Cold War Terminology (International Relations 1945-2004)

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Cold War Terminology (International Relations 1945-2004)

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Great Powers Those states in Europe that controlled the exercise of international power and influence before the Second World War (sometimes including the USA and Japan).
Euro-centric International power being centred among European states rather than states from other continents.
Balance of Power The concept that no single state should become dominant by ensuring power is equally weighted among several states.
Status Quo A Latin term that refers to the existing state of affairs or the desire to keep things as they are.
Nationalism The concept that people who share common cultural and linguistic foundations should be free to form their own nation states
Weltpolitik German policy at the start of the 20th century aimed at strengthening Germany’s international influence
Geo-strategic Location The physical position of a state in relation to other states and the strategic significance of this.
Isolationist A policy whereby a state focuses mainly on its domestic interests and places little focus on the wider world
Appeasement A policy designed to avoid war and conflict by reaching agreements with potential aggressor states
Power Vacuum The concept that those states which influenced affairs are no longer able to do so but there is no replacement of that essential influence
Unilateral Action by one side only as opposed to action by several parties
Ideology : A set of ideas and assumptions about how a state should be organised. This can extend beyond individual states and consider global organisation. Ideologies may have long-term aims and may drive foreign policy decisions. Often conflict may occur because there is an ideological determination not to compromise or dilute any beliefs and aims.
Collective Security The principle whereby states would co-operate with each other as a means of reducing insecurity
Spheres of Influence An area or region where one power or group of powers has significant control over apparently independent states. This can be achieved by economic as well as political or military dominance.
Atomic Diplomacy This is based on the idea that America’s monopoly of nuclear technology in the late 1940s could be used to put additional diplomatic pressure on other states.
Market Economy Any economy in which the prices of goods and services are set by the forces of suply and demand, with minimal interference from the government
COMINFORM This was the Communist Information Bureau. Its purpose was to unite and co-ordinate the role and actions of Communist groups throughout Europe in order that the Party functioned as a united whole. It aimed at spreading Communist ideas and keeping the movement throughout Eastern Europe united and acting collectively.
Federal Relating to a whole nation rather than to the separate states or regions of that nation. For example, individual American states have their own governments, but they all come under the authority of the federal US government led by the US President.
Summit A meeting of the leaders of various governments
Conventional Forces These are traditional non-nuclear based forces, such as those used in the Second World War. They are based on ground troops, mechanised and armoured troops, such as tanks, along with air forces and warships.
Protectorate A state that is placed under the military or diplomatic protection of another state. The protectorate is technically sovereign and independent, but in reality its status can range from being protected by a powerful friend through to being a virtual colony.
Covert Operations These involve gathering intelligence information, forms of economic sabotage and psychological intimidation through propaganda. These are all acts that take place secretly and are designed to have a collectively damaging impact on the state where they are applied.
Linkage In the diplomatic sense this refers to linking concession in one field for concessions in another.
Détente This means literally the relaxation of tensions. In terms of international relations it came to describe the idea of easing tense relations between states.
Politburo The supreme policy making body of the Communist Party. It was made up of the most senior and powerful members of the Party and the government. It ceased to exist with the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Impeachment The process of charging someone with a crime, aiming to have that person removed from office
Islamic Fundamentalists These are Muslims who believe that all societies should be governed according to a strict interpretation of the Islamic scriptures.
DEFCON This stands for Defence Readiness Condition, a scale used by American armed forces to state its level of alert. DEFCON 5 is the lowest level, whilst DEFCON 1 implies that the USA is ready for imminent nuclear conflict.
PLO The Palestine Liberation Organisation was an Arab organisation founded in 1964 to create an independent Palestinian state. From 1969 its leader was Yasser Arafat. Initially the PLO sought the destruction of Israel; however this was later modified to the establishment of an independent Palestine alongside Israel.
Neo-Colonialism This refers to developed nations exerting their influence over weaker developing nations.
GNP : The Gross National Product is the annual value of the nation’s productivity in terms of manufacturing and services. It acts as a measure of the economic growth or decline of a nation’s wealth.
Glasnost This means ‘openness’ and refers to the Soviet policy of allowing more freedom to discuss social problems in the USSR
Perestroika This means ‘restructuring’ and refers to major social and economic reform in the USSR.
Command Economy An economic system that is centrally controlled by the government and which often focuses on industrial output.
Inflation This is the rising cost of living – as prices rise, workers demand more pay in order to maintain their existing standard of living
Referendum An opportunity for the people to vote on a proposal made by government rather then the elected government making the decision in the normal manner. It acts as a free vote and is sometimes referred to as a plebiscite.
Fair Trade Agreement This is the idea that international trade will develop most efficiently if there are few restrictions on it. The most significant restriction is taxation imposed by the importing state. Free trade agreements ensure that reciprocal low tax arrangements are implemented by states trading with each other.
UN Veto The Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the USA) have the power to vote against any action or intervention by the UN. This power was built in the UN Charter to make sure that the powerful states would be willing to take part in collective action – a simple majority would have deterred many states from joining, especially the Communist Bloc states, who convinced themselves that the UN was a tool of American policy.
Developing States A general term for some states in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The term denotes states that are economically under- developed and often have problems managing their national security. The Cold War context in which many of these states had to conduct their foreign policies often worsened their position. The end of the Cold War has reduced the importance of developing states as far as the superpowers are concerned.
Autonomous Having the power of self-government, often within another organisation. It suggests a degree of independence.
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