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The Cold War: What Is the Main Reason That Government Officials Believed It Was Necessary to Curtail Americans’ Freedoms and What Are Some Examples Where This Occurred?

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The Cold War was a period of tension and hostility between the United States of America and the Soviet Union from the mid-40s to the late 80s. It began with the end of the Second World War. It was called the Cold War because there was no active war between the two nations, which was probably due to the fear of nuclear escalation. There were many indirect conflicts like the Vietnam and Korea wars. There was the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 which was the closest the world ever came to a nuclear war.

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After World War II, Joseph Stalin saw the world as divided into two camps: imperialist and capitalist regimes on the one hand, and the Communist and progressive world on the other. In 1947, President Harry Truman also spoke of two diametrically opposed systems: one free, and the other bent on subjugating other nations. After Stalin's death, Nikita Khrushchev stated in 1956 that imperialism and capitalism could coexist without war because the Communist system had become stronger. The Geneva Summit of 1955 among Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States, and the Camp David Summit of 1959 between Eisenhower and Khrushchev raised hopes of a more cooperative spirit between East and West. In 1963 the United States and the Soviet Union signed some confidence-building agreements, and in 1967 President Lyndon Johnson met with Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin in Glassboro, New Jersey

Interspersed with such moves toward cooperation, however, were hostile acts that threatened broader conflict, such as the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 and the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia of 1968. The long rule of Leonid Brezhnev (1964–1982) is now referred to in Russia as the “period of stagnation.” But the Soviet stance toward the United States became less overtly hostile in the early 1970s. Negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union resulted in summit meetings and the signing of strategic arms limitation agreements. Brezhnev proclaimed in 1973 that peaceful coexistence was the normal, permanent, and irreversible state of relations between imperialist and Communist countries, although he warned that conflict might continue in the Third World. In the late 1970s, growing internal repression and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to a renewal of Cold War hostility.

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The two powers misperceived the technological advancement by the either side

In a step to strengthen its security, USSR invested significantly in military technologies. It was the first to design one of the most powerful weapons in history. In fact, the U.S started making hydrogen bombs immediately after USSR had constructed its own. The U.S perceived the USSR’s military expansion as a threat to its security and that of the world. As a result, the U.S government strongly invested in armament and by the end of 1980’s, its nuclear arsenal had greatly grown. Economically, the U.S technological advancement in economy elicited uncertainties to the USSR authorities. To USSR, the economic expansion aimed to attract the third world countries into capitalism. Since the expansion of capitalism created discontent among the Soviets, they developed competitive economic strategies. This further increased rivalry between the two nations, which precipitated into Cold war. Stein clarifies that, “in order to maintain its economic dominance in Europe, America developed the Marshal Plan that offered financial support to these regions to ensure that they purchased the U.S products” (1992, p. 470). However, Soviet Union viewed this as a means to spread America’s dominance in the world.

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In the long run, we can say that the main causes of Cold War are the events that run up to it , such as the Truman Doctrine , The Marshall plan , the Potsdam conference and the Yalta Conference , and the conflicts of the USSR’s and USA’s political and economic ideologies.

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Ingimundarson, V. (1994). Cold War Misperceptions: The Communist and Western Responses to the East German Refugee Crisis in 1953. Journal of Contemporary History, 29(3), 463-481.

Stein, A. A. (1992). When Misperception Matters. Journal of World Politics, 34(4), 41-103.

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