The United States and Soviet Union, the single most important rivalry of the twentieth century, started as a partnership. This irony was caused by the fact that the Germans were taking over Europe, which forced them in this relationship. Once Hitler was eliminated and Berlin destroyed, the tensions began rising. These two nations had completely opposite ideologies from the economic system to the political system. The changing relationship has evolved from a forced partnership, a possible world war and now finally a steadying friendship.
The entire world was watching as the Cold War went from moments of dtente, to hours at the brink of world war three. The Germans and the Russian had an alliance at the beginning of the war but Hitler turned on the Soviets. This caused the Soviets to join the British and American side and led the advance on Germany from two fronts. The German war machine kept this alliance at bay only for so long before the two nations destroyed Berlin. The Soviets were already keeping control of all that was east of Germany, and this was causing the United States great anxiety due to the fact that communism was spreading.
A great sense of relief came to the United States as the Nuclear Age began with the Manhattan Project and the Bombing of Japan. Stalin was now afraid that the United States would one-day force capitalist ideas upon Mother Russia, until the most intriguing aspect of the cold war came along, spies. A great change came when in the early 1950’s the Soviets started testing their own nuclear weapon. The United States could not understand how they had their own nuclear weapon so quickly; the answer today is so simple the plans were stolen. All aspects of life for the United States and the Soviets were to beat each other.
Tensions stayed high in the Olympics, the space race, ICBM’s, the Korean and Vietnam wars. The highest point of tension during the entire Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Up until this point the Soviet sphere of influence did not reach into the Western Hemisphere except for the spies. Castro had now changed this paradigm, allowing Soviet missiles to be set-up in Cuba. This is the point at which most people believed we were closest to a total Nuclear War. The real protection from this possible total war was known as MAD. M. A. D. means as mutual assurance of destruction.
This is if the Soviets bombed the United States and destroyed much of the infrastructure, U. S. submarines could still destroy all or most of the major centers in Russia. This kept both sides at bay for fifty years, and caused the peace. Both sides kept reducing stockpiles of arms through many agreements. Then finally the Soviets could hold their sphere of influence over the Warsaw pact countries signaling the fall of the Iron Curtain. The Soviets changed their political system to that of their bitter rival for decades. The Russian and the Americans are now working together on an unsteady friendship
This Cold War held the entire world at the edge of their seats and makes for a great story. This was much deeper than the news there were many hidden aspects of this conflict. Even our cartoons served to indoctrinate us, ever watched G. I. Joe? The partnership that deteriorated and now is being rebuilt could have turned into a ‘hot’ war at anytime, and began a much more destructive world war. The cold war also had terrible effects on North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and many other nations. Now that the tensions are over the U. S. now believes it must lead the world, the next century’s social students can write on the effects of that policy.