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The Communist Challenge


Western leaders were seriously concerned about the USSRs growing influence in the postwar world. The Soviet victory over a fascist capitalist state served to enhance the global appeal of Communist ideology. Following the postwar collapse of European overseas colonies, many of the newly independent countries in the third world adopted a socialist orientation. Soviet influence appeared to spread like a tidal wave across the entire globe: from Eastern Europe to China, from Vietnam to Cuba. Even within Western democracies themselves the popularity of Communist parties was far from negligible. 



The extreme rivalry and distrust between the two antagonistic camps of statesone led by the USSR, the other by the United Statesthreatened repeatedly to engulf the world in a global conflict. The world entered the era of the cold war that was to last for nearly a half century (1946-91). At its core was the intense military, economic, ideological, and political competition between the two socioeconomic models: the system of capitalism and the system of socialism. 

By the 1970s the Soviet Union had achieved seemingly assured superpower status through military parity with the United States. Not since the days of Nicholas I had Russian power been rated so highly at home or abroad.

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