Fundamental Differences – Soviet Union

Totalitarian State:

The needs of the whole country are more important than the needs of individuals. Decisions are made by a dictator.

United States – Democratic State

The needs of the country are important by individual wants are important too. Decisions are made by all people through free elections.


Is a system where the government controls the economic system. All citizens share in the ownership of business and wealth is distributed equally among all people.


Is a system where the government intervenes as little as possible in their economy. Individuals can own their own businesses and keep any profits they earn.

It is because of these fundamental differences that such division existed between these two nations. In the Soviet Union, they believed that the American way promoted greed and class division. The criticism was that Americans were only concerned about themselves and not their fellow citizen. On the other side, the United States criticized the Soviet was as being too controlling. It was a place where individuals had no personal freedom and ultimately could not enjoy prosperity because of the division of capital.

Key Concepts of the Cold War:

Truman Doctrine – this was the American foreign policy that was developed after WWII. It was based on the belief that communism must be ‘contained’, and that the USA would intervene in any situation where it appeared the communism was spreading.


Marshall Plan– This was an economic aid program developed by the United States and supported by Canada that offered billions of dollars to war-torn countries in Western Europe. It guaranteed that these countries would side with the USA during the Cold War and it helped rebuild the economies of 16 European nations after WWII.

Sovietization- The imposition of a Soviet-style government and economic on system satellite countries of the V.S.S.R. The process of Sovietization was used to bring the countries of Central and Eastern Europe under Soviet control shortly after WWII.

Alliance Systems- The United States led a defensive alliance called NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) that discouraged Soviet expansion throughout the world. The Soviets created the Warsaw Project to counter NATO; it involved most of the countries of Eastern Europe under their control.

MAD – meaning ‘Mutually Assured Destruction. This was the reality of the atomic age that people had to begin to live with. It was the realization that if the two superpowers ever went to war directly with each other, that the whole world would be wiped out.

Arms Race- This was the way to balance power during the Cold War. Power was measured in atomic/nuclear weapons. This led to the stockpiling of thousands of these weapons over the course of the Cold War period. Eventually, enough weapons existed that the population of the world would be wiped out if war happened.

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