After World War II ended, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States became bitter enemies, and both countries were involved in a conflict known as the Cold War. A cold war is a war without actual fighting, so the Soviet Union and U.S. didn't fight each other directly. These two countries came "eye to eye" on certain issues. which led to several conflicts emerging. These two countries also supported other countries that were at war such as Korea and Vietnam. For example, the Soviet Union would support one side while the U.S. supported the other side. The superpowers also competed and tried to be better than the other was. The countries competed to see who can get the first satellite, who can get the first man on the moon, etc. Also, the U.S.'s goal during the Cold War was to contain or stop the spread of communism so other countries wouldn't fall to communism. The Cold War would finally end in 1991 when the Berlin Wall collapsed.
Harry S. Truman- Signed the Truman Doctrine, believed in containment or to stop the spread of communism, so other countries don't fall to communism, created the Berlin Airlift, sent troops to South Korea, because he was worried that other nations would fall to communism.
John F. Kennedy (JFK)- Wanted to contain communism, made the decision to build a blockade around Cuba, so the Soviet Union couldn't send missiles to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and told Cuba to dismantle their missiles. President during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. President during the "Arms Race", and the Space Race.
Lyndon B. Johnson- president during the Vietnam War and after JFK was shot, and had a plan called the Great Society.
Richard Nixon- Signed SALT I, visited China's communist dictator, had a policy called Vietnamization, signed the War Powers Act, ended draft, withdrew troops out of Vietnam, passed the 26th Amendment, and was involved in the Watergate Scandal which led to him resigning.
Jimmy Carter- Oil Crisis occurred during his presidency, faced with the Iran Hostage Crisis, signed SALT II, and was president during the Camp David Accords.
Ronald Reagan- Threatened Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
George C. Marshall- Secretary of State under President Truman, and Created the Marshall Plan
Lee Harvey Oswald- Had communist views, shot President Kennedy and Texas's Governor Connally.
Jack Ruby- A strip club owner who assassinated Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Joseph Stalin- Dictator of the Soviet Union, wanted world domination for the Soviet Union, killed millions of people, and continued to put everyone who disagreed with him into labor camps.
Nikita Khrushchev- Dictator of Soviet Union after Stalin, and sent missiles to Cuba so it could launch missiles to the U.S.
Mikhail Gorbachev- Leader of the Soviet Union after Khrushchev, modernized the Soviet Union, believed in glasnost, and perestroika (definitions are mentioned later), and the Soviet Union's last Communist leader.
Fidel Castro- Planned to launch missiles from Cuba to the U.S., and was the leader of Cuba. He was also friends with Khrushchev.
Senator Joseph McCarthy- Started McCarthyism and the Red Scare, had a list of 205 people who were Communist, and hated Communism.
Ho Chi Minh- Leader of North Vietnam.
Winston Churchill- England's Prime Minister, and said that "an iron curtain has descended across Europe".
The United States
. Has a democratic government
. Has a capitalist economy meaning that people own their businesses privately
. Formed an military organization called N.A.T.O. or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The Soviet Union or Union of Socialist Soviet Republic (U.S.S.R.)
. Had a communist government
. Had a command economy meaning that the government is in charge of businesses like how much you produce of a product, or when to produce it.
. Formed a organization called the Warsaw Pact which was a military organization like N.A.T.O.
Causes of the Cold War
1. Germany was divided to four zones after World War II, and the Soviet Union kept their zone separate from France, Britain, and the U.S.'s zone.
2. The Soviet Union expanded their empire.
3. Countries feared the spread of communism, and wanted to contain it.
4. Joseph Stalin was afraid that the U.S. would use nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union.
5. The Soviet Union wanted to expand communism to other nations.
The areas in red is land that belongs to the Soviet Union. The Iron Curtain divided Western Europe(blue) from Eastern Europe (red).
Berlin and Germany are Divided
After World War II, the "Big Three agreed to split Germany into four zones in 1945. The U.S., France, England, and the Soviet Union each had a zone, but the Soviets kept their zone separate from the other three nations. America, France and Great Britain took zones in democratic West Germany, and the Soviet Union's zone was in communist East Germany. In 1946, England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill went to the U.S. and gave his famous "iron curtain speech which he said "...an iron curtain has descended across the continent of Europe".... The iron curtain was the borderline that divided the democratic nations from the communist nations. Germany's capital Berlin also became divided as well (Berlin sat in the Soviet sector of Germany). In 1948, the U.S., France, and England each had a zone in democratic West Berlin. The Soviet Union also had a zone but in communist East Berlin. Since France, the U.S., and England were able to provide aid to West Berlin do to the use of roads, Stalin decided to cut road access off to France, the U.S., and England.
The U.S. Aids Europe
During the Cold War, there was a fear that communism would spread to other nations. However, President Harry S. Truman believed in containing (or stop communism from spreading) communism in order to prevent it from spreading to other nations. He created a plan called the Truman Doctrine in 1947, which declared that the U.S. would send economic and military aid to Western European countries in order to contain communism. The Truman Doctrine also said the U.S. would participate in fighting the Cold War. In 1948, Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced the Marshall Plan which gave economic aid to European countries in order to help rebuild after WWII. The Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine were both efforts to contain communism. After this, Joseph Stalin found out that England, the U.S., and France were able to provide aid through the use of roads. As a result, France, Britain, and the U.S decided to fly supplies over the wall to get to West Berlin by using the Berlin Airlift. However, Joseph Stalin was very upset with the airlift, but he didn't want to send troops to try and stop it. If he sent troops to prevent the airlift, then it would cause another war. The Berlin Airlift was also a way to contain communism.
The Berlin Airlift
In 1961, the Berlin Wall was built which divided West and East Berlin. The Berlin Wall also made sure that people from East Berlin wouldn't get into West Berlin, and people from West Berlin wouldn't come into East Berlin. Anyone who tried to get over the wall resulted in citizens getting shot, but people still crossed the wall anyway.
The Berlin Wall
McCarthyism and the Red Scare
During the years of 1950-1954, a witch hunt known as the Red Scare (Reds was another name for the Soviet army during the Cold War). broke out in America. People feared that communism would spread to the United States, and as a result several innocent citizens were accused of being a communist. Family, friends, teachers, students, and employers were blaming each other for being a communist sympathizer. This eventually led to people losing their jobs, being disrespected, etc. People in Hollywood were also accused of being a communist like Walt Disney, and Charlie Chaplin. In 1950, police started to search for communists in America which led to several arrests being made. A man named David Greenglass illegally stole files and was soon arrested. While under investigation, he admitted to police that he did indeed steal the files. However, Greenglass said Julius Rosenberg(a Russian spy and is a communist) gave the Soviets secretes about the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Julius admitted to not the crime and threw his wife Ethel under the bus. As a result, Ethel was arrested and both Rosenbergs were sentenced to the death penalty without evidence. Both of the Rosenbergs sat on death row, and were executed on July 19, 1953. Prior to the execution, protests broke out over the fact the Rosenbergs were sentenced to death without evidence. World leaders around the globe told President Eisenhower to not sentence them to death. After the execution, Greenglass was jailed for 15 years. Then, a Wisconsin senator named Joseph McCarthy HATED communism, and wanted to put an end to it. McCarthy declared that he had a list of 205 names of people who were communist, and as a result McCarthyism (fear of communism) broke out across the country. People eventually realized how ridiculous the Red Scare was. As a result, McCarthy got fired in 1957 and died on May 2, 1957.
Propaganda during the Red Scare
The Korean War
During the Cold War, there were some countries that were considered surrogate countries. A surrogate country was when different countries supported one side or the other. For example, communist North Korea was supported by the Soviet Union, and democratic South Korea was supported by the United States. North and South Korea is also divided at the 38th parallel- an imaginary line that divides North and South Korea. In 1950, several causes lead to the start of the Korea War, but neither side was victorious. Korea also still remains divided today at the 38th parallel. The Korean War was the first tension that occurred during the war.
. Supported by the Soviet Union
. Region above the 38th parallel
. Supported by the U.S.
. Region below the 38th parallel
1. North Korea invaded South Korea in June of 1950.
2. The United Nations and Truman sent troops into South Korea to contain communism, so South Korea wouldn't become communist.
3. In September of 1950, the North Koreans pushed the South Koreans below the 38th parallel, and U.S. troops under General Douglas MacArthur entered Korea in order to assist the South Koreans.
4. November of 1950, Chinese troops decided to assist the North Koreans in fighting.
5. Peace Talks (1953)- After Truman left the presidency, President Dwight D. Eisenhower began to talk peace to hopefully end the Korean War. In 1953, a peaceful armistice was signed which ended the war, but neither side was victorious. Korea also still remains divided today which has led to conflicts between North and South Korea.
President John F. Kennedy's Administration
During the presidential election of 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Vic President Richard M. Nixon faced off against the young, charming Democratic candidate Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The election of 1960 was the first time in history that the presidential debate was televised. However, Kennedy's young charming character helped him win the popular vote, and beat Nixon. Months after, President John F. Kennedy's became the 35th president of the United States, and gave his Inaugural Address in which he said "...ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country...". This section explores the different significant events that happened during Kennedy years.
The Inaugural Address (Kennedy front, future president Nixon (left), and Vic President Lyndon B. Johnson (right behind Kennedy).
After his Inaugural Address, JFK established the Peace Corps which involved young American volunteers to work on projects in undeveloped countries in order to aid citizens in nations that are still developing.
The Space Race
Prior to Kennedy being elected president, the Soviet Union and U.S. were competing in space. They competed to see who would launch the first satellite, who would get the first man on the moon, who would get the first person into space, etc. However, in October, 1957, the Soviets launched the first satellite into space called Sputnik. Before leaving office, Eisenhower created a space program called National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA for short. However, when Kennedy became president he created a program that would expand America's space program which was called the New Frontier. However, on April 12, 1961 the Soviets launched the first man into space which made the U.S. fear and realize that the mighty Soviet Union empire was becoming more powerful. JFK promised the U.S. that some day the country would beat the Soviets in putting the first man on the moon. This would be accomplished in 1967 (after Kennedy's death) when Apollo 8 brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon where he said "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".
First man on the moon
The Arms Race
During the Arms Race the Soviet Union and the U.S. competed to see who could stock the most nuclear weapons. This would make other countries afraid of a possible nuclear war since both countries were stocking up on weapons.
Graph showing what country made more "arms". As time goes by, both countries made more nuclear weapons.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion
Cuba was recently taken over by the communist leader Fidel Castro. Castro and the Soviet Union were allies however which created more problems as time went by. In an attempt to overthrow him, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) launched the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. U.S. troops were sent to the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in order to attempt to overthrow Castro in April of that year. However, when the troops landed, they were soon outnumbered by Castro's communist force. As a result, the Bay of Pigs Invasion was a failure and Fidel Castro remained in power.
Map of the Bay of Pigs
The Cuban Missile Crisis
In fall of 1962, American planes spotted Soviet missile sites being built on Cuba. In 1962, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev shipped missiles off to Cuba. The purpose of this was for the Cubans to launch the missiles at the U.S. which would result in the Soviet Union taking over. JFK was faced with the question of what to do about the Cuban Missile Crisis. He had three options which were sending an air strike to destroy the missiles, talk to Cuba and the Soviet Union peacefully, or build a blockade around Cuba. Kennedy didn't want to attack Cuba, because America would be involved in an possible nuclear war. So, he decided to build a blockade, so the missiles couldn't get into Cuba. After the blockade was built, the president then told all Soviet ships to dismantle the missiles, and return them to the Soviet Union. Khrushchev agreed to return the missiles as long as President Kennedy agreed to not attack Cuba, and to remove all U.S. missiles from Turkey. JFK agreed, and with that he removed all missiles from Turkey. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the first conflict that almost brought the United States to nuclear war.
Political Cartoon of the Cuban Missile Crisis
"The President Has Been Shot"
On November 22, 1963 the president and first lady Jackie Kennedy traveled to Dallas, Texas to campaign another term in office. However, a communist sympathizer named Lee Harvey Oswald waited in the Texas School Depository in Dallas, Texas in order to assassinate JFK. Then, when president's open convertible came by Oswald's work building, he shot three bullets: one bullet missed Kennedy, the second shot JFK in the back, and went through Governor Connolly ( the Texas governor), and the third shot the right side of Kennedy's head. After that, the convertible was rushed to Parkland Hospital, and Oswald escaped. The assassin then hid in a movie theater which is where Lee Harvey Oswald was taken into custody by Dallas police. Days later, police transported him to a prison cell across the street where Oswald was being questioned. However, a strip club owner named Jack Ruby shot Oswald which ended his life. At Parkland Hospital, President John F. Kennedy died, and the assassination would be questioned forever. Soon after Kennedy was pronounced dead, Vic President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the next president of the United States of America on Air Force One.
The convertible rushing to Parkland Hospital
LBJ getting sworn in as president
The Vietnam War
Just like Korea, North and South Vietnam was also divided. The communist North was supported by the Soviets, and the democratic South was supported by the U.S. North and South Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel (also known as the Demilitarized Zone) which is similar to Korea being split at the 38th parallel. North Vietnam's ruler was Ho Chi Minh, and he was in power for several years. From 1950-1975, North and South Vietnam clashed, and North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam suddenly. As a result, a long war was declared. However, under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson, America troops were sent to Vietnam in order to fight the war. The U.S. believed that if it didn't fight, then all the other countries would fall to communism after Vietnam did (the domino theory). However, the Vietnam War was very unpopular in the U.S. which led to people protesting, and being killed for having anti-war protests. Some people thought that the U.S. should withdraw their troops from Vietnam, but others though we should continue to fight. However, in the end no one won, and Vietnam is one communist country today.
. Supported by the Soviet Union
. Located above the 17th parallel
. Supported by the U.S.
. Located below the 17th parallel
Causes of the Vietnam War
1. North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam.
2. The U.S. wanted to contain communism in South Vietnam.
Lyndon B. Johnson's Administration
After Kennedy was shot, President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) became the 36th president of the U.S. during the deadly Vietnam War. When he was in office, he launched an attack on North Vietnam, and sent more aid to South Vietnam. Then, he sent messages to North Vietnam to end the war, but they rejected his messages. North Vietnam also wanted LBJ to end the bombing, and to withdrawal troops from South Vietnam. Later, on October 31, 1968, the president said he was going to end bombing in North Vietnam, and North and South Vietnam would both participate in the Paris Peace Talks.
Invasion of South Vietnam
Important Vietnam War Events
This section covers several different events that happened during the bloody Vietnam War, and are important to know.
Information: Mr. McCarthy's Notes, and Prentice Hall, United States History Textbook
My Lai Massacre
"The Napalm Girl"
Kent State Incident
Results from the war
. Vietnam became a united communist country.
. Vietnam began rebuilding after the war.
. Saigon which was the capital of South Vietnam was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
. 26th Amendment was ratified which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
. The War Powers Act of 1973 was passed by Congress to limit the president's power of sending troops.
. The America citizens started to question if "policing" the world is a good idea.
Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power
After Nikita Khrushchev left office, Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in 1985. Gorbachev came to realize that the Soviet Union couldn't have economic or social reforms without having freedom of speech. As a result, he issued a policy called glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost was a policy of letting a free flow of ideas, and information. As a result of this new policy, the government allowed for churches to be opened, and allowed books that were banned by authors to be allowed again. Another policy Gorbachev had was perestroika. Perestroika is reforming of the economy and politics. As a result, perestroika changed the Soviet economy, and people were allowed to open their own businesses once again.
The End of the Cold War
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan came to Berlin and challenged the Soviet leader by saying "...Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!..." Soon after, people began the two year project of taking the Berlin Wall down. Finally, in 1989(during President George H.W. Bush's adminstration), people rejoiced when the entire wall came down, and this marked the end of the Cold War. After the end of the Cold War, countries began to gain their independence as well. After Gorbachev issued his policies, communism collapsed in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's government then became a republic, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic became the country know today as Russia. The Cold War finally came to an end in 1991.
Collapse of Berlin Wall