The term "Cold War" was popularized saying to refer to postwar tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, interpreting the course and origins of the conflict became a source of heated controversy among historians, political scientists, and journalists. In particular, historians have sharply disagreed as to who was responsible for the breakdown of Soviet-U.S. relations after the Second World War; and whether the conflict between the two superpowers was inevitable, or could have been avoided. Historians have also disagreed on what exactly the Cold War was, what the sources of the conflict were, and how to disentangle patterns of action and reaction between the two sides. The Cold War was drawn out of World War II, with conflicting postwar aims of the two major superpowers. The United States wanted to establish a postwar peace favorable to the spread of democracy and capitalism that reinforced American interests. Under Stalin the USSR wanted to ensure its security by establishing and maintaining its control over Central and Eastern Europe and it also sought to advance communism and socialism throughout the world.
The first phase of the Cold War began in the first two years after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The USSR consolidated its control over the states of the Eastern Bloc, while the United States began a strategy of global containment to challenge Soviet power, extending military and financial aid to the countries of Western Europe and creating the NATO alliance. The term Eastern Bloc referred to the former Communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, including the countries of the Warsaw Pact. After Soviet forces remained in Eastern and Central European countries, with the beginning...
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...minated in a recession in the early 1990s more severe than the Great Depression as experienced by the United States and Germany. The Cold War continues to influence world affairs, with the United States thought as the sole remaining superpower. The aftermath of Cold War conflict, however, is not always easily erased, as many of the economic and social tensions that were exploited to fuel Cold War competition in parts of the Third World remain acute. The breakdown of state control in a number of areas formerly ruled by communist governments produced new civil and ethnic conflicts, particularly in the former Yugoslavia. In Central and Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War has ushered in an era of economic growth and an increase in the number of liberal democracies, while in other parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, independence was accompanied by state failure.
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