Despite the success of the alliance between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States in bringing victory in the Second World War, the cooperation during wartime implied glossing over several differences between the two countries. The soviet leaders had been complaining about the coexistence between capitalism and communism following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (Jones, Trevelyn, Luann, Marlene, Daryl, Jeanne, & Mary, p. 172). There are several factors that combined to result into the emergence of the Cold War between the 1940s and 1990. During the 1940s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the Soviet Union and the United States had emerged as the two leading powers in the globe. The Soviet Union occupied the countries of Eastern Europe and the United States representing the liberation of the Western European nations. The Cold War was not really a war, but a competition between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States for the domination of the world. Each of these superpowers believed that their system of government and economics was superior and that the rest of the world needed to emulate their operations. The various causes of the Cold War are majorly discussed under three categories such as the beliefs in different and divergent forms of governments and economy, mutual distrust, and the perception of each other as wanting to expand their territory of influence.
Churchill, the British Prime Minister and Truman, the American president between 1945 and 1953 have been blamed by the Russian historians for their responsibility in instigating the Cold War. These historians asserted that Churchill and Truman had prior intentions to destroy the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They argued that the Soviet Union only in defense to protect itself from destruction. On the other hand, the Western and American historians have shifted the blame of Joseph Stalin claiming that he tried to build up a soviet empire. Later, some Western scholars blamed the United States claiming that Truman had not understood the extent of the suffering sustained in the World War 2. However, some other scholars have blamed both sides for their selfishness in their beliefs and failing to provide room for the others.
The causes of the Cold War can be categorized into ideologies, aims, history, and events. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a communist county ruled by dictatorship. In this ideology, the needs of the state were put ahead of the needs of the personal human rights. On the other hand, the United States was a democratic capitalist government where freedom was valued and communism feared. According to the aims of the warring groups, Joseph Stalin wanted huge reparations for Germany and a collection of friendly states to protect the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from invasion. However, the United States and the United Kingdom intended to protect democracy and assist Germany to recover. They panicked to the extensive control of the Eastern Europe by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Considering their resentments about history, the United States and Germany could not forget Joseph Stalin’s signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Germany in 1939 (Betts, p. 93). On the other hand, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could not forget that the United States and the United Kingdom tried to destroy the Russian Revolution in 1918. Different chronological events in the history of both groups led to the increasing distrust among them since each group viewed the events differently and considered their stances as the right one. This intensified the hate between the groups, and consequently resulted into the Cold War.
The Cold War comprised of a mixture of political, social, and economic crusades in favor of one ideology or the other, which stoke the expansion in Europe and all over the word. In several ways, America and Britain were enemies of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the Soviet Union). Following the removal of the common threats of Hitler and Japan, the fall out of the allies was inevitable. The tension began immediately after the end of the Second World War with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics acting against some of the agreements reached between the allied courtiers regarding treatment of Germany and other countries in Eastern Europe, which had been freed from German Control. Different conferences held at Yalta (February) and Potsdam (July/August) 1945 attempted to define the postwar settlement frameworks in Europe (Ross, p. 77). During the conference at Yalta, the leaders of United Kingdom, The United States, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics agreed to hold democratic elections in the liberated countries. Nevertheless, Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953 refused to honor these commitments in the post war era. He disconnected almost all contacts between the West and all the territories it controlled in Eastern Europe. Consequently, Stalin started installing communist governments in these territories. Therefore, by 1948, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia had all adopted the communist governments.
As a result, the United States responded by actively opposing the spread of communism in the Universe for the fear of the communist attacks. In March 1947, the United States adopted a policy aimed at helping free nations to resist the feared communist attack. Two years later in 1949, the countries allied to the United States formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which significantly opposed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (Thompson, p. 57). In the same year, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics responded by forming the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), which was aimed at uniting all the states that had embraced the communist governments (Gillon, p. 423). Due to the formations of these bodies, the two groups and the countries allied to either side opposed the policies, especially the policies related to the styles of government. The members of NATO believed that the free nations needed the independent and democratic elections and democratic governments. This group also feared that the communists could influence more nations to adopt communism. Both groups were scared of the fact that their opponents would advance their territories and influence other states loyal to either side.
The warring groups (the United States and the USSR) also had differences over the question of developing and stocking nuclear weapons. These opposing forces engaged in a competition to develop nuclear as well as other military capabilities (Gillon, p. 126). This even intensified the fears for the capabilities of the opposing sides. The competition for the space for exploration of the nuclear and military capabilities ensured that both groups and their allied countries held onto their ideologies. Specifically, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics accused the United States of refusing to share its nuclear secrets with the Eastern Europe and the countries allied to the former. In these regards, ideology played a significant role in escalating tensions of the Cold war.
There were several events, which led to the mutual distrust between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States. The intervention of the United States in Russia supporting the White Army during the Russian Civil War was one of the causes. Additionally, since Russia had withdrawn from the World War 1 in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, it was not trusted for further treaties as the United States branded Russia a traitor. Even further, the Bolsheviks' challenge to capitalism and the United States refusal to recognize the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1933 also led to much of the distrusts. Further events preceding the Second World War also increased the distrust and suspicion between these groups. Some of the examples of these events include the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact and the British appeasement of Germany.
Despite the Bolshevik Revolution, the aftermath of the Second World War also instigated the initiation of the Cold War to a greater extent. The conflict of the World War 2 had nearly destroyed the balance of power that has previously exited. Germany, being the largest power, had been entirely destroyed. France and England, which were the largest allied powers, also experienced heavy damages and losses during the war. Japan also lost its military capabilities into the war. Consequently, the aforementioned countries lost their power and could not regain this power in the foreseeable period (Gillon, p. 48). They were basically concerned with rebuilding their economies and infrastructures in the post war era. Therefore, a void was created in Europe for power. Therefore, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fought for domination in Europe, where most of the countries had little power and required external support and guidance.
In 1949, the communist China became victorious, which expanded the fear of the communism form of government among the United States and the countries allied to its agenda. However, by about 1970s, the futility of the Cold War had become evident to both groups. Additionally, there was some disunity within each group. The cold war eventually drew to an end in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. When President Ronald Regan of the United States assumed office, the United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was already facing stern economic stagnation. Consequently, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics collapsed in 1991, thereby leaving the United States as the sole superpower in the globe. It is believed that the Cold War could be avoided if both sides gave similar opportunities to each other. Different historians have blamed the United States alone and in union with the United Kingdom while others have blamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for causing the war. Nevertheless, the causes of the war, especially the historical conflicts and the capitalism and communism ideologies between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States and the United Kingdom would eventually result into a clash of interests. Basically, there is no single cause that can be associated with instigating the tensions of the cold war. All the above factors combined to result into the war.
Betts, Richard K. “Conflict After the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace.” Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Limited, 2012, print
Gillon, Steve M. “The American Paradox: A History of the United States since 1945” Third Edition. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print
Jones, Trevelyn E.Toth, LuannCharnizon, MarleneGrabarek, DarylLarkins, JeanneMueller, Mary. "The End Of The Cold War/The Causes Of The Cold War (Book)." School Library Journal 48.5 (2002): 172. Professional Development Collection. Web. 28 May 2014.
Ross, Stewart. “The Causes of the Cold War.” Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2002, print.
Thompson, Kenneth W. “Cold War Theories: World Polarization, 1943-1953.” Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1991. Print