In the immediate aftermath of WWII, the world was split into two opposing camps that, though they did not fight directly, were actively engaged in the Cold War. This war did not end until the USSR broke apart in 1991. The Cold War was both created and prolonged by the interconnected economic and ideological tensions of the East and West Blocs. The ideological systems of the two powers were viewed as being complete opposites in their goals and experienced increasing animosity toward each other. This in turn influenced the economic policies that drove the main powers of the Cold War even further apart.
By far, the biggest contributor to the formation of the Cold War was the fact that both sides believed the communist Soviet Union and the capitalist west ideologies were incompatible with each other. The essence of the Cold War was seen as the opposition of communism and capitalism (Kishlansky, Geary, and O’Brien 874). This belief was present as soon as 1946, when Winston Churchill gave a speech characterizing the Soviet Union as a government that was capable of trying to “enforce totalitarian systems upon the free democratic world” (Churchill 303). He also contrasted the Soviet Union as a state where control was “enforced upon the common people by… police governments,” while the U.S. and Great Britain embodied “the great principles of freedom and the rights of man” (Churchill 303). This belief did not abate as the Cold War dragged on, and caused even more animosity between the two blocs. Even as late as 1961, Khrushchev’s address to the Communist Party Congress still proclaimed the main driving force of the Soviet Union to be the “competition of the two world social systems, the socialist and the capitalist” (Khrushchev 307).
This perceived ideological incompatibility also contributed to the formation of alliances in the East and West blocs. These alliances in turn prolonged the Cold War. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was first formed in 1949 as protection of capitalist countries from the USSR, and it was still bringing countries into it’s membership all the way up untill Spain’s entrance in 1982. The Soviets responded to this with yet another alliance group in Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact (Kishlansky, Geary, and O’Brien 876). Former colonies were also forced to choose an allegiance with either the capitalist or communist camps (Kishlansky, Geary, and O’Brien 877).