What were the underlying causes of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The causes of the Cold War were rooted in the failure of the Allies (U.S., Great Britain, U.S.S.R.) to reach common peace agreements with regard to Germany and Poland at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. The primary issues of the conferences involved the geographical borders of Poland and a free election process in Germany.    However, without a system of 'checks and balances' in place the conferences lacked the essential element for success-accountability. It became clear that Stalin had no intention of allowing free elections to take place in Germany. This led the U.S.S.R. to maximize its borders by expanding its sphere of influence creating buffer satellite nations. As a result,  the Cold War polarization between the U.S. and the Soviet Union lasted for almost 50 years.