Origins of the Cold War


This is a general summing up of, in my opinion, the four main contributing factors that led to the development of the Cold War. For the edexcel exam, an 'origins' question would be a source led analysis, so these notes can be used to support/dispute the claims made in the sources. I hope it helps!

1. Ideology caused the Cold War

Evidence to support this view:

  • Capitalism and communism are in direct conflict with one another ideologically
  • Marxist-Leninism (the official ideology of the USSR) explicitly aimed for the overthrow of capitalism in a world revolution
  • Stalin's speech in 1946 claimed conflict was 'inevitable'
  • 'Red Scare' in 1919 shows deep rooted anti-communist sentiment in the US

Evidence to suggest ideology didn't cause the Cold War

  • During WWII the USSR and the USA had been able to work together despite their ideological differences
  • Stalin had proposed peaceful coexistence until 1947
  • too simplistic of an argument to suggest ideology caused the Cold War as the leaders seemed to act pragmatically (e.g. Stalin didn't help Mao during the Chinese civil war, even though he was communist, as he didn't want another large communist country in Asia)

2. Misunderstandings

Evidence to support this view:

  • Superpowers were striving for self-protection but these actions were misinterpreted as agressive policies trying to gain world dominance
  • e.g. the Soviet desire to create a buffer zone in Eastern Europe…


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