1960's

·         Vietnam Conflict: In an effort to keep nations in Southeast Asia from falling to communism, much like a row of dominoes would fall, the US sent advisers of troops to keep South Vietnam from turning communist. A very long and costly war, which will ultimately be unsuccessful.

·         Berlin Wall: Wall erected by the Soviets to divide West and East Berlin to stop people from leaving East Berlin (“Brain Drain”). It became a visual symbol of the Cold War—a separation of Communism and Democracy.

·         Cuba – Fidel Castro: First attempted to overthrow unpopular Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1953 but was unsuccessful. He led a successful revolution in 1959 and has been the harsh dictator of Cuba for over 40 years. He was a staunch Soviet ally during the Cold War.


·         Bay of Pigs: 1961 Cuba has had a communist revolution (1959), but the US is hopeful that they can break the new communist government. Thus, the US trains anti-communist counter-revolutionary forces to invade the island and to overthrow the communist leadership of Fidel Castro. The invasion goes badly and is not successful. In fact, it is often referred to as the Bay of Pigs fiasco.


·         Cuban Missile Crisis: October 1962—Khrushchev had 42 missile sites built on Cuba following the Bay of Pigs. American spy planes discovered the missiles and JFK declared it to be too much of a threat (too close to the US). He demanded the removal of missiles and announced a blockade of Cuba to prevent further installation of missiles. Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles and the US agreed not to invade Cuba. It brought the world to the brink of nuclear war—who would blink first?


·         Prague Spring: (1968) Was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Slovak Alexander Dubčekcame to power, and continued until 21 August when the Soviet Union and members of its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the country to halt the reforms. The Prague Spring reforms were an attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. After national discussion of separating the country into a federation of three republics, Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia, Dubček oversaw the decision for two, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This was the only change that survived the end of the Prague Spring. The reforms, especially the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets who, after failed negotiations, sent thousands of Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. While there were many non-violent protests in the country, including the protest-suicide of a student Jan Palach, there was no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until 1990.

·         Nikita Khrushchev: Becomes General Secretary and Premier of Communist Party after Stalin’s death. He began to policy of “destalinization” or purging the country of Stalin’s memory. He called for “peaceful competition” with capitalist states. Khrushchev was voted out as leader in 1964.               

·         Peaceful Coexistence: Term coined by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev after the death of Stalin as a policy of maintaining peaceful relations with the West and not interfering in each others affair

·         Great Leap Forward: Mao Zedong’s attempt to increase food production in China by establishing large collective farms, or communes. Life on the communes was strictly controlled and workers were organized into “production battalions”. Whereas an earlier Soviet-style five-year plan to increase industrial production had succeeded, the “Great Leap Forward” actually proved to be a great leap backwards because of poor planning, inefficient “backyard” industries hampered growth and a series of crop failures took its toll.

·         Cultural Revolution: A 1966-1976 uprising in China led by the Red Guards with the goal of establishing a society or peasants and workers in which all were equal. Intellectual and artistic ability was considered useless and dangerous. They shut down colleges and schools and targeted anyone who seemed to have special privileges or who resisted the regime.


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