The Cold War was a period of political rivalry between the Western Powers (the Western Bloc) led by the United States and the Soviet-Union-led communist countries and satellite states (the Eastern Bloc). It is also interpreted as a tug-of-war between “capitalism” and “socialism.” The reason why it is called the cold war is because there was no direct military confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Instead, the two waged many hot wars through their proxies around the world. During the decades of the Cold War, a series of conflicts broke out across the world, including the Kuomintang and Communist Civil War in China, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. There was also an extreme period of tension during the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost triggered an all-out nuclear conflict in the early 1960s. It wasn’t until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the Cold War officially ended.
The Cold War was no less instrumental in shaping the global power dynamics than WWII. Current communist regimes like North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba received backing from the Soviet Union to successfully ward off military advances by the U.S. and these regimes have stood to this day. Eastern European countries that once joined the Soviet Union are now actively pushing a decommunization process. NATO, originally organized to defend against the Soviet Union, has now become the largest regional defense organization in the world and continues to keep a watchful eye on Russia and China. The US-China trade war, which began in July 2018, is interpreted by some as the new Cold War.