The Cold War was a state of geopolitical tension after World War II between powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its satellite states ) and powers in the Western Bloc (the United States , its NATO allies and others). Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but a common timeframe is the period between 1947, the year the Truman Doctrine (a U.S. foreign policy pledging to aid nations threatened by Soviet expansionism) was announced, and 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed.
The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy. It is often referred to in popular culture , especially in media featuring themes of espionage (e.g. the internationally successful James Bond movie franchise) and the threat of nuclear warfare.
This former US Army Security Agency Field Station is the new home of the Cold War Museum…Vint Hill, Fauquier Co., Virginia, USA.
Growing out of post-World War II tensions between the two nations, the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted for much of the second half of the 20th century resulted in mutual suspicions, heightened tensions and a series of international incidents that brought the world’s superpowers to the brink of disaster.
For 30 years, the Berlin Wall was the defining symbol of the Cold War, separating families and keeping the people from jobs and opportunity in the west.
The containment strategy also provided the rationale for an unprecedented arms buildup in the United States. In 1950, a National Security Council Report known as NSC–68 had echoed Truman’s recommendation that the country use military force to “contain” communist expansionism anywhere it seemed to be occurring. To that end, the report called for a four-fold increase in defense spending.
In particular, American officials encouraged the development of atomic weapons like the ones that had ended World War II. Thus began a deadly “arms race.” In 1949, the Soviets tested an atom bomb of their own. In response, President Truman announced that the United States would build an even more destructive atomic weapon: the hydrogen bomb, or “superbomb.” Stalin followed suit.
After World War II the United States and the Soviet Union were the superpowers of the world. They became rivals as they each sought to prevent the other from gaining too much power. The period of tension that existed between them came to be known as the Cold War. Although the conflict did not result in actual war between the two countries, it did lead to a number of smaller wars.
We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.
All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional.
Join our global learning community and gain access to rich content, resources, and activities for globalizing your curriculum.