June 10, 2008
The Cold War
After World War II, the world became divided into two. The U.S. led western democracies and the Soviet Union led the communist regimes. This marked the beginning of the Cold War between Soviet Union and the U.S. As a bipolar structure in the international system the two superpowers dominated the world. The question was whether or not these two superpowers were destined to enter into a battle between giants. There are many explanations as to the causes of the Cold War when examining them on the levels of analysis, as well as what caused the end of the Cold War. Using the levels of analysis we will examine the causes of the beginning and end of the Cold War on a systemic, domestic, and individual level.
On a systemic level the cause of the Cold War was simply that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the two superpowers after WWII. This bipolar system set the stage for the Cold War. They were the only two nations capable of projecting influence and challenging each other for global leadership. In a realist point of view, this situation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union fits into realpolitik, meaning everybody wants to rule the world. This is because the nature of the U.S. is to seek power in the international system.
On a domestic level there are several explanations as to the causes of the Cold War; one is that it was all Moscow’s fault. This explanation depicts the Soviet Union as aggressive and expansionists. The Soviet Union was trying to acquire territory in Europe after WWII; this provoked the U.S. into taking action to stop this. If not for the U.S.’s containment policy, the Soviet Union would have continued to expand all the way into Europe, Middle-East, and Asia. This explanation shows that it was the Soviet Union that was at fault and the U.S. was right for trying to contain Soviet expansion.
Another explanation for the reason behind the Cold War was that it was all Washington’s...