Causes of the Cold War (2023)


duration from the endSecond World War1945 to the early 1990s, theCold WarIt was one of the most important events of the 20th century. At its core, the Cold War was essentially a "showdown" or competition between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II. Historians have identified several causes that led to the outbreak of the Cold War, including: tensions between the two nations at the end of World War II, the ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, the rise of nuclear weapons, and the fear of communism in the USA.

(Video) Causes of the Cold War - Video Infographic


The first major cause of the Cold War was the rise in tension between the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. During World War II, the Soviet Union was under the leadership ofJosef Stalin, allied with Britain, France and the United States againstGermany coconut, Italy and Japan. At that time, the alliance was based on the destruction of thefascistRegimes in Europe and Japanese expansionism in the Pacific. However, in 1945 the main battles took place both in theEuropean theatrejPacific Theaterbegan to end. For example, World War II in Europe essentially ended with the death ofAdolf Hitleron April 30, 1945. Japan was defeated shortly thereafter in August 1945 with theAtomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During this final phase of World War II, the partnership between the Soviet Union and the other allied nations began to unravel. This is best illustrated at the Allied war conferences at Yalta and Potsdam.

losYalta Conference, Withconference of Potsdam, was an important event for the final phase of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Held February 4–11, 1945, the Yalta Conference was a wartime meeting of Allied leaders that included:Franklin D. Roosevelt,Winston Churchilland Joseph Stalin. The meeting took place near Yalta, which is now a city in Crimea, Ukraine. The purpose of the conference was for the three allied powers to start discussing how to reorganize Europe after the defeat of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Although World War II was not over in Europe, the Allies could see that the end of the war was near and Germany would soon be defeated. The hope was that the three leaders could agree on how Europe could be divided after the war.

However, the Yalta Conference is now also considered an important event in the Cold War because it revealed the split between Stalin and the other two leaders. Neither side trusted the other and Joseph Stalin resented the other two because he believed they were delaying the Normandy invasion and the Allied invasion of Italy in order to get the Soviet Army to fight Nazi Germany alone. This division would be further emphasized at the subsequent Potsdam Conference.

Held from July 17 to August 2, 1945, the Potsdam Conference was a wartime meeting of Allied leaders including:Harry's Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Truman had just succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt as President of the United States after his death. The meeting took place in Potsdam, which was then in Allied-controlled territory of Germany. The purpose of the conference was for the three allied powers to begin discussing how to deal with Nazi Germany's recent defeat. Other goals focused on how the world would continue after the war. Although World War II in the Pacific was not yet over, the Allies could see that the end of the war was near and Japan would soon be defeated.

Causes of the Cold War Infographic (click to enlarge)

The hope was that the three leaders could agree on how they would deal with world issues once the war was over, including: peace treaty issues and the aftermath of the war. However, the Potsdam Conference is now also considered an important Cold War event because, like the earlier Yalta Conference, it highlighted the division between Stalin and the other two leaders. In addition, at the Potsdam Conference, Truman drew Stalin's attention to the American nuclear weapons program (Manhattan Project) and that the Americans had developed the world's first atomic bomb. This conference also created a deep division between the United States and the Soviet Union. Truman was incredibly suspicious of Stalin and his intentions, and Stalin felt similar feelings about Truman. In general, the seeds of the Cold War were planted at the Potsdam Conference. The United States would bomb Hiroshima just days after the conference ended, and World War II would end in weeks, while the Cold War was just beginning. Therefore, the Yalta and Potsdam conferences are considered by many historians to be the start of the Cold War, as they highlighted the growing distrust and tensions between Truman of the United States and Stalin of the Soviet Union.

Allied leaders at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Winston Churchill (Britain), Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA) and Joseph Stalin (USSR).

Allied leaders at the Potsdam Conference, July 1945. Winston Churchill (Britain), Harry S. Truman (USA) and Joseph Stalin (USSR).

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Nuclear arms race

The next major cause of the Cold War was the advent of nuclear weapons at the end of World War II. As noted above, World War II in Europe ended in May 1945 with the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany, but the war did not officially end in the Pacific Rim until the atomic bombing of Japan in August 1945. The United States had developed its nuclear weapons in recent years war years through his secret program called the Manhattan Project. With theAtomic bombing of Japan, the United States had entered the era of nuclear weapons and the nuclear arms race.

At the start of the Cold War, the United States was the only nation in the world to have nuclear weapons of the kind used against Japan in 1945. Therefore, the Soviet Union was unable to militarily challenge the United States and worked to develop its own nuclear weapons. However, on August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union conducted a test of its first atomic bomb, codenamed "First Enlightenment." These early years were important to the growing tensions and anger between the two superpowers. Due to the development of nuclear weapons, the two nations did not dare. As a result, both spent the first decades of the Cold War developing large arsenals of nuclear weapons. By the 1950s each country had developed enough nuclear weapons to destroy the other. This development was an important aspect of the Cold War, since stockpiles of nuclear weapons served as a means of defense. Essentially, the fear of nuclear war kept every nation from going to war against another or allowing tensions to escalate. Historians refer to this idea asMutual Assured Destruction (M.A.D.)as any escalation to war could lead to the total destruction of both countries. Regardless, this nuclear arms race between the two nations demonstrated the growing rift between the two nations. Therefore, the initial development of nuclear weapons in the 1940s and 1950s is considered to be one of the causes of the Cold War, since it increased tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, embroiling them in a dangerous conflict.Nuclear arms race.

US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945.


The third major cause of the Cold War was theideological conflictthat existed between the United States and the Soviet Union. At that time the Soviet Union was aCommunistNation based on the principles ofcollectivismÖsocialism, while the United States was a modern liberal countrydemocracyNation primarily based on the principles ofindividualism. This means that the Soviet Union positioned itself on the left end of the economic spectrum, while the United States positioned itself on the right. This ideological difference was a major source of conflict between the two nations, as during the Cold War the Soviet Union tried to spread communism to other regions and the United States tried to stop it with its containment policy. As such, many people today view the Cold War as, among other things, a conflict on the left and right of the spectrum.

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To better understand the ideological conflict of the Cold War, it is first important to understand the basic principlescapitalism, Communism, Democracy etcdictatorship. During the Cold War, the United States was based on capitalism and democracy, while the Soviet Union was based on communism and dictatorship.

In essence, capitalism is an economic system based on the values ​​of individualism, promoting individual freedom from government regulation and control. For example,Let-do-KapitalismusIt's a form of ideology that translates to "leave us alone," meaning that the government should stay out of the economy and instead allow the people to run their own economic affairs freely. The development of capitalism as an economic system sought to reject the idea of ​​state control of the economy and instead focus on the individual. On the economic spectrum, capitalism is a right-wing ideology fundamentally based on private property, competition, free trade, self-sufficiency, self-interest, and the principles of supply and demand. Capitalist societies are often based on free market economies. This system differs from communism in that the government usually controls the means of production and makes all major economic decisions.

Democracy is a political system associated with the idea that power or authority in a society rests with the people. In general, the people exercise their authority through elections, in which they elect others to represent their interests in a formal legislative structure. This system differs from dictatorships, in which many decisions are made by the government, which often consists of a single person and a single political party.

Communism is an economic system based on the principles of socialism, specifically the earlier development of Marxism and the ideas of Karl Marx expressed in the Communist Manifesto. Similar to Marxism, Communism focuses on the idea of ​​building a society based on public ownership of the means of production and the elimination of any form of social class. For example, communism in general focuses on the conditions of the working class and the large income inequality that existed in laissez-faire capitalist societies. Even communist countries like the Soviet Union are often dictatorships. Communism differs from capitalism because it focuses on government having much more control over the economy and is often referred to as a command economy.

A dictatorship is a form of government in which most or all of the authority of the country rests in the hands of a single person; Leader. While the term has been used several times throughout history, the most common usage of the term refers to the different types of dictatorships that existed in the 20th and 21st centuries. Famous dictators include: Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini in Italy, Kim Jung-un in North Korea and Fidel Castro in Cuba. In general, a dictatorship is the opposite of democracy, which is a system of government in which the people have the power and ability to choose who represents their government. Essentially, in a democracy, the people have power over important aspects of government and are responsible for choosing their leaders. In contrast, a dictatorship is ruled by a single person who generally acts to protect their own position and power over the welfare of the citizens.

This ideological conflict triggered the Cold War because it exposed the differences in worldview between the two nations. As such, the United States and the Soviet Union differed greatly in their views on how the world should be organized after the great events of World War II. For its part, the United States feared Soviet expansionism in parts of Europe and around the world. As a result, at the beginning of the Cold War, United States President Harry S. Truman developed a policy under which the country would work to contain the spread of Communism. Historians refer to this as theDie Truman-The Doctrine.

Harry S. Truman was President of the United States from 1945 to 1953.

Joseph Stalin was the dictator of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1952.

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As such, the ultimate cause of the Cold War was American fear of the spread of communism around the world. As mentioned above, at the beginning of the Cold War there was a major ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States, led by Harry S. Truman, feared that communism as an ideology would spread to Europe and the rest of the world. For example, after World War II, both Greece and Turkey faced a financial crisis. Due to their proximity to Soviet territory and the rise of communism in recent decades, there were fears that the two countries would slide into the Soviet sphere of influence and become communist.

In a 1947 speech about the crisis facing both countries, Harry S. Truman stated: "I believe it should be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who resist attempts at subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures. I believe that we must help free peoples to shape their own destiny in their own way. In my view, our help should be primarily through economic and financial assistance, which is essential for economic stability and orderly political processes..” In this passage, Truman promotes the idea that the United States should fund the two nations to prevent them from turning to communism. This Truman approach formed the basis of American foreign policy for the remainder of the Cold War in the form of disputes known by historians as the Truman Doctrine. Essentially, the Truman Doctrine was the idea that the United States should try to contain the Soviet sphere of influence and the spread of communism. This foreign policy brought the United States into conflict with the Soviet Union by attempting to thwart Soviet expansionism in events such as the following:Berliner Blockade,Korean War,Vietnam War, etc. Hence, many historians see this as a cause of the Cold War because it increased tensions between the two superpowers and sparked several conflicts between the two superpowers.



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