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The Nature of the Cold War Between the US and the Soviet Union


Following the Second World War, the US and the Soviet Union marked the most powerful countries around the world and were referred to as superpowers. However, the two countries had different notions concerning government and economics, which resulted in their fighting a battle of ideas known as the Cold War. This war represented a situation of conflict involving countries that did not take part in open martial action but was pursued mainly through political and economic endeavors, misrepresentation, spying arrangements, or substitute battles at the cost of surrogates. Despite the lack of explicit fighting involving the two sides, the countries maintained critical regional battles referred to as proxy wars (Lewkowicz 134). The Cold War acted as the occurrence of geopolitical tension following World War II with respect to dominance in the Eastern Bloc (USSR and its satellite nations) and supremacy in the Western Union (the US, its NATO friends, and others). Although historians do not have a common agreement on the dates of the Cold War, an extensive timeframe is between 1947, during the announcement of the American foreign policy that promised to assist countries affected by Soviet expansionism, and 1991, when the USSR crumbled.

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Nature of the Cold War

The expression ‘cold’ is employed since there is substantial direct fighting involving the United States and the Soviet Union, but each side strengthened their main regional conflicts referred to as proxy battles. It was an open yet restricted rivalry that erupted following the Second World War between the two countries and their respective supporters. This war was anchored in economic, political, and misinformation aspects and had constrained resort to munitions (Lewkowicz 38). The term was initially employed in an article done in 1945 by George Orwell, an author, referring to what he anticipated would be a nuclear impasse involving monstrous super-nations that possess weapons that can exterminate millions of people in a short time.

The Cold War tore the short-term wartime connection against Nazi Germany, which left the United States and USSR as the superpowers that had profound political and economic disparities. The Soviet Union marked a Marxist-Leninist nation guided by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was under the leadership of different people with several titles over time. The ruling party assessed operations of the press, the military, the financial system, and numerous agencies (Winzoski 686). The US upheld its Cold War participation against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, regardless of interior preoccupations following the assassination of John Kennedy, the American civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, and disapproval of the US contribution in Vietnam War.

Differences in their Respective Competing Ideologies

Taking part from the end of the Second World War from 1945 to the 1990s, the Cold War was among the noteworthy occurrences of the 20th century. Although the Cold War is recalled for numerous of the significant happenings that transpired during the timeframe, encompassing main conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is remembered for ideological differences that arose. The Cold War was fundamentally a contest between the Soviet Union and the US and was characterized by differences in their competing ideologies (Winzoski 693). During that period, the US was a modern liberal country anchored largely in the philosophies of individualism whereas the Soviet Union was a communist state that upheld values of collectivism.

Since the Soviet Union was based on collectivist principles during the Cold War, it was situated on the far-left segment of the economic band, while the US with its individualism ideologies was placed on the right segment. This divergence in ideology acted as the main basis of the rivalry between the two countries since all through the Cold War period, the Soviet Union made efforts to expand communism to other places while the US endeavored to thwart such efforts with the application of the containment strategy. Attributable to such actions, many people perceive the Cold War as a battle of the right and left ends of the continuum (Lewkowicz 47). During the Cold War, the US stood in defense of democracy and capitalism whereas the Soviet Union supported dictatorship and communism.

Specific Issues

In disapproval of communism, there lied the capitalist West, headed by the US, a federal country that had a two-party political structure. First World countries in the Western Bloc were majorly liberal democratic fronts that had a free press, over and above sovereign associations. Nevertheless, such nations had political and economic entanglements of a network of banana republics, over and above other strict governments of the Third World, many of which were former colonies of the Western Bloc. In 1947, several Cold War forefronts, for example, Congo, Indonesia, and Vietnam were Western colonies (Winzoski 689). A small impartial bloc developed with the Non-Allied Movement and sought good relations with both the US and Soviet Union. Although both superpowers did not engage in full-scale armed battles, they were highly armed in readiness for a likely nuclear war. The two segments had a nuclear approach that suppressed the possibility of attack from the other side since there were fears that an attack could result in the complete subjugation of the attacker.

Apart from the expansion of the two segments’ nuclear collection, and their existence of conventional military forces, the fight for supremacy was articulated through proxy wars across the world, psychological battles, extensive propaganda operations and undercover activities, enmity at sports activities, and technological competitions that encompass the Space Race. The Soviet Union reinforced its dominance over countries of the Eastern Bloc while the US started a policy of international control to challenge the power of the USSR, distribute military and monetary aid to nations of Western Europe supporting anti-communist practices, and form the NATO alliance (Lewkowicz 147). The US and Soviet Union contested for dominance in Latin America, in addition to decolonizing nations of Asia and Africa.

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Soviet’s Ultimate Failure to win the Cold War

The Soviet Union finally failed to win the Cold War attributable to its massive economic problems. Soviet’s failures were rooted in the costly arms race with the US and the commencement of its crumbling as liberal reforms proved impossible to address and capitalist transformations to the centralized financial system were strongly transitioned and created major complications (Winzoski 695). Following a sequence of upheavals in the USSR bloc, as well as a failed coup by conservative players who did not support the ongoing changes, in early 1991, the Soviet Union crumbled hence marking the end of the Cold War.


Following World War II, the United States and USSR represented the most powerful countries across the globe. Regardless of the lack of direct fighting during the Cold War, the nations upheld critical regional battles, proxy wars. While the US was anchored mainly in the ideologies of capitalism, the Soviet Union was a communist state that supported values of collectivism. The Soviet Union eventually failed to attain victory in the Cold War attributable to its immense economic problems, costly arms race, and the beginning of its crumbling, which created major complications.

Works Cited

Lewkowicz, Nicolas. The United States, the Soviet Union and the Geopolitical Implications of the Origins of the Cold War. Anthem Press, 2018.

Winzoski, Karen. “A Cold War of Position: A Gramscian Perspective on US-Soviet Cold War Relations.” Foreign Policy Analysis, vol. 13, no. 3, 2017, pp. 682-700.

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