After the end of the World War II, tensions developed between the two biggest nations of the world. The United States and the Soviet Union was involved in the most intense rivalry ever documented. This rivalry between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. would continue for the next twenty years after this war. The war was based on suspicions, sharp tensions and several global events that almost brought these two superpowers to war. These global events included the Cuban Missile Crisis, Hungary, Vietnam wars, and the Berlin Wall among others. The whole world was in fear as they could not imagine an outbreak of another war especially with the growth in weapons of mass destruction that was common during these days.
However, as much as this period of rivalry between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was referred to as the “cold war” period, no war did occur between these two superpowers. So why was the cold war referred to as “war”? This is a question that historians have been asking themselves for the past few years without a proper answer. The reason this war was "cold" was that it did not involve any direct military conflict between the United States and USSR. However, these two superpowers were constantly involved in propaganda wars with threats of nuclear annihilation. They also participated in "proxy wars" by backing up allied nations in several "hot" wars especially in Korean, Vietnam, and Angola among other countries.
This “Cold War” was very important in defining the foreign policies for both these two countries throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Both America and the Soviet Union contested for allies as a way of retaining and broadening their influence throughout the world. This war was viewed by both sides as a battle between civilizations. According to each of these two superpowers, this was a clash between American capitalism and Soviet Communism. They believed that only one was destined to succeed.
The cold war did continue for over 40 years with the conflict mainly in global affairs, intensive military hype, a major nuclear arms race, serious intelligence, and aggressive technological rivalry. Both sides tried their all to have the upper hand in the preparation for the thermonuclear "hot war" that everyone believed would eventually come someday. The cold war shaped these two country’s politics, military and diplomacy. They also affected the country’s education structure, culture and even the country’s highway system.
The difference political, social and economic settings of these two countries were widely regarded as the main reasons for the Cold War. The U.S. was a democratic state that held elections to elect its leaders. It was majorly a capitalist society that believed on survival for the fittest. Apart from that, the U.S. was the richest power in the world that upheld the freedom of all its citizens, as well as the freedom of the media. The U.S.S.R., on the other hand, was under an autocratic leadership and did not hold any elections to elect its leaders at that time. It was largely a communist society that believed in everyone to help his or her neighbor. It was a poor economic base compared to the U.S. The U.S.S.R. believed in controlling its citizens through the police and the media was largely censored to convey only information that was favorable to the state.
The cold war era was a period when the world was in constant fear of an outbreak of war. Many believed that any wars could have been more fatal than the Second World War. The main reason the cold war was referred to as a “war” was because it involved under the scene struggles between these two superpowers to prove the best among them. In the end the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 bringing an end, to the cold war as the U.S. remained the only superpower.
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Shmoop Editorial Team. "Causes of the Cold War." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.