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Unit 7: Cold War to the Present
(Beginning of Cold War – Berlin
The Start of the Cold War
• East-West Suspicions
East-West Suspicions
• The United States and the Soviet Union
emerged from World War II as the two
most powerful nations. While the two
governments had cooperated to defeat the
Axis Powers, their relationship deteriorated
after the war.
East-West Suspicions
• Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe heightened
American fears of communism, a system in
which, instead of private individuals running
businesses, the Communist party, representing
society as a whole, controls property and the
means of production. The Soviets had promised
free elections in Eastern European nations at the
end of the war. Instead, they imposed
Communist rule by holding elections only under
the supervision of Soviet troops.
East-West Suspicions
• In 1946, former Prime Minister Winston
Churchill declared that the Soviets had in a
sense trapped the nations of Eastern
Europe behind an “iron curtain.” The
phrase “iron curtain” would be used to
describe Soviet policy in Europe from
1945 to 1989.
East-West Suspicions
• The Strength of Communism:
– The Communists promised to abolish poverty,
privilege, and private property. They also
guaranteed work, shelter, education, health
care, and a classless society.
– Communist leaders sought to spread their form
of government by inciting revolts in other
nations where poor and oppressed populations
were attracted to their ideas.
East-West Suspicions
– President Harry S. Truman responded with a policy of
containment-preventing the spread of communismrather than liberating satellite nations. This policy was
based on the belief that the Soviets were interested in
conquering other nations, not simply securing their
own borders. The policy of containment led to what
was known as the cold war-a state of intense hostility
between the United States and Soviet Union, but
without any actual warfare. This policy would be
continued by the presidents who followed Truman.
Aid to Europe
• In 1947, U.S. diplomats warned that Greece and Turkey
were in danger of falling to communists guerillas. The
U.S. and other Western nations wished to stop
communism from spreading because they saw it as an
oppressive form of rule that quashed individual economic
and personal freedoms. In response, Truman proposed a
plan to provide military and economic aid to Greece and
Turkey to resist a communist takeover. The plan, which
Congress approved, became known as the Truman
Doctrine and committed the United States to a more
active role in world affairs.
Aid to Europe
• The United States turned its attention to helping the rest
of Europe to recover from the devastation of the war.
U.S. officials feared that economic crises in European
countries might lead to the election of communists
governments.The United States implemented the
Marshall Plan-named after Secretary of State George
Marshall. It provided massive amounts of financial aid to
provide food, fuel, and raw materials to help the nations
of Europe rebuild their economies, industries, and
transportation systems. The U.S. offered the Marshall
Plan to all nations in Europe, including the Soviet Union.
The Soviets refused. Why? In trying to promote
communism, the Soviets did not want to appear to need
help from a Western capitalist country.
Aid to Europe
• The Berlin Airlift-After the war, the United
States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet
Union each controlled a zone of Germany. In
1948, the Western powers announced that they
were combining their three sections of Germany
to form an independent nation-West Germany.
The Soviets responded by closing off all traffic
from West Germany to Berlin, the capital city, in
the eastern part of Germany. Truman ordered a
massive airlift to supply Berlin’s 2 million people
with food and other goods. In May 1949, the
Soviets finally lifted their blockade of the city.
Aid to Europe
• NATO-In 1949, with East-West tensions rising, the
United States joined other Western nations to form the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance
against the Soviets. In response, the Soviet Union formed
the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance of the Sovietcontrolled countries.The nations of NATO considered an
attack on one country as an attack on all of them. The
advantage of such a policy: It provides a number of
separate nations with greater security. The disadvantage:
It increases the risk of small conflicts becoming large
wars involving many nations.
The Occupation of Japan
• After World War II, there were 3 aims of
the United States in Asia:
– To restore peace;
– To help Asians resist foreign rule
– To restore Asian trade with the world.
The Occupation of Japan
• In 1946, the U.S. granted independence to the Philippines, giving
money to repair war damage and making tariff concessions in
American markets. The U.S. also occupied Japan and sought to help
the nation rebuild and become more democratic. Under the
leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, Japan’s military was
dismantled. Under American direction, a new constitution provided
for elected representative government and woman suffrage. U.S.
leaders also encouraged economic opportunity and provided Japan
with financial aid. U.S. officials in Japan made sure to leave many
aspects of Japanese culture intact. Why? They did not want to have
the Japanese resent their presence, which would make their work
there more difficult. In 1951, with Japan on its way to a remarkable
recovery, the country was granted its independence.
Communist Triumph in China
• Since the early 1930s, a civil war between the
Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek and
the Communists, led by Mao Zedong, had
ravaged China. The fighting ebbed during World
War II as both sides resisted the Japanese
invaders, but the conflict flared after the war
ended. On the advice of George Marshall, the
U.S. focused its efforts on containing
communism in Western Europe rather than
committing itself to the corrupt and inefficient
Nationalist Chinese.
Communist Triumph in China
• By the end of 1949, Mao’s victorious
forces had forced the Nationalists to flee to
the island of Taiwan. Many Americans
criticized the Truman administration for
not paying enough attention to China and
“losing” the country to the Communists.
The Korean Conflict
• In 1950, North Korea, which was ruled by a
Soviet-installed Communist government, invaded
South Korea. UN troops, led by the United
States, came to the aid of South Korea to help
push the North Koreans back. When UN forces
invaded North Korea, Chinese troops entered the
conflict to help the Communists. The Chinese
forces pushed the UN troops back into South
Korea, and the war bogged down into a bloody
The Korean Conflict
• General MacArthur, who commanded UN forces
in Korea, wanted to bomb China. Truman
refused, fearing a much larger war. When
MacArthur openly criticized Truman, the
President fired him. Truman’s dismissal of the
popular general caused a firestorm of protest
around the country. The Chicago Tribune even
called on Congress to impeach and convict the
President for his action.
The Korean Conflict
• The Election of 1952-When Truman
announced he would not run again,
Republican and World War II hero Dwight
D. Eisenhower (Ike) faced Democrat Adlai
Stevenson, governor of Illinois.
Eisenhower promised to end the war in
Korea and won the election decisively.
The Korean Conflict
• The fighting in Korea continued until
1953, when both sides agreed on a ceasefire that left the country divided in the
same way it had been before the war
began. Neither side claimed victory. The
struggle cost the U.S. more than 54,000
soldiers, but the U.S. resolve in Korea
caused many neutral nations to draw closer
to the United States.
The “Red Scare”
• During the cold war period, Americans’
fears of a communist conspiracy
heightened. Many began to think that
some of their fellow citizens were
communist sympathizers or spies. The
“Red Scare” swept the nation.
The “Red Scare”
• Fear of communist influence led to the rise of Democratic
Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who charged that
he knew of numerous communist sympathizers within the
U.S. government, but he never produced evidence for this
claim. Accusations and rumors promoted by McCarthy
and other officials ruined the lives and reputations of
many Americans. The Senate eventually determined that
McCarthy’s accusations were groundless. In 1954,
McCarthy’s underhanded tactics were exposed in
televised hearings. The use of indiscriminate, unfounded
political accusations to destroy someone’s character
became known as McCarthyism.
Thaws in the Cold War
• During the Eisenhower administration, a slight
“thaw” in the cold war occurred. After Stalin’s
death in 1953, the Soviet Union’s new leader,
Nikita Khrushchev, allowed people a little more
freedom. In July 1955, Eisenhower met with
Soviet leaders to discuss nuclear disarmament.
The summit accomplished little, however, and in
1958, tensions between the two nations escalated
Thaws in the Cold War
• In May, 1960, an American U-2
surveillance plane was shot down over the
Soviet Union while on a spying mission.
Khrushchev denounced the U.S. mission,
and relations between the two nations
Thaws in the Cold War
• In his farewell address, the grandfatherly
president warned against the influence of
the military-industrial complex, the
defense industry that promoted the
production of weapons of destruction.
• The U.S. largely ignored Latin America, where
great poverty had created a breeding ground for
political instability. In 1959, rebel forces
overthrew Cuba’s corrupt regime. The new rebel
government, led by Fidel Castro, soon aligned
with the Communists. As a result, the U.S. broke
off relations with the nation. This was troubling
to the U.S. since Cuba is only 90 miles off the
coast of the U.S.; communism was brought to the
nation’s doorstep.
• President John Kennedy’s basic foreign
policy goal was similar to that of Truman
and Eisenhower-containment of
communism. The United States began
training Cuban exiles to overthrow the
rebel government under Castro.
• In April, 1961, Cuban exiles invaded the island at
the Bay of Pigs. The mission collapsed and the
invaders surrendered. The failed invasion hurt
the prestige of the Kennedy administration and
strengthened Castro’s power in the world. In
1962, Cuba convicted more than 1,000 Bay of
Pigs invaders of treason and sentenced them to
30 years in prison. Soon, however, Cuban
officials released the prisoners in return for more
than $50,000,000 in food and medical supplies
from a U.S. committee of private citizens.
• In October, 1962, U.S. officials learned
that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear
weapons in Cuba. Kennedy ordered the
Soviet Union to remove the weapons.
After tense negotiations, the Cuban Missile
Crisis ended when Soviet leaders agreed to
remove the weapons.
The Peace Corps
In 1961, President Kennedy created the Peace
Corps to help developing nations fight poverty
and disease. The Peace Corps was organized to
help prevent the spread of communism by
improving the quality of life. By late 1963, there
were 11,000 Peace Corps volunteers serving in
40 countries teaching practical skills or working
to build housing and medical facilities.
The Berlin Wall
• East-West tensions rose when the Soviets built a wall
dividing the city of Berlin, blocking free movement
between the communist section of Berlin and the rest of
the city. The structure became known as the Berlin Wall.
The wall prevented the flight of refugees seeking to
escape the oppression of East Germany. The Berlin Wall
became a symbol of cold war divisions between East and
West. Throughout the early 1960s, the U.S. and the
Soviet Union worked to negotiate treaties limiting the
testing of nuclear weapons. In August, 1963, they
reached an agreement that banned nuclear testing in the
atmosphere and underwater, but not underground.