Who or What Started and Perpetuated the Cold War? Essay

The Cold War was a very significant event in the annals of history and it generated political and diplomatic issues in the premature post war period. The main participants of the Cold War were the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold War was generated because the US and the Soviet Union were afraid of combating with each other directly. Instead of fighting openly they fought indirectly by means of threatening each other using words as weaponry means and thus tried to show each other who was the superior among both the conflicting parties (Global Security, 2010).

Bernard Baruch who was the senior advisor to Harry Truman (33rd president of the US), in context to the frequent occurrence of the crisis among the two nations, termed the situation as “Cold War” in 1947 (Global Security, 2010).

The Cold War began in 1917, with the appearance in Russia of a radical Bolshevik regime dedicated for dispersal of communism throughout the modern world. There were differences in opinion between the US government and the Soviet Union. The US government interpreted communism to be an international development that was in the direction of favouring transnational communism. But it was found out that the communists across the world were loyal as they received orders from Moscow (Global Security, 2010).

In the year 1918, the US had united unresponsively in an unsuccessful linked effort to collapse down the revolutionary Soviet regime. Distrustful relations between the Soviets and the US long before the Second World War prepared them as reluctant supporters in the combat against Nazi Germany (Global Security, 2010).

The Great Britain and the US struggled against the Bolsheviks, between 1918 and 1920. In 1918 American groups contributed in the allied involvement in Russia in support of anti-Bolshevik armed forces (Global Security, 2010).


The argument lies between the interpretation of the US government and the thought of the Soviet Union. The Russian argued that whether this approach of the Soviet Union proved to be a threat to the US or whether the US decision makers, misinterpret Soviet and communist. The Soviets ideology might have been interpreted in wrong way due to political interest. The US government could have perceived the level of threat to be huge and not in favour of the political environment in future (Macdonald, 1995).

There are numerous thoughts and perceptions that had created the Cold War and were argued whether the issues were right or wrong in the context of the Soviet and the US political leaders. This has been able to influence the social science theory. The conventional vision of the Cold War thought that the Soviet Union was an expansionist nation accountable for political and military disagreements and that there was a genuine global communist threat which was actually to weaker independent nations, that looped the Soviet Union in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, in the later years of World War II. The Soviet Union, according to this vision led an alliance of ideology in agreement to revolutionary units and country that was aggressively expansionist throughout the selective maintaining of non-ruling communist parties in their pursuit for power. The core of the early Cold War was that the Soviet Union and its ideological patrons were unified and expansionist, and that the United States was reasonably sluggish in responding to the international environment of the danger created by that expansion. It was only tracked when the West and particularly the United States, took harsh integrated stands against the Soviet Union.

There are certain historians who have refused the traditional standpoint from an allegedly pragmatist or post-revisionist perspective. The renowned historian Melvyn Leffler has also presented chief responsibility for the globalization of the Cold War on US anticommunism and the consequential damaged progression of influential threats.

The Cold War, stated by Leffler, was mainly the reasons for the actions of the United States, with the Soviets mostly reacting defensively to U.S. proposal. The Soviet activities were reactive. Even though Leffler at certain point of time assigns affinity of liability to the superpowers, Anders Stephanson accurately comments that in his extensive thesis work, “the case is closed: the United States initiated the Cold War, the Soviet Union did not” (Centre for History and New Media, 2005).

Many commentators like John Lewis Gaddis view the origins of the Cold War in the closing days of World War I when the Western groups were sent into the Soviet Union to support Russian military services fighting the Bolsheviks. Since, the United States of America did not believe the communists and the lawful government of Russia, it sustained to maintain support to Kerensky and rejected to recognise the Soviet Union. This did not stop the unofficial, commercial or compassionate contact and dealings between the two nations; but it generated resistance in the official zone, particularly when most of the European nations started recognising the Soviet Union (Centre for History and New Media, 2005).

There was an expansion in the cold war in October 1949, with the communist conquest over the national forces in China and the announcement by Mao Zedong of the arrangement of the People’s Republic of China. Mao Zedong’s expedition to Moscow facilitated a Sino-Soviet Treaty after two months of negotiations in December, 1949. This was a mutual support deal equivalent to the North Atlantic Treaty.

The Cold War got heated up when North Korea entered South Korea by force in 1950. This troops led by the American forces compelled the North Koreans back in November. There were huge Chinese forces that have joined the fight. According to Gaddis, the Korean War confronted the entire construction of post war collective security. After combating for more than three years there were many casualties in Korean military and civilians, almost 37000 US troops died and more than 600000 Chinese forces died, the war ended in a ceasefire at the original starting point.

During this Cold War there was evidence that biological weapons had been used by the Soviet Unions. The biological weapon was smallpox that affected the US forces and reported that many troops were infected. This added an advantage for the Soviet Union forces and made the US government more aggressive towards the Cold War (Flight, 2010).

Richard Saull stated that the domestic political affairs of the two superpowers accustomed their external behaviour. Due to the characteristic of the Bolshevik revolution and the organisation that emerged to defend it, the Soviet Union was state subjugated in the extreme and as a consequence, it could develop internationally only by widening its elite state rule over new territory. And the United States had greater speciality of economic and social life that were comparatively free of government rules and control, that would lead to expansion globally in a less state centric manner (Saull, 2002).

Richard Saull argues that the extent to which the two superpowers were militarised strongly influenced the nature of their relations. The Soviet Union was extremely militarised and thus its development depended on the direct or indirect deployment of military control. The Soviet Union and its friendly countries were likewise state conquered and comparatively militarised and autarkic, and the military power was the major reason left for the US and its allies to react to Soviet extension (Saull, 2002).

Richard Saull states that the Cold War cannot be detached from the revolutionary thought that a substitute to capitalism could be created. This was the basic idea of the Bolshevik revolution, it restructured regularly throughout the twentieth century a privileged tackling the disputes of expansion, and it lent the Cold War as an international and polarised shine that it would have had otherwise (Saull, 2002).

Norman. M. Wilensky stated that “Tugwell believes that Truman made five egregious mistakes, all of which reversed Roosevelt's policy and led to the cold war”. The mistakes were of dropping bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, disarmament in the attempt to direct nuclear weapons, control over the nations (NATO polices), strategically unsound mistake was related to issue regarding Korea and the assistance to French in the Indo-China rule was the other significant mistake (Wilensky, n.d.).


The Cold War era comprises of numerous high and low indicators for the two superpowers and the world as a whole. Possibly the greatest threat to all the nation was the discrete prospect of nuclear total destruction.

A war, even a virtual Cold War, is assumed not to be a good cause, and also it gives rise to many queries including blames for starting the war. The argument regarding the commencement of Cold War is a never ending one and there have been many reasons for the development of the Cold War which has affected not only the Soviet Union and the US but it has also influenced other nations also.

The Cold War has been able to influence the shape of the world currently we are living in with its political, military and economic affairs. Globalisation of the Cold War that existed have developed the base for most of the vital clashes that are present in the recent times including the war on terror.


Centre for History and New Media, 2005. Origins of the Cold War. Overview. [Online] Available at: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/schrag/wiki/index.php?title=Origins_of_the_Cold_War [Accessed November 19, 2010].

Flight, C., 2010. Silent Weapon: Smallpox and Biological Warfare. BBC. [Online] Available at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/pox_weapon_01.shtml [Accessed November 19, 2010].

Global Security, 2010. Cold War. Military. [Online] Available at: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/cold_war.htm [Accessed November 19, 2010].

Macdonald, D. J., 1995. Communist Bloc Expansion in the Early Cold War: Challenging Realism, Refuting Revisionism. Mount Holyoke College. [Online] Available at: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/macdon.htm [Accessed November 19, 2010].

Saull, R., 2002. Rethink Cold War Historical Materialism. JSTOR. [Online] Available at: http://www.jstor.org/pss/3186471 [Accessed November 19, 2010].

Wilensky, N. M., No Date. Was The Cold War Necessary? The Revisionist Challenge to Consensus History. The University of Kansas. [Online] Available at: https://journals.ku.edu/index.php/amerstud/article/viewFile/2419/2378 [Accessed November 19, 2010].