Cold war (general term)

This article is about the general term for a type of international conflict. For the specific conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States, see Cold War.

A cold war is a state of conflict between nations that does not involve direct military action but is pursued primarily through economic and political actions, propaganda, acts of espionage or proxy wars waged by surrogates. The surrogates are typically states that are "satellites" of the conflicting nations, i.e., nations allied to them or under their political influence. Opponents in a cold war will often provide economic or military aid, such as weapons, tactical support or military advisors, to lesser nations involved in conflicts with the opposing country.

Origins of the term

The expression "cold war" was rarely used before 1945. Some writers credit the fourteenth century Spaniard, Don Juan Manuel for first using the term (in Spanish), when dealing with the conflict between Christianity and Islam as a "cold war". However he used the term "tepid" not "cold". The word "cold" first appeared in a faulty translation of his work in the 19th century.[1]

At the end of World War II, George Orwell used the term in the essay “You and the Atomic Bomb” published October 19, 1945, in the British newspaper Tribune. Contemplating a world living in the shadow of the threat of nuclear war, he warned of a “peace that is no peace”, which he called a permanent “cold war”.[2] Orwell directly referred to that war as the ideological confrontation between the Soviet Union and the Western powers.[3] Moreover, in The Observer of March 10, 1946, Orwell wrote that “[a]fter the Moscow conference last December, Russia began to make a ‘cold war’ on Britain and the British Empire.”[4]

The definition which has now become fixed is of a war waged through indirect conflict. The first use of the term in this sense, to describe the post–World War II geopolitical tensions between the USSR and its satellites and the United States and its western European allies is attributed to Bernard Baruch, an American financier and presidential advisor.[5] In South Carolina, on April 16, 1947, he delivered a speech (by journalist Herbert Bayard Swope)[6] saying, “Let us not be deceived: we are today in the midst of a cold war.”[7] Newspaper reporter-columnist Walter Lippmann gave the term wide currency, with the book Cold War (1947).[8]

List of conflicts called Cold War

Since the original Cold War (19471991), a number of global and regional conflicts have also been called "Cold War".

Cold War II

Main article: Cold War II

Cold War II,[9][10] also called Second Cold War,[11][12][13] Cold War 2.0,[14][15] or the New Cold War[16][17] refers to a renewed state of political and military tension between opposing geopolitical power-blocs, with one bloc typically reported as being led by Russia or China,[18] and the other led by the United States or NATO. This is akin to the original Cold War that saw a global confrontation between the Western Bloc led by the United States and the Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union, Russia's predecessor.

Saudi Arabia vs. Iran

The term has been used to describe the regional proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.[19][20]

An Atlantic Council member Bilal Y. Saab,[21] an writer Primoz Manfreda,[22] an Iranian scholar Seyyed Hossein Mousavian and a Princeton University scholar Sina Toossi,[23] journalist Kim Ghattas,[24] and Foreign Policy journalist Yochi Dreazen[25] use the term "cold war" to refer to tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In February 2016, a University of Isfahan professor Ali Omidi dismissed the assumptions that the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would grow tense.[26]

India vs. Pakistan

The Indian Express has described relations between India and Pakistan since 2008 as a sort of "cold war".[27] The article cited tensions between the two countries surrounding terrorism. Other sources cite relations with Russia as a source of conflict. The Kashmir Conflict is also a significant source of strain between the two countries.[28]

China vs. Japan

China's Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng,[29] The Diplomat editor Shannon Tiezzi,[30] and The Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall[31] used the term to refer to tensions between China and Japan. China's state-run newspaper Global Times says that China and Japan "are stuck in a state of 'cold peace' and [m]ust avoid sliding into a cold war."[32]


  1. Simon Dalby; Gearoid O.u Tuathail (2002). Rethinking Geopolitics. Routledge. p. 67.
  2. Kort, Michael (2001). The Columbia Guide to the Cold War. Columbia University Press. p. 3.
  3. Geiger, Till (2004). Britain and the Economic Problem of the Cold War. Ashgate Publishing. p. 7.
  4. Orwell, George, The Observer, March 10, 1946
  5. Gaddis 2005, p. 54
  6. Safire, William (October 1, 2006). "Islamofascism Anyone?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
  7. Staff (2009). "This Day on History - April 16, 1947: Bernard Baruch coins the term "Cold War"". A+E Networks. Retrieved August 23, 2016. Full quote in the context of industrial labor problems in the United States of America in 1947 which could only solved, according to Bernard Baruch, through “unity” between labor and management which in return would give the United States the power to play its role as the major force by which, in the words of Baruch, “the world can renew itself physically or spiritually.”: "Let us not be deceived-we are today in the midst of a cold war. Our enemies are to be found abroad and at home. Let us never forget this: Our unrest is the heart of their success. The peace of the world is the hope and the goal of our political system; it is the despair and defeat of those who stand against us. We can depend only on ourselves."
  8. Lippmann, Walter (1947). Cold War. Harper. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  9. Dmitri Trenin (4 March 2014). "Welcome to Cold War II". Foreign Policy. Graham Holdings. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  10. As Cold War II Looms, Washington Courts Nationalist, Rightwing, Catholic, Xenophobic Poland, Huffington Post, 15 October 2015.
  11. Mackenzie, Ryan (3 October 2015). "Rubio: U.S. 'barreling toward a second Cold War'". The Des Moines Register. USA Today. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  12. Bovt, George (31 March 2015). "Who Will Win the New Cold War?". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  13. Trenin, Dmitri (2 March 2014). "The crisis in Crimea could lead the world into a second cold war". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  14. "Cold war 2.0: how Russia and the west reheated a historic struggle". The Guardian. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  15. Eve Conant (12 September 2014). "Is the Cold War Back?". National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  16. Simon Tisdall (19 November 2014). "The new cold war: are we going back to the bad old days?". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  17. Philip N. Howard (1 August 2012). "Social media and the new Cold War". Reuters. Reuters Commentary Wire. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  18. Powell, Bill. "A New Cold War, Yes. But It's With China, Not Russia". Newsweek. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  19. Broder, Jonathan (11 January 2016). "The Loser of the Cold War Between Iran and Saudi Arabia May Be Obama". Newsweek. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  20. Barakat, Sultan (22 June 2016). "Is the Iranian-Saudi 'cold war' heating up? How to reduce the temperature". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  21. Saab, Bilal Y. (18 October 2016). "Why an Iran-Saudi Arabia Conflict Is More Likely Today Than Ever Before". Newsweek. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  22. Manfreda, Primoz. "Iran and Saudi Arabia—Middle East Cold War". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  23. Mousavian, Seyyed Hossein; Toossi, Sina (19 September 2016). "Ending the Iran-Saudi Cold War". LoebLog. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  24. Ghattas, Kim (15 July 2015). "The Saudi Cold War With Iran Heats Up". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 18 October 2016. (subscription required)
  25. Dreazen, Yochi (27 March 2015). "In Yemen, the Middle East's cold war could get hot". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  26. Omidi, Ali (February 2016). "Five reasons why Iran-Saudi conflict won't escalate". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  27. Baru, Sanjaya (October 2016). "An Indo-Pak Cold War". The Indian Express. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  28. Byrne, Brendan (September 2016). "Pakistan vs. India Tensions Threaten To Boil Over Into War". ValueWalk. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  29. "China Lashes Out at Japan's New Defence Plan, Says Tokyo Maintaining 'Cold War Mentality'". NDTV. Associated Press. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  30. Tiezzi, Shannon (25 January 2016). "The New Cold War: China vs Japan". The Diplomat. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  31. Tisdall, Simon (17 January 2005). "Sino-Japanese 'cold war' stirs new tensions". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  32. "China, Japan must avoid slide into cold war". Global Times.
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