Mutually Assured Destruction meant USA & USSR had weapons they wouldn’t use, limiting war.

Two superpowers had proxy warfare between (or within) smaller countries, which were total wars for the small countries but not for the USA or USSR.

Lots of countries were also seeking independence, but often got superpower aid to do so.

People used spies. A lot. And then accused other people of being spies for political gain, of course.

1943-10 Tehran conference

Poland shifted west, ban on anti-USSR central European alliances, D-day planned. Percentages agreement was about relative British and USSR influence in various countries.

Quest for security 1944-5

Britain, Soviet Union, United States all called superpowers during war, but USA clearly most powerful (esp. after nukes). They didn’t share nukes, USSR was pissed.

USA & USSR said they wanted security, but 1945!USSR (regional superpower) saw this as meaning friendly neighboring states and economic reconstruction, while USA (global superpower) saw security as global free markets. USA saw self as superior.

Grand Alliance breakdown

People really started disagreeing a lot at Yalta and Potsdam.


People agreed at Yalta (1945-02) to temporarily split Germany into 4 zones of occupations and demand some reparations. Even Stalin didn’t really want a split Germany, just a weak Germany with some USSR influence.

Poland and Eastern Europe

USSR moved Polish eastern borders west and gave Poland German territory to compensate.