Beginning of Cold War
The Cold War refers to the political hostility in the history of the communist and capitalistic western territories. The conflict was generated by different political and economical ideologies between two super powers namely, the United States representing the NATO allies and the western world and the Soviet Union representing the Warsaw Pact. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were superpowers in their different categories. The end of the World War 2 had defined their superiority, and since most of the western European countries were left in ruins, each superpower wanted to revive them on condition that their ideologies were upheld.
The Cold War began in 1945 because of the action by the President of the United States, Harry Truman forestalling every aid that the Soviet Union earlier enjoyed from America. Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union had expressed his fortified stand on his ideology of communism while the United States was relentless.
Stalin based his stand on the economic depression that the US had experienced and used this as a strategy to lure countries into the communist ideology. The Marshall Plan was executed by the United States in the form of financial aid to the devastated European countries and through it; President Truman reinforced a state of ‘containment’ for the Soviet Union.
The United States could not stand a replica of Hitler’s dictatorship among other European States, as it was being orchestrated by Stalin and the rest of the Soviet Union. The Cold War began because the Soviet Union, under Stalin, disregarded the agreements made in Yalta and Potsdam after the World War 2 by creating communist puppet sates in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, the United States promoted democracy in Western Europe through Military and economic aid.
Factors that Perpetuated Cold War between 1950 and 1980
The major factors that perpetuated the Cold War were the conflicting ideologies of capitalism and communism, and the military tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. Capitalism and democracy were the main pillars in the economic and political performance of the United States, while the Soviet Union was a strong opposition of the American ideologies and instead used communism as a tool to gain control. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) comprised of countries that embraced the capitalistic concept, and they acted as strong allies of the U.S during the Cold War. The capitalist economic system was based on freedom of private businesses and individual households. Therefore, ideology of capitalism disregards stringent governmental control over individual decisions on businesses.
On the other hand, communism is based on communal ownership of property so that both the upper and lower classes benefit. The community owned the means of production and the resources. People benefited according to their needs and not according to their efforts of production. However, while applying this form of economic system in the society, the main aim of the Soviet Union was to have indefinite control over the countries. The United States believed in individual responsibility that would contribute to economic stability. Individual initiatives in business would create more industries and boost a country’s economy.
After World War 2, the Soviet Union was interested in forming an empire by absorbing Eastern Europe and Third World Countries as communist states. However, the U.S realized this form of totalitarian approach of the Soviet Union under the umbrella of communism. Hence, it set a strong foreign policy that was centered on containment of the Soviet Union. As the U.S was focused in curbing the spread of communism, the Soviet Union also maximized its efforts to abolish capitalism. The cold battles included economic manipulation, the competition of nuclear arms, technology and espionage among others. Therefore, political and military tension became intense perpetuating the Cold War.
Effect on America
The victory of United States in the war enabled America to maintain her superiority over the world as it is still recognized as a superpower despite her economic problems. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave evidence that America is the most powerful country. The competition of nuclear arms during the Cold War enriched America with weapons and bombs. The containment policy that that overthrew communism was still practiced by America after the Cold War, and it still reigns as the dominant foreign policy that prevents the spread of communism. Capitalism and democracy became the core of the economy and political realm. The American culture was then dominated by anti-communism and consumerism. Since, America was at the forefront in eliminating country slavery and fostering a democratic environment, the government made strict legislation on discrimination to ensure equality among people of all races, backgrounds and religions.
End of Cold War
The Cold War ended in the late 1980s mainly because of the efforts by Russian President Gorbachev and American President Reagan to seek realism and liberalism between the two nations. It was characterized by a major transformation into liberal ideas. The states that were under the Soviet Union’s iron curtain experienced significant economic problems. The citizens began fighting for their freedom, and they realized the difference when their neighboring capitalistic countries had incredible economic growth. Under the new leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union embraced the liberal ideas of the United States. Free elections as an aspect of democracy began to dominate in the Eastern European countries that were initially communists. President Gorbachev and Reagan of the U.S became the initiators of co-existence. The two personalities embraced realism and liberalism and the United States emerged a conqueror.