The Cold War: Personalities Clash

When people and historians think about "The Cold War", they think of the United States battling the Soviet Union in the sea, the sky, and space. The United States and The Soviet Union did not want to openly fight because they were scared of each others powers. All of that is true but what few people realize is that the different personalities of the US leaders and the SU leaders were a major contributor.

Truman & Stalin

The Cold War started when Harry S. Truman was president of the United States and when Josef Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union. Although they were both members of NATO, they didn't exactly get along as some would think. Stalin would fight Truman on every issue that was brought up. A reason why they never got along could be because their personalities were different. Truman was a no nonsense type of guy that liked to take a combative approach ( The dropping of the nuclear bomb on Japan). He signed the National Security Act in 1947 which created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council. Truman also created the U.S. Air Force.
Stalin was also a fighter but he wanted power and any expense. He was evil, brutal, and a dangerous dictator; he would brutally kill his own people. Stalin wanted Soviet domination in Eastern EuropeWhat most people don't know is that Stalin was very paranoid. He saw plots everywhere and was afraid of being taken over or killed. Stalin was so paranoid that he convinced himself that nine of his doctors were trying to kill him.

Josef Stalin
Josef Stalin

Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman

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Eisenhower & Krushchev

After Harry Truman left in 1953, Dwight Eisenhower was left to deal with the Cold War. Dwight Eisenhower was a very easy-going president who wanted to be liked by the americans. Eisenhower did not create any great ideas, but when their was a problem he was very well at coming up with alternate solutions to fix the problem. He had the CIA undergo many secret missions to spy on the Soviets. With Josef Stalin's death in 1953, there was a window of oppurtunity for Eisenhower and the United States to patch up their differences with the Soviet Union. The Soviets destroyed an American spy plane in 1960, which went down as the U-2 spy plane incident. So much for working things out.

After Stalin dies, his successor was named Nikita Krushchev. Krushchev was known for his huge energy and drive. He had great self-conidence, which lead him to make very big gambles. Krushchev wanted to pass reforms but other communist nations did not agree. In 1960 he shot down a U.S. spy plane, known as the U-2 spy plane incient. There was no way this Cold War was ending with Krushchev's drive to defeat the Unites States. He did not like the Americans very much and really wanted to intimidate John F. Kennedy, who was the new United States president, which leads me to US President John F. Kennedy.
Nikita Kruschev
Nikita Kruschev

Dwight Eisenhower
Dwight Eisenhower
"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
--Dwight Eisenhower

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, taking over for Dwight Eisenhower, promised leadership for America who were falling behind the Soviets in the Cold War. He was known as a " Strong, Cold Warrior" (Shmoop Gama). Kennedy wanted to fix things with the Soviet Union, and gave it an attempt. Krushchev however, being very self confident, tried to intimidate John F. Kennedy. Krushchev failed in his intimidation attempt because Kennedy believed that he should not back away from a war if Kruschev keeps going at it. In 1962, the Krushchev and the Soviet Union had nuclear missles placed on Cuba. Kennedy found out about the missles and ordered Cuba to be quarentined. Kennedy and Krushchev later made an agreement to take the missles off the island and dismantle them, and the U.S. would also get rid of their missles. This was the closest the United States has ever been in being in a nuclear war.

Richard Nixon

Vice President Richard Nixon was very anti-communist. He had a reputation as an "Agressive Foe of communism" (Shmoop gamma), which led him and his secretary of State to create the "Nixon Doctrine". That stated that the United States would let go some of its military commitments. Not following his own doctrine, he went to China and began "arms reduction talks".

Reagon & Gorbachev

President Ronald Reagon was a very optimistic man who used courage, kindness, and persistence in a time of trouble. That was the case for the Cold War. He started to show a more "flexible" attitude toward the Soviet Union when Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary for the Soviet Union. Reagon respected Gorbachev and called the Pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union an "evil empire". By being optimistic about things and using his courage he managed to "win" the Cold War in 1991. He was largely helped by Mikhail Gorbachev who is known to have put an end to the cold war.

Gorbachev was a ruthless leader who wanted to change the Soviet Union. He wanted the Soviet Union to stay away from a command economy and a zero-sum competition with the west. Needless to say, he did what he wanted and finally put a halt to the Cold War in 1991. external image Reagan_and_Gorbachev_signing.jpg


The significance of the different personalities of the leaders for the United States and the Soviet Union is that the Cold War could have been over quicker, longer, or never ending. With out the evil, positive, cocky, easy going, and strong attitudes, the Cold War would ave a much different outcome. All of the leaders, no matter which side, had a special personality trait about them that contributed to the war. Some were more significant than others, but none the less wit out the fire between the US and the SU, this war would not be the same. Just as the war ws fought on sea, in the air, and in space, it was also fought when different personalities clashed.


The impact that each leaders personality had on this war was huge. Without Stalin's evil attitude, the war would never have gotten to the level it once risen to. With out Eisenhower's easy going attitude, John F. Kennedy wouldn't have called for better leadership, which helped out the United States big time. Lastly, with out Reagon's optimism and Gorbachev wanting to change his nation, the war would not have ended. Each leader has contributed in their own way to this war. It may not have been physically, but personality wise, they contributed a whole bunch.

Work Cited

"Cold War 1945-63." N.p., n.d. Web.

"Cold War (1950-1972)." Espionage Information. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

"Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis to Detente." shmoop gamma. N.p., n.d. Web.

Powaski, Ronald E. The Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 249-254. Print.

"Wars and Battles, 1890-1969." United States History. N.p., n.d. Web.

Zubok, Vladislav, and Constantine Pleshakov. Inside the Kremlin's Cold War. From Stalin to Khrushchev. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1996. 3-5. Print.