For many of us the Cold War has been a topic that has been covered quite thoroughly throughout our historical education, but there is one thing that still may not be quite clear. Was the Cold War really that cold? While it is clear that this conflict was primarily “fought” between the USSR and the United States through largely indirect means, the Cold War did get quite hot throughout its near half-a-century long history. Over the next few weeks there will be blogs written to discuss tease more heated moments, but for the moment, lets discuss how the Cold War began.
Following World War II, the entire globe was at a crossroads. After nearly six years of global conflict, the new world order needed to be established. The top allied leaders in 1945, FDR of the United States, Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and Joseph Stalin of the USSR all had found common ground among in order to divide up the world towards the end of the war at the Yalta Conference. However, with FDR’s death in April of 1945, the cooperation he had established with Joseph Stalin was in danger. Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S Truman, did not have the same charm and compromising attitude with the Communist Stalin. Truman was less willing to compromise with Stalin than FDR had been which ruined the flimsy trust that had been established between the US and USSR. Here are where the seeds of the Cold War were planted.
Over the course of the next four and a half decades, the conflict between Communism and Capitalism ensued. The United States and their Western allies supported building democracy and capitalist economies in the territories they influenced following World War II while the USSR attempted to expand its sphere of influence throughout the Eastern world. The Cold War is described as “cold” because this ideological conflict was the fuel. While the US and the USSR never fought direct wars against each other, both sides used their influential power in regions in order to guide different sides throughout their own “hot” conflicts.
Ultimately, the Cold War was a fight for dominance. That fight manifested itself in the struggle over nuclear weapons, in the space race, in athletic competitions, and in multiple wars. We will dive deeper into the "hot" aspects of the Cold War in future weeks. Stay tuned!
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