The Cold War was a time of geopolitical hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union. This conflict spanned about 45 years until the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 90s. However, no physical fighting ever occurred, there was only a consistent state of friction between these two nations.
Yes, the cold war should be considered a war
While no physical conflict ensued between the Soviet Union and the United States, this conflict still created many proxy wars and the constant threat of nuclear war. As such, the Cold War was an actual war that devastated many countries involved, eventually contributing to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Cold War was a war because of its many Proxy Wars
Many proxy wars occurred during the Cold War. These stood in for actual conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. These wars were another tool through which the Soviet Union and the United States could exercise their sphere of influence while resisting the opposite superpower.
The Cold War was a war because of its deadly Arms Race
As both nations raced to build the most destructive atomic weapons, and schools practiced attack drills with the looming threat of atomic warfare, the Cold War tensions increasingly grew. The threat of an actual, devastating war was ever-present in both nations as the arms race ensued.
The Red Scare brought the Cold War tensions closer to home as hysteria about communist threats within the nation broke out all over the United States. The impact of this Red Scare disrupted many lives and civil liberties in the United States.
The Cold War was a war because of the Cuban Missile Crisis
This 13-day political and military gridlock between the United States and the Soviet Union was the closest the Cold War got to having atomic warfare. As the U.S. enacted a naval blockade around Cuba once it was discovered that the Soviet Union had missiles on Cuba, the tense conflict between the two nations skated on thin ice. Even though no actual warfare broke out due to this crisis, it was an important event during the Cold War that contributed to the ongoing nuclear arms race all the more.
Space exploration became yet another competition during the Cold War, as both the United States and Soviet Union vied for dominance over one another. After the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first satellite into space, the Americans launched their own satellite, Explorer I. Going a step further, the Americans landed the first man in space, and then the first man on the moon soon after that; effectively declaring the Space Race as a victory for the United States. Even though no combat took place between the two nations, or even any interaction at all, the Space Race was another example of the intense rivalry between the two nations and their respective ideologies during the Cold War.
Although the Cold War was an ideological competition between the Soviet Union and the United States, that does not justify defining this period of conflict between the two nations as an actual war. While this Cold War may have led to other proxy wars and even the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, no true armed conflict ever occurred. Furthermore, because this Cold War was mostly about two superpowers trying to exert superiority over the other in everything from sporting events to space programs, this period of conflict cannot be accurately defined as a war, just a competition.
The Cold War was not a war, as there was no physical combat
Although there were proxy wars and an arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States, there was no period of physical combat between the two nations at all.
There was no formal declaration of war during the Cold War
Neither the Soviet Union nor the United States ever declared war on the other nation during this period of ideological conflict with one another. Without an outright declaration of war, there could not ever have been a legitimate war of any sort that took place between the Soviet Union and United States.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a close call, but did not result in war
The Cuban Missile Crisis is the prime example of what was a close call between the Soviet Union and United States during the Cold War time period, but because it was just that, a close call, this period cannot be correctly defined as having been a true war. The threat of atomic warfare was certainly present during the Cuban Missile Crisis, for both nations involved, but nothing ever came of this near disaster. So, technically, this incident was merely a close call and cannot validate defining this as a Cold War since no war ever officially broke out between the Soviet Union and United States.