The Causes of the Cold War Essay

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Ever since the outbreak of the Cold War after WWII, American historians have depicted it as a battle pitting good versus evil, American democracy, capitalism, and desire for world peace, against Soviet communism, totalitarianism, and desire to take over the world. However, this categorization of the Cold War has been proven false by many documents made public since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. Over the course of this essay, I will attempt to explain the true causes of the Cold War, and some of the reasons it progressed the way it did. My analysis will begin with a general discussion of how nuclear proliferation impacted the decision making of both American and Soviet leaders. It is, I believe, important to …show more content…
2) Power is generally comparable and consensually understood; nuclear weapons will amplify this situation, as most leaders understand that even a few nuclear weapons can cause an unacceptable amount of damage. 3) States will seek to advance their own interests, but only within acceptable levels of risk. The presence of nuclear weapons, therefore, will cause states to become risk averse, as any nuclear attack would produce an unacceptable amount of damage. (Cimbala)

Nuclear irrelevancy, the second perspective, concludes that nuclear weapons were unnecessary to Cold War stability. This position is tenable if one accepts the argument that large coalition wars, such as the First and Second World War’s, were already obsolete by the middle of the twentieth century. Political leaders around the globe had recognized the futility of such wars, and had deemed their costs too great. As such, the mere possibility of WWIII, even fought with conventional not nuclear weapons, would have sufficiently discouraged any superpower from a course of action that might have led to such a war. (Cimbala)

The third point of view, nuclear agnosticism, is much less easily summarized than the first two, but much more useful in analyzing superpower actions during the Cold War. Nuclear agnostics accept the realist position that nuclear proliferation was an important element in maintaining Cold War international stability. However, they concede

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