The Duel that Became the Cause of the Cold War

Historians agree there are several causes of the Cold War, but one is especially interesting. When I tried to find a picture that best describes the cause, I stumbled upon a cartoon from 1961 depicting two teams on a mountain involved in a tug of war. The left team led Nikita Khruschev while the right was led by American President John F. Kennedy. Both “teams” were pulling hard as the rope between them frayed. If we imagine that fight not as a rope pulling, but as a conflict of ideas, we get the same feeling.

The Ideological Causes of Cold War

The whole era of the Cold War is marked by conflict on different levels, and one of these levels is ideology. The polarization after World War II brought opposite ideas onto the social and political spectrum. The Soviet Union, on the far left, represented the ideas of communism, socialism and collectivism where the state has control over everything. On the opposite side were the United States and its allies with ideas of capitalism and individualism with no state control and where individuals conduct their own business. Each side saw the others’ ideology as  being wrong, and requiring correction.

The Evolution of “The Duel”

So, let’s go back to the tug of war cartoon. The picture perfectly illustrates the Cold War in one scene. A duel of two teams, two sides. True, the cartoon is from 1961, nearly when the Cold War was at its peak, but this duel has its roots long before this, even before World War I.  With the evolution of the idea of communism, the idea of capitalism had its own opponent. The idea of communism became stronger during the years of World War I, interwar years, and especially during World War II. Therefore, the 1940’s were years when the “red menace” evolved enough to become a serious threat.

The Duel of Parallel Worlds

The idea of communism had enough supporters after World War II to become a center of power that opposed another center of power gathered around the idea of capitalism. After  World War II ended, it seemed like these two ideas formed two parallel, opposite worlds, where everything from the other world was hostile and bad and needed to be destroyed. These “worlds” divided people and created tension that brought the world on the edge. The psychological duel that became the cause of the Cold War almost turned into a disaster.

Ivana Tucak

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