How Did the Cold War Stay Cold?

Learn how the United States and the Soviet Union avoided potentially catastrophic confrontation.

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During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union amassed tens of thousands of nuclear weapons—enough firepower to annihilate each other many times over.

Despite sky-high tensions, the fierce rivalry between the two superpowers never heated up into a direct war, which could have caused catastrophic destruction.

So how did the Cold War stay cold?

This video explores several factors that discouraged confrontation, including powerful alliance networks, prudent diplomacy, sensible arms control treaties, and—of course—the ever-looming knowledge that any attack could lead to the complete obliteration of both sides, if not all mankind.