The Cold War Between the United States and the Soviet Union

The Cold War took place after World War II and it was marked by geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States received support from its allies including the Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc. This war had limited recourse to weapons because it was waged on propaganda fronts, economic and political issues. It lasted for about 45 years starting from 1947 and only ended on December 26, 1991, upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union (Westad 2017). The continuous rivalry between two allies of World War II spanned conflict in the world’s biggest cities where dangerous weapons such as nuclear submarines were deployed (Hammond 2017). This paper intends to discuss the explanation of the Cold War, whether it was inevitable, and factors that made the conflict unavoidable.

There are various explanations for the Cold War since it was influenced by many factors. As noted by Marxist historians, the war could have risen as the United States attempted to attain economic hegemony and achieve the greatest power. On the other hand, Revisionist argues that Stalin and Truman’s personalities are associated with the eruption of the war. Another explanation is that America was focusing on the development of a democratic system to promote the rights of people in society (Steil 2018). The Soviet Union was determined to spread its communism ideology around the globe, which conflicted with the American desire to promote democracy.

The nuclear arms race could also explain the development of the war immediately the World War II ended. The defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945 saw the end of the Second World War. Although the Allied Powers won, the war continued in the Pacific Theater. It officially ended in august 1945 after the atomic bombing in Japan resulting in the massive killing of innocent people (Westad 2017). The Manhattan Project, the American secretive program, developed atomic weaponry towards the end of World War II. The Japan bombing influenced the U.S to invest more in nuclear arms and weapons in preparation for future uncertainties. In response, the Soviet Union developed its atomic weapon to gain sufficient power to challenge the U.S militaristically. The two groups spend heavily in the development of massive arsenals of dangerous weapons as they prepared to outdo each other (Neumayer 2018). The race of developing weapons created tension and mistrust explaining the emergent of the cold war.

The ideological conflict on communism against capitalism between the U.S and the Soviet Union could also explain the war. The Soviet Union was considered a communist nation since its principles were based on socialism or collectivism. On the contrary, the principles of the U.S were individualism since it emphasized modern liberal democracy. The conflict implies that the U.S was placed on the right side while the Soviet Union on the far-left side in the economic spectrum (Hammond 2017). The war was considered a conflict of the right and left sides. The Soviet Union was making determined efforts to promote communism while the U.S was taking counteracting measures. The U.S feared that communism would spread around the globe and affect social and economic prosperity. Led by Harry S. Truman, America was determined to spread and influence communism in the Soviet sphere.

The Cold War was inevitable and only required the U.S and Soviet Union to solve their differences using other methods. Unfortunately, none of them was willing to listen or consider the stand of the other party. The inevitability of the Cold War can be argued on both sides due to the occurrence of the events before and after World War II, and the onset of the Cold War. If the two nations had solved their disagreements diplomatically, there would have no cause of a war, but only a slight tension (Hammond 2017). It could have been avoided if either Truman or Stalin accepted to surrender his ideologies and embrace that of the other one. Moreover, the U.S should have avoided developing nuclear weapons that would scare the Soviet Union and influence them to invest in similar armories. If the U.S did not initiate the weapon race, there are high chances that the war could have been avoided.

Miscommunication between the two nations and unwillingness of fixing the misconceptions were the main causes of the Cold War. The Soviet Union and America failed to release tension between them and each nation addressed issues more devastatingly. The Cold War was a buffer between the United States and the Soviet Union as each nation tried to show its superiority (Westad 2017). It was a fault of the American policy and Soviet making it difficult to solve territorial disputes.

Since Truman and Stalin exhibited diverse political ideologies, it was difficult to avoid the war. Largely, the Cold War was hastened by the fact that the two nations lacked a will to cooperate and understand what the territorial dispute would bring forth. It is ironic that despite the tensions between the two countries, leaders met once showing unwillingness to solve these disputes (Neumayer 2018). Issues that arose were solved with a temporary plan that failed to offer long-lasting solutions to the problem.

The Soviet Union seemed to identify a class struggle that ultimately drove the historical progress. The indispensable proletarian revolution for human liberation led to the emergence of a communist society. On its part, the United States with its foreign policy went beyond the ideas of equality and liberty under the law. The American influence was spread by consolidating free markets as well as general prosperity (Hammond 2017). Both ideologies stand to exhibit messianism and determinism narratives where no side had a will of standing aside. In such a context, vague aspirations, as well as, over-ambitious of American and Soviet foreign policy, meant an unsustainable peaceful coexistence.

The Cold War could have been avoided were it not for a coincidental clash between Lenin’s and Wilson’s universalist aspirations. The Soviet Union and US subsequent antagonism could have been avoidable (Steil 2018). While it is still a misery whether different individuals instigated the change of the turnoff events, the truth is that Wilson’s and Lenin’s universalism, Truman’s nationalism, and Stalin’s totalitarianism paved way for four decades of mistrust, fear as well as nuclear precariousness.

The Cold War was inevitable but many factors made the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union unavoidable. Relations between the two groups were based on a complex interplay of economic, political, and ideological factors. This caused devastating superpower rivalry and shifts between cautious cooperation over the years. It became difficult for these conflicting groups to attain a mutual understanding following their distinct differences. It was evident that the U.S was annoyed by the decision of the Soviet leaders when they took Russia out of World War I. America was also against the communist ideology advocated by the Soviet Union influencing hostility (Neumayer 2018). The anti-democratic policy and aggressiveness of the Soviet Union’s policy toward Eastern Europe brought devastating tension even before the end of World War II when it was an ally to the U.S.

The nuclear arms race made the Cold War conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union unavoidable. When the two groups started investing heavily in weapons, they created tension and fear that triggered the eruption of war. By the 1950s massive weapons were already developed that could destroy each other. Stockpiles of nuclear weapons were a source of defense that influenced the start and progression of the Cold War. The ideological conflict was an important factor for the Cold war to commence (Neumayer 2018). It exposed the existing differences between the Soviet Union and the U.S since they could not agree on how to organize the world. Harry S. Truman established a policy to hinder the spread of communism revoking the Soviet Union to take corrective action.

In conclusion, the Cold War was a significant event experienced in the 20th Century. It occurred because of conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States after the Second World War. Several factors explain the war including tensions between superpowers, ideological conflict, nuclear arms race, and spread of communism. The Soviet Union and the United States had diverse views on how to organize the world following the turn of events of World War II. The war was inevitable if the two parties agreed to address their issues diplomatically. However, the involved leaders failed to create room for negotiations but instead improved their weapons for the war and insisted on retaining their ideologies. The conflict was unavoidable because of the differing ideologies, nuclear arms race, and various political and economic factors.


Hammond, Andrew. 2017. Cold War Stories: British Dystopian Fiction, 1945-1990. London: Springer.

Neumayer, Laure. The Criminalisation of Communism in the European Political Space after the Cold War. London: Routledge, 2018.

Steil, Benn. The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War. London: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Westad, Odd Arne.2017. The Cold War: A World History. New York: Basic Books.

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