While the United States became the land of the free, where individual dreams of success were within the realms of possibility following the tenets of Capitalism, the Communist ideologies of the Soviet Union were just the opposite. In many ways, the Cold War was a global contest for supremacy between two diverse, and opposing social systems, one based upon private property, political and economic laissez-faire and the other upon state property, centrally controlled political system, and enforced equal opportunities for all.
Once the Soviet Union emerged as the Power that had liberated most of Eastern and Central Europe from the clutches of Adolf Hitler during the World War II, it began to insist on communist regimes in all the countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and so on. Having learned a lesson from the case of Nazi Germany, (which was helped along by the previous non-interference of the United States in Europe) the United States became concerned over the rise of communism in various parts of the world like France, Italy and Germany, and of course the Central and East European nations.
In the United States, suspicions of communism and the Soviet Union had reached a level of mass hysteria with the campaigning of anti-communist warrior Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, a Republican from Wisconsin who went public with his claims in 1950 that there were many Communists in the State government.
Each Power now wanted supremacy in Europe in order to protect its own interests, and began to follow a strategy of intervention. The strategy of intervention included the use of incentives like offers of military protection, and of economic aid for growth and development. An added factor was that by this time each of the powers had missile capabilities and sought to place these missiles in locations of military advantage. Alliances thus also became a matter of military coalition and collaboration. As a result, objects of contention seemed to be whole societies and their particular orientation toward the United States or the Soviet Union. (Feste, 1992).
Along with this strategy of intervention to win allies, the two powers each began to use strategies of deterrence and compellance. (Lebow, Stein, 1994)This meant an arms-build up, including nuclear arsenals, in order to threaten the other Power in such a way as to deter them from attacking, and then follow this up with a move to compel them using the threat of force. The three-pronged strategy of intervention, deterrence and compellance spread not only in Europe but also in various parts of the newly de-colonised Asia and South America.
One such stand-off resulting from using the strategies of deterrence and compellance was the Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962. In 1960, the Soviet Union had managed to bring off a trade contract and alliance with Fidel Castro's Cuba following a strategy of intervention, which was only a few miles from the United States coasts. When the United States tried to instigate a revolution against Castro in 1962 through the famous incursion into the Bay of Pigs, which failed, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba as a means of protecting its ally. President Kennedy placed Cuba under quarantine, and the tense nuclear situation was resolved with the withdrawal of Soviet missiles only after the United states promised not to invade Cuba, and to withdraw its missiles from Turkey.(Gaddis 1998)
Almost at the same time a situation was brewing in Vietnam, where