The Cold War: History and Causes

After the Second World War (1939-45), political and economic conflicts ensued between the United States and the Soviet Union, leading to what would later become to be known as the Cold War. The Cold War was ideological warfare between communism and capitalism. The Soviets used their communist ideas to try to expand their territories across Europe. The US saw the Soviets as a great threat to the peace that was already being restored after WWII.

As a result, President Truman would later, in 1947, officially adopt the Cold War as the basis of American foreign policy, describing it as global strife over the future of liberty. Truman’s decision led to a series of measures and countermeasures that characterized the Cold War between 1947-1953.

Notably, Republican Senator Joe McCarthy was the mastermind of anti-communist politics within America, leading to the inhumane treatment of Americans who were perceived as communist sympathizers. McCarthy contributed to the infamous “loyalty” politics, which led to the dismissal of hundreds of U.S. government officials who were thought to be pro-communist on account of being disloyal. The senator’s unrelenting support for the anti-communism crusade made him an influential political figure in America, leading to McCarthyism.

Typically, McCarthyism was the practice of accusing leftist and communist elements of treason or subversion, which stirred the Cold War scare/the Red Scare. In his famous speech at the Wheeling in 1950, McCarthy further spread the Red Scare by giving electrifying allegations that 205 communists in the state department were spying on the U.S. government. While these claims caused nationwide fear among government officials and the general public, McCarthy never produced the list of those people he claimed to be traitors within the state department. Consequently, it would later emerge that his accusations were unjustified and unfounded.

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