Cold War: Definition, Causes, Summary, History, and Facts

Definition Of Cold War: Cold war means a state of tension between the countries in which each side adopts policies designed to strengthen itself and weakened the others.

In 1945 world war 2 ended, and the grand alliance against Germany collapsed, then two superpowers, namely USA and USSR were come into the political scenario of the world.

But soon after the emergence of both these superpowers, a sort of rivalry started developing between both of them due for some reasons. Despite of intense rivalry between the United States and USSR, the struggle never did turn into an all-out war between them.

cold war

So the term ‘cold war was used for their rivalry. This was first used by American president Bernard Baruch in 1947.

“Let us not be deceived, we are in the midst of a cold war.”

Nature of Cold War:

  • Ideological war.
  • War without weapons.
  • War-like situaiton.
  • Use of economic aid.
  • Faith in war preparedness for the maintenance of peace.
  • Wordy war.
  • Suspicion and mistrust.
  • Diplomatic relations remained intact.

Means of Cold War:

  • Propaganda.
  • Diplomacy.
  • Spying.
  • Economic aid.
  • Power Display.

Reasons For Cold War:

A. Three schools of thought regarding the reasons for the cold war.

1. School of Mutual Distrust:

According to this school of thought misunderstandings, fears, and cautiousness was developing on both sides. Neither USA nor USSR was ready to take initiative to reduce the tension.

2. School of Ideological Incompatibilities:

There was quite a difference between the ideologies of both countries. USSR had a communist ideology and USA had a capitalist ideology, which was anti of each other. The differences are mentioned below.


  • Against Democracy.
  • Believed in a closed economy and closed market system.
  • Believed in ‘State is the end and individual is the mean.
  • Closed Disciplined party.
  • Nationalization.
  • Cruseadity and expanding ideology.
  • International communist system.


  • Democratic rules.
  • Believed in an open economy and open market system.
  • Believed in ‘Individual is the end and state is the mean.’
  • Multi or liberal party system.
  • Privatization.
  • Diplomacy.
  • Liberalism.

So that difference in ideology was another cause of the emergence of the cold war.

3. School Of Misperception:

According to the third school, the cold war started because of the misunderstandings between the two powers. Every step taken by one was considered destruction by the other. The term which was used for that situation was “Mirror’s Image.”

B. Causes of the Cold War:

1. Bolshevik Revolution of 1917:

When the Bolshevik revolution came in Russia in 1917, this wasn’t liked by the capitalists or we can say that the basic cause lay in the differences in principles between the communists and capitalists which had existed ever since the communists had set up a government in Russia in 1917.

Bolshevik Revolution

Only the need for self-preservation had caused them to sink their differences and as soon as it became clear that the defeat of Germany was only a matter of time, both sides, Stalin in particular began to plan for the post-war period. 

Sir Winston Churchill delivered a dramatic speech in March 1946, in Fulton USA in which he drew a line between the communist and capitalist block.

“From Stellin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent, the UK and the USA have to work together to counter the Soviet threat.”

2. Yalta Conference (February 1945):

This conference was held in Crimea. It was attended by Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill. At the time it was generally thought to be a success as all the members agreed upon many important questions including the establishment of UNO and the division of Germany into zones.

On the Poland issue, some misunderstanding arose. When the Russians swept through Poland, pushing the Germans back, they set up a communist government in Lublin.

Yalta Conference

It was agreed at the Yalta conference that some non-communist members of the London-based government should be allowed to join the Lublin government, while in return Russia would be allowed to keep the strip of eastern Poland that she had occupied in 1939, but Roosevelt and Churchill refused to agree to Stalin’s demand that Poland should be given all German territory east of the Rivers Oder and Neisse.

3. Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech:

Churchill’s speech was made at Fulton, Missouri (USA) in response to the spread of communism, in which he clearly declared that,

“Uk and USA have to work together to counter the Soviet threat.

4. Russia’s Grip Over Eastern Europe:

Undeterred by the Fulton speech the Russians continued to tighter their grip on eastern Europe. By the end of 1947, every state in that area with the exception of Czechoslovakia had a fully communist government.

Stalin treated the Russian zone of Germany as if it belonged to Russia all owing only. The communist party drained it of vital resources.

The west was profoundly irritated by the Russian attitude which seemed to disregard Stalin’s promises that he made at the Yalta conference.

But Russia alone couldn’t be blamed for all that as Churchill had agreed with Stalin in their 1944 discussions that much of eastern Europe should be a Russian sphere of influence.

5. Truman Doctrine:

In Greece communists were trying to overthrow the monarchy, Britain who helped Greece in 1944 against Germany, had a share in the monarchy. So they appealed to the USA for support, on which they immediately received massive amounts of arms and other supplies and by 1949 the communists were defeated.

Truman Doctrine

Turkey also received 60 million dollars in aid. At that time USA’s president was Truman. So the policy of containment of communism at that time was called Truman Doctrine.

6. Marshall Plan:

It was an economic extension of the Truman Doctrine. American secretary of state George Marshall produced his European Recovery Programme, which offered economic and financial help wherever it was needed.

By September 1947, 16 European states and 3 western zones of Germany had drawn up a joint plan to use American aid. So Russia lost the support of important European countries and called that plan as ‘dollar imperialism.

7. The Berlin Blockade and Airlift:

At the end of the war, Germany and Berlin were divided into 4 zones, three were western zones and one was of Russia. Early in 1948, the 3 western zones were merged to form a single economic unit whose prosperity, was in contrast to the poverty of Russian zones.

Berlin Blockade and airlift

In June 1948, the West introduced a new currency which made it quite impossible to have 2 different currencies in one area. So Russia due to its failure closed all the roads, rails, and canal links between West Berlin and West Germany.

The West decided to fly supplies in rightly judging that the Russians would not risk shooting down the transport plans.

In May 1949 the Russians lifted the blockade admitting the failure. After that event relations with Russia got tenser. Moreover, West Block established NATO which made the Russians worried.


So all those events whether small or big caused the emergence of the cold war between the two big powers. It was all due to ideological differences between the two states, which divided the world into two major Blocks.

What was cold war and why?

Cold war situation developed after world war 2. Although both the superpowers were allies during world war 2. But when the great war came to an end in 1945, a sort of rivalry developed between both superpowers. The USA wanted to expand the ideology of capitalism and USSR wanted to expand the ideology of communism. Not any direct war was fought between the superpowers. But they formulated such policies whose aim was to weaken the other. So this situation between the two superpowers called as Cold War.

What really caused the Cold War?

The cold war started after the end of world war 2. The main cause behind the start of the cold war was the ideological difference between the USA and USSR. The USA was very concerned about the expansionist policy of the USSR. The USA wanted to stop the expansion of communism across the world. This state of tension between the superpowers lasted for almost 45 years. That is called the cold war.

Why is it called cold war?

It is called the cold war because none of the superpowers initiated direct war on each other. Although both the superpowers took certain measures to stop the economical and political policies around the world. That’s why it is called the Cold war.

What is the Cold War short summary?

By cold war, we refer to a world between 1945 and 1991 in which two superpowers confronted and competed with each other in order to establish their respective global leadership.

What is Cold War in easy words?

In easy words, the cold war was a tussle between capitalism and communism or democracy and authoritarianism.

How did the Cold War finally end?

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 symbolized the end of the cold war. By 1991 the economic conditions of the USSR were very weak. Free elections were held in the USSR in which people ousted the communist regimes.