Guide A Brief History of the Cold War

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At the Potsdam Conference , which started in late July after Germany's surrender, serious differences emerged over the future development of Germany and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe. Stalin was aware that the Americans were working on the atomic bomb, and he reacted to the news calmly. Shortly after the attacks, Stalin protested to US officials when Truman offered the Soviets little real influence in occupied Japan. That cannot be.


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The Central and Eastern European territories liberated from Germany and occupied by the Soviet armed forces were added to the Eastern Bloc by converting them into satellite states , [54] such as:. The Soviet-style regimes that arose in the Bloc not only reproduced Soviet command economy , but also adopted the brutal methods employed by Joseph Stalin and the Soviet secret police in order to suppress both real and potential opposition.

As part of consolidating Stalin's control over the Eastern Bloc, the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs NKVD , led by Lavrentiy Beria , supervised the establishment of Soviet-style secret police systems in the Bloc that were supposed to crush anti-communist resistance.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was concerned that, given the enormous size of Soviet forces deployed in Europe at the end of the war, and the perception that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unreliable, there existed a Soviet threat to Western Europe. In late February , George F. Kennan 's " Long Telegram " from Moscow to Washington helped to articulate the US government's increasingly hard line against the Soviets, which would become the basis for US strategy toward the Soviet Union for the duration of the Cold War.

The Truman Administration was receptive to the telegram due to broken promises by Stalin concerning Europe and Iran. A week later, on 13 March, Stalin responded vigorously to the speech, saying that Churchill could be compared to Hitler insofar as he advocated the racial superiority of English-speaking nations so that they could satisfy their hunger for world domination, and that such a declaration was "a call for war on the U. He argued that there was nothing surprising in "the fact that the Soviet Union, anxious for its future safety, [was] trying to see to it that governments loyal in their attitude to the Soviet Union should exist in these countries".

In September, the Soviet side produced the Novikov telegram, sent by the Soviet ambassador to the US but commissioned and "co-authored" by Vyacheslav Molotov ; it portrayed the US as being in the grip of monopoly capitalists who were building up military capability "to prepare the conditions for winning world supremacy in a new war".

Byrnes delivered a speech in Germany repudiating the Morgenthau Plan a proposal to partition and de-industrialize post-war Germany and warning the Soviets that the US intended to maintain a military presence in Europe indefinitely. By , US president Harry S. Truman was outraged by perceived resistance of the Soviet Union to American demands in Iran, Turkey, and Greece, as well as Soviet rejection of the Baruch Plan on nuclear weapons.

Enunciation of the Truman Doctrine marked the beginning of a US bipartisan defense and foreign policy consensus between Republicans and Democrats focused on containment and deterrence that weakened during and after the Vietnam War , but ultimately persisted thereafter. Other critiques of the consensus policy came from anti-Vietnam War activists , the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament , and the anti-nuclear movement. In early , France, Britain and the United States unsuccessfully attempted to reach an agreement with the Soviet Union for a plan envisioning an economically self-sufficient Germany, including a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure already removed by the Soviets.

Later, the program led to the creation of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. The plan's aim was to rebuild the democratic and economic systems of Europe and to counter perceived threats to Europe's balance of power , such as communist parties seizing control through revolutions or elections. These would become the main bureaucracies for US defense policy in the Cold War. Stalin believed that economic integration with the West would allow Eastern Bloc countries to escape Soviet control, and that the US was trying to buy a pro-US re-alignment of Europe.

With the US assistance, the Greek military won its civil war. All major powers engaged in espionage, using a great variety of spies, double agents, and new technologies such as the tapping of telephone cables. So much top secret archival information has been released so that historian Raymond L. Garthoff concludes there probably was parity in the quantity and quality of secret information obtained by each side. In addition to usual espionage, the Western agencies paid special attention to debriefing Eastern Bloc defectors.

In September , the Soviets created Cominform , the purpose of which was to enforce orthodoxy within the international communist movement and tighten political control over Soviet satellites through coordination of communist parties in the Eastern Bloc.

The United States and Britain merged their western German occupation zones into "Bizonia" 1 January , later "Trizonia" with the addition of France's zone, April Shortly thereafter, Stalin instituted the Berlin Blockade 24 June — 12 May , one of the first major crises of the Cold War, preventing food, materials and supplies from arriving in West Berlin.

The Soviets mounted a public relations campaign against the policy change. Once again the East Berlin communists attempted to disrupt the Berlin municipal elections as they had done in the elections , [] which were held on 5 December and produced a turnout of In , Stalin repeatedly proposed a plan to unify East and West Germany under a single government chosen in elections supervised by the United Nations, if the new Germany were to stay out of Western military alliances, but this proposal was turned down by the Western powers.

Some sources dispute the sincerity of the proposal. Media in the Eastern Bloc was an organ of the state , completely reliant on and subservient to the communist party. Radio and television organizations were state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the local communist party. American policymakers, including Kennan and John Foster Dulles , acknowledged that the Cold War was in its essence a war of ideas.

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Moreover, his party was weakened during the war against Japan. Meanwhile, the communists told different groups, such as the peasants, exactly what they wanted to hear, and they cloaked themselves under the cover of Chinese nationalism. Confronted with the communist revolution in China and the end of the American atomic monopoly in , the Truman administration quickly moved to escalate and expand its containment doctrine. United States officials moved to expand this version of containment into Asia , Africa , and Latin America , in order to counter revolutionary nationalist movements, often led by communist parties financed by the USSR, fighting against the restoration of Europe's colonial empires in South-East Asia and elsewhere.

One of the more significant examples of the implementation of containment was US intervention in the Korean War. Stalin had been reluctant to support the invasion [] but ultimately sent advisers. The U. This directed the action of the US to only push back North Korea across the 38th Parallel and restore South Korea's sovereignty, allowing North Korea's survival as a state.

However, the success of the Inchon landing inspired the U. The Chinese, fearful of a possible US presence on their border or even an invasion by them, then sent in a large army and defeated the U. Truman publicly hinted that he might use his "ace in the hole" of the atomic bomb, but Mao was unmoved. The Communists were later pushed to roughly around the original border, with minimal changes. After the Armistice was approved in July , Korean leader Kim Il Sung created a highly centralized, totalitarian dictatorship according his family unlimited power and generating a formidable cult of personality.

In , changes in political leadership on both sides shifted the dynamic of the Cold War. Eisenhower was inaugurated president that January. After the death of Joseph Stalin , Nikita Khrushchev became the Soviet leader following the deposition and execution of Lavrentiy Beria and the pushing aside of rivals Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov. On 25 February , Khrushchev shocked delegates to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party by cataloguing and denouncing Stalin's crimes. On 18 November , while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow, Khrushchev used his famous "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side.

We will bury you " expression, shocking everyone present. Eisenhower's secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, initiated a " New Look " for the containment strategy, calling for a greater reliance on nuclear weapons against US enemies in wartime. Possessing nuclear superiority, for example, allowed Eisenhower to face down Soviet threats to intervene in the Middle East during the Suez Crisis. In spite of these threats, there were substantial hopes for detente when an upswing in diplomacy took place in , including a two-week visit by Khrushchev to the US, and plans for a two-power summit for May The latter was disturbed by the U-2 spy plane scandal , however, in which Eisenhower was caught lying to the world about the intrusion of American surveillance aircraft into Soviet territory.

While Stalin 's death in slightly relaxed tensions, the situation in Europe remained an uneasy armed truce. It stood opposed to NATO. The Soviet Army invaded. From through , Khrushchev openly and repeatedly threatened the West with nuclear annihilation. He claimed that Soviet missile capabilities were far superior to those of the United States, capable of wiping out any American or European city.

According to John Lewis Gaddis , Khrushchev rejected Stalin's "belief in the inevitability of war," however. The new leader declared his ultimate goal was " peaceful coexistence ". The events in Hungary produced ideological fractures within the communist parties of the world, particularly in Western Europe, with great decline in membership as many in both western and communist countries felt disillusioned by the brutal Soviet response. During November , Khrushchev made an unsuccessful attempt to turn all of Berlin into an independent, demilitarized "free city".

He gave the United States, Great Britain, and France a six-month ultimatum to withdraw their troops from the sectors they still occupied in West Berlin, or he would transfer control of Western access rights to the East Germans. Khrushchev earlier explained to Mao Zedong that "Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze on Berlin.

Kennedy's foreign policy was dominated by American confrontations with the Soviet Union, manifested by proxy contests. Like Truman and Eisenhower, Kennedy supported containment to stop the spread of Communism. President Eisenhower's New Look policy had emphasized the use of less expensive nuclear weapons to deter Soviet aggression by threatening massive nuclear attacks all of the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons were much cheaper than maintaining a large standing army, so Eisenhower cut conventional forces to save money.

Kennedy implemented a new strategy known as flexible response. This strategy relied on conventional arms to achieve limited goals. As part of this policy, Kennedy expanded the United States special operations forces , elite military units that could fight unconventionally in various conflicts. Kennedy hoped that the flexible response strategy would allow the U. To support his new strategy Kennedy ordered a massive increase in defense spending.

He sought, and Congress provided, a rapid build-up of the nuclear arsenal to restore the lost superiority over the Soviet Union—he claimed in that Eisenhower had lost it because of excessive concern with budget deficits. From to the number of nuclear weapons increased by 50 percent, as did the number of B bombers to deliver them. The new ICBM force grew from 63 intercontinental ballistic missiles to He authorized 23 new Polaris submarines, each of which carried 16 nuclear missiles.

He called on cities to prepare fallout shelters for nuclear war. In contrast to Eisenhower's warning about the perils of the military-industrial complex , Kennedy focused on rearmament. Nationalist movements in some countries and regions, notably Guatemala , Indonesia and Indochina , were often allied with communist groups or otherwise perceived to be unfriendly to Western interests.

Winston Churchill told the United States that Mosaddegh was "increasingly turning towards Communist influence. The non-aligned Indonesian government of Sukarno was faced with a major threat to its legitimacy beginning in , when several regional commanders began to demand autonomy from Jakarta. After mediation failed, Sukarno took action to remove the dissident commanders. They were joined by many civilian politicians from the Masyumi Party , such as Sjafruddin Prawiranegara , who were opposed to the growing influence of the communist Partai Komunis Indonesia party.

Due to their anti-communist rhetoric, the rebels received arms, funding, and other covert aid from the CIA until Allen Lawrence Pope , an American pilot, was shot down after a bombing raid on government-held Ambon in April The central government responded by launching airborne and seaborne military invasions of rebel strongholds Padang and Manado.

By the end of , the rebels were militarily defeated, and the last remaining rebel guerilla bands surrendered by August In British Guiana , the leftist People's Progressive Party PPP candidate Cheddi Jagan won the position of chief minister in a colonially administered election in , but was quickly forced to resign from power after Britain's suspension of the still-dependent nation's constitution.

Worn down by the communist guerrilla war for Vietnamese independence and handed a watershed defeat by communist Viet Minh rebels at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu , the French accepted a negotiated abandonment of their colonial stake in Vietnam. In the Geneva Conference , peace accords were signed, leaving Vietnam divided between a pro-Soviet administration in North Vietnam and a pro-Western administration in South Vietnam at the 17th parallel north.

Between and , Eisenhower's United States sent economic aid and military advisers to strengthen South Vietnam's pro-Western regime against communist efforts to destabilize it. Many emerging nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America rejected the pressure to choose sides in the East-West competition. Independence movements in the Third World transformed the post-war order into a more pluralistic world of decolonized African and Middle Eastern nations and of rising nationalism in Asia and Latin America. The period after was marked by serious setbacks for the Soviet Union, most notably the breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, beginning the Sino-Soviet split.

Mao had defended Stalin when Khrushchev criticized him in , and treated the new Soviet leader as a superficial upstart, accusing him of having lost his revolutionary edge. After this, Khrushchev made many desperate attempts to reconstitute the Sino-Soviet alliance, but Mao considered it useless and denied any proposal.


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  • On the nuclear weapons front, the United States and the USSR pursued nuclear rearmament and developed long-range weapons with which they could strike the territory of the other. This culminated in the Apollo Moon landings , which astronaut Frank Borman later described as "just a battle in the Cold War. In Cuba , the 26th of July Movement , led by young revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Che Guevara , seized power in the Cuban Revolution on 1 January , toppling President Fulgencio Batista , whose unpopular regime had been denied arms by the Eisenhower administration. Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States continued for some time after Batista's fall, but President Eisenhower deliberately left the capital to avoid meeting Castro during the latter's trip to Washington, DC in April, leaving Vice President Richard Nixon to conduct the meeting in his place.

    In January , just prior to leaving office, Eisenhower formally severed relations with the Cuban government. By the early s, the Soviet approach to restricting emigration movement was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc. The Kennedy administration continued seeking ways to oust Castro following the Bay of Pigs Invasion, experimenting with various ways of covertly facilitating the overthrow of the Cuban government. Significant hopes were pinned on a covert program named the Cuban Project , devised under the Kennedy administration in Khrushchev learned of the project in February , [] and preparations to install Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba were undertaken in response.

    Alarmed, Kennedy considered various reactions. He ultimately responded to the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba with a naval blockade, and he presented an ultimatum to the Soviets. Khrushchev backed down from a confrontation, and the Soviet Union removed the missiles in return for an American pledge not to invade Cuba again.

    The Cuban Missile Crisis October—November brought the world closer to nuclear war than ever before. In , Khrushchev's Kremlin colleagues managed to oust him, but allowed him a peaceful retirement. In the course of the s and s, Cold War participants struggled to adjust to a new, more complicated pattern of international relations in which the world was no longer divided into two clearly opposed blocs. The Vietnam War descended into a quagmire for the United States, leading to a decline in international prestige and economic stability, derailing arms agreements, and provoking domestic unrest.

    America's withdrawal from the war led it to embrace a policy of detente with both China and the Soviet Union. This raised oil prices and hurt Western economies, but helped Russia by generating a huge flow of money from its oil sales. As a result of the oil crisis, combined with the growing influence of Third World alignments such as OPEC and the Non-Aligned Movement , less powerful countries had more room to assert their independence and often showed themselves resistant to pressure from either superpower.

    Under President John F. Kennedy , US troop levels in Vietnam grew under the Military Assistance Advisory Group program from just under a thousand in to 16, in Johnson broad authorization to increase U. The USSR discouraged further escalation of the war, however, providing just enough military assistance to tie up American forces. The Tet Offensive of proved to be the turning point of the war.

    Despite years of American tutelage and aid the South Vietnamese forces were unable to withstand the communist offensive and the task fell to US forces instead. Tet showed that the end of US involvement was not in sight, increasing domestic skepticism of the war and giving rise to what was referred to as the Vietnam Syndrome , a public aversion to American overseas military involvements.

    Nonetheless operations continued to cross international boundaries: bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were used by North Vietnam as supply routes , and were heavily bombed by U. De Gaulle protested at the strong role of the United States in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

    In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September , he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the United States and the United Kingdom, and also for the expansion of NATO's coverage to include geographical areas of interest to France, most notably French Algeria , where France was waging a counter-insurgency and sought NATO assistance.

    In , a period of political liberalization took place in Czechoslovakia called the Prague Spring.


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    An " Action Program " of reforms included increasing freedom of the press , freedom of speech and freedom of movement , along with an economic emphasis on consumer goods , the possibility of a multiparty government, limitations on the power of the secret police, [] [] and potential withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.

    In September , during a speech at the Fifth Congress of the Polish United Workers' Party one month after the invasion of Czechoslovakia , Brezhnev outlined the Brezhnev Doctrine , in which he claimed the right to violate the sovereignty of any country attempting to replace Marxism—Leninism with capitalism. During the speech, Brezhnev stated: []. When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.

    The doctrine found its origins in the failures of Marxism—Leninism in states like Poland, Hungary and East Germany, which were facing a declining standard of living contrasting with the prosperity of West Germany and the rest of Western Europe. Under the Lyndon B.

    Johnson Administration , which gained power after the assassination of John F. Kennedy , the U. In Indonesia, the hardline anti-communist General Suharto wrested control of the state from his predecessor Sukarno in an attempt to establish a "New Order". From to , with the aid of the United States and other Western governments, [] [] [] [] [] the military led the mass killing of more than , members and sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party and other leftist organizations, and detained hundreds of thousands more in prison camps around the country under extremely inhumane conditions.

    In Chile , the Socialist Party candidate Salvador Allende won the presidential election of , becoming the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in the Americas. The Pinochet regime would go on to be one of the leading participants in Operation Condor , an international campaign of political assassination and state terrorism organized by right-wing military dictatorships in the Southern Cone of South America that was covertly supported by the US government. The Middle East remained a source of contention. Egypt, which received the bulk of its arms and economic assistance from the USSR, was a troublesome client, with a reluctant Soviet Union feeling obliged to assist in both the Six-Day War with advisers and technicians and the War of Attrition with pilots and aircraft against pro-Western Israel.

    According to historian Charles R. Tripp , the treaty upset "the U. It appeared that any enemy of the Baghdad regime was a potential ally of the United States. Around June , Somali troops occupied the Ogaden and began advancing inland towards Ethiopian positions in the Ahmar Mountains. Both countries were client states of the Soviet Union ; Somalia was led by self-proclaimed Marxist military leader Siad Barre , and Ethiopia was controlled by the Derg , a cabal of military generals loyal to the pro-Soviet Mengistu Haile Mariam , who had declared the Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia in The counteroffensive was planned at the command level by Soviet advisers attached to the Ethiopian general staff, and bolstered by the delivery of millions of dollars' of sophisticated Soviet arms.

    During the Vietnam War, North Vietnam used border areas of Cambodia as military bases , which Cambodian head of state Norodom Sihanouk tolerated in an attempt to preserve Cambodia's neutrality. Following Sihanouk's March deposition by pro-American general Lon Nol , who ordered the North Vietnamese to leave Cambodia, North Vietnam attempted to overrun all of Cambodia following negotiations with Nuon Chea , the second-in-command of the Cambodian communists dubbed the Khmer Rouge fighting to overthrow the Cambodian government.

    After taking power and distancing himself from the Vietnamese, [] Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot killed 1. The invasion succeeded in deposing Pol Pot, but the new state would struggle to gain international recognition beyond the Soviet Bloc sphere, despite the previous international outcry at the Pol Pot regime's gross human rights violations, and it would become bogged down in a guerrilla war led from refugee camps located on the border with Thailand. Following the destruction of Khmer Rouge, the national reconstruction of Cambodia would be severely hampered, and Vietnam would suffer a punitive Chinese attack.

    As a result of the Sino-Soviet split , tensions along the Chinese—Soviet border reached their peak in , and United States President Richard Nixon decided to use the conflict to shift the balance of power towards the West in the Cold War. Although indirect conflict between Cold War powers continued through the late s and early s, tensions were beginning to ease.

    These aimed to limit the development of costly anti-ballistic missiles and nuclear missiles.

    Timeline: A Brief History of the Cold War

    Meanwhile, Brezhnev attempted to revive the Soviet economy, which was declining in part because of heavy military expenditures. Between and , the two sides also agreed to strengthen their economic ties, [79] including agreements for increased trade. Other agreements were concluded to stabilize the situation in Europe, culminating in the Helsinki Accords signed at the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Kissinger and Nixon were "realists" who deemphasized idealistic goals like anti-communism or promotion of democracy worldwide, because those goals were too expensive in terms of America's economic capabilities.

    They realized that Americans were no longer willing to tax themselves for idealistic foreign policy goals, especially for containment policies that never seemed to produce positive results. Instead Nixon and Kissinger sought to downsize America's global commitments in proportion to its reduced economic, moral and political power. They rejected "idealism" as impractical and too expensive, and neither man showed much sensitivity to the plight of people living under Communism.

    Kissinger's realism fell out of fashion as idealism returned to American foreign policy with Carter's moralism emphasizing human rights, and Reagan's rollback strategy aimed at destroying Communism. In the s, the KGB, led by Yuri Andropov , continued to persecute distinguished Soviet personalities such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov , who were criticising the Soviet leadership in harsh terms. Although President Jimmy Carter tried to place another limit on the arms race with a SALT II agreement in , [] his efforts were undermined by the other events that year, including the Iranian Revolution and the Nicaraguan Revolution , which both ousted pro-US regimes, and his retaliation against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in December.

    The term second Cold War refers to the period of intensive reawakening of Cold War tensions and conflicts in the late s and early s. Tensions greatly increased between the major powers with both sides becoming more militaristic. Within months, opponents of the communist government launched an uprising in eastern Afghanistan that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrilla mujahideen against government forces countrywide.

    By mid, the United States had started a covert program to assist the mujahideen. Distrusted by the Soviets, Amin was assassinated by Soviet special forces in December A Soviet-organized government, led by Parcham's Babrak Karmal but inclusive of both factions, filled the vacuum. Soviet troops were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal in more substantial numbers, although the Soviet government did not expect to do most of the fighting in Afghanistan.

    As a result, however, the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war in Afghanistan. Carter responded to the Soviet intervention by withdrawing the SALT II treaty from the Senate , imposing embargoes on grain and technology shipments to the USSR, and demanding a significant increase in military spending, and further announced that the United States would boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow.

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    He described the Soviet incursion as "the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War". In January , four years prior to becoming president, Ronald Reagan bluntly stated, in a conversation with Richard V. Allen , his basic expectation in relation to the Cold War. What do you think of that? Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an " evil empire " and predicted that Communism would be left on the " ash heap of history ," while Thatcher inculpated the Soviets as "bent on world dominance. It hurt the Soviet economy, but it also caused ill will among American allies in Europe who counted on that revenue.

    Reagan retreated on this issue. By early , Reagan's anti-communist position had developed into a stance known as the new Reagan Doctrine —which, in addition to containment, formulated an additional right to subvert existing communist governments. Pope John Paul II provided a moral focus for anti-communism ; a visit to his native Poland in stimulated a religious and nationalist resurgence centered on the Solidarity movement that galvanized opposition and may have led to his attempted assassination two years later.

    Reagan imposed economic sanctions on Poland in response. Soviet investment in the defense sector was not driven by military necessity, but in large part by the interests of massive party and state bureaucracies dependent on the sector for their own power and privileges. Soon after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, president Carter began massively building up the United States military. This buildup was accelerated by the Reagan administration, which increased the military spending from 5.

    Tensions continued to intensify as Reagan revived the B-1 Lancer program, which had been canceled by the Carter administration, produced LGM Peacekeeper missiles, [] installed US cruise missiles in Europe, and announced the experimental Strategic Defense Initiative , dubbed "Star Wars" by the media, a defense program to shoot down missiles in mid-flight. After Reagan's military buildup, the Soviet Union did not respond by further building its military, [] because the enormous military expenses, along with inefficient planned manufacturing and collectivized agriculture , were already a heavy burden for the Soviet economy.

    The airliner had violated Soviet airspace just past the west coast of Sakhalin Island near Moneron Island , and the Soviets treated the unidentified aircraft as an intruding U. The incident increased support for military deployment, overseen by Reagan, which stood in place until the later accords between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. American domestic public concerns about intervening in foreign conflicts persisted from the end of the Vietnam War.

    Meanwhile, the Soviets incurred high costs for their own foreign interventions. Although Brezhnev was convinced in that the Soviet war in Afghanistan would be brief, Muslim guerrillas, aided by the U. A senior U. State Department official predicted such an outcome as early as , positing that the invasion resulted in part from a "domestic crisis within the Soviet system. It may be that the thermodynamic law of entropy has We could be seeing a period of foreign movement at a time of internal decay".

    By the time the comparatively youthful Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary in , [] the Soviet economy was stagnant and faced a sharp fall in foreign currency earnings as a result of the downward slide in oil prices in the s. An ineffectual start led to the conclusion that deeper structural changes were necessary, and in June Gorbachev announced an agenda of economic reform called perestroika , or restructuring. These measures were intended to redirect the country's resources from costly Cold War military commitments to more productive areas in the civilian sector.

    Despite initial skepticism in the West, the new Soviet leader proved to be committed to reversing the Soviet Union's deteriorating economic condition instead of continuing the arms race with the West. In response to the Kremlin's military and political concessions , Reagan agreed to renew talks on economic issues and the scaling-back of the arms race. Talks went well until the focus shifted to Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, which Gorbachev wanted eliminated. Reagan refused. East—West tensions rapidly subsided through the mid-to-late s, culminating with the final summit in Moscow in , when Gorbachev and George H.

    In , Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan , [] and by Gorbachev consented to German reunification , [] [ citation not found ] as the only alternative was a Tiananmen Square scenario. On 3 December , Gorbachev and George H. Bush declared the Cold War over at the Malta Summit.

    By , the Soviet alliance system was on the brink of collapse, and, deprived of Soviet military support, the communist leaders of the Warsaw Pact states were losing power.

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    In , the communist governments in Poland and Hungary became the first to negotiate the organization of competitive elections. In Czechoslovakia and East Germany, mass protests unseated entrenched communist leaders. The communist regimes in Bulgaria and Romania also crumbled, in the latter case as the result of a violent uprising.

    Attitudes had changed enough that U. Secretary of State James Baker suggested that the American government would not be opposed to Soviet intervention in Romania, on behalf of the opposition, to prevent bloodshed. The revolutionary wave swept across Central and Eastern Europe and peacefully overthrew all of the Soviet-style communist states: East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria; [] [ citation not found ] Romania was the only Eastern-bloc country to topple its communist regime violently and execute its head of state.

    In the USSR itself, glasnost weakened the bonds that held the Soviet Union together, [] and by February , with the dissolution of the USSR looming, the Communist Party was forced to surrender its year-old monopoly on state power. Gorbachev's permissive attitude toward Central and Eastern Europe did not initially extend to Soviet territory; even Bush, who strove to maintain friendly relations, condemned the January killings in Latvia and Lithuania , privately warning that economic ties would be frozen if the violence continued.

    The Commonwealth of Independent States , created on 21 December , is viewed as a successor entity to the Soviet Union, but, according to Russia's leaders, its purpose was to "allow a civilized divorce" between the Soviet Republics and is comparable to a loose confederation. President George H. Bush expressed his emotions: "The biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives, is this: By the grace of God, America won the Cold War.

    After the dissolution of the Soviet Union , Russia drastically cut military spending , and restructuring the economy left millions unemployed. The Cold War continues to influence world affairs. The post-Cold War world is considered to be unipolar , with the United States the sole remaining superpower. Cumulative U. Further nearly , Americans lost their lives in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In addition to the loss of life by uniformed soldiers, millions died in the superpowers' proxy wars around the globe, most notably in Southeast Asia.

    However, the aftermath of the Cold War is not considered to be concluded. Many of the economic and social tensions that were exploited to fuel Cold War competition in parts of the Third World remain acute. The breakdown of state control in a number of areas formerly ruled by communist governments produced new civil and ethnic conflicts, particularly in the former Yugoslavia. In Central and Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War has ushered in an era of economic growth and an increase in the number of liberal democracies , while in other parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, independence was accompanied by state failure.

    During the Cold War itself, with the United States and the Soviet Union invested heavily in propaganda designed to influence the hearts and minds of people around the world, especially using motion pictures. The Cold War endures as a popular topic reflected extensively in entertainment media, and continuing to the present with numerous post Cold War-themed feature films, novels, television, and other media. As soon as the term "Cold War" was popularized to refer to post-war tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, interpreting the course and origins of the conflict has been a source of heated controversy among historians, political scientists, and journalists.

    Although explanations of the origins of the conflict in academic discussions are complex and diverse, several general schools of thought on the subject can be identified. Historians commonly speak of three differing approaches to the study of the Cold War: "orthodox" accounts, "revisionism", and "post-revisionism". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the state of political tension in the 20th century. For the general term, see Cold war general term.

    The History of the Cold War in 40 Quotes | Council on Foreign Relations

    For the current state of political tension, see Cold War II. For other uses, see Cold War disambiguation.

    USA vs USSR Fight! The Cold War: Crash Course World History #39

    For other uses, see Cold warrior disambiguation. Cold War — East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall , Navy aircraft shadowing a Soviet freighter during the Cuban Missile Crisis , American astronaut Thomas P. Stafford and Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov shake hands in outer space , Mushroom cloud of the Ivy Mike nuclear test , ; one of more than a thousand such tests conducted by the US between and Russian , Ukrainian and Belarusian leaders signing the Belavezha Accords , officially dissolving the Soviet Union, Main article: Cold war general term. Main article: Origins of the Cold War.

    Main articles: Potsdam Conference and Surrender of Japan. Main article: Eastern Bloc. The labeling used on Marshall Plan aid to Western Europe. The red columns show the relative amount of total aid received per nation. Construction in West Berlin under Marshall Plan aid. Main articles: Cominform and Tito—Stalin Split. Main article: Berlin Blockade. Main article: Cold War — Main articles: Warsaw Pact and Hungarian Revolution of The Hungarian Revolution of Main article: Flexible response.

    Main article: Sino-Soviet split. China and pro-Chinese communist states. Neutral communist nations North Korea and Yugoslavia. Non-communist states. Main article: Space Race. Main article: Berlin Crisis of Further information: Berlin Wall and Eastern Bloc emigration and defection. Main article: Brezhnev Doctrine. Main article: Nixon visit to China. Further information: Reagan Doctrine and Thatcherism. Main articles: Solidarity Polish trade union and Martial law in Poland.

    Further information: Soviet reaction to the Polish crisis of — Further information: Mikhail Gorbachev , Perestroika , and Glasnost. Main article: Revolutions of Main article: Dissolution of the Soviet Union. See also: Culture during the Cold War. Main article: Historiography of the Cold War. Main article: Outline of the Cold War. Cambridge University Press, , pp.

    BBC News. Retrieved 13 April The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August The Cold War. Boller Not So! Oxford UP. Stoler Debating Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policies, — Latvia: A Short History. Tucker Walter de Gruyter. The Baltic Republics. Infobase Publishing. Herring Jr. Plokhy, Yalta: The price of peace Therefore, the continuation of cooperation and peaceful relations with its wartime allies, the United States and Great Britain, was greatly to be desired.

    Churchill and the Soviet Union. Manchester University Press. Retrieved 30 April Retrieved 29 November The National Interest. The concise Oxford dictionary of politics. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 June Stalin and Stalinism. In Whiteclay Chambers, John ed. Archived from the original on 28 May Retrieved 29 January Pan Macmillan. Winter — Winston Churchill Centre. Archived from the original on 15 October Retrieved 22 June Byrnes, Lucius D. Clay and Germany, —".

    James F. Byrnes Institute. Archived from the original on 5 July Retrieved 9 June Journal of Modern Greek Studies. An International Civil War: Greece, — Yale University Press. Basic Books. Retrieved 28 May Garthoff, "Foreign intelligence and the historiography of the Cold War. Trahair and Robert L. Miller, Encyclopedia of Cold War espionage, spies, and secret operations 2nd ed. Enigma, Part I. Murphy, Sergei A.

    Cornell University Press. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Post-communism and the Media in Eastern Europe. History of International Broadcasting. The Truman administration's fear that Rhee would launch an invasion prompted it to limit South Korea's military capabilities, refusing to provide tanks, heavy artillery, and combat planes.

    This did not stop the South Koreans from initiating most of the border clashes with North Korean forces at the thirty-eighth parallel beginning in the summer of and reaching a high level of intensity and violence a year later. Historians now acknowledge that the two Koreas already were waging a civil conflict when North Korea's attack opened the conventional phase of the war.

    National Archives. Retrieved 21 June Princeton University Press. The Soviet leader believed that North Korea had not achieved either military superiority north of the parallel or political strength south of that line. His main concern was the threat South Korea posed to North Korea's survival, for example fearing an invasion northward following U.

    Harvard University Press. American Foreign Relations: Volume 2: Since Cengage Learning. The Korean war in history. Manchester University Press ND. Korea's Grievous War. University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved 26 June Newly released documents reveal U. Cold War nuclear target list. Mutual misapprehension, fear, mistrust, the near-impossibility of telling reality from illusion — the features of that time make it the perfect setting for a novel that is about espionage but also about isolation and obsessive love.

    How lucky we are that the world survived the cold war and can afford to let it become history and fictive backdrop. Dozens of books could have made this list. I have chosen some that seem to me to give a strong sense of what it felt like to be living through the cold war and of the fears that people had. I realise that the list leaves out the Soviet point of view. Nineteen Eighty-Four remains the defining vision of totalitarian rule.

    It supplied us with a vocabulary we still use and is as relevant today as it was when Orwell wrote it. The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis An admirably lucid and comprehensive account of the nuclear-armed stand-off — its origins and causes, its end and what happened in between. Elegantly written for the general reader, it is an essential introduction. Equip a fallout room. Use your reserves of water very sparingly. If you have to go outside, put on gumboots and a scarf. This little booklet, with its childish illustrations, makes Armageddon seem almost matter-of-fact.

    When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs This graphic novel by the artist best loved for The Snowman might look as if it were meant for children. But any child who read it would soon be having nightmares. The Secret State: Preparing for the Worst by Peter Hennessy This fascinating account of secret government plans for combatting attacks on Britain is another side of the same picture. The updated edition covers the post-cold war period too: the threat of Armageddon did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But I think this, an early one, is the most effective. It brilliantly depicts a bleak, amoral world and it set the benchmark for the many other novels exploring the same material.

    Utterly unsparing, brutal and compelling, it fictionalises the Rosenbergs, the couple executed in for conspiring to pass US atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Seen through the eyes of their son, it gives a view from another side of the cold war — that of the committed American left.