The traditional, simplified interpretation of the Cold War is East vs. West, Communism vs. Democracy. Certainly its major features fit this characterization. It was the defining issue of the age, destroying or elevating leaderships and administrations in the USA and Soviet Union.
However, the Cold War was a truly global conflict, directly affecting countries on every continent. The spectre of nuclear annihilation haunted citizens across the globe. Across Africa, Asia and South America localized grievances were animated by the great ideological battle.
Indeed the title Cold War is something of a misnomer. Although the two main belligerents never engaged in all out war, their contrary ambitions suffused a number of proxy conflicts – wars between third parties which were hi-jacked by the superpowers.
It is difficult to trace the various elements of the Cold War, and this timeline a explains the narrative of the conflict.