1960 Cold War Unit 2 Assignment

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Postwar Tension

In many ways, the Cold War began even before the guns fell silent in Germany and in the Pacific in 1945. Suspicion and mistrust had defined U.S.-Soviet relations for decades and resurfaced as soon as the alliance against Adolf Hitler was no longer necessary. Competing ideologies and visions of the postwar world prevented U.S. president Harry S Truman and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin from working together.

Stalin intended to destroy Germany’s industrial capabilities in order to prevent the country from remilitarizing and wanted Germany to pay outrageous sums in war reparations. Moreover, he wanted to erect pro-Soviet governments throughout Eastern Europe to protect the USSR from any future invasions. Truman, however, wanted exactly the opposite. He believed that only industrialization and democracy in Germany and throughout the continent would ensure postwar stability. Unable to compromise or find common ground, the world’s two remaining superpowers inevitably clashed.

Truman’s Postwar Vision

Truman worked tirelessly to clean up the postwar mess and establish a new international order. He helped create the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) and funded the rebuilding of Japan under General Douglas MacArthur. After prosecuting Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, Truman in 1947 also outlined the Marshall Plan, which set aside more than $10 billion for the rebuilding and reindustrialization of Germany. The Marshall Plan was so successful that factories in Western Europe were exceeding their prewar production levels within just a few years.

Stalin’s Postwar Vision

Although Stalin joined with the United States in founding the United Nations, he fought Truman on nearly every other issue. He protested the Marshall Plan as well as the formation of the World Bank and IMF. In defiance, he followed through on his plan to create a buffer between the Soviet Union and Germany by setting up pro-Communist governments in Poland and other Eastern European countries. As a result, the so-called iron curtain soon divided East from West in Europe. Stalin also tried unsuccessfully to drive French, British, and American occupation forces from the German city of Berlin by blocking highway and railway access. Determined not to let the city fall, Truman ordered the Berlin airlift to drop food and medical supplies for starving Berliners.


The Berlin crisis, as well as the formation of the Eastern bloc of Soviet-dominated countries in Eastern Europe, caused foreign policy officials in Washington to believe that the United States needed to check Soviet influence abroad in order to prevent the further spread of Communism. In 1947, Truman incorporated this desire for containment into his Truman Doctrine, which vowed to support free nations fighting Communism. He and Congress then pledged $400 million to fighting Communist revolutionaries in Greece and Turkey. In 1949, Truman also convinced the Western European powers to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), so that they might mutually defend themselves against the danger of Soviet invasion. Threatened, the USSR sponsored a similar treaty of its own in Eastern Europe, called the Warsaw Pact, in 1955.

Truman at Home

In the domestic policy arena, Truman signed the National Security Act in 1947 to restructure America’s defenses for the new Communist threat. The act reorganized the military under the new office of the secretary of defense and the new Joint Chiefs of Staff. It also created the National Security Council to advise the president on global affairs and the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct espionage. Truman’s leadership in confronting the Soviet Union and rebuilding Europe convinced Democrats to nominate him again for the 1948 election. His Fair Deal domestic policies and support for civil rights, however, divided the Republican Party and nearly cost Truman the election.

Red Hunts

Developments in Eastern Europe, the fall of China to Communist revolutionaries in 1949, and the Soviet Union’s development of nuclear weapons terrified Americans, who feared that Communists would try to infiltrate or attack the United States from within. Congressman Richard M. Nixon and the House Un-American Activities Committee led the earliest Red hunts for Communists in the government, which culminated with the prosecution of federal employee Alger Hiss and the executions of suspected spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Truman initially supported these inquiries and even established a Loyalty Review Board to assist in the search. He eventually began to express concern, however, that the Red hunts were quickly devolving into witch hunts.

The Korean War

Cold War tensions between the United States and the USSR eventually exploded in Korea when Soviet-backed North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. Determined not to let Communism spread in East Asia, Truman quadrupled military spending and ordered General MacArthur to retake the southern half of the peninsula. MacArthur succeeded and then pushed the North Koreans almost up to the Chinese border. Threatened, over a million soldiers from Communist China poured into Korea, forcing MacArthur to retreat back to the 38th parallel, which had originally divided North Korea from South Korea.

When MacArthur began to criticize Truman publicly for his unwillingness to use nuclear weapons in Korea, Truman was forced to fire his top general for insubordination. United States forces remained entrenched at the 38th parallel for two more years, at the cost of more than 50,000 American lives. Both sides declared a cease-fire only after the new U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, threatened to use nuclear weapons in 1953.

Postwar Prosperity

Eisenhower’s election in 1952 ushered in an unprecedented era of economic growth and prosperity in the United States. The average national income doubled during the 1950s and then doubled again the following decade, primarily due to continued defense spending and to the 1944Montgomery G.I. Bill, which helped returning veterans buy homes and go back to school. The postwar “baby boom” contributed to population growth, while the Great Migration of African-Americans to northern cities, “white flight” from the cities to the suburbs, and the rush to the Sun Belt altered population demographics. By 1960, most American families had a car, a television, and a refrigerator and owned their own home. Popular television sitcoms like Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet glamorized suburbia and consumerism.

Creeping Socialism

“Ike” Eisenhower had entered the White House determined to block the creation of new social welfare programs, which he called “creeping socialism. He did not, however, cut federal funding from existing New Deal programs. In fact, he expanded Social Security and the Federal Housing Administration and even set aside tens of millions of dollars for the creation of the first interstates under the Federal Highway Act. Still a conservative, though, Eisenhower refused to endorse the blossoming civil rights movement and signed the Landrum-Griffin Act, also known as the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, in the wake of numerous AFL-CIO labor union scandals in the mid-1950s.


First-term Wisconsin Republican senator Joseph McCarthy, meanwhile, exploded onto the national political scene in 1950, when he accused more than 200 federal employees of being Communists. Even though McCarthy had no proof to support these claims, Americans supported his endeavors to find more “Soviet agents” hiding in Washington. Thousands of former New Dealers and Red-hunt critics from all walks of life were wrongfully persecuted. McCarthy’s influence eventually waned after he humiliated himself during the nationally televised Army-McCarthyhearings in 1954.

Ike’s New Look

In addition to halting “creeping socialism” at home, Eisenhower also wanted to “roll back” Communist advances abroad. Along with Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower devised a New Look at foreign policy that emphasized the use of nuclear weapons, rather than conventional weapons and troops, to contain Communism. Eisenhower threatened the USSR with “massive retaliation, or nuclear war, against Soviet aggression or the spread of Communism.

Eisenhower also made full use of the newly created CIA to help overthrow unfriendly governments in developing countries. He resolved the Suez crisis peacefully before it led to war and committed American funds to fighting Ho Chi Minh’s pro-Communist forces in Vietnam after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellites in 1957 started the space race, prompting Eisenhower to create the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA), and sign the National Defense Education Act. In his farewell address in 1961, he warned Americans of the growing military-industrial complex that threatened to restrict civil liberties and dominate American foreign policy making.

Kennedy and the New Frontier

Facing term limits, Eisenhower endorsed Vice President Richard Nixon for the Republican presidential nomination in 1960. Democrats countered with World War II hero and Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy. After a close race, Kennedy defeated Nixon, thanks in large part to the African-American vote and Kennedy’s polished performance in the first-ever televised presidential debates.

As president, Kennedy pushed for a package of new social welfare spending programs that he called the New Frontier. Hoping to inspire a new generation of young Americans, he told them to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Republicans and conservative southern Democrats, however, blocked most New Frontier legislation in Congress.

Flexible Response

Because Eisenhower’s threat of “massive retaliation” had proved too stringent and binding, Kennedy and his foreign policy team devised a new doctrine of “flexible response” designed to give the president more options to fight Communism.

In addition, Kennedy committed thousands of American troops to South Vietnam to support Ngo Dinh Diem’s corrupt regime but claimed the troops were merely “military advisors.” In Latin America, Kennedy took a different approach, funneling millions of dollars into the Alliance for Progress to thwart Communists by ending poverty. Despite the new doctrine, Kennedy was unable to prevent Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev from constructing the Berlin Wall in 1961.

The Cuban Crises

Kennedy’s greatest Cold War challenge came in Cuba. Hoping to topple Cuba’s new pro-Communist revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, Kennedy authorized the CIA to train and arm a force of more than 1,000 Cuban exiles and sent them to invade Cuba in the spring of 1961. When this Bay of Pigs invasion failed embarrassingly, Kennedy authorized several unsuccessful assassination attempts against Castro. Outraged, Castro turned to the USSR for economic aid and protection.

Khrushchev capitalized on the opportunity and placed several nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy consequently blockaded the island nation, pushing the United States and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war. Khrushchev ended the terrifying Cuban missile crisis when he agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for an end to the blockade. Kennedy also removed American missiles from Turkey and agreed to work on reducing Cold War tensions. Tragically, Kennedy was assassinated in late 1963, just as tensions were rising in Vietnam—which would prove to be the next, and most costly, theater of the Cold War.

Cold War Quiz

After World War II, the long period of intense rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States.
President Truman's policy of giving American aid to nations threatened by communist expansion.
A wall built by the communist East German government in 1961 to seal off East Berlin from West Berlin.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
An alliance formed in 1949 by the United States and Western European nations to fight Soviet aggression.
Military alliance established in 1955 of the Soviet Union and other communist states in Europe.
The dividing line between South and North Korea.
A general who Truman chose to command a force that was sent to Korea to attack after North Korea attacked Southern Korea.
The senator of Wisconsin; he charged 205 State Department employees, and accused them of being communist party members, but they were never proven. Eventually he came across as a bully, and his popularity plunged.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Citizens of the United States who were sentenced to death because they passed atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets.
Soviet Union leader in 1959 who had gained power a few years after Stalin died in 1953.
The person who led a revolution that set up a communist state in Cuba.
Major Cold War confrontation in 1962 --> Soviets building missile bases on Cuba, atomic missiles could reach US within minutes.
A competition for supremacy in nuclear weapons (between United States and Soviet Union)
The world's first artificial satellite launched by the Soviet Union.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Government agency that directs the American space program.
President who had to decide whether to commit more forces to the struggle in Vietnam. He didn't think it was worth fighting for, and he didn't think they could get out. However, he sent more and more people into Vietnam causing the longest, most unpopular war in American history.
Vietnamese guerillas who opposed the noncommunist government of South Vietnam.
Fighters who used hit and run attacks.
A system of supply routes from the North, which ran through southern North Vietnam, through Cambodia, and into southern South Vietnam.
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement
Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union to limit the number of nuclear warheads and missiles.
He took office in 1981 with the belief that the Soviet Union was the focus of evil in the world. He had a tough anticommunist stand, and he wanted to deal with the Soviets from a position of strength, so he persuaded the Congress to increase military spending by more than $100 billion during his first five years in office.
President Reagan's proposed weapons system to destroy Soviet missiles from space.
A new Soviet leader who rose to power. He believed that only major reforms would let the Soviet system survive. He backed the glasnost, which would lead citizens to find solutions to pressing economic and social problems.
Policy in the Soviet Union of speaking openly about problems.
The conference between the highest-ranking officials of different nations.
Kennedy's Compromise with Khrushchev
Soviet missiles will be removed from Cuba if the US does not invade Cuba.
What did Kennan compare the Soviet Union to?
a wound up toy car (couldn't be stopped until it hit an unstoppable force)
How long did the Cold War last?
What parts of the world fought against each other in the Cold War?
East (Soviet Union and allies) vs. West (U.S. and allies)
Did the Soviet Union and the U.S. clash directly in battle?
Why did the U.S distrust the Soviet Union?
1) Disliked communism and its rejection of religion and private property ownership; 2) Angered by Soviet efforts to overthrow noncommunist governments; 3) Soviets boasted of destroying free enterprise systems throughout the world
Why did the Soviets distrust the U.S. (rest of the West)?
1) The U.S., being the most powerful nation, would try to attack the Soviet Union; 2) They would rebuild Germany to challenge the Soviet Union
What promise did the Soviet Union break following WWII?
the promise to hold free elections in Eastern European nations
Why did the Soviets break their promise?
Because they feared that by allowing European nations to elect their own type of leadership, the new governments would be anti-Soviet and would oppose them (causing challenges for the Soviet Union)
a nation that is dominated politically and economically by a more powerful nation
Which Eastern European country was not a satellite nation?
Who was backed in satellite nations?
Dictators (citizens who protested were imprisoned or killed)
a metaphoric wall dividing the democratic nations of the West from the communist nations of the East
Which locations did the Iron Curtain start and end at?
Stettin (Baltic) to Trieste (Adriatic)
Who coined the term Iron Curtain?
What was Truman's policy known as?
the Cold War Policy of keeping communism within its already existing borders and not allowing communism to spread further
Which two specific countries were helped by the Truman Doctrine?
What was the reasoning behind the Truman Doctrine?
nations looked up towards the U.S. for support in fighting for freedom and if the U.S. failed to provide help and democratic encouragement, the nations would continue with communism and endanger the world
Congress' plan to spend lots of money to rebuild Europe to reduce the treat of communist revolutions in Western Europe
What was the crisis in Berlin?
three of four zones in Berlin (American, British, and French) wanted to reunite their zones but the Soviet zone opposed this because Germany would then be strong and might pose a threat towards the Soviet Union
What did the Soviet Union do about the Berlin crisis?
They blockaded West Berlin from the rest of the world
What did Truman do about helping out West Berlin?
Berlin Airlift (would not trigger war but would provide aid and supplies to West Berliners)
hundreds of American and British planes carried tons of food, oil, and supplies to the 2 million West Berliners everyday (lasted for a year until Stalin decided to lift the blockade because it wasn't working)
What happened to West Germany that made many Eastern Germans want to escape their homes to flee to the west?
West Germany became prosperous thanks to the help of the U.S.; communism in the East was making many East Germans poor so they wanted to flee to the West to prosper too
to defend Western Europe against any Soviet threat
a new world organization with 51 nations who were members from the start; they all agreed to bring disputes before the body for peaceful settlement
What has the UN been successful in?
fighting hunger, disease, and improving education; providing supplies to victims of famine, war, and other disasters
What were shocks faced in 1949?
1) Soviet Union also developed and successfully tested an atomic bomb (U.S. lost its advantage); 2) China turned communist once Mao Zedong took over (communism spread in 1/4 of the world)
What happened to Korea after WWII?
the U.S. and the Soviet Union split Korea between themselves after they defeated Japan (because it was a Japanese colony)
Why did Korea stay divided?
Soviet Union supported a communist government in the North; the U.S. supported a democratic government in the South
What happened in Korea in June 1950?
North Korea invaded South Korea in a surprise attack and took over Seoul (the capital)
How did Truman respond to the invasion of South Korea?
UN agreed with him to send troops to the South to fight the North Korean forces; would be led by Douglas MacArthur
After first starting off at a bad start, what finally pushed North Koreans out of South Korea?
MacArthur's troops landed at Inchon (right behind the 38th parallel) and North Korean troops were caught by surprise and forced to retreat back to their territory
Why were MacArthur's troops pushed back into South Korea after they tried to invade North Korea?
China entered the war and their troops overwhelmed the troops of the UN and U.S.
What did MacArthur want to do that Truman fired him for?
MacArthur wanted to invade China and attack them too but Truman felt that attacking China would lead to another world war which he did not want
Who took over President after Truman?
What happened in Korea after Eisenhower became president?
North Korea and South Korea formed an armistice to redrew the border near the 38th parallel and have a demilitarized zone along that border
an area with no military forces
Did the Korea war change much?
No- Korea remained divided even after the war and communism remained in North Korea
What did the Korean War increase worry about in the U.S.?
What happened with jobs during the communist scare during the Korean War period?
Many employees (especially gov't employees) were questioned and forced to resign if suspected
Joseph McCarthy (a senator) started a scare that there were 205 State Department employees who were communist members; got a lot of people in businesses questioned and fired
What ended the McCarthy era?
he claimed that there were communist members in the U.S. Army; people viewed him as a bully
Who became Soviet leader after Stalin died?
What is Khrushchev's famous incident?
he banged his shoe on the table at a UN conference
What did Khrushchev's incident symbolize?
Cold War was turning global (U.S. and Soviet Union were now competing for support and influence upon different nations and also upon the UN)
What did the Soviet Union do as colonies fought for independence?
The Soviet Union supported communist rebel groups
What happened with many African nations who struggled with civil wars?
The U.S. backed one side and the Soviet Union backed another side (turning local conflicts into international crises)
nations with enough military, political, and economic strength to influence events worldwide
What happened in Cuba in 1959?
Fidel Castro set up a communist government in Cuba
What did Castro's government do?
took over private companies (including many American companies); many higher and middle class citizens fled to the U.S.
How far was Cuba from the U.S.?
NOT FAR (90 miles from Florida)
Who was President during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Kennedy's plan to round up Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro at the Bay of Pigs
people who are forced to leave their own country
Bay of Pigs Invasion successful or not?
No-- Castro quickly captured all the exiles and jailed up the invaders
What did the Bay of Pigs Invasion cause for the U.S.?
major shame and embarrassment; strengthened Castro in Cuba
What did the Bay of Pigs Invasion cause the Soviet Union to do?
What did Kennedy learn in 1962?
Soviets were secretly building missile bases on Cuba
What would happen if missile bases were completed?
atomic missiles could reach the U.S. in minutes
What did Kennedy do about the Cuban Missile crisis?
He got American warships to stop all Soviet ships carrying missiles
Was Kennedy's plan successful?
Yes, Soviet ships turned back and Soviet agreed to compromise
What was the compromise between the Soviet Union and the U.S. after the Cuban missile crisis?
The Soviets would remove all missiles in Cuba as long as the U.S. agreed not to invade Cuba
Did the U.S. get involved in Latin America during the Cold War?
YES (tried to contain communism)
Latin American countries did more reforms to improve the lives of their people; in return the U.S. helped by contributing aid to building schools, hospitals, improve farming and sanitation services
American volunteers worked in developing countries as teachers, engineers, and technical advisers
Organization of American States; promoted economic progress in the Americas by investing in transportation and industry
How did the U.S. help Latin Americans fight communism?
helped train their armies and pressed gov't to make reforms; supported military dictators over communism
What happened in Nicaragua?
Sadinistas overthrew a dictatorship gov't and set up socialism; U.S. supported contras to oppose the Sadinistas to prevent Nicaragua from becoming another Cuba
What was the U.S.'s fear after the launching of Sputnik?
that if the Soviet Union had enough technology to launch a satellite far enough, then they'd be able to launch atomic weapons at the U.S.
Who became President after Kennedy?
What happened with the Vietnam War during Johnson's term?
More troops were sent in and the fighting in Vietnam increased
Why was there fighting in Vietnam?
Vietnam was divided with North Vietnam being supported by communist Soviet Union; South Vietnam was supported by the U.S. noncommunist policies
How did the Vietcong start?
Diem (leader of South Vietnam) didn't help the people and they believed he was corrupt, only favoring the wealthy landlords; an opposition group of peasants formed (Vietcong)
Do Guerillas fight in large battles?
NO (don't wear uniforms either)
Who were the Vietcong supported by?
North Korea (became communist too)
the belief that once a certain region was infected by communism, communism would spread to regions around that area
What did the U.S. do in South Vietnam while Kennedy and Eisenhower were presidents?
They only gave military advise and financial aid; trained armies but DID NOT fight
What did the U.S. do in Vietnam while Johnson was president?
They actually got involved in fighting due to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
What happened at the Gulf of Tonkin?
North Vietnamese attacked an American ship
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
allowed the U.S. to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack or prevent further aggression
How was the Vietnam war different from others?
Americans attempted to destroy enemy positions rather than gaining ground
Why was it hard fighting the Vietcong?
The Vietcong would attack quickly, then retreat into the forests or hiding positions and the U.S. found it too tiresome to try and chase after them constantly going back and forth to certain areas; also, the Vietcong couldn't be distinguished from normal villagers and civilians
Why was a draft necessary?
A lot of troops were needed to fight the Vietcong and North Vietnamese because the war was such a stalemate and many troops were dying easily, so the U.S. needed to force Americans to enlist
What did the Vietnam war cause at home?
A new era of rebellion against traditional ways and opposition groups protesting; "hawks" (supporters of war) "doves" (opposers of war)
What was a turning point of the Vietnam war?
guerillas launched a surprise attack on South Vietnam and captured the capital (Saigon); took place during the New Years Holiday of Tet
How did the U.S. respond to the Tet Offensive
They were able to push back the enemy but still the Vietcong had a major advantage and more Americans wanted to end the war now
Who became President after Johnson?
How did Nixon end the war?
he decided to intensify the U.S. and South Vietnamese fighting by hurting Cambodia because North Vietnam used Cambodia for escape and for supply routes
What happened in Cambodia thanks to Nixon's efforts?
Cambodia plunged into a civil war of communism vs. noncommunism
What happened after Nixon withdrew American troops?
1) The two sides reached a cease-fire agreement and all American troops left Vietnam the next year 2) U.S. still sent aid yet the North Vietnamese still were able to advance; 3)Vietnam soon turned all into communism; 4) Khmer Rouge communist took over in Cambodia
a communist who took over in Cambodia and started a brutal reign of terror on their own people (millions starved to death or killed)
What happened after the Khmer Rouge?
Vietnam took over and set up a new communist government that was less harsh but still didn't end the fighting
Effects of Vietnam on the American People?
1) Split country in half; 2) huge cost; 3) thousands died
How did Nixon move to ease world tensions?
1) improved relations with China; 2) used a policy of detente with the Soviet Union
What did Nixon do to improve relations with China?
he visited China and talked with the leaders
What did Nixon do with the Soviet Union
1) visited the Soviet Union; 2) established more trade and contact with the Soviet Union; 3) SALT Agreement
the effort to reduce tensions between the superpowers
Soviet troops decided to sweep into Afghanistan and support a pro-Soviet government that was taking over (went against all of U.S. beliefs)
How did the U.S. show their anger to the invasion of Afghanistan?
The U.S. withdrew their SALT II Agreement; forbade their athletes from participating in the 1980 summer Olympics game in Moscow; supplied aid to rebels who fought communists in Afghanistan
What did the fight at Afghanistan do for the Soviet Union?
contributed to the Soviet's downfall because the war was so costly
Who was President during the end of the Cold War?
Soviet Union was the focus of evil in the modern world; U.S. must oppose with all their might
How did Reagan deal with the Soviets?
1) Asked Congress to increase military spending by 100 billion; 2) developed a new weapons system that could destroy Soviet missiles from space (Star Wars)
What did Reagan do about Poland?
urged Soviets to allow Poland to end martial law and restore basic human rights
What started citizens complaining about the communist system?
With so much military spending, there was little spending for the production of consumer goods so many people starved and recieved poorly made products
Who started reforms in the Soviet Union?
Why did Gorbachev support glasnost?
he believed that by talking about their problems, people would find solutions to economic problems and social problems too
How was glasnost a reform?
In the past, citizens were silenced for criticism of the gov't but now they could share their opinions
What did Gorbachev want to do but needed to consult with the U.S. first?
he wanted to cut military spending (had to get on better terms with the U.S.)
How'd Gorbachev get on better relations with the U.S.?
by attending summit meetings
What was acheived at the summit meetings?
Intermediate Nuclear Force; both superpowers agreed to get rid of their stockpiles of missiles and allowed each other to inspect the other side to prevent cheating
What did Gorbachev do about Afghanistan?
he withdrew Soviet troops
How did communism fall in Eastern Europe?


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