By the end of World War II, US and the Soviet Union emerged as the two strongest allied nations, or “Super Powers”. They both struggled to diminish each other’s power. US directed all the Capitalist Countries. Soviet Union led the Communist Countries. Undeniably, the competition between the Super Powers led to the Cold War but many scientists and historians argue that this was only one reason for the outburst of Cold War. We need to examine holistically the causes of conflict focusing on different levels of analysis and on its effects on the interstate and civil wars.

Firstly, we need to focus on the individual levels of analysis. How did the leader’s actions and idiosynthesis brought tension during and after Cold War? During the Cold War, leaders of the Super Powers influenced the interstate conflict. On the hand, F.D. Roosevelt was an advocate of liberal trade system through which he believed interstate wars could be resolved but he was also an ambitious man, seeking the best for his nation through faith in institution of UN and insurance of Stalin’s reduction of power. By the end of the War, Harry Truman, preceded by F.D. Roosevelt, had an active-negative leader’s scale. This means that he was an active leader but feared US isolationism. On the other hand, Sov. Union’s totalitarian leader, Stalin believed in the power of communism, and in tightening domestic control. His dogmatic, audacious personality and persistence in communism caused not only interstate conflict with US but also intrastate tension in Greece (Greek Civil War1946) and in Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary. Therefore, comparing the periods during and after the war we see that leaders at post-war era not as influencing as those during. We also see that leaders’ actions have more impact on creating intrastate war. This statement is best-justified by the major civil conflicts created in 1970’s-1980’s in Central American states like Angola and Cambodia when during their elections leaders would stoke nationalism in order to benefit from it. The escalation of nationalism led to civil war. Lets not forget in 1949(declaration of hostilities) the building of Chinese Communism led to 10years civil war.

Furthermore, in a state level of analysis, one of the major causes of the Cold War is the differences in political culture of the two superpowers. US have as its milestone the principle of Democracy. Soviet Union was considered totalitarian with communism and authoritarianism prevailing meaning that foreign policy is centred in a narrow segment of government. Moreover, comparing each states goals we observe that war was in high probability. US was interested in intangible goals like the containment of Sov.Union or simply the prevention of their expansionist maneuvers. On the other side of spectrum, Sov.Union, weakened by WWII, even during the post war era was interested in tangible goals and followed an expansionist’s path by claiming Germany and Poland and by refuting US’s view of global order. This means that the prospects for an interstate war were increased since these two different political cultures were clashing.


Focusing in the political culture of the US, one could support that the idea of “Detterence” was one of the causes of Cold War. US was always increasingly suspicious of Russian communist leader Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev’s political but mostly strategic tactics. The Cuban and Caribbean Missile Crisis of October 14–28, 1962 was one of the most frightening and unstable patterns introduced in the history of interstate wars which corroborated the idea that Sov.Union’s hostility should be met since Khrushchev decided to agree to Cuba’s request to place nuclear missiles in Cuba.


Crisis and instability of a state have great impact in the outburst of a war. For instance, the rising crisis and instability in many states like Korea, Sov.Union and the Latin American states is considered a factor attributing at the conflicts during and after the war era. The crisis instability in Korea led to a civil war in 1949-1953 concluding to a catastrophic armed conflict of North and South Korea. The instate wars continued from 1955with Sov.Union struggling to keep communism ideologies in priority since US campaigns and soft power, including ideas, culture, values, evaded communism. Russians started to realize communism was not the wave to the future so this created civil conflicts and revolutions during 1950’s and 1960’s. Even in the 1970’s and 1980’s intrastate wars were produced in the Latin American regions causing the death of millions of people.


Furthermore, historians, like Waltz, believe that some of the deep causes that led to the interstate wars during the post-Cold War period were the communism’s loss of legitimacy and the decline in Sov.Union’s economy. This is reflecting diminished ability of Sov.Union central planning system to respond to change in world economy. But communism’s lost of legitimacy started many years ago with the White Movement and continued by the US who spend a lot of money to campaigns in order to be reduced.


Others focus on another side of the causes of post-war period and specifically at the intermediate causes of this period of hostility. Such causes are that US containment worked and they met Stalin’s expansionist’s aggression. Also, the imperial overstretch of Sov.Union would at some point collapse. This means that empires expand until over-expansions absorb their empire’s internal strength and at the same time Sov.Union used more than ¼ of its economy to defense and foreign affairs and probably this led to an overstretch of Sov.Union’s power.



Additionally, we should examine how the concept of militarization, of not only the superpowers but also of many states, caused interstate and intrastate wars during Cold War period. At the beginning of Cold War there was fear between the superpowers. One reason was US’s rising technology and the other was USSR’s usage of WMD’s (Weapons of Massive Destruction). Accordingly, this brings a change of the political calculus. When technology increases then the ability to kill increases too and the spectrum of coercion is also affected. But the appearance of WMD’s created much more fear and death than any one could have expected. Realists consider WMD’s not only a way to maintain cooperation of adversary states in bipolarity but also a way of demonstrating power and keeping equilibrium of power or “balance of power” but liberals believe that they should have been eliminated. So, firstly the biological and chemical WMD’s were designed end they became very popular during Cold War because they were cheap, easy to make and deliver, they could slow down enemies by injuring dozens of them. These were initially presented in the Hungarian Crisis in 1956. Then, during the second-half of Cold War and after it the Nuclear Weapons were introduced and were proliferated the Cuban and Caribbean Missile Crisis of October 14–28, 1962 demonstrated globally for the first time how the “Arms Race”, which was Soviets’ large research of nuclear weapons, led to major military build-up and to gaining parity in nuclear weapons. This were only some of the interstate conflicts which were resolved by bringing international constitutions to negotiations for peace. The biggest and most risky conflicts were created inside the framework of states where fractions were fighting each other. For example, the Papua Civil War which divided Papua in Papua, West Papua and Papua New

Guinea in 1961, the Afgan Civil War still present since 1978 and the Ugandan and Somali Civil War in 1987 and in 1991 are only some evidence which shows what problems were formed due to arms transfers and arms acquisitions from Latin American states and African states.

Bureaucracy is another reason that led to escalating Cold War. The Lend-lease aid program was abruptly stopped by 1945 and economic leadership between US and Soviet Union was strained. US bureaucracy followed liberalists’ ideologies and focused more on US capitalism, which concluded in transforming US into an autonomous economic area and an economic hegemony. On the side, Sov.Union’s leaders, policy makers and bureaucrats decided to follow realists’ ideologies and focused on increasing defense-spending and getting new heavy missiles.

Regarding the intrastate conflicts, wars during the Cold War era and post-Cold War reveal that this kind of armed conflicts provoked externalization of their conflict to the international community. Therefore, interstate wars during post-war era were caused when established mechanisms of states for mediating conflicts break down, when there is inability of governments to mediate conflict which occurs in aftermath of collapsed empires like for example the collapse of Austro-Hungarian empire and Yugoslavian statehood leading to Guerrilla War.

Last but not least, the system analysis explains some of the most important causes of this war. According to the realists’ point of view the anarchic system of states is a major cause. States are strategic and self-regarding and also calculating. This means that they will do anything and use any kind of force, even WMD’s in order to immunize their prosperity and act in a self-help system. This could be justified as a cost-benefit analysis in order to increase their own power. An example of an interstate and intrastate war that could solidify such a claim is Berlin Crisis. The interstate war between Sov.Union and US led Soviets expansionist’s spirit to believe that they could benefit from conquering Germany so they intervened into Berlin’s issues and created the 25kilometers Berlin Wall in order to check the immigration from Eastern Berlin to Western Berlin and this concluded with a civil conflict and separation of eatern and western Berlin during the Fourth Phase of 13 August 1961.

This allows us to examine one more cause of war which is state’s nature of intervention into other states issues. In order to justify this statement the illustration of El Salvador’s, Cuba’s, Yugoslavia’s examples are needed. In Yugoslavia’s example we see that Sov.Union’s intervention managed to weaken ability of central government to mediate ethnic conflict and headed to an intrastate war in 1991 with break up of formal federation and in 1998 with ethnic fights in fractions of Serbs, Muslims, Croats, Yugoslavs. In El Salvador’s example we observe US’s intervention through economic aid during and after Cold War and during the Vietnam War we see both US intervention to Cuba with economic and military assistance and Soviets military aid to Cuba and Nicaragua(1955).

Another last contributing cause of Cold War is the rapid changes in distribution of power. On the one hand, the end of WWII leaves with the concept of bipolarity with two superpowers predominating and controlling world’s politics: Sov.Union and US. Small States were under close rein. This demonstrated that not only there was reduction in communication between the states but also there were few alliance shifts and this created uncertainty. On the other hand, we observe that by the End of Cold War unipolarity of US was standing as the only power superpower since Sov.Union weakened. At the same side of the spectrum economic patterns such as gaps in resources like need for additional oil, land and water play an important role in relations between states and in their interactions.


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