Tensions between the U.S. and Russia had always been tense. However, when FDR was still alive during WWII, he tried his best to maintain better relations. When Truman took over after his death, tensions only rose despite the creation of the United Nations. These tensions would culminate into an almost 50-years long war known as the Cold War.
President Truman is most well known for his decision to bomb Japan near the end of WWII. He was motivated to end the war in the Pacific theatre but almost motivated to keep the Soviet Union out of the war against Japan. The atomic bomb solved both the problem of demoralizing the enemy and keeping the Russians out of the Pacific theatre.
The first ones to take over Germany, specifically Berlin, after WWII were the Russians. There they remained, committing atrocities on the citizens of Berlin. When the United States, France and England arrived in Germany, the Allies each took up a zone of occupation due to an earlier agreement made at the Yalta Conference.
However, the Yalta Conference also divided Berlin into four zones. This was a huge problem geographically. Berlin was well within the Soviet zone of occupation, and the Soviet zone of occupation was under the influence of communism. The British, French, and American zones of occupation within Berlin, and Germany in general, all practiced capitalism and democracy. See the issue?
Historically, it was England’s role to keep Russia in check, but WWII had directed all their attention to restoring their nation. As a result, the U.S. stepped up as the new policeman for Russia. They opposed Russia’s puppet governments in Eastern Europe and any attempts by the USSR to extend its control into Central Europe, the Balkans, or the MIddle East. Growing communist parties in France and Italy convinced Americans that Stalin was planning to overthrow capitalism worldwide. Stalin’s public declaration of viewing democracy as an enemy in 1946 only emphasized these fears.
The French, English, and American zones would eventually merge into West Germany and West Berlin while the Russian zones became East Germany and East Berlin. Winston Churchill referred to Soviet control over Eastern Europe as “the Iron Curtain." It was a metaphorical divide between communist Eastern Europe and democratic Western Europe.
The Cold War wasn’t a war in the traditional sense of the word. The United States and Soviet Union would never directly engage in conflict with one another. Instead, it was a collection of different global conflicts that involved propaganda, “hot wars” where there was actual fighting, a space race, and an arms race that threatened nuclear war.
Below are some major global conflicts of the Cold War!
US Sided with
Russia Sided with
North Vietnam wins despite US/South Vietnam winning most battles
An agreement is made to separate the two countries at the 38th parallel
Yom Kippur War
No conclusive result
Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
Pro-Soviet regime in Kabul
Military stalemate but USSR removes forces
Cuban Missile Crisis
No missiles are fired and nuclear missiles are removed from Turkey and Cuba
Chinese Civil War
Communist Party wins and the Nationalist Party flees to Taiwan
Berlin Blockade of 1948
Themselves and People of West Berlin
Russia fails to keep Western Europe out of West Berlin due to airlifts & the West keeps West Berlin
Berlin Crisis of 1961
Berlin Wall is built to prevent escapees