The Cold War is one of the most intense era in post-war history. It is basically a dispute between the ideologies of democracy and communism, which were advocated and defended by two respective nations, the United States and the Soviet Union. This dispute stretched from political ideologies to economic and diplomatic disputes between the two superpowers of the world. It is a conflict with battles of all forms, propaganda, economic war, and even military aggression at several opportunities.
The three underlying aspects to which the Soviet Union and the United States clashed were opposing ideologies, economic vision, and competition for power. First is ideological conflict. The contrasting systems of government between the United States and the Soviet Union lie in the electoral mandate given in a democracy and the dictatorial privileges imposed in communism. Democratic countries empower their people by choosing the individual they see fitting to govern them to progress, which communist countries are ruled by an iron fist where one man is the sole authority of the entire population.
Democracy allows for liberties in speech, assembly, and economic enterprise unlike communism where everything is controlled and owned by the state. Due to these polar differences, the US and the USSR were far from compromising and meeting each other’s ends. In the economic aspect, the US campaigned for an international free trade while the USSR wanted to economically isolate itself from the world market. Russia saw that such trade opportunities would lead to the infiltration of Western influences within. This was a potential threat to the stability of a totalitarian regime.
And last, the two nation’s search for power made them apprehensive of one another as they strove for dominance. They wanted to enhance their power after Europe’s decline due to the Second World War, and this led to their inevitable competition as they share the same interests. There were three principal causes that led to the conflict between the US and the Soviet Union. First is the expansionist movements of the Russians in Europe. Prior the end of World War II, Russia has already expanded her sphere of influence and even territory in different European states.
The Russian Red Army was able to liberate a large area in eastern Europe and eventually gained control to more countries. After the Yalta Conference, Russia was granted the Curzon Line as its new boundary which includes Poland and East Germany. After the war, in order to ensure control over countries that they have liberated from the Axis powers, the Russians interfered with local elections and rigged the results in order to impose their policies through the elected leader that they favor.
Another factor is that the United States reacted negatively on this Russian expansionism as then President Harry S. Truman declared that his government will not adhere to the agreements that his predecessor has made with Russia because he did not trust the Russians would keep their end of the bargain. He strongly resisted the expansion of Russia. Third is that this distrust of the Truman government towards communist Russia led to the deterioration of the US-Soviet Union relations. The Cold War led to a worldwide struggle for dominance.
The communists tried to expand their sphere of influence while America tried to prevent this in every possible way. As nations became divided due to opposing political ideologies, their pursuits were supported by their own superpower. Although Russia and America did not directly invade one another, their avenues of military conflicts were in Germany, Cuba, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and more. These countries have become divided at one point or another and suffered from standards of living with obvious discrepancies.
The Cold War has also led to the furthering of the nuclear age, where warfare has become very advanced in terms of stealth technologies, surveillance activities, guns, ammunitions, missiles, and more. The Cold War has also brought mankind to different depths of science, as Russia and America raced to the outer space and eventually to the moon. The Soviet Union eventually collapsed and the Cold War era has ended. Communism failed in most countries, with only China, Vietnam, and North Korea as the most known surviving communist nations.
This downfall of the Soviet empire came as a significant turning point in history as it left the United States as the sole superpower of the world. In 1985, Gorbachev became Russia’s leader and made economic and political reforms known as Perestroika and Glasnost. Gorbachev appeared as a left-wing Social Democrat who favored free elections but also believed in restriction of private ownership. At first, Gorbachev sounded a promising leader who would be able to raise the Russian standard of living. But on 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and communism in Germany had failed.
Germany was reunited, but the price was bloody and horrific. Further problems for communism rose, especially in Russia, as Gorbachev’s policies fell into frustration as they failed to improve the situation in Russia. Although Gorbachev had brought the Cold War to an end, his political reign brought Russia into further economic turmoil and had Russia has lost her East European territories. With these, the Russians’ hopes turned to Boris Yeltsin. In August of 1991, there were fears that the Soviet Union would breakup and lose its strength.
The military made immediate actions and placed Gorbachev under house. But their coup attempt was left with poor organization and was not properly executed. They radiated weakness in their new conferences and they failed to project enough will and resolve. This enabled Boris Yeltsin to gain strong public support, as he charismatically climbed the military tanks and pleaded the military to put the conflict into a halt. After this coup d’etat, Yeltsin’s popularity was overwhelming and became the duly elected democratic President of the Russian republic. Russia was no longer a communist nation, it has