chapter  3
America in the Cold War
ByRobert D. Schulzinger
Pages 13

The Cold War, a global competition between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its supporters, lasted for more than forty years. It began when the World War II alliance against Nazi Germany collapsed after 1945, and it continued until the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991. The Cold War originated from a complex set of interrelated causes. The United States and the Soviet Union were military, economic, political, and ideological rivals. As the historian Odd Arne Westad (2005: 8-72) has written, the United States sought to construct a worldwide “empire of liberty” while the Soviet Union endorsed a global “empire of justice.” In other words, the United States promoted ideas of individual rights and democratic governance while the Soviet Union advocated economic and social equality. Yet each side regularly compromised these ideals by supporting people and movements who rejected their patrons’ stated principles.