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AnswerPolitical deaths in the last half of the 20th century total up to approximately 55,000,000 deaths.

The largest portion of this occurred in China during the "Great Leap Forward".

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The VFW, in their book Cold War Clashes: Confronting Communism, 1945-1991, document 382 American servicemen killed by hostile fire during the "cold" portion of the Cold War. That number is of unclassified and documented deaths, and it does not include training/operational deaths or the deaths during the Korean Police Action or the Vietnam Conflict. Also, that number does not include civilian deaths due to the Cold War or intelligence personnel killed.

To put the 382 casualty number in perspective, the Spanish American War had 385 "Battle deaths" and there were 147 "Battle deaths" during the Gulf War (1990-1991). So, the "cold" portion of the Cold War had 3 fewer unclassified US service member deaths than the Spanish American War and more than double the casualties of the Gulf War.

Officially, the period of the Cold War was from 1945-1991 and should include the 33,741 Battle deaths of Korea and the 47,424 Battle deaths of Vietnam for a grand total of 81, 547 US Service members killed by hostile fire during the Cold War.

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9y ago
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13y ago

Not quite sure. but the cold war wasn't really a fighting war. It was a war between America and the Soviet Union (OR maybe it was Russia) on who could develop faster.

World War II created the need for military industrial government complexes of vast proportions. The Cold War was a direct product of the failure to dismantle these war machines when the war ended. In the USA, the Soviet Union, Britain and China, the World War II machines were kept intact, and even expanded with greater political influence, and economic domination. This lead to "unintended and disastrous consequences", to quote the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

A "Cold War" death is any death attributable to the post war existence of these military industrial government complexes, which are offensive war machines, not the National Defense preparedness customary in peacetime.

Today the US Military Industrial Congressional complex dominates American foreign policy. States depend on weapons plants and military bases to provide income and jobs. Non military states get government subsidy and pork barrel project votes in return for their favorable vote on military projects in military states. Soldiers are not adding to unemployment lines. The stock market advances with the aid of huge Military weapons profit margins. Technological advancement escalates the cost and the ease of use of weapons. All of this promotes the uses of military weapons, and causes "Cold War" deaths.

There are many kinds of cold war deaths. Combat personnel, civilian, clandestine activity, military exercise casualties, and political deaths such as assassinations, mob violence, sympathetic suicides and social turmoil.

The Cold War had the greatest ever potential for loss of life because of the Nuclear arms race. Russia's Tsar bomb was never tested at full power. The potential for atmospheric reaction was so great, that it could have easily ended all oxygen dependent life on Earth with a single nuclear explosion.

The Cuban missile crisis is considered the closest the world ever came to global thermonuclear war. It is less known that Truman and MacArthur took the world very close to nuclear war in Korea. Without the wisdom of Dwight Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, and Nikita Kruschev, the Cold War would have resulted in "mutual assured destruction" and the end of all life on Earth. But these great men ended the nuclear arms race. Many people believed that was the end of the Cold War, but the military industrial government complexes were still not dismantled, so Cold War deaths continue.

Today there are still ongoing deaths from nuclear testing fallout, especially in the American midwest. Twenty thousand and growing by government studies. I personally know an Iowa family afflicted with thryroid and other organ problems that resulted in deaths. There are also cancer deaths from uranium mining. Soviet nuclear fallout may have also reached the US, and also affected the health of Russians. Soldiers and sailors may have died early from extreme high power radar microwave radiation built specially for the Cold War.

The sheer threat and the induced paranoia of nuclear war caused the wheels of the military industrial complex to turn hard and fast with soaring profits. In the absence of open warfare, Strategic and Electronic air warfare became a major industry. SAC bombers, Airborne Early Warning aircraft and anti submarine patrols flew 24/7/365 days a year, in any and all weather. Voids in the anti nuclear defensive perimeter around the North American continent were not tolerated. This produced the expected large number of military air crashes. 400 deaths in AWACs alone, not counting the "spook squadrons" that didn't legally exist.

The Korea and Viet Nam "police actions" were conflicts generated by the cold war. Conflicts that used up billions in weapons and kept the military industrial government complex churning out profits. These deaths, both civilian and military, were well over 2 million.

The nationalist idealism brainwashing of children in schools and biased news reporting produced militant children, gang wars, income class clashes, school fights and shootings. There was one such death in my US high school, and US school shootings are still going on. In China, a student movement called the "Red Guards" killed well over two thousand by murder and induced suicide. They persecuted anyone and any idea not radically in conformance with government Cold War idealism. The government did nothing to stop them until they began taking weapons from the military.

American students who entered US universities only to avoid the Viet Nam draft came into contact with anti war movements, and were exposed to higher education. They became anti war activists, and some of them were killed in demonstrations. A direct product of the Cold War.

The unmarked US aircraft of "spook squadrons" illegally flew into the sovereign airspace of other nations, so downed aircraft and crews were reported as accidents or lost and disappeared. Families never knew that their loved one died in combat. Surely there were many more unreported clandestine activity deaths such as CIA, commandos, and small war vessels. No one wanted an incident blown up into a Nuclear threat. So there were no angry news reports, or patriotic chest pounding. Everyone just kept silently doing their job. We knew that when Soviet fire hit a US aircraft, it was a less professional satellite nation soldier, or an electronic accident. A Soviet officer of that time told me "we firmly believed that John Kennedy would not start a war".

Military Industrial Complex attempts to stimulate war profits were not successful, because of this understanding that kruschev and Kennedy did not want war. Most incidents were hidden, and deaths went uncounted, with no news coverage.

Under President Johnson, everything changed radically. The intentionally created Tonkin Gulf incident justified "police action" funding and war powers for Johnson's Viet Nam escalation, which produced 1,400,000 deaths, civilian and military.

Military expansion was gigantic, frequent muscle flexing exercise operations and fleet deployment exercises produced many thousands of casualties, such as warplane crashes, flight deck personnel walking into propellers or being sucked into jet intakes, and many other types. Even basic training accidents and illnesses were numerous.

Then there were the occasional known and published incidents such as a US AWAC downed by North Korea long after the end of the Korean conflict.

Google: Major Anderson, U-2 Pilot - Cuba

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15y ago

The only two wars fought to contain communism during the cold war were Korea and Vietnam. Over 33,000 US Servicemen were killed in the Korean War (1950-1953). Over 58,000 US Servicemen were killed in the Vietnam War (1961-1975).

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15y ago

Since there was no war, there were no deaths. Cold War was simply a name given to a stand-off between two sets of nuclear armed nations waiting for an excuse to fire atomic armed missiles at one another.

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13y ago

"No war, no death."

Inncorrect, the truth is that no one knows how many deaths there were because they were all hidden. The truth is that there were very many hidden kills and assassinations. Three revolutions also took place during the cold war.

In other words, WE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY DEATHS, BUT, WE KNOW THERE WERE MORE THAN 20,000!

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15y ago

The Cold War began as World War II was ending. American leaders saw the power and ambitions of the Soviet Union as a threat to our national security. The Cold War was a war of words and ideologies rather than a shooting war, although at times the Cold War turned “hot” as in Korea and Vietnam. Basically, the Cold War was a rivalry between the United States as leader of the western democracies, and the Soviet Union and the nations that were controlled by the communists. I am not sure non-military deaths as a result of the Cold War are completely documented. In the Korean War, the US lost 35,000 plus battle deaths. In Vietnam, the US suffered 58,000 plus battle deaths.

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15y ago

None. There were no battles in the Cold War; it refers to the period of intense tension between the United States and USSR regarding the nuclear arms race.

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13y ago

None. That is why it was called the cold war. There were no battles, it more of an arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

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14y ago

55,000,000 people died in the Cold War.

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MIKE RALPH

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4y ago

3000

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Q: How many men were killed in the cold war?
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