Hindsight is a wonderful tool, but sometimes it can skew your perspective. Specifically, don't write a history paper from the perspective that the way events turned out is the only way that they could have turned out. Always put yourselves in the shoes of the people of the time—at least as best as you can.
With regard to the Cold War, it's vital that you don't write your essay as if the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Yes, the United States exists and the Soviet Union does not. Yes, Communism as a political movement is largely discredited while "Western capitalism" is alive and well. However, Cold War policymakers, journalists, and generals didn't know, in 1963, that within the next thirty the Soviet Union and its ideology would collapse. Heck, political scientists in the 1980s were flabbergasted when 1989 rolled along! Therefore, when you're trying to understand and later explain Cold War decisions, you can't explain them from your own, hindsight-deluded, perspective. Think back in time, to when the red menace still ruled the Earth...
For example, the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 is nowadays often seen as one of the first steps in the eventual dissolution of the Soviet empire. But, in 1956, it may have seemed like exactly the opposite: a Soviet show of strength that proved just how powerful the USSR still was!
2. ...it's Politics Still Reverberate.
The further you go in your education, the more political it gets. This is especially true in the Humanities and Social Sciences; this is especially true in History and Political Science.
By the time you get to college and university, getting a good grade usually means—to a greater or lesser extent—appealing to your professor's political point of view. You can whine about it, but that's the way it is.
Now, ten or fifteen years ago, this meant, quite simply, being liberal. What did this entail, in a few blunt words: sucking up to the Soviets. Those days are being left behind,...