• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How important was the nuclear arms race in the development of tensions during the Cold War 1945-1962?

Extracts from this document...


The Cold War was a silent war which took place between the USA and the USSR from 1945 to 1991. No physical war took place, hence it being a cold war. Despite the Cold War starting after World War Two, it is believed tensions arose prior to the Second World War. This period of time dramatically changed the political scene of Europe and the rest of the World. The war was built on a foundation of tensions caused by three factors: Eastern Europe, ideologies and an arms race. This essay explores the main factors contributing to the development of tension from 1945 to 1962. An arms race is a competition between nations for superiority in the development and accumulation of weapons. Historians believe that the arms race was the most prominent factor causing tensions. The significant turning point of the USA and USSR?s relationship, and trigger event to the arms race, was the bombing of Japan. In August 1945, the USA dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed and thousands of people died. The bombs were the most powerful weapons invented. The fact that the USA had not informed their ally, the USSR, before dropping the bombs created suspicion from the USSR. Russia did not have any bombs and this meant that the USA could potentially attack the Soviet Union and they could not do a thing to prevent it. ...read more.


Stalin left his troops occupying Eastern European countries. The USA disliked this as they detested communism, but now that ?the war had left them holding lots of land in Europe- much too much land? (Clement Atlee, Britain?s Prime Minister), it would make it difficult for the USA to contain communism with the potential of communist expansion through Europe. The conferences sparked the tensions between the two, however, in June 1948, tensions rapidly increased with the Berlin Blockade. The Soviets cut off road and rail routes to West Berlin in hope that the allies would be forced to leave Berlin and that the capitalist toxin in Eastern Europe would be removed. The US saw this as the USSR?s attempt to expand European communism and decrease Europe?s confidence in America. The USA counteracted this act by supplying necessities via airlift and moving their nuclear bomber force to England as a threat to Russia. Truman justified his actions in 1949 by saying ?We would act when freedom was threatened?, and therefore undermined the USSR?s actions as portraying it as a form of entrapment. The USSR and the USA both claimed their parts of Germany through dividing it. Germany and Berlin were both divided between the nations. Both the countries wanted to claim their land and used it to show how they were better. ...read more.


The Soviet Foreign Minister, Gromyko saw the USA?s attempts as ?an unrestrained anti-Cuban propaganda campaign?. Once again, the two nations lacked the capability of seeing eye to eye and had miscommunication faults. It could be argued that the contrasting ideologies were the underlying cause of tension and kept tensions alive and healthy throughout the 17 year period. The change in presidents and leaders changed the level of tensions. As opposed to Stalin, Khrushchev wanted to improve relations and opposed to Truman and Roosevelt, Kennedy was fairly passive (e.g. Berlin Wall). Without the initial friction created from the differences in ideologies, there would not have been an arms race or competition for control over Eastern Europe. Both countries aimed for peace, but their methods for peace were constantly viewed as threats due to the hatred of the opposing ideologies. Khrushchev believed ?the main thing is to argue without resort to arms? and Kennedy believed ?a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war?, showing that neither wanted to end up going to war and so both nations were in an arms race solely to prove their ideologies? worth. The knowledge that the opposing nation wanted to expand their ideologies blinded the other and created them ignorant, hiding their ignorance through control over Europe and accumulation of nuclear arms. Overall, the contrast in ideologies was the factor which, throughout the cold war, created the foundation of and was the heart of tensions between the USA and USSR. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE International relations 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE International relations 1945-1991 essays

  1. How Far Was Gorbachev Responsible For The End Of Soviet Union?

    Unpopularity is due to some extent to the policy of glasnost, because people can now know the truth due to free speech, they can know the horrors of the Stalin era for example. Vladimir Medvedev and Boris Yeltsin "almost in unison" say Gorbachev enjoyed the "luxurious, comfortable life of the party nomenklatura" (ZA P74).

  2. The Cold War - major events. Revision notes.

    abou 10000 fighters * US and South forces retook the captured towns but many civilians were killed and the town of Hue was destroyed The peace movement on the USA * Public in USA didnt like the Vietnam war - unpopular because it was a media war (televisions, radios, newspapers

  1. In what ways did relations between the USA and the USSR change between 1948 ...

    difficulties, and democracy is not perfect, but we never had to put up a wall to keep our people in. Incredibly, their relationship worsened still to a point that their disagreements were threatening the very existence of life on Earth in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

  2. To what extent were Fulgencio Batista's weaknesses the cause for Fidel Castro's rise to ...

    1952, he demonstrated that "he was only out for himself, for power and for wealth. He went along with business interests and the United States because this gave him what he wanted and because it was the only kind of government that made sense to a simple-minded, poorly educated sergeant [...] with no experience of administration, economics or politics, (...)

  1. Explain why the USA and the Soviet Union did not trust eachother after the ...

    So the USA decided that they would have to bomb Japan before then. The date that they chose, was the 6th of August. The bomb was dropped over the city of Hiroshima and a second one was dropped on the 9th of August over Nagasaki.

  2. Cold War Short Essays - Questions and Answers.

    One key feature was that NATO was formed because the USA was worried about the threat of nuclear war with the USSR. The USSR had developed its first atomic bomb thus starting the Arms Race. This was a risk for Western European countries as none had created the atomic bomb yet, except the USA.

  1. Cold War Summary, quotes and revision notes.

    All this had propoganda value. "The old Soviet Economy could not provide money for the arms race, space race and provide standard of living of the West." - Walker History and Culture The historical and cultural background of each superpower influences its foreign policy.

  2. Edexcel Cold War 1943-1991 Revision (Detailed)

    Soviet expansion 1. Memory of the suffering 1918-39 1. During the interwar years most earstern European countries had been hostile to the Soviet Union, Poland had signed a non-aggression pact with France and during the Second World War Hungary and Romania fought on the side of Germany, against the Soviet Union 1.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work