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Cold War

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Essay title: Cold War

Cold War is the term used to describe the intense rivalry that developed after World War II between groups of Communist and non-Communist nations. On one side were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and its Communist allies, often referred to as the Eastern bloc. On the other side were the United States and its democratic allies, usually referred to as the Western bloc. The struggle was called the Cold War because it did not actually lead to fighting, or "hot" war, on a wide scale.

The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion, and misunderstandings by both the United States and the Soviet Union, and their allies. At times, these conditions increased the likelihood of a third world war. The United States accused the Soviet Union of seeking to expand Communism throughout the world. The Soviets, meanwhile, charged the United States with practicing imperialism and with attempting to stop revolutionary activity in other countries. Each bloc's vision of the world also contributed to East-West tension. The United States wanted a world of independent nations based on democratic principles. The Soviet Union, however, attempted to tightly control areas it considered vital to its national interest, including much of Eastern Europe. For a discussion of the principles of Communism and democracy, see Communism and Democracy.

Though the Cold War did not begin until the end of World War II, in 1945, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union had been strained since 1917. In that year, a revolution in Russia established a Communist dictatorship there. During the 1920's and the 1930's, the Soviets called for world revolution and the destruction of capitalism, which was the economic system of the United States. The United States did not grant diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union until 1933.

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