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Origins and Causes of the Cold War

Summary:

The Cold War originated from ideological differences and geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II. Key causes included the conflicting aims of capitalism and communism, the power vacuum in Europe, and mutual suspicions. The U.S. aimed to contain communism while the USSR sought to expand its influence, leading to a prolonged period of political and military rivalry.

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When and why did the Cold War start?

The Cold War began shortly after the end of World War II in 1945. The reason the Cold War started was the the Soviet Union (Russia) violated international agreements about how war-torn Europe would be governed and rebuilt. One such agreement they violated was that territories recaptured from Germany would be given democratic elections. Instead of instituting democratic elections, the Russians set up what were essentially puppet communist governments controlled by the Soviet Union. Angered by this, the United States and the other western democracies refused to "appease" Russia as they had Germany prior to World War II. Instead, they instituted a policy of containment, in which they would not fight the Soviets directly but would seek to prevent them from expanding their territory and ideology into new places. This is why the United States fought several conflicts to promote democracy and prevent communism from spreading during the Cold War.

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How did the Cold War begin?

International relations and conflicts, including the origins of the Cold War, can seldom be reduced to "a couple of details." There were many factors involved in development of the situation that came to be called the Cold War.

After the end of World War II, the Soviet Union was concerned about encroachment upon its territorial boundaries and about unfriendly influences on its neighboring countries, which were its primary allies and trade partners. The United States was suspicious of Soviet plans to expand the communist philosophy of government and economic planning and supported European allies in rebuilding democratic and free-capital economies. The conflict between these basic outlooks formed the beginning point for the Cold War, which

dominated the two powers' foreign policies, domestic priorities, and military planning for roughly the next forty-six years, having an impact on practically every nation on Earth.

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How, when, and why did the Cold War begin?

Both specific events and ongoing processes contributed to the beginning of the Cold War. The end of World War II and the development of nuclear capabilities were two essential components that helped start this era of geopolitical conflict, in which the main rivals were the capitalist United States and communist Soviet Union (USSR).

The 1949 political division of Germany among four foreign nations, following the Potsdam Conference, is an important milestone in the onset of the Cold War. In addition, the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949 led to significant expansion of the conflict, especially in Asia, including the Korean War of the early 1950s.

The end of World War II in 1945 is often considered the beginning of the Cold War, as the United States and USSR became the dominant military powers in Europe after Germany collapsed and British global power waned. The expansion of US influence in Asia followed not just Japan’s surrender but also the US use of atomic weapons on Japan. Some historians argue, therefore, that the Cold War actually started during the Second World War as several nations raced to develop nuclear power. Because the threat of global nuclear war accelerated the US–Soviet rivalry, others consider the 1949 Soviet acquisition of nuclear power to mark the Cold War’s true beginning.

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What caused the Cold War?

The main cause of the Cold War was the fact that the communists and the West did not trust one another.  Each felt the other was going to try to destroy it.  Each felt the other was going to try to impose its system on the whole world.

The West felt the communists were going to try to foment revolutions in every country or to simply conquer countries and force them into communism.  The USSR had already done that in Eastern Europe and communist doctrine calls for the whole world to become communist.

The USSR felt that the West was going to try to destroy it.  Western governments had been anti-Soviet since the creation of the USSR.  The United States, for example, had sent troops to the USSR after WWI to help the anti-communists in the Russian Civil War.

The Cold War happened largely because of this mutual distrust.  Follow the link below for a much more comprehensive discussion of this topic.

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What caused the Cold War?

As with so many other questions, the answer to this question would depend largely on which historian you asked. But there are a few points on which I think most would agree. First, the Grand Alliance had never been terrible cozy to begin with, as Stalin was well aware of Anglo-American antipathy toward his regime. The Americans and British, on the other hand, didn't trust Stalin, largely due to his duplicity in the Nazi-Soviet non-agression pact of 1939.

In short, though, the Cold War emerged from disagreements about what post-war Europe, and indeed the world, would look like. At the Yalta Conference, Stalin gave assurances that he would allow democratic elections in Poland. By the time of the Potsdam Conference, new president Harry Truman was convinced that this was not happening, and took a hard line in promoting United States interests. He was particularly emboldened by the fact that the Americans were in possession of the atomic bomb, which he used shortly thereafter to end the war in Japan.

In the wake of the war Stalin determined to create a buffer zone of friendly states on his western flank. He thus installed communist regimes in Poland, Romania, and other eastern European nations, actions that the Truman Administration viewed as aggressive. Diplomat George Kennan's "Long Telegram" convinced American policy-makers to take a hard line on the matter (hence the "Truman Doctrine" of containment) and when communist revolutions appeared imminent in the rest of Europe, the US instituted the Marshall Plan, which flooded Europe with billions of dollars in investment. The Soviets viewed this as economic imperialism. By 1948, China was in the midst of a communist takeover, and Europe was divided among states supported by the US and Soviets. This was the beginning of the Cold War.

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What caused the Cold War?

The Cold War was the result of post-World War II distrust between the Soviet Union and the west.

The roots of this distrust go back to the Russian Revolution. During the fight between communist and tsarist forces, the western powers sent support and soldiers to help the tsarists. When the communists finally achieved victory, they vowed never to forget this. In general the west continued to distrusted communist states ideologically and did what they could to isolate Russia internationally.

On the other hand communist Russia was not shy about interfering in the affairs of western nations. They sent foreign aide to socialist worker revolts in Britain, France and the U.S. prompting Red Scares throughout the 1900’s. By the time World War II broke out, both sides allied only as a means to defeat Germany, but neither really trusted the other. The Russians were upset that it took the other Allied nations so long to open up a second front against Germany, and blamed them for a majority of the losses they suffered during the fighting.

After World War II, the Soviet Union was devastated. No other country had lost more people. They had been invaded through their western frontier several times and decided it was time to prevent this from happening again. As postwar Europe began to rebuild, the Soviets made certain that nations sharing a border with them were friendly. Since they occupied most of these countries, it was simple to help “massage” the local communist party into power despite assurances they would allow “free and democratic” elections.

The formation of what became known as the Soviet Block and the West’s answer in the form of the NATO is seen by many historians as the beginning of the Cold War.

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What caused the Cold War?

Maybe the most fundamental cause of the Cold War was the stark ideological difference between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States was a republic, with a representative government, and more importantly a capitalist economic system, while the Soviet Union was, by the time of World War II, a dictatorship, run by a single party, striving toward communism as an economic system.

Secondly, Stalin saw the end of World War II as a chance to expand Soviet influence into eastern Europe. Whether one views this as a reasonable aim, an attempt to establish a buffer zone to avoid another catastrophic invasion of the Russian homeland or an imperialist effort to expand, or both, it struck US President Harry Truman as the former, and exacerbated tensions between the two powers.

Third, and related to the second cause, serious disagreements emerged over what postwar Europe would look like. The United States, eager to supply European markets with American manufactures, hoped to expand their influence into Germany, in particular, a development that struck Stalin as US imperialism. The Marshall Plan, with its billions of dollars in aid, and the policy of underwriting the German Deutsche Mark, signalled a permanent chill in US-Soviet relations, and by early 1947, Stalin was not only launching new Five Year Plans, but was declaring capitalism and communism to be irreconcilable. 

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What caused the Cold War?

There were numerous factors involved in the development of what came to be known as the Cold War.

The United States and Soviet Russia, the country that came into existence after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, had very different outlooks regarding how governments should be selected and should function; the United States advocated a democratic government with leaders elected by the general population, with multiple viewpoints represented by the elected officials, while Soviet Russia developed an all-powerful single party system of government with leaders elected by a very small number of officials within the party. The United States followed a capitalist economic policy which supported free market enterprise with minimal government interference; Soviet Russia's communist government controlled production and distribution of goods and services and private ownership was prohibited. The conflicts between these radically opposed perceptions of the world were a starting point.

Following the end of World War I, the United States was able to return to relative isolation, protected by oceans between the North American continent and other countries. Soviet Russia did not have this geographic protection and feared foreign invasion by enemy countries. The feelings of insecurity and potential threat were heightened when Soviet Russia was not included in international diplomatic efforts, largely because other countries didn't want to risk an expansion of the Russian governmental dominance of territory and people.

World War II validated Soviet Russia's fears of invasion from the west as Germany attacked. The United States contributed its military involvement to the Allied forces fighting Germany in western Europe rather than supporting Russia's fight, privately conceding that Soviet Russia would probably end up controlling some Eastern European countries, starting with Poland, after the war.

When President Franklin Roosevelt died and was replaced by President Harry Truman, the United States's Supreme Commander became someone who had not worked with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during the war and who didn't trust Stalin to abide by agreements that were developed to determine the division of German-conquered territory after the conclusion of World War II. Russia wanted Germany severely punished and left as weak as possible after the war; the United States supported efforts to rebuild a strong Germany. Divisions of Germany and Berlin among the Allied Powers didn't end the disagreements.

Following the end of World War II, relationships between the United States and Soviet Russia degenerated as conflicting economic policies led to clashes regarding the rebuilding of areas shattered by the effects of the war, as implications of the United States's use of the nuclear bomb and Soviet Russia's efforts to develop one became known, and as Soviet Russia supported individuals fighting the government of Iran with the hope of gaining access to Iran's oil resources.

On March 5, 1946, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the phrase "Iron Curtain" for the first time to describe the iron-clad control taking over and enclosing countries that were being brought under the control of Soviet Russia. Churchill urged the United States take a stronger role in opposing further expansion of the Soviet sphere of influence.

Bernard Baruch, an advisor regarding financial and atomic energy affairs to President Truman and others, first used the phrase "Cold War" in 1947.

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What caused the Cold War?

The Cold War emerged from the very complex, very tense set of circumstances that characterized the post-World War II world. In particular, it was the product of the new, bipolar postwar order in which the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the world's two remaining powers. Each of these two superpowers had a very different vision for postwar Europe. They differed over the future of Germany, and particularly over Eastern European nations, which Josef Stalin envisioned as a region of pro-Soviet buffer states.

At the Yalta Conference, Stalin had assured then-President Franklin Roosevelt that free elections would be allowed in Poland. This did not transpire, leading to a dispute at the Potsdam Conference between the Soviets and Harry S. Truman. This dispute, and the fact that the Soviets installed puppet regimes throughout Eastern Europe in the years that followed, is often regarded as the beginning of the Cold War, as it divided Europe into opposing blocs. If one man had to be held accountable for beginning the Cold War, most would probably point to Stalin, but the geopolitical situation in the wake of the war was exceedingly complex and resistant to reductionist explanations.

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When did the Cold War begin?

It is very difficult to pin down the exact year in which the Cold War started.  You will notice that the link below says only that the Cold War began “after World War II.”  The most common date given for the beginning of the Cold War is 1947, but it is easy to argue that the Cold War started even before that.  Since it is hard to identify an exact date, different texts may give different answers.  You should check your own text and/or your class notes to see what answer your instructor prefers.

1947 is commonly used as the start date for the Cold War because that is the year in which the Truman Doctrine was announced.  In March of that year, President Harry Truman announced that the US would give aid to non-communist forces in both Greece and Turkey.  This would be part of a more general strategy of containing communism.  The Truman Doctrine said that the US would give aid to any country whose stability was being threatened by communism.  In putting forth this theory, the US explicitly committed itself to opposing communism.  This is why this year is typically given as the start date for the Cold War.

However, we should be aware that tensions had been building since before the end of WWII.  For example, when the allies sat down at the Potsdam Conference, it became clear that they had very different views of how Europe should be run after the war.  The allies clearly did not trust one another.  This helped lead to a situation where the Soviet Union (for example) wanted a part in running post-war Japan but the US refused to give it one.  After the war, but before 1947, tensions continued to rise. In March of 1946, Winston Churchill gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, urging the US to take a stronger line against communism.  In February of that year, US diplomat George Kennan sent his “Long Telegram” urging much the same thing.  Clearly, important people in the US and USSR had already been considering one another as adversaries even before 1947.

Thus, while a commonly-given date for the start of the Cold War is 1947, people often simply say that it began after WWII.

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When did the Cold War begin?

Since the Cold War was not truly a war, it has no "official" beginning date.  There was no battle that started the Cold War on a given date.

You could argue that the Cold War started while WWII was still going on or you could argue that it started right after the war ended.  You could say that it started during the last days of WWII as the USSR rushed to grab what it could (like northern Korea) so that it would hold more territory after the war.  This caused worries in the West that the Soviets were going to be expansionist.  Even before this, Winston Churchill had created a plan to try to push Soviet forces back in Europe so that they could not threaten Western Europe.

You could argue that the Cold War started soon after WWII.  In February of 1946, for example, George Kennan sent his famous "Long Telegram" recommending a hard line against the Soviets.  This idea became further solidified with the Truman Doctrine in 1947.

It is not possible to exactly pinpoint the beginning of the Cold War.  It is best to say that the Cold War began gradually late in WWII and just after that war ended.  It then ran until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

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When did the Cold War begin?

A Cold War is a period of competitions and confrontations between countries. At the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union began a prolonged period of time where there were many competitions and confrontations.

While the beginning of the Cold War is a subject of debate, one of the earliest events of the Cold War began in March 1946. During a speech given by Winston Churchill, he referred to the events in Eastern Europe by saying an “Iron Curtain” has formed over parts of Europe. This was in reference to the Soviet Union taking control of the Eastern European countries often without the people in these countries having a say in this happening.

After this speech, there were many instances where the United States worked to stop the spread of communism in Europe and in Asia.

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When did the Cold War begin?

While friction between the United States and the Soviet Union began shortly after the end of World War II, the Cold War itself is generally understood to have begun in 1947. This was the year that the United States made several moves that caused heightened tension with the Soviets. First, it began the Marshall  Plan, a program that gave massive amounts of aid to Western European countries to help them rebuild after the devastation of the Second World War. This brought these countries firmly into the United States' sphere of influence. It was also the year that President Truman unveiled the Truman Doctrine, calling openly on Congress for aid to help fight the spread of communism. Truman specifically wanted funds to help keep communism out of Greece and Turkey. The Soviet Union obviously took the Truman Doctrine as a hostile move and reacted against it by solidifying its own control over Eastern European. It installed communist regimes throughout the region, which also increased tensions. 

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What caused the start of the Cold War?

The Cold War began at the end of World War II for several reasons. The United States and the Soviet Union had economic and political systems that were opposites of each other. The Soviet Union wanted to spread their system around the world. They began to break agreements that we had made with them before the end of the war. We felt we needed to prevent the spread of Communism. We didn’t want to be surrounded by communist countries.

The Soviet Union refused to leave northern Iraq at the end of the war.  We had to threaten military action to get them to leave. The Soviet Union tried to spread Communism to Greece and Turkey. We offered these countries economic aid, and they stayed noncommunist. The King of Romania said he was pressured to have a communist government even though the Soviet Union agreed to the Declaration of a Liberated Europe. This agreement would allow countries to choose the kind of government they wanted to have. The Soviet Union violated this agreement.

In each instance, the United States challenged the Soviet Union. This created a period of confrontation and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. This was called the Cold War.

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What caused the start of the Cold War?

Although different people might answer this in different ways, I would argue that the Cold War started because the United States and the Soviet Union did not trust one another.  Because they did not trust one another, each interpreted the other’s actions in the most negative possible light and each thought the other was a grave threat.

The Soviet Union and the US never really trusted one another.  The Soviet Union’s communist ideology specifically stated that the capitalists were the enemy of the workers and needed to be overthrown.  Therefore, they were inclined to distrust the capitalist Americans.  Moreover, the US had acted in ways that made the Soviets trust them even less.  The US had sent at least some troops to help fight against the communists in the Russian Civil War after WWI.  The US had refused to recognize the USSR for decades.  The US had, in the Soviets’ minds, dragged its feet on invading Europe during WWII, allowing the Red Army to lose millions of men fighting the Germans.  All of these things predisposed the USSR to distrust the Americans.

The Americans, in turn, distrusted the Soviets.  Communist ideology explicitly called for world revolution, which meant that the US felt that the USSR was dedicated to overthrowing the US political and economic system.  The US also believed that the communists were going to try to spread their influence to other countries of the world.  Because of this, they were very suspicious when the Soviets wanted to control Eastern Europe as their own “sphere of influence” or buffer zone of satellite states.  The Soviets felt this was sound strategy, but the US believed that it meant that the Soviets were trying to dominate Eastern Europe as a first step towards taking control of Western Europe.

Because each side in this situation distrusted the other side, conflict was bound to arise.  The Cold War began because the two sides did not trust one another and because each felt the other side was trying to destroy it.

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How did the Cold War started in the first place?

The Cold war didn't have a definitive start date.  Traditionally, it is pegged in March 1947 with the Issuance of the Truman Doctrine.  The Truman Doctrine was, "to help free peoples maintain their free institutions" against the threat of "subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."  However, the tension leading to Cold War conditions had begun far earlier. 

Shortly after the begin of the joint allied occupation of Berlin, General George Patton predicted that within a few years they (US and USSR) would be fighting for control of Berlin. 

Some say it dated back to shortly after the US entry into World War II.  In 1942, The United States and Britain decided to open their counter offensive by attacking German and Italian forces in Africa.  Stalin wanted the US and Britain to invade occupied Europe, to take pressure off the Soviets, who were barely hanging on against Hitler's invasion. 

Some even claim that it began in 1917, with the rise of Communism in Russia, and that the WWII cooperation between the Soviet Union and the West was a case of "Strange Bedfellows" against a very dangerous common enemy in Nazi Germany.  After Hitler was defeated, the tensions that had existed before the war took over the relationship. 

Most agree though, that the Cold War was on, beyond any doubt, in March 1947 with the Truman Doctrine; but there is strong argument to be made that the seeds for it were sown far earlier. 

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What caused the start of the Cold War?

At the end of World War II, the Allies had reached an agreement about what the world would like in post-war Europe. The Soviet Union chose not to follow many of these agreements leading to the start of the Cold War.

One agreement that was made was about how the post-war government in Poland would become composed. It was agreed there would be free elections, and the new government would have some members of the pre-war government in it. However, the new government had very members of the pre-war government in it, and it appeared there were no free elections occurring.

Another agreement made was reflected in the Declaration of Liberated Europe. This agreement said countries would be free to choose the kind of government they would like to have. However, the King of Romania said he was pressured by the Soviet Union into having a communist government.

The Soviet Union tried to spread communism throughout Europe and Asia. We developed a policy designed to stop the spread of communism known as containment. Thus, we helped European countries with the creation of the European Recovery Program. This program offered aid to countries resisting the spread of communism. We helped West Berlin when the Soviet Union cut off the land routes to West Berlin in an attempt to turn West Berlin into a communist area. We developed the Berlin Airlift to fly supplies over the blockade. We got the United Nations to help South Korea when the Soviet-supported North Korea invaded South Korea to try to unite Korea into a communist country.

We responded to the breaking of agreements and the aggressive actions of the Soviet Union after World War II ended. A Cold War is a period of confrontation and competition between countries. The actions of the Soviet Union led to the beginning of the Cold War. This lasted until about 1990.

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Why did the Cold War occur?

The Cold War existed for several reasons. A cold war is a period of confrontation and competition between countries.  In this case, after World War II, it was a period of confrontation and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union started to break many agreements that were developed during the war. For example, countries in Europe were supposed to be free to decide what kind of government they wanted.  However, leaders reported they were pressured by the Soviets to have a communist government.

Another reason why the Cold War existed was each country had a very different economic and political system.  The Soviet system was one where the government controlled most activities.  There weren’t free elections and the government controlled the economy.  In our system, there were free elections and market forces determined much of what occurred in the economy.

A third reason for the Cold War was the Soviet Union wanted to spread their system of Communism around the world. We didn’t want that to happen since we didn’t want to be surrounded by countries that had a different economic and political system than we had.  As a result, we tried to stop the communist system from spreading. Providing economic aid to non-communist countries was one way we did this.  Sometimes, it involved military aid or military action to prevent the spread of communism.  Thus, distrust developed on both sides.

There were several reasons why the Cold War developed.

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What was the Cold War?  

The Cold War was a conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union which was a result of ideological differences (Democracy versus Communism) and a nuclear arms race. The Cold War began after WWII, as the Soviet Union practiced a policy of expansionism and the United States answered with a policy of containment. Both countries built up their nuclear weapons arsenals to serve as a deterrant to the other. By the 1980's, the Soviet Union began to loose it's influence over many Eastern European countries due to economic issues. In 1989 the Berlin Wall, which separated East Berlin (under Soviet control) from West Berlin (under the democratic control of West Germany) was torn down. This wall was for many, "the most visible symbol of The decades-long the Cold War..." The Cold War officially ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union itself finally collapsed.
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What was the Cold War?  

From around 1945, through the decades of the fifties and sixties the Cold War was waged between Communist countries and Democratic countries.  The leaders of course were the United States and Russia.  The United States did not approve of the Communist form of government and there was a lot of posturing between the nations, but no one wanted to actually go back to war.

The actual term “Cold War” was derived because neither side really wanted to fight in a direct war.  The world was still recovering from WWII.  We had just finished a “hot war.”  Each side decided to fight with threats of war and propaganda.  The arguments took place in the newspapers; the United Nations, on Television and each side threatened the other side and tried to make everyone frightened of a war with atomic weapons.  I can remember when I was in grade school; we used to have atomic bomb drills.  A siren would sound and all the students would have to drop to the floor and get under their desks, as if that would have helped. 

Both the United States played with power struggles in other countries; like Cuba and Vietnam. The governments of both countries would threaten and denounced each other.  Several decades of leaders came and went on both sides, yet, the Cold War continued. The Cold War was the major force in world politics for most of the second half of the twentieth century.

"The Cold War was incredibly expensive over its four decades, costing the U.S. eight trillion dollars in military expenditures and over 100,000 lives in Korea and Vietnam. Although the exact figures for the Soviet Union are unknown, they spent a larger percentage of their gross national product on the war, maybe as much as 60 percent."

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What was the Cold War?  

The Cold War ran from 1945 to 1991, and was between the United States and the Soviet Union.  The Soviets wanted to expand communism to all corners of the globe through their COMINTERN, or Communist International, while America practiced a foreign policy of containment - trying to stop them from spreading their ideology to new countries without provoking them into war.

Since both countries had nuclear weapons, each had to proceed carefully on the world stage so as not to start a global holocaust.  While we call it the "cold" war, the Korean War, Vietnam Wars, Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet-Afghan war and the iron curtain in Europe were all a result of it, costing millions of lives and trillions of dollars in defense spending for both sides.

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How did the Cold War begin and shape events globally?

The Cold War began after the defeat of Germany and Japan by the Allies in 1945. The alliance between the Anglo-Americans and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was based on their common hostility to Nazi Germany. That alliance began to unravel soon after Adolph Hitler committed suicide in 1945. The Cold War dominated world history for nearly fifty years.

Defeated Germany and Austria were divided into zones of occupation. The French, British, and Americans administered the West while the Soviets occupied the East. Berlin and Vienna were similarly occupied and divided. The two sides did not work well together. Germany was divided into a non-Communist West and a Communist East. Austria was made permanently neutral.

Europe was divided by an "iron curtain." Eastern Europe was turned into pro-Soviet Communist nations, and they formed the Warsaw Pact. Western Europe became democratic and pro-American, and it was united in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Berlin was often the scene of tension during the Cold War. It was located deep within East Germany, so it was difficult for the West to maintain trade and communication links with West Berlin. The contest for control of this city led to the Berlin Airlift and the Berlin Wall.

In Asia, the Cold War was dominated by the Korean War (1950–1953) and the Vietnam War (1965–1973). The first conflict ended in a bloody stalemate and the second one ended in American defeat. Japan became a key American ally in the Cold War.

In the Middle East, the West supported Israel while the Soviets backed the Arabs. The two sides in the Middle East received weapons from their respective supporters. The Yom Kippur War (1973) between Israel and its neighbors almost led to a confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

Although the Cold War is over, there remains a great deal of tension between America and Russia.

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How did the Cold War begin and shape events globally?

The Cold War began as the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe toward the end of World War II. Roosevelt was going to push Stalin for free elections in the East after the war ended; however, Roosevelt died just before Germany's surrender. Stalin did not trust the West, thinking that the West wanted to keep the Soviet Union weak and isolated. Roosevelt's successor, Truman, did not trust the Soviets either. Truman did not share atomic secrets with the Soviets, even though the Soviets developed their own bomb six years after the United States used theirs on Japan in 1945.

During the early part of the Cold War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated that an Iron Curtain had been drawn across Europe; this is where the term "Iron Curtain" originates, as it refers to countries under the control of the Soviet Union. George Kennan, from the US State Department, issued the Long Telegram, which stated that the Soviet Union was inherently evil and would stop at nothing in spreading its ideology all over the world. The solution to this was containment. When China fell to the communists under Mao, this communist spread appeared to be happening even though Mao had been fighting the Nationalist Chinese under Chiang Kai-Shek well before World War II. The United States organized the West into NATO. The Soviet Union organized Eastern Europe into the Warsaw Pact—once again, the world was balanced between two competing camps, as it had been before both world wars.

Stalin's successor, Khrushchev, was more open, but he was also willing to expand Soviet influence into the Western hemisphere; this led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event which brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union developed their nuclear arsenals in a policy referred to as "mutually assured destruction." Since both sides did not want to risk nuclear war, they fought wars via proxies. The Soviets backed anti-imperialist groups in the developing world who agreed to take Soviet advisers, weaponry, and money in return for military alliances. The United States backed rightist leaders whose only positive attribute was a hatred of communism. These proxy wars existed off and on for over forty years in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Latin America. In addition to proxy wars, both sides spent billions of dollars on new weaponry, propaganda, and espionage in order to try to gain an advantage.

The Cold War was built on the ruins of World War II. The United States and the Soviets were allies during this war, but it turned out to be an alliance of convenience, because the only thing the two sides agreed on was that the Nazis were evil. The Soviets and the United States accused each other of trying to take too much control of world affairs. The United States did not like the anti-capitalist and atheistic stance of the Soviets. The Soviets did not like the United States's meddling approach to world affairs. This set the stage for the Cold War. This tension shaped world affairs throughout the second half of the twentieth century and even explains some hostility between Russia and the West today.

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