“Cold war” is the term given to the competition, conducted through means short of direct military conflict, between the United States and the Soviet Union since World War II. Its roots go back to the 1890s when, after a century of friendship, Americans and Russians became rivals over the development of Manchuria.
Russia sought to close off and colonize parts of East Asia, while Americans demanded open competition for markets. In 1917, with the Bolsheviks success in Russia, the rivalry turned intensely towards his beliefs. The Soviets feared that the United States, as the most powerful capitalist nation, wanted to defeat their communist system. The communist success in united power, their exclusion of U.S. property, and the possibility that their revolution would spread to Europe, Asia, and perhaps even the Western Hemisphere made the Americans fear.
Diplomatic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union did not exist between 1917 and 1933. They became allies only after both were attacked by the Axis in 1941. The cold war period was marked by massive military build ups (including nuclear weaponry) by both sides and by intensive economic competition and strained, hostile diplomatic relations.
Thefirst important post-World War II disagreement between East and West was about the reunification of Germany, which proved at the time to be impossible. Communications between the two sides virtually ceased, and an “iron curtain descended between them. The U.S. rallied the other Western powers by sponsoring a series of strategic actions, including the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and other regional pacts.
Within the Communist bloc the Soviet Union maintained tight political, economic, and military control over its satellites, for example, by suppressing the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; by instituting (1955) the Warsaw Treaty Organization; and by supporting Communist revolutions in China, parts of…