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The cause of the cold war was a direct result of the power vacuum left in the aftermath of WWII, leaving the Soviet Union and United States as the only Major powers left after the destruction of much of Europe and Asia. Schubert, A., & Goldstein, R. J. (2012) “The term cold war refers to the fact that, although the United States and the Soviet Union never engaged in direct military conflict—that is, their own armed forces never actually fought each other—the relationship between them was frozen into one of deep hostility.” (Schubert, A., & Goldstein, R. J. 2012, section, 5.1) There was also a hatred, or blame towards the United States that Russia felt. By waiting until the summer of 1944 the allies, Russia felt” left them fighting on their own and therefore causing many deaths. In 1919 the United States and other western countries sent some troops to to Russia in a half heated attempt to overthrow communism, this also left a bitter taste with the Russians. With respect to the immediate cause of the Cold war it was the west’s worry over Soviet domination of Europe, especially after they developed the nuclear bomb in 1949.) Schubert, A., & Goldstein, R. J. 2012)
There was a great fear of communism in the west during the cold war. The events that happened in the 1940 such as the trial and guilty verdict and eventual execution of Rosenberg’s (1953), the so called iron curtain around Europe and the Soviet Union obtaining the bomb was a surprise for the American public, influencing popular opinion about the security of the nation.( Fried, A. 1997)
Nationalism played a large in the Cold war, and in the collapse of communism: BEISSINGER (2009)
“Precisely because nationalism was an underlying factor in the demise of communism, the process of collapse largely spread along the two institutional forms that were used to structure multinational and international control: ethnofederalism and the Warsaw Pact. Both of these institutions utilised faux forms of sovereignty to mask centralised control, so that the collapse of communism revolved in significant part around making genuine the bogus sovereignties of communist-style ethnofederalism and the Warsaw Pact. With the exception of Albania (explicable as a simple case of regional spillover effects, and in fact the last of the east European communist regimes to collapse), the other nine communist regimes that collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s were either members of the Warsaw Pact, were under the strong political domination of the USSR (Mongolia) or like the USSR were ethnofederal states (Yugoslavia). By contrast, the six Asian and Latin American communist regimes that survived stood outside the system of Soviet institutional control, had established themselves independently from Soviet power and did not employ ethnofederalism as an institutional form for mediating relations with their own internal minorities.” (BEISSINGER, M, 2009 pg 335)
As pointed out by Beissinger nationalism played a role in the demise of communism and the western powers that “beat it.
Life was very different for the eastern and western block countries during the cold war. In the west, after the Marshal plan, much of war torn western Europe was rebuilt, and began to prosper and become a “happy” society again, unlike after WWI. By contrast in the eastern block countries much was not rebuilt and remained ruined from the years of battle during WWII. Also many families were torn apart, as many German soldiers never returned from soviet POW captivity. Then you had Berlin, split in two but actually in Eastern Germany which was controlled by the Soviet Union. We only have to look and how the people had to live which precipitated the Berlin airlift to help those who were being “choked” and starved by the Soviets.
Fried, A. (1997). McCarthyism: The great American red scare: A documentary history. Oxford University Press, USA.
Schubert, A., & Goldstein, R. J. (2012). Twentieth century Europe. San Diego, California: Bridge Point education.
Beissinger, m (2009) Nationalism and the collapse