essay on cold war

The Cold War (1945-1989) essay

The Cold War is considered to be a significant event in Modern World History. The Cold War dominated a rather long time period: between 1945, or the end of the World War II, and 1990, the collapse of the USSR. This period involved the relationships between two superpowers: the United States and the USSR. The Cold War began in Eastern Europe and Germany, according to the researchers of the Institute of Contemporary British History (Warner 15).  Researchers state that “the USSR and the United States of America held the trump cards, nuclear bombs and missiles” (Daniel 489). In other words, during the Cold War, two nations took the fate of the world under their control. The progression of the Cold War influenced the development of society, which became aware of the threat of nuclear war. After the World War II, the world experienced technological progress, which provided “the Space Race, computer development, superhighway construction, jet airliner development, the creation of international phone system, the advent of television, enormous progress in medicine, and the creation of mass consumerism, and many other achievements” (Daniel 489). Although the larger part of the world lived in poverty and lacked technological progress, the United States and other countries of Western world succeeded in economic development. The Cold War, which began in 1945, reflected the increased role of technological progress in the establishment of economic relationships between two superpowers.   The Cold War involved internal and external conflicts between two superpowers, the United States and the USSR, leading to eventual breakdown of the USSR.

  • The Cold War: background information

The Cold War consisted of several confrontations between the United States and the USSR, supported by their allies. According to researchers, the Cold War was marked by a number of events, including “the escalating arms race, a competition to conquer space, a dangerously belligerent for of diplomacy known as brinkmanship, and a series of small wars, sometimes called “police actions” by the United States and sometimes excused as defense measures by the Soviets” (Gottfried 9). The Cold War had different influences on the United States and the USSR. For the USSR, the Cold War provided massive opportunities for the spread of communism across the world, Moscow’s control over the development of other nations and the increased role of the Soviet Communist party.

In fact, the Cold War could split the wartime alliance formed to oppose the plans of Nazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the United States as two superpowers with considerable economic and political differences. The USSR was based on a single-party Marxist–Leninist system, while the United States was a capitalist state with democratic governance based on free elections.

The key figure in the Cold War was the Soviet leader Gorbachev, who was elected in 1985. He managed to change the direction of the USSR, making the economies of communist ruled states independent. The major reasons for changing in the course were poor technological development of the USSR (Gottfried 115). Gorbachev believed that radical changes in political power could improve the Communist system. At the same time, he wanted to stop the Cold War and tensions with the United States. The cost of nuclear arms race had negative impact on the economy of the USSR. The leaders of the United States accepted the proposed relationships, based on cooperation and mutual trust. The end of the Cold War was marked by signing the INF treaty in 1987 (Gottfried 115).

  • The origins of the Cold War

Many American historians state that the Cold War began in 1945. However, according to Russian researchers, historians and analysts “the Cold War began with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, for this was when the capitalist world began its systematic opposition to and effort to undermine the world’s first socialist state and society” (Warner13). For Russians, the Cold War was hot in 1918-1922, when the Allied Intervention policy implemented in Russia during the Russian Civil War. According to John W. Long, “the U.S. intervention in North Russia was a policy formulated by President Wilson during the first half of 1918 at the urgent insistence of Britain, France and Italy, the chief World War I allies” (380).

Nevertheless, there are some other opinions regarding the origins of the Cold War. For example, Geoffrey Barraclough, an outstanding English historian, states that the events in the Far East at the end of the century contributed to the origins of the Cold War. He argues that “during the previous hundred years, Russia and the United States has tended to support each other against England; but now, as England’s power passed its zenith, they came face to face across the Pacific” (Warner 13). According to Barraclough, the Cold War is associated with the conflict of interests, which involved European countries, the Middle East and South East Asia. Finally, this conflict divided the world into two camps. Thus, the Cold War origins are connected with the spread of ideological conflict caused by the emergence of the new power in the early 20-th century (Warner 14). The Cold War outbreak was associated with the spread of propaganda on the United States by the USSR. The propagandistic attacks involved the criticism of the U.S. leaders and their policies. These attacked were harmful to the interests of American nation (Whitton 151).

  • The major causes of the Cold War

The United States and the USSR were regarded as two superpowers during the Cold War, each having its own sphere of influence, its power and forces. The Cold War had been the continuing conflict, caused by tensions, misunderstandings and competitions that existed between the United States and the USSR, as well as their allies from 1945 to the early 1990s (Gottfried 10). Throughout this long period, there was the so-called rivalry between the United States and the USSR, which was expressed through various transformations, including military buildup, the spread of propaganda, the growth of espionage, weapons development, considerable industrial advances, and competitive technological developments in different spheres of human activity, such as medicine, education, space exploration, etc.

There four major causes of the Cold War, which include:

  • Ideological differences (communism v. capitalism);
  • Mutual distrust and misperception;
  • The fear of the United State regarding the spread of communism;
  • The nuclear arms race (Gottfried 10).

The major causes of the Cold War point out to the fact that the USSR was focused on the spread of communist ideas worldwide. The United States followed democratic ideas and opposed the spread of communism. At the same time, the acquisition of atomic weapons by the United States caused fear in the USSR. The use of atomic weapons could become the major reason of fear of both the United States and the USSR. In other words, both countries were anxious about possible attacks from each other; therefore, they were following the production of mass destruction weapons. In addition, the USSR was focused on taking control over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to researchers, the USSR used various strategies to gain control over Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the years 1945-1980. Some of these strategies included “encouraging the communist takeover of governments in Eastern Europe, the setting up of Comecon, the Warsaw Pact, the presence of the Red Army in Eastern Europe, and the Brezhnev Doctrine” (Phillips 118). These actions were the major factors for the suspicions and concerns of the United States. In addition, the U.S. President had a personal dislike of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and his policies. In general, the United States was concerned by the Soviet Union’s actions regarding the occupied territory of Germany, while the USSR feared that the United States would use Western Europe as the major tool for attack.

  • The consequences of the Cold War

The consequences of the Cold War include both positive and negative effects for both the United States and the USSR.

  • Both the United States and the USSR managed to build up huge arsenals of atomic weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
  • The Cold War provided opportunities for the establishment of the military blocs, NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
  • The Cold War led to the emergence of the destructive military conflicts, like the Vietnam War and the Korean War, which took the lives of millions of people (Gottfried13).
  • The USSR collapsed because of considerable economic, political and social challenges.
  • The Cold War led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the two German nations.
  • The Cold War led to the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact (Gottfried 136).
  • The Cold war provided the opportunities for achieving independence of the Baltic States and some former Soviet Republics.
  • The Cold War made the United States the sole superpower of the world because of the collapse of the USSR in 1990.
  • The Cold War led to the collapse of Communism and the rise of globalization worldwide (Phillips 119).

The impact of the Cold War on the development of many countries was enormous. The consequences of the Cold War were derived from numerous internal problems of the countries, which were connected with the USSR, especially developing countries (India, Africa, etc.). This fact means that foreign policies of many states were transformed (Gottfried 115).

The Cold War (1945-1989) essay part 2

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Cold War History

By: Editors

Updated: June 26, 2023 | Original: October 27, 2009

Operation Ivy Hydrogen Bomb Test in Marshall Islands A billowing white mushroom cloud, mottled with orange, pushes through a layer of clouds during Operation Ivy, the first test of a hydrogen bomb, at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension marked by competition and confrontation between communist nations led by the Soviet Union and Western democracies including the United States. During World War II , the United States and the Soviets fought together as allies against Nazi Germany . However, U.S./Soviet relations were never truly friendly: Americans had long been wary of Soviet communism and Russian leader Joseph Stalin ’s tyrannical rule. The Soviets resented Americans’ refusal to give them a leading role in the international community, as well as America’s delayed entry into World War II, in which millions of Russians died.

These grievances ripened into an overwhelming sense of mutual distrust and enmity that never developed into open warfare (thus the term “cold war”). Soviet expansionism into Eastern Europe fueled many Americans’ fears of a Russian plan to control the world. Meanwhile, the USSR came to resent what they perceived as U.S. officials’ bellicose rhetoric, arms buildup and strident approach to international relations. In such a hostile atmosphere, no single party was entirely to blame for the Cold War; in fact, some historians believe it was inevitable.


By the time World War II ended, most American officials agreed that the best defense against the Soviet threat was a strategy called “containment.” In his famous “Long Telegram,” the diplomat George Kennan (1904-2005) explained the policy: The Soviet Union, he wrote, was “a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with the U.S. there can be no permanent modus vivendi [agreement between parties that disagree].” As a result, America’s only choice was the “long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.”

“It must be the policy of the United States,” he declared before Congress in 1947, “to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation…by outside pressures.” This way of thinking would shape American foreign policy for the next four decades.

Did you know? The term 'cold war' first appeared in a 1945 essay by the English writer George Orwell called 'You and the Atomic Bomb.'

The Cold War: The Atomic Age

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.

As a result, the stakes of the Cold War were perilously high. The first H-bomb test, in the Eniwetok atoll in the Marshall Islands, showed just how fearsome the nuclear age could be. It created a 25-square-mile fireball that vaporized an island, blew a huge hole in the ocean floor and had the power to destroy half of Manhattan. Subsequent American and Soviet tests spewed radioactive waste into the atmosphere.

The ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation had a great impact on American domestic life as well. People built bomb shelters in their backyards. They practiced attack drills in schools and other public places. The 1950s and 1960s saw an epidemic of popular films that horrified moviegoers with depictions of nuclear devastation and mutant creatures. In these and other ways, the Cold War was a constant presence in Americans’ everyday lives.

essay on cold war

HISTORY Vault: Nuclear Terror

Now more than ever, terrorist groups are obtaining nuclear weapons. With increasing cases of theft and re-sale at dozens of Russian sites, it's becoming more and more likely for terrorists to succeed.

The Cold War and the Space Race

Space exploration served as another dramatic arena for Cold War competition. On October 4, 1957, a Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile launched Sputnik (Russian for “traveling companion”), the world’s first artificial satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth’s orbit. Sputnik’s launch came as a surprise, and not a pleasant one, to most Americans.

In the United States, space was seen as the next frontier, a logical extension of the grand American tradition of exploration, and it was crucial not to lose too much ground to the Soviets. In addition, this demonstration of the overwhelming power of the R-7 missile–seemingly capable of delivering a nuclear warhead into U.S. air space–made gathering intelligence about Soviet military activities particularly urgent.

In 1958, the U.S. launched its own satellite, Explorer I, designed by the U.S. Army under the direction of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, and what came to be known as the Space Race was underway. That same year, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a public order creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a federal agency dedicated to space exploration, as well as several programs seeking to exploit the military potential of space. Still, the Soviets were one step ahead, launching the first man into space in April 1961.

That May, after Alan Shepard become the first American man in space, President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) made the bold public claim that the U.S. would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. His prediction came true on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission , became the first man to set foot on the moon, effectively winning the Space Race for the Americans. 

U.S. astronauts came to be seen as the ultimate American heroes. Soviets, in turn, were pictured as the ultimate villains, with their massive, relentless efforts to surpass America and prove the power of the communist system.

The Cold War and the Red Scare

Meanwhile, beginning in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee ( HUAC ) brought the Cold War home in another way. The committee began a series of hearings designed to show that communist subversion in the United States was alive and well.

In Hollywood , HUAC forced hundreds of people who worked in the movie industry to renounce left-wing political beliefs and testify against one another. More than 500 people lost their jobs. Many of these “blacklisted” writers, directors, actors and others were unable to work again for more than a decade. HUAC also accused State Department workers of engaging in subversive activities. Soon, other anticommunist politicians, most notably Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957), expanded this probe to include anyone who worked in the federal government. 

Thousands of federal employees were investigated, fired and even prosecuted. As this anticommunist hysteria spread throughout the 1950s, liberal college professors lost their jobs, people were asked to testify against colleagues and “loyalty oaths” became commonplace.

The Cold War Abroad

The fight against subversion at home mirrored a growing concern with the Soviet threat abroad. In June 1950, the first military action of the Cold War began when the Soviet-backed North Korean People’s Army invaded its pro-Western neighbor to the south. Many American officials feared this was the first step in a communist campaign to take over the world and deemed that nonintervention was not an option. Truman sent the American military into Korea, but the Korean War dragged to a stalemate and ended in 1953.

In 1955, the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) made West Germany a member of NATO and permitted it to remilitarize. The Soviets responded with the Warsaw Pact , a mutual defense organization between the Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria that set up a unified military command under Marshal Ivan S. Konev of the Soviet Union.

Other international disputes followed. In the early 1960s, President Kennedy faced a number of troubling situations in his own hemisphere. The Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis the following year seemed to prove that the real communist threat now lay in the unstable, postcolonial “Third World.” 

Nowhere was this more apparent than in Vietnam , where the collapse of the French colonial regime had led to a struggle between the American-backed nationalist Ngo Dinh Diem in the south and the communist nationalist Ho Chi Minh in the north. Since the 1950s, the United States had been committed to the survival of an anticommunist government in the region, and by the early 1960s it seemed clear to American leaders that if they were to successfully “contain” communist expansionism there, they would have to intervene more actively on Diem’s behalf. However, what was intended to be a brief military action spiraled into a 10-year conflict .

The End of the Cold War and Effects

Almost as soon as he took office, President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) began to implement a new approach to international relations. Instead of viewing the world as a hostile, “bi-polar” place, he suggested, why not use diplomacy instead of military action to create more poles? To that end, he encouraged the United Nations to recognize the communist Chinese government and, after a trip there in 1972, began to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.

At the same time, he adopted a policy of “détente”—”relaxation”—toward the Soviet Union. In 1972, he and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982) signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), which prohibited the manufacture of nuclear missiles by both sides and took a step toward reducing the decades-old threat of nuclear war.

Despite Nixon’s efforts, the Cold War heated up again under President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004). Like many leaders of his generation, Reagan believed that the spread of communism anywhere threatened freedom everywhere. As a result, he worked to provide financial and military aid to anticommunist governments and insurgencies around the world. This policy, particularly as it was applied in the developing world in places like Grenada and El Salvador, was known as the Reagan Doctrine .

Even as Reagan fought communism in Central America, however, the Soviet Union was disintegrating. In response to severe economic problems and growing political ferment in the USSR, Premier Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022) took office in 1985 and introduced two policies that redefined Russia’s relationship to the rest of the world: “glasnost,” or political openness, and “ perestroika ,” or economic reform. 

Soviet influence in Eastern Europe waned. In 1989, every other communist state in the region replaced its government with a noncommunist one. In November of that year, the Berlin Wall –the most visible symbol of the decades-long Cold War–was finally destroyed, just over two years after Reagan had challenged the Soviet premier in a speech at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” By 1991, the Soviet Union itself had fallen apart. The Cold War was over.

Karl Marx

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The Cold War (1945–1963)

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Study Questions

In your opinion, was the Cold War inevitable? If not, was the United States or the USSR more to blame?

Although both Truman and Stalin helped increase tensions in Europe and East Asia in the years immediately following World War II, the Cold War itself was likely inevitable. The alliance that had formed between the United States and the USSR during World War II was not strong enough to overcome the past decades of suspicion and unease between the two nations. Moreover, as both leaders sought to achieve their postwar security objectives, which were often mutually exclusive, neither was willing to compromise.

The United States and the USSR had always generally disliked and distrusted each other, despite the fact that they were allies against Germany and Japan during the war. Americans had hated and feared Communism ever since it had appeared in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and had refused to recognize the new Soviet government, especially after Bolshevik leaders promoted the destruction of capitalism. During World War II, Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill delayed their decision to open a second front, which would have distracted the Nazis and taken pressure off the Red Army entrenched at Stalingrad. Stalin resented this delay, just as he resented the fact that the United States and Great Britain refused to share their nuclear weapons research with the Soviet Union. After the war, Truman’s decision to give Great Britain relief loans while denying similar requests from the USSR only added to the resentment.

Another major factor contributing to the Cold War was the fact that the United States and USSR were the only two powers to escape World War II relatively unharmed. Whereas other major world powers such as Great Britain, France, Italy, and Germany lay in ruins, the Soviet Union and the United States still had manufacturing and military capabilities. The world had been a multipolar one before the war but was bipolar afterward, and this new order implicitly pitted the already distrustful and ideologically opposed United States and Soviet Union against each other.

Perhaps most important, both powers had conflicting security goals that neither wanted to concede. The USSR, which had already been invaded twice in the first half of the twentieth century, wanted to set up friendly governments throughout Eastern Europe to create a buffer between Moscow and Germany. In addition to exacting enormous war reparations, Stalin wanted to dismantle German factories to keep Germany weak and dependent. Truman, conversely, believed that rebuilding, reindustrializing, and democratizing Europe was the key to preventing another world war. With neither side willing to compromise on these conflicting ideologies and postwar plans, tension between the United States and the USSR was inevitable.

Why has the Korean War often been called America’s “forgotten war”? What purpose did the war serve, and what impact did it have?

The Korean War has often been called America’s “forgotten war” because the United States made no significant territorial or political gains during the war. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of Americans died, the war both began and ended with the Korean Peninsula divided at the 38 th parallel. Nevertheless, the Korean War helped define the Cold War, established a precedent for keeping peripheral wars limited, and boosted defense spending that contributed to the postwar economic boom in the United States.

Despite the loss of life, the Korean War faded from national memory, perhaps because the three-year conflict ended without any territorial or political gains. Although General Douglas MacArthur captured nearly the entire Korean Peninsula after his brilliant Inchon landing, his tactical miscalculation at the Yalu River brought China into the war and forced United Nations troops back down to the 38 th parallel, where they had started. Both sides became entrenched there, each preventing the other from making any headway. As a result, neither side could claim victory when cease-fire negotiations began in 1953 . The 38 th parallel remained one of the “hottest” Cold War borders in the world, almost as if the war had never really ended.

The Korean War was an important conflict, however, because it set the tone for the entire Cold War. In expanding the draft and sending more than 3 million U.S. troops to Korea, Truman demonstrated to the USSR his commitment to containing Communism at almost any cost. This demonstration of massive U.S. military force in East Asia forced the Soviets to rethink postwar policy in Eastern Europe and the rest of Asia.

Truman also set a precedent during the war of avoiding the use of nuclear weapons, despite the fact that MacArthur advocated using them against North Koreans and the Chinese. Although the American public vilified Truman for this decision and for firing his insubordinate general, the decision proved to be prudent. The president knew that using nuclear weapons would only drag the Soviet Union and China fully into the conflict, which would destabilize Europe and initiate a third world war—one that might even lead to all-out nuclear war. By refusing to use nuclear weapons, Truman kept the war confined to the Korean Peninsula. The decision would later have an enormous impact on future presidents making similar decisions in Vietnam. Truman’s actions in Korea therefore demonstrated not only American resolve to contain Communism but also a desire to keep the Cold War from devolving into an open war.

The Korean War also boosted American military spending, as a result of a memorandum issued by the National Security Council, known as NSC- 68 . The memo recommended that Congress quadruple military and defense spending in order to contain the Soviet Union. As a result, the percentage of Congress’s annual budget spent on defense soared throughout the following years, hovering at roughly 50 percent under the Eisenhower administration. Government investment in war factories kept employment high and money flowing into the economy between 1950 and 1970 , contributing significantly to the prosperous economic boom.

Was the United States, the USSR, or Cuba more to blame for the Cuban missile crisis? What impact did the crisis have on U.S.-Soviet relations?

Because the United States attempted repeatedly to assassinate or overthrow Fidel Castro in the early 1960 s, the blame for the resulting Cuban missile crisis falls squarely on American shoulders. Had it not been for Khrushchev’s ultimate willingness to back down and end the crisis, the United States and the USSR might actually have ended up in the nuclear war that the world feared.

The United States tried repeatedly to topple Castro after he seized power in a popularly supported revolution in Cuba in 1959 . Americans disliked the Castro regime because it threatened U.S. economic interests in the country. When the United States withdrew its financial support from Castro’s government, Castro turned to the Soviet Union for assistance. In order to prevent Cuba’s Communist influence from spreading throughout Latin America, Kennedy launched the Alliance for Progress, a program that awarded Latin American countries millions of dollars in U.S. aid to tackle poverty. Kennedy took more direct action when he authorized the arming and training of 1 , 200 anti-Castro Cuban exiles to invade the island, in the hopes that the invasion would cause a massive public uprising that would ultimately depose Castro. The plan for this Bay of Pigs invasion failed, however, when Kennedy decided not to involve American military forces and withheld the air support he had previously promised the exiles. As a result, the Cuban army killed or captured all of the exiles, and the invasion attempt was an embarrassment for the U.S. government.

Although Kennedy accepted full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs failure, he continued to authorize unsuccessful CIA-led assassination attempts against Castro. Not surprisingly, Castro turned to the Soviet Union for support, and in 1962 , U.S. intelligence officials discovered that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy sent a naval blockade to circle the island, despite Cuban and Soviet protests, and refused to back down, even at the risk of nuclear war. The crisis ended only when Khrushchev himself agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for an end to the blockade. This sacrifice cost him his position as head of the Soviet Communist Party but saved the world from the prospect of nuclear war between the superpowers.

The crisis had a significant impact on U.S.-Soviet relations, as both sides worked to improve their relationship in order to prevent another potentially catastrophic situation from arising. A Moscow-Washington “hotline,” for example, was installed so that the Soviet premier and American president could speak to each other personally should another crisis occur. Kennedy also changed his rhetoric by asking Americans to think more kindly of the Russians rather than see them as enemies. He also pushed the USSR into signing the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a symbolic but nonetheless significant step that helped pave the way for détente in the 1970 s.

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Short Essay: Cold War

The Cold War, spanning from the end of World War II in 1945 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, remains one of the most significant events of the 20th century. Writing a short essay on such a broad topic can be challenging due to the complexity and the range of aspects it covers. This article will provide a structured approach to crafting a concise yet comprehensive short essay on the Cold War.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Essay Requirements

Before you begin writing, it is crucial to understand the requirements for your essay:

  • Word Count : Short essays are typically around 500-800 words, but make sure to adhere to the specific word limit set by your assignment.
  • Scope : Given the brevity required, it’s important to narrow the focus of your essay. Choose a specific aspect of the Cold War to discuss rather than attempting to cover everything.
  • Purpose : Determine whether the essay should be expository, analytical, or argumentative.
  • Sources : Identify how many and what types of sources are required for your essay.

Step 1: Selecting a Topic

Choose a topic that fits within the parameters of your essay. Some potential topics for a short essay on the Cold War could include:

  • The origins of the Cold War.
  • The role of nuclear arms in the Cold War.
  • Key events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Berlin Blockade.
  • The Cold War in popular culture.
  • The impact of the Cold War on a specific country or region.
  • The end of the Cold War and its global consequences.

Step 2: Conducting Research

Gather information from credible sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites. Focus on collecting data that directly relates to your chosen topic. Keep track of your sources for citations and ensure you have enough material to support your thesis statement.

Step 3: Formulating a Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement will guide the direction of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and make a claim that your essay will support. For example, if you’re writing about the Cuban Missile Crisis, your thesis might be: “The Cuban Missile Crisis was a pivotal moment in the Cold War that demonstrated the potential for nuclear catastrophe and the importance of diplomatic channels in de-escalation.”

Step 4: Creating an Outline

A well-structured outline is crucial for a successful short essay. It helps organize thoughts and ensures that you cover all necessary points within the word limit. An example outline for a Cold War essay might look like this:

  • Brief background on the Cold War.
  • Thesis statement.
  • Point one supporting the thesis.
  • Evidence and examples.
  • Point two supporting the thesis.
  • Counter-argument or additional support for the thesis.
  • Rebuttal or further evidence and examples.
  • Restate the thesis in light of the evidence presented.
  • Summarize key points.
  • Closing thought or call to action (if appropriate).

Step 5: Writing the Introduction

Start with a hook to grab the reader’s attention. Provide context to the Cold War and introduce your specific topic. End the introduction with your thesis statement. Keep it brief and impactful.

Step 6: Crafting Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should focus on a single main idea that supports your thesis. Begin with a topic sentence, followed by evidence such as facts, quotes, and statistics. Analyze the evidence, explaining how it supports your argument. Transition smoothly between paragraphs to maintain flow.

Step 7: Writing the Conclusion

Your conclusion should restate your thesis and summarize the main points of your essay. It should also provide closure to the reader, which can be a reflective statement on the significance of the topic or suggestions for further research.

Step 8: Revising and Editing

Revise your essay for clarity and coherence. Make sure each sentence and paragraph contributes to the overall argument. Check for grammatical errors and proper citation of sources. Editing is key to a polished essay, so take the time to read through your work multiple times.

Step 9: Finalizing the Essay

After revisions and edits, read your essay once more to ensure it flows well and adheres to the word limit. Verify that all sources are cited correctly in the text and in the reference list.

Cold War Short Essay Example #1

The Cold War, a prolonged period of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, was not characterized by direct military confrontation. Instead, it was marked by a series of proxy wars, nuclear arms races, espionage, and ideological battles that spanned over four decades. This essay will explore the profound impact of the Cold War on global politics, particularly through the lenses of the bipolar power structure it created, the spread of nuclear weapons, and the legacy it left on international relations.

Bipolar Power Structure

The end of World War II saw the emergence of the US and the USSR as the two dominant superpowers. The global political landscape was reshaped into a bipolar structure, with nations aligning with either the capitalist West led by the United States or the communist East under Soviet influence. This division led to a world where neutrality became increasingly difficult. The Non-Aligned Movement, an initiative led by countries that sought to remain independent of the Cold War’s influence, was a significant but challenging stand against this dichotomy.

Nuclear Arms Race

One of the most terrifying aspects of the Cold War was the nuclear arms race. The US and USSR engaged in a relentless pursuit of nuclear supremacy, amassing arsenals capable of destroying the planet several times over. The doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) emerged as a grim deterrent, predicated on the understanding that a nuclear attack by one superpower would lead to an immediate and devastating response from the other, ensuring mutual destruction. The proliferation of nuclear weapons during this period has left a lasting impact on global security and international policy.

Proxy Wars and Espionage

Unable to confront each other directly without risking nuclear annihilation, the superpowers turned to proxy wars as a means of extending their influence. Conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and various parts of Africa and Latin America became battlegrounds for this indirect form of warfare. Espionage and intelligence gathering became essential tools, with agencies like the CIA and KGB playing central roles in the execution of foreign policy and the attempt to gain the upper hand in the global arena.

Legacy on International Relations

The Cold War’s end with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 did not mark the conclusion of its influence on global politics. The ideological divide left a legacy of distrust and conflict in regions like Eastern Europe and Korea. The arms race had spurred technological advancements, but also a proliferation dilemma that the world continues to grapple with. The Cold War also gave birth to various international institutions and agreements aimed at promoting peace and cooperation, such as the United Nations and later, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START).

The Cold War was a defining period in the 20th century that shaped international relations in a way that is still felt today. The bipolar power structure it established, the nuclear arms race it spurred, and the proxy wars it fostered have had lasting implications for global politics. Understanding this period is crucial, as it not only contextualizes past conflicts but also informs current geopolitical strategies and the ongoing pursuit of a stable international order.

Cold War Short Essay Example #2

The Cold War was a conflict unlike any other that the world had ever seen. It was less about territorial disputes and more about ideological supremacy. Lasting from the end of World War II until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Cold War was a global standoff that pitted capitalism against communism, the West against the East. This essay will delve into how ideological differences shaped international alliances, influenced domestic policies across the globe, and triggered a series of proxy wars that defined the latter half of the 20th century.

Ideological Foundations

At the heart of the Cold War was a fundamental disagreement on how societies should be structured. The United States championed a capitalist democracy, emphasizing individual freedoms and a market-driven economy. In stark contrast, the Soviet Union advocated for a communist system, with state ownership of resources and a single-party state without the competitive nature of democratic elections. These opposing views were irreconcilable and became a catalyst for a global confrontation that extended beyond mere rhetoric.

Alliances and Spheres of Influence

The ideological battle led to the formation of military and political alliances. The US-led NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the Soviet-headed Warsaw Pact were established as collective defense arrangements that also served as clear demarcations of ideological spheres of influence. Countries around the world were often compelled to choose sides, aligning with the superpower that best represented their own political philosophies or offered the most significant economic or military support.

Domestic Policies and Propaganda

The Cold War had a profound impact on domestic policies in both blocs. In the United States, fear of communism led to the Red Scare and McCarthyism, where individuals suspected of communist sympathies were blacklisted or prosecuted. In the Soviet Union, the government exercised strict control over the media, education, and cultural expressions to promote communist ideology and suppress Western influences. Propaganda became a powerful tool, as each side aimed to prove the superiority of its way of life and governance.

Proxy Wars and International Incidents

The ideological conflict played out in various parts of the world as the superpowers sought to expand their influence without engaging in direct military conflict. In places like Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, and Angola, the US and USSR supported opposing sides, supplying them with military aid and advisors. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, highlighting the dangers of the Cold War’s global reach.

Legacy of Ideological Divides

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the end of the Cold War, but the ideological divides had lasting effects. Post-Soviet states struggled with the transition to democracy and market economies, while the US grappled with its role as the world’s sole superpower. The ideological battle also left a legacy of mistrust and rivalry between Russia and the West, influencing international relations into the 21st century.

The Cold War was a global ideological divide that had far-reaching implications. It reshaped alliances, influenced domestic policies, and led to several proxy wars that left scars on the international community. The fear of the spread of communism or capitalism, depending on which side one was on, drove much of the 20th century’s geopolitical strategies. Even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union, the ideological underpinnings of the Cold War continue to influence global politics, reminding us that ideas can be as powerful as armies in shaping the world’s destiny.

Final Thoughts

Writing a short essay on the Cold War involves careful topic selection, research, and structuring of your argument. By following these steps and ensuring that your thesis is supported by clear, concise evidence, you can effectively convey your understanding of the Cold War in a limited word count. Remember, a short essay requires precision and clarity above all else, so focus on delivering your argument in the most direct and compelling way possible.

About Mr. Greg

Mr. Greg is an English teacher from Edinburgh, Scotland, currently based in Hong Kong. He has over 5 years teaching experience and recently completed his PGCE at the University of Essex Online. In 2013, he graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a BEng(Hons) in Computing, with a focus on social media.

Mr. Greg’s English Cloud was created in 2020 during the pandemic, aiming to provide students and parents with resources to help facilitate their learning at home.

Whatsapp: +85259609792

[email protected]

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