Superpower confrontation and cold war tension subsumes ethnic conflict and related territorial disputes. Cold war has also been used by governments to enlist public opinion in support of various foreign and domestic policies, which would have otherwise encountered resistance.
The Cold War was used to justify much that was illicit and irregular, and which would perhaps otherwise have been disallowed. In Italy, the CIA covertly supported Italian Christian and Social Democrats to stop a takeover by the Communists, who in turn got money from Moscow. The Communist threat also seemed to justify Christian Democrat arrangements with the Mafia, leading to a symbiosis of crime and supposedly Christian governance. The arms trade was facilitated and subject to lighter scrutiny, with big European arms manufacturers routinely paying 'commissions' to win contracts; in France it is officially accepted that these may have been worth 15% of a deal.
With hindsight, the precarious but diabolically stable, bipolar world of post-1945 worked. There were confrontations, but no Armageddons. The nuclear balance weighed in at moments of high tension, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Regional surrogates were permitted -- as with the Cubans in Africa -- but those forces were clearly subordinated to the strategic goals of the Great Powers.
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