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The Cold War was the world-wide on-going conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that defined world events between the end of World War II in 1945 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
It was called a "cold" war because the two sides never directly engaged in war with each other, instead using diplomacy, deterrence, money, ideology, subversion, propaganda and proxies to try to best each other. The main reason this happened, as opposed to eventual direct armed confrontation, was due to each of the "superpowers" possessing nuclear weapons, which, to most sane people, made the idea of a "hot" war unthinkable. (In fact, both sides worked to make a nuclear war an impossibility. This strategy was known as MAD.)
There is a recurring battle among Western historians over who "started" the Cold War, with traditionalists blaming Joseph Stalin and revisionists blaming Truman. Most current scholars believe that between the mutual suspicion and the strongly differing plans for the post-war system, the question is really moot.
There is debate today over who ended the Cold War. Many conservatives claim that
Jesus Saint Reagan singlehandedly ended the Cold War with a speech in front of a wall. However, it is mostly accepted that it was a combination of internal difficulties in the USSR (namely a large military budget), Gorbachev's attempts at reforms, and pressure from various US presidents.
Most of the events of the time period were related to the Cold War in some way. One of the superpowers usually took sides in almost every conflict, usually provoking a response from the other. Even minor things like the movement of a well known ballet star from one country to the other could be seen as part of the Cold War.
Many political scientists have declared that the bipolar system that accompanied the Cold War was a very stable system, and many fear that the current unipolar world could end up more war-prone than before; however, many also believe that the data so far suggests otherwise. The probability of the launching of a nuclear attack has increased, however, with the steady increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons.
 Effect on United States culture
The Cold War had a profound effect on the culture and attitudes of the United States, and the lingering effects of these changes are still present in the average American's worldview today. The Cold War spawned McCarthyism and the fear of communists, accompanied by a slew of anti-leftist propaganda. Though McCarthy and his compatriots were eventually dismissed as demagogues and fear-mongers, they did manage to significantly affect the American psyche, instilling a knee-jerk hysteria of socialism and communism into many Americans. These undertones can still be seen today in the actions of anti-Obama protestors, many of whom are most concerned about Obama's supposed "socialist" sympathies. Americans.
The Cold War also influenced cinema and popular culture, and many of the films produced during this era are based upon the concepts of MAD, the bipolar state of world politics, or the Cold War culture.
- ↑ Even the Olympic Games were a symbolic battleground between the countries associated with each side.
- ↑ However, the fact that the Soviet Union was already spying on the US before the end of World War II while the US was instead concentrating on Germany provides evidence, even to many modern historians, that the USSR bears more blame than the US. Which is nice and convenient, since they're not around to complain about getting dumped with the blame. Anyway, the winners get to write history, or end it.
- ↑ For example, the libertarian Cato Institute
- ↑ An in-depth article discussion anti-Red propaganda
- ↑ See here for a comprehensive list