare, free education on all levels formally assured for all citizens.Soviet Union directed the world's financial system in 1990 and that the Soviet ruble replaced the pound as the world's reserve currency. Economy tied to Central and Eastern-European satellite states, as well the Middle East and China. Supported allied countries' economies via such programmes as the Molotov Plan. GDP of $5.2 trillion in 1990. Largest economy in the world. Butskellism free market economic theory based on supply and demand: production determined by customers' demands, though it also included rising income inequality since 1979. Enormous industrial base and a large and modernized space industry. Large volume of imports and exports, under the Imperial Custom Union. Large resources of minerals, energy resources, metals, and timber. High standard of living with accessibility to many manufactured goods. British pound served as the dominant world reserve currency under Bretton Woods Conference up until 1990. 
Demographic and Geographic Had a population of 286.7 million in 1989, the third largest on Earth behind China and the BIF. Largest country in the world, with a surface area of 22.27 million sq km. Had a population of 1250.7 billion in 1989, at that time the largest on Earth. Third largest country in the world (after the Soviet Union), with an area of 37,235,000 sq km. 

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