The Cold War

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The Cold War began after World War Two. It was the major force in world politics for most of the second half of the twentieth century. The main enemies were the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold war got its name because both sides were afraid of fighting each other directly. In such a "hot war," nuclear weapons might destroy everything. So, instead, they fought each other indirectly. They supported conflicts in different parts of the world. They also used words as weapons. They threatened and denounced each other. They tried to make each other look foolish.

The United States and the Soviet Union were the only two superpowers following the Second World War. The fact that, by the 1950s, each possessed nuclear weapons and the means of delivering such weapons on their enemies, added a dangerous aspect to the Cold War. The Cold War world was separated into three groups.

The United States led West Germany. This group included countries with democratic political systems. The Soviet Union led East Germany. This group included countries with communist political systems. The non-aligned group included countries that did not want to be tied to either the West or the East. The Soviets believed that they had an agreement with the western democracies that made Eastern Europe a Soviet sphere of influence. The Soviet Union wanted to have dominant influence in that region. The Western democracies, led by the United States, were determined to stop the spread of communism and Soviet power. While not being able to stop the Soviets in Eastern Europe, the U.S. and Britain were determined to prevent communist regimes from achieving power in Western Europe. During the Second World War, communists parties throughout Western Europe, had gained popularity because of their resistance to Nazi Germany...