The United States and the Soviet Union’s Contribution to the Origins of the Cold War


By the end of the World War II both the United States and the Soviet Union were military superpowers. In addition, they had stockpile of atomic bombs; hence, refraining them from engaging in direct military conflicts. The Cold War was period of hostility between two ideological fronts: communism and capitalism. The period lasted from the end of the Second World War to 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After the Second World War, disputes between Western democracies, especially the United States, and the Soviet Union regarding the Soviet Union’s takeover of Eastern European countries led to the Iron Curtain, a term that denoted the division of Europe into Western Capitalist regimes and Eastern Communist regimes. There were a number of occasions when aggressive and antidemocratic actions by the Soviets contributed to elevated political tensions of the War. Some of the actions included the invasion of Hungary, the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This paper explores whether the United States or the Soviet Union was more responsible for the Cold War.

The Soviet Union’s Actions that had the Greatest Contribution to the Cold War

The argument of about which country was more responsible for the origin of the Cold War has been an issue of rancorous debate among historians for the past five decades. However, there is strong evidence that the Soviet Union was more responsible for the origins of the Cold War through antidemocratic and aggressive policies and actions in Eastern Europe. Such actions include the invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Cuban missile Crisis and the construction of the berlin Wall.

Soviet Invasion of Hungary

Hungary was on one of the European countries that had a communist government with close connection to the Soviet Union. Subsequent to the Hungarian Uprising against communists, the resultant pro-democracy government aired its intention to break ties with the Soviets. Consequentially, the Soviet’s sent an army to Budapest, the Hungarian capital, and disposed the newly formed pro-democracy government. This is an illustration of how the Soviet Union aggressively and antidemocratically restored a communist government. As of consequence, the Soviet’s disposition of the democratic government intensified the hostility between the two factions.

The Berlin Crisis and the Resultant Berlin Wall

As the capital city of Germany, Berlin was geographically located on the communist –controlled eastern side of the country. However, the Soviets controlled the eastern part of the city. Following this arrangement, the western part of Berlin was controlled jointly by the United States, Britain and France. The presence of a capitalistic from inside the inside the Communist territory disgruntled Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union leader; hence, he tried to sway the Allies to vacate Berlin. The Soviets deliberately blocked the routes connecting West Berlin and Eastern Germany as political and economic strategy to starve the Capitalist west side of Berlin. Despite this harsh actions, the Allies refused to vacate. Due to the refusal, Khrushchev instituted the construction of a perimeter to separate the Capitalist West Berlin from Communist East Berlin.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The Soviet Union’s secret missile installation in Cuba presented a threat to the United States because the weapons were within the impact range of the eastern coastline of the United States. Following the discovery of this missile installation via an aerial military reconnaissance, the US had to confront the USSR. This is another illustration that the USSR provoked the United States by threatening its security. Additionally, by supporting Fidel Castro, the United State was being threatened by the Soviets economically.

The Invasion of Czechoslovakia

The invasion of Czechoslovakia is another apt example of how the Soviets intensified tensions with the United States. In 1968, Alexander Dubcek assumed power as the leader of Czechoslovakia. Despite being a member of the Communist Party, Dubcek had an inclinations toward the democratic style of governance mirrored by the West evidenced by the democratic reforms introduced through the Prague Spring program. This program was unwelcomed by the Soviets who used their military might to force the sitting government to resort to a communist form of government.

The United States’ Actions that had the Greatest Contribution to the Cold War

Postwar Estrangement

Similar to the Soviets, the United States contributed to the origins of the Cold War due to its hostility to communist statehood. Prior to the Bolshevik takeover, the United States had refused to recognize the Soviet Union until 1933.The key source of tension between the Capitalists and Communists was Truman’s Containment Policy was meant to stop communism from spreading. The Policy provided military support to countries that fought Communism. According to LaFeber, the United Stated aggravated the tension with the through the Marshal Plan which entailed giving financial aid countries to reconstruct their economies.

Given that this aid favored capitalistic countries, the Soviets were displeased and accused the United States of trying to dominate Eastern European countries. In line with the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union was give military aid to the United States in the war against Japan. This aid was to be rewarded by concessions from Japan among other promises. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States no longer needed military aid from the Soviets. However, Stalin was there to collect the promised rights and concessions. These factors contributes to an environment of mistrust that aggravated tensions as the outbreak of the Cold War. After the partition of Germany as per the Potsdam Conference, Germany was divided into four occupation zones controlled by France, Britain, USA and the Soviet Union. The democratization of West Berlin by the United States and its allies catalyzed the Berlin crisis. In response to the Berlin blockade and airlift, as well as the prospects of communist expansion, the United States and other 11 Western allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. Tension was intensified with the formation of an equivalent force by the Soviets and its affiliated states through the Warsaw Pact.


The Cold War was a period was marked by mutual perception of hostility between blocs or military-political alliances. From the discussion above, it is evident that both the Soviet Union and the United States contributed to the origins the Cold war. However, the Soviet Union had a greater contribution to its start than the United States. The formulation of Truman’s containment policy and Marshal Aid among others are apt examples of developments that illustrates that the United States’ actions were largely a response to the aggressive and antidemocratic actions by the Soviets.