History Extended Essay Sample

Contributions of the United States and the Soviet Union to Cold War Tensions

The Cold War stemmed from the World War II. Due to there were repeated delays in initiating the second front in Europe, the Russians were suspicious of the motives of its western allies. The situation became even more alarming when the United States had suspended lend-lease aid to the Soviet Union after the war ended with the victory of the Soviet and American forces over Adolf Hitler’s Nazi empire. Both the Soviet Union and the United States contributed to the worsening of Cold War tensions greatly.

In Yalta, Stalin was charged with the task to enable free elections in Eastern Europe, but it was hastily broken. As a result, to make sure that there were friendly states on its borders, the USSR fostered and assisted in the installation of communist-dominated governments in Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland. Within a year, an ‘iron curtain’ was claimed to have descended over Europe and separated the ‘captive’ nations of the East practicing communism and the ‘free’ nations of the West dealing with democracy. These tensions accumulated and lead to the Cold War (Engdahl, 2010).

Both countries contributed to the worsening of Cold War tensions. One way was the Berlin blockade, where the Soviet Union attempted to starve out the western powers and coerce them into leaving Berlin. It was followed by proxy wars, where both countries supported different antagonists, like in the Vietnam War.

Moreover, the Cuban missile crisis almost resulted into a massive nuclear war. However, during the Prague spring the Soviet Army crushed Czechoslovakia brutally in an attempt to free it. Later the two nations were always competing for superiority. For example, when Russia was seen to be winning, America hastened its efforts to take their first man to the moon.

Causes of the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941

The Cold War was no shock to keen observers. It was a result of the culmination of tensions between the two countries. Late in the nineteenth century, the Japan’s economy was gradually growing and industrializing quickly. Being a country with limited resources, Japan had to rely on imported materials for its industries, most of which were sourced from America.

Therefore, without it, its economy could be a sham. Roosevelt’s administration sanctioned the stringent economic laws that prohibited export of some materials to Japan. Moreover, the latter was over-populated, and the United States decided to close doors to Japan’s emigrants. The leaders at the time thought that the only solution would be to invade China, where the excess population would be settled, and the Japanese economy would survive based on the China’s import market.

Thus, the 1930s were characterized by a series of wars aimed to invade China and succeed in Manchuria. Each step of aggression was compounded with greater denunciation from the United States. Therefore, regardless of the invasion, the Japan Army received limited economic and military assistance, and later the British and the Dutch did the same crippling the Japan’s economy. When China had refused to agree on its terms, Japan sought ways to inhibit foreign aid from reaching the former.

In 1940, Japan sought another strategy. They calculated that several territories in the South Pacific and South-East Asia controlled by the Netherlands, Great Britain, and France seemed incapable of defending. If they were under Japanese control, some of their problems would be solved. However, by this time, the United States had increased their economic sanctions to such an extent that by late 1941 Japan could not make more purchases from them. Since Japan was also entirely dependent on the United States for oil imports, it could no longer conduct war against China, and it was a humble pie the country was not prepared to eat.

The result was tumultuous diplomatic maneuvers between the United States and Japan. At that point, the latter had decided to declare war if no settlement was reached by the end of November. The result was an air strike the Japanese conducted against the U.S. at Pearl Harbor. (Morgenstern, 2000).

A Legal Attack on Racism and Segregation

During the period of the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans had been suffering from the vices of racism and segregation for a long time. They could not use the same buses as whites, go to the same schools, or worship in the same church. The Civil Rights Movement presented campaigns that were aiming to reshape America’s contours partially. The Brown strategy focused on segregated education since he believed that it was a major setback of all inequalities African Americans faced (Clayborne, 2003).

The goal was racial equity. The reason for that was an event when Rosa Parks had been arrested for civil disobedience since she had refused to vacate here seat for a white man. A grassroots movement ensued making the African American community boycott public transportation demanding for equal rights. A year later racial segregation in buses was overcome. In another case, they also had peaceful strikes and boycotted the same school system demanding access to all races. While this move was met with a lot of resentment, it went a long way in achieving equal rights for all.


  1. Clayborne, C. (2003). Civil rights chronicle (The African-American struggle for freedom). Lincolnwood, Illinois: Publications International.
  2. Engdahl, S. (2010). War. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.
  3. Morgenstern, G. (2000). The actual road to Pearl Harbor. In H. E. Barnes (Ed.), Perpetual war for perpetual peace (pp. 322-328). New York, NY: Greenwood Press.