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A “Cold War” is distinguished from a “hot war,” because actual military actions do not take place between the two or more parties involved, Instead, a cold war is comprised of a series of disagreements, threats, and actions that do not end up with the involved parties taking up military action against one another.
In modern history, the “Cold War” refers to the conflicts between the Communist and non-Communist powers, of which the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the leaders. While the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union actually began after the Bolshevik Revolution that turned Russia into a Communist country, in 1917, most people agree that these earlier disagreements and hostility were secondary to the events at the end of World War II.
The decisions about how to break up Europe after the defeat of Germany was the subject of the Yalta Conference of 1945. While Western democracies obviously wanted to promote democracies in countries occupied by Nazi German, Russia wanted to extend its influence and establish Communist regimes in many of those countries. And the biggest issue was Germany – how to plan for the post-war occupation. Ultimately Germany was divided into four occupation zones – British, American, French, and Russian. During the period from 1945-49, Russia established Communist regimes in many Eastern European countries, and, as the other Allies protested, it also closed off critical supply lines for the other Allies to get goods and supplies into their sections of occupied Germany. An allied airlift ensured.
While Western democracies wanted to promote democracies in countries occupied by Nazi German, Russia wanted to establish Communist regimes.
From this point forward, the Western nations had as their goal the prevention of Communist expansion anywhere in the world. And Russia, with its new Communist China ally, sought to prevent Western countries from preventing their expansionist goals. This led to two hot wars – Korea and Vietnam – as we moved through the 50s and 60s. And of course, there was the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
The “competition” extended into space as well, with a race to explore and establish supremacy in that arena.
In 1991, the Soviet Union broke up. While this was the “official” end to the Cold War, there are many who insist that it has really never ended.
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Whether you are given a specific topic by your instructor or are left to your own to choose a topic, your essay will require research – make no mistake about that. You cannot possibly make a case for your thesis statement without factual information. Your Cold War essay introduction must include your thesis statement.
Once you have decided upon a topic, do the research. From that, you will need to develop your thesis statement. What are you trying to show? What question are you answering? Why is it important for your reader to understand what you are presenting?
Your body paragraphs should be organized in good sequential order, and you will need to craft at least an informal outline so that your essay has a logical flow.
In terms of constructing your Cold War essay, your conclusion must reiterate your thesis statement and how your research has supported that thesis.
There is the other issue of a Cold War DBQ essay (document-based essay) that students may face, especially as they are attempting to gain college credit through their AP high school history courses. Essentially, you will be provided actual documents, such as those from the Yalta Conference of 1945, and be asked to analyze and respond to those documents. Preparation for this essay will be provided by your high school AP history instructor, and it will be important to take all of the advice and practice that you can get when you prepare for this essay requirement.
Certainly, you can find plenty of sample essays on the causes of the Cold War all over the web. You should read and review those essays that relate to your topic choice because you will gain some insights and perhaps some key insights. Be aware, however, that these essays are out there and trying to use them as your own will be a huge mistake. Make your essay your own by crafting it in your own voice, style, and tone.
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