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083 During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

83. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

A war usually involves a lot of fighting and death. The Cold War, however, was different. The Cold War wasn’t actually a war, but instead it was a very long period of hostility (or dislike) between the United States and the Soviet Union (or the part of the world that would later become Russia and other countries). The two countries disagreed on ideology (or ideas about how governments should work). The United States believed that democracies were the best governments. The Soviet Union believed that communism was best.

The Cold War began in the mid-1940s and didn’t end until the early 1990s. During that time, the United States and the Soviet Union were the world’s superpowers (or most powerful and richest countries). Many people were scared that the two superpowers would begin to actually fight each other, causing many deaths, but that never happened.

But there were many dangerous threats (or bad things that could have happened) during that time. The two superpowers engaged (or became involved) in a nuclear arms race. This was a period of time when both superpowers made a lot of nuclear arms (or weapons) like bombs. Each country wanted to have more nuclear weapons than the other country did. The superpowers spent a lot of money making these weapons and building defense to protect themselves from each other.

The United States was worried about the spread (or growth) of communism. The Soviet Union was helping other countries adopt (or begin to follow) communism. All those countries were said to be behind the Iron Curtain. When the Soviet Union began to be powerful in another country, the United States tried to stop the spread of communism there. At the same time, the Soviet Union sent its support to countries where there was a communist movement (or interest in becoming communist).

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the head (or leader) of the Soviet Union, began to have diplomatic
discussions, or conversations between political leaders. These discussions eventually (or after a long period of time) led to the end of the Cold War.


hostility – dislike; unfriendliness and anger
* She has a lot of hostility toward her ex-husband, and her ex-husband feels the same way about her.

ideology – ideas and beliefs about how government or society should work
* He has an ideology of peace and believes that all wars are bad, no matter why they are fought.

superpower – one of the world's most powerful and richest countries
* Do most countries consider the United States one of the world's superpowers?

threat – a statement about a bad thing that will happen if something else does not happen
* The robber made a threat, saying that he would use his gun if the bank employee didn't give him $5,000 immediately.

to engage in (something) – to become involved in something
* At the party, they engaged in a long discussion about politics and religion.

nuclear arms race – a period of time when the Soviet Union and the United States made a lot of nuclear bombs and scared each other with them
* The nuclear arms race was very expensive for both the Soviet Union and the United States because they made a lot of weapons that they didn't really want to use.

defense – protection from a person or country that wants to hurt oneself
* Shaun wants his daughter to learn karate as a defense against being attacked when so goes off to college.

spread – growth; expansion; increase
* Public health scientists are worried about the spread of AIDS and other diseases.

communist movement – growing interest in becoming communist among many people
* When did the communist movement begin in Cuba?

diplomatic – careful conversations between political leaders representing different countries
* In general, the United States has good diplomatic relations with Canada.

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them in any way is prohibited. Contributors to this is course are Jessica Brown, Lucy Tse, and Jeff McQuillan.