From my reading I hold the US to blame for the Cold War, for being so demanding to Russia in support of our own political and economic systems.
At the end of WWII, Russia had a lot of casualties and the country was almost destroyed. In order for Russia to be able to protect itself in the future, it would need to be surrounded by countries that would be loyal. The countries would serve as a zone to stop possible future invading armies. The Soviet takeover of Poland was a defensive act to protect Russia, not an effort to convert Europe to communism like America assumed.
US and Russian affairs were further worsened by the atomic bomb. Even though we had been allies during WWII, we had not told the Soviets about the atomic bomb. We had worked in total secrecy and kept Russia in the darkness about our progress. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the first indication to Russia that we had nuclear power. By not telling the Soviets, we were telling them that we did not want them to have nuclear weapons and that we did not consider them a strong ally. Russia began to fear us, and consequently tensions mounted between the USSR and America.
In a conference at Yalta, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed on terms of how Europe was going to be governed; there would be free elections throughout Europe and the Soviets would have control over some of Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union was not granted the right to rule the new countries as it wanted, there would be mandatory elections, which might throw away the power of Russia there. Although Stalin did not allow completely free elections in the European countries now under Soviet influence, it was for a good reason. If the elections were free, then they might reject the communist party completely and the Soviet Union would not have that country as a defense. America insisted on a completely capitalist world and totally rejected communism as a legitimate form of government.
However, Russia’s actions to...