causes and effects of the cold war

The cold war

The cold war was a period characterized by hostility and tension between the Soviet Union and the United States America from 1940s to 1980s. It was so called because there was no hot or active war between these two nations. It was just a fear of nuclear escalation. This fear went ahead to initiate the conflicts of the Vietnam and Korea wars.

This war came following an intensive rivalry between non communist and communist nations. Cold war was later intensified when US was assumed to be making plots to attack Cuba which retaliated by consulting USSR for assistance. The factors that led to cold war were all attributed to the end of the Second World War. They included ideological differences, military and political alliances, economic barriers and nuclear weapons (Medhurst, 1997).

In addition to the conflict between communism and capitalism, these two nations developed transient attitudes towards each other. The USSR was very much worried about its security because of series of invasions. The use of atomic bombs by US against Japan made USSR feel it was involved it its attacks and therefore threatened to form its own. These nations engaged in Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles where US tested his in 1952 and USSR in 1955. This arms race turned into a space race where competition in setting up of satellites was pronounced. This was treated by the two nations as an opportunity to compare technological superiority (Medhurst, 1997).

Following this tension, an approximation of $400 million was directed to technical development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This was made to strengthen and modernize developing world by discouraging it from USSR policies of communism. Out of the same war, western nations and America formed alliances which were made to react against USSR extensions of influence. To show solidarity against USSR, these nations signed North Atlantic Treaty, which provided that if one of the members is attacked, it will be treated as a collective attack. In reaction, Soviet members also formed The Warsaw Pact. The arm race between these two nations led to the wide ownership of nuclear weapons all over the world today. To add on effects of the cold war, the two countries invested heavily upon rebuilding military forces (Medhurst, 1997). They all spend millions and millions of dollars trying to make reforms of the military in a competitive manner.

With view of the above facts, this war was contributed by the Soviets ideology of communism that opposed democracy in America, America’s acquisition of atomic weapons, both countries feared attacks from each other, US suspicions over USSR after taking over Eastern Europe. It is also documented that US president and Soviets leader had personal dislikes. America was also angered by the part of Germany which was occupied by Soviets. Finally, Soviet feared America may use its alliance with Western Europe to attack it.

To generalize the effects, both America and USSR built up large ballistic missiles and atomic weapons, military blocs such as The Warsaw Pact and NATO were formed, led to conflicts between Korean War and Vietnam War, Soviet Union collapsed due to economic challenges, two Germany nations were unified and Berlin wall demolished. Out of the same too, former Soviet republics and Baltic States achieved independence, America became the world’s super power and communism collapsed worldwide (Medhurst, 1997). The above frame of events formed the causes and effects of the cold war.


Medhurst Martin, 1997. Cold War Rhetoric: Strategy, Metaphor and Ideology. Michigan; Michigan State University


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