How would you describe the Cold War ? Well, the obvious description is “not hot”, but I think you need more detail than that!
The term Cold War is designed to indicate that the level of hostilities could not be equated to hostilities traditionally seen when two powers are at war. It was a war of words, a war of deeds, a war of secrecy and a war of developing and cultivating mutual friendships. It was all these things but it was not a war of trenches, air raids, infantry raids or destruction between the main combatants. Make no mistake, these things did occur and there was always the fear that an all out war could develop rapidly.
The Cold War was a war of ideologies. The Free Enterprise United States and its allies were locked in an ideological war against the Communist Soviet Union and its Allies.
Much of the west thought that the Free Enterprise forces of the USA represented freedom and liberty whilst Communism represented control and violence. The Soviets saw the US and its Allies as the epitomy of the evil colonizer who went from country to country taking economic advantage of the indigenous inhabitants.
The origin of the Cold War was the end of World War II. As Russia occupied Eastern Germany, many other European Countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and other East European nations turned to Communism. Britain and the United States on the other hand represented those countries that continued to champion the ideals of Free Enterprise.
Subsequently, nations around the world started to side with one of the two Superpowers. They were offered aid, weapons, military trainers, Trade Agreements or any number of rewards. Cuba, North Vietnam, North Korea and even China all sided against the USA and its Allies. Australia, South Vietnam and New Zealand were some of many nations that sided with the USA.
On some occasions, the superpowers were drawn into conflicts. The USA was heavily involved in the Vietnam War and the USSR was heavily involved in a conflict with Afghanistan. The notion of the USA actually engaging with the Soviet Union instilled fear in many as the spectre of a full scale Nuclear War was one possible result, with dire consequences.
The space race saw the Soviet Union as the first nation to put a human in space. Needing to better this feat to retain some dignity, the USA were the first nation to put a human on the moon.
The arms race saw the two superpowers produce nuclear weapons in an effort to show strength against the enemy. It was a case of not only demonstrating power but also acting as a deterrent to the other sides offensive goals.
After millions of deaths and billions in expenditure, the Berlin Wall, which had divided Berlin into Communist east and Free Enterprise west was demolished in 1990. This symbolized the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War as it had existed.