Why is the Cold War so important in American history? Was it in some respects a Hot War too? How did it have both international and domestic dimensions?

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The Cold War is so important a part of American history because it so directly affected the United States and because the United States was one of two major global powers involved in a protracted stand-off the consequences of which could have been nuclear war and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. That is pretty significant.

The Cold War is officially considered to have existed from the end of World War II in 1945 to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent, in 1991, collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviet Union. By any historical measure, that is a sufficiently long period of time to warrant its own nomenclature. The stakes involved, as noted, involved the destruction of the world as we know it.

The Cold War was in some respects a “Hot War.” While it was labeled “Cold War” because direct full-scale war between the United States and the Soviet Union was gratefully avoided, there were certainly armed conflicts involving many...

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