It is difficult to assign blame for the Cold War to a specific party
because it developed primarily as a result of the conflicting
ideologies of communism and democracy/capitalism. At the end of World
War II, only the Soviet Union and United States had significant global
power. China became embroiled in a communist revolution, and Britain
and France were exhausted from the war. Having suffered minimal
damage at home, American economic power was considerable, and Japan
was virtually its colony. America also had a monopoly on atomic
weapons until 1949. The Soviet Union was the second-most powerful
nation, having the largest land Army and Air Force. However, Russia
had experienced significant damage to its industrial base, hurting its
A legacy of hostility existed from before the war. British, French,
American, and Japanese troops had fought against the Bolsheviks during
a civil war that occurred shortly after the Russian Revolution. Until
the Great Depression, the United States had maintained a very
conservative outlook with big business firmly in control of the
economy. Communism was viewed suspiciously and the Supreme Court
nullified progressive legislation giving workers and consumers more
Stalin was determined to protect Russia from further attacks from
Europe and to rebuild Russia's economy. Therefore, he sought to
maintain political, economic, and military control of the Eastern
European countries he liberated from the Nazis. He militarily crushed
countries that objected and failed to follow through on guarantees
reached at Yalta for free, democratic elections in occupied countries.
Alarmed by these actions, United States provided enormous amounts of
economic and military aid to bolster Western Europe. United States
believed that restoring strength to Western Europe would make the
countries less vulnerable to Soviet domination. However, this meant
restoring strength to Germany as well. These actions frightened the
Russians, with the administration of Germany by the Allies becoming a
severe source of contention.
These tensions over the fate of Europe resulted in the Cold War.
Americans, who had come to view the Soviets positively because of
their antifascist position, became concerned when Russia seized
Eastern Europe and impose totalitarian regimes. The political leaders
of the United States became convinced that Russia planned to export
communism throughout western Europe as well and launched the Truman
and Marshall plans in response.
The Russians had long feared becoming encircled by hostile capitalist
countries, so they viewed the Truman and Marshall programs as an
American plot to seize control of Western Europe. Stalin was
generally paranoid, not only of the West, but also of rivals emerging
in the Eastern European countries. The American refusal to share the
secrets of the atomic bomb further inflamed his suspicions.
The legitimate concerns of both groups regarding the distribution of
wealth and power in the new environment prevailing at the end of the
Second World War resulted in the Cold War. Both the Democratic United
States and the Communist Soviet Union wanted to ensure their survival.
As Stalin took the steps he felt appropriate, the United States
naturally reacted with alarm. Its response to strengthen Western
Europe economically and militarily in turn concerned the Russians.
The rivalry inherent between democracy/capitalism and communism
essentially made the Cold War inevitable in the absence of other world
powers to balance the United States and Soviet Union.
"THE COLD WAR" http://mars.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/wc2/lectures/coldwar.html
"Causes of the Cold War" http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war3.htm
"The Causes of the Cold War in 1945" (May 2005)
"What were the causes of the Cold War?" Pagewise (2002)
"World Civilizations" Seventh edition by Burns et al., WW Norton &
Company (1986) pages 1513-1517