History Essay, Research Paper
The Cold War is the term used to describe the intense rivalry between the United States and its allies and the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics and its allies. The Soviet Union and its allies were refereed to as the Eastern Bloc and the United States and its allies were referred to as the Western Bloc. The Cold War period lasted from the mid-1940 s until the late 1980 s. During this period international politics were shaped by this intense rivalry between this two great blocs of power and the political ideologies they represented. The United States and its allies represented democracy and capitalism while the Soviet Union and its allies represented communism. The Cold War was truly a global conflict more so than either of the century s two world wars. (1) The cold war was also the first total war between economic and social systems, an industrial test to destruction. Even though the Cold War Began just after World War II, some of its roots reach back as far as the nineteenth century. Its neighbors have long feared Russia; the giant among the countries in Europe, even when they were allied Russia against a common enemy. This fear Cropped up immediately after Russia, Britain, and other European nations defeated the French Emperor Napoleon in 1812. (2) In 1853 Britain, France and several other European nations went to war with Russia from keeping Russia from expanding into the Middle East. Britain, in fact, took a great deal of its energy during the nineteenth century trying to limit Russian power. (3) By the early twentieth century the United States was also concerned with Russia s power. Although the United States tried to keep out of European disputes, American leaders were concerned about Russia becoming to powerful. They worried that if any nation became powerful enough to dominate the European continent, it would be a threat to the well being of the United States. (4) In the midst of World War I a new element was added to the European and American fear of Russia. In November of 1917 a radical Marxist called the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia overthrowing a democratic government. The United States strongly opposed the Bolshevik regime. The United States was angry that the Bolsheviks pulled Russia out of the War against Germany (WW I), and that it intended to spread its revolution to other countries. (5) During World War II Soviet leader Joseph Stalin reached an agreement with Hitler in which the two countries promised not to attack each other during the war. The Nazi-Soviet pack allowed Hitler to invade Poland and then fight France and Britain without having to worry about the powerful Soviet army. (6) A surprise attack by the Germans on the Soviet Union on June 1941 ended the Nazi-Soviet pact. This drove the Soviet Union to join the allies, but they found no love in the hearts of the United States and Britain. It was only Germany s might and murder policies that held the Grand Alliance together. (7) As the tide turned in favor of the Allies in the eastern theater, the side where the Soviet Union was fighting on, the soviets army was pushing into several Eastern European countries which were formerly allied or controlled by Germany. As the soviets controlled occupied these countries, they were able to control them. The same fear that had arisen in 1812 arose again: Would Russia become so powerful that it, instead of Germany, would threaten to dominate Europe. (8) To avoid this nightmare Britain and the United States invited the Soviet Union to a conference to discuss how to establish a durable peace. The Big Three met at Yalta, a resort on the Black Sea shore in the southern part of the Soviet Union. At the final diner at Yalta, hosted by Stalin on February 8, in a toast to Churchill and Stalin, President Roosevelt said he felt the atmosphere between them was that of a family. (9) Harry Hopkins, one of Roosevelt s closest advisors and his special envoy to other heads of the state said; we really believed in our hearts that this was the dawn of the new day we had all been praying for. (10) But instead of leading to a real peace, Yalta set the stage for the Cold War. The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion, and misunderstandings by both the United States and its allies and by the Soviet Union and its allies. At times, these characteristics seemed to increase the probability of a third world war. The United States accused the Soviets of trying to spread communism throughout the world and the Soviets accused the United States with practicing imperialism and attempting the revolutionary activity in other countries. During the late 1940 s and the early 1950 s the cold war became increasingly intense. Both sides were accusing each other of trying to rule the world. Both sides viewed the Cold War as a dispute between right and wrong. They saw every revolt and every international incident as part of the cold war. During 1945 and early in 1946, the Soviet Union cut off nearly all relationships between the west and the occupied territories of Eastern Europe. In March of 1946 Winston Churchill warned that an iron curtain has been descended across the continent. (11) President Truman Agreed with Churchill. The president was deeply worried and his anxiety increased as the year went by. Soviet pressure on two non-European countries Iran and Turkey led to direct American and Soviet Confrontations, but in both cases the soviets backed down. Churchill warned, Throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to directives they receive from the communist center. (12) Churchill s prose s called on Americans to face the fact that the agreements reached in the Yalta convention, the very foundation on which the allies came up with the scheme for the post war world, were being nullified. These warnings were accompanied by an American military alliance to present an armed front against communist expansion. In Washington and around the country the speech was widely criticized as warmongering, an invitation to war against the Soviet Union. Indeed Stalin called the speech a declaration of war. (13) In 1946, the Soviet Union organized Communist governments in Bulgaria and Romania. In 1947, Communists took control of Hungary and Poland. In early 1948 Communist took control over Czechoslovakia. These countries came to be known as Soviet satellites. In the United Nations conferences, east and west became enemies. For example in 1946, the United States proposed an international agency to control nuclear energy production and research. The USSR rejected the proposal because they believed that the United States had a lead in nuclear weapons and would have an advantage over the soviets if a war ever broke out between the two nuclear powers. The Soviet Union pictured itself as a defender of peace and accused the United States of planning a third world war. (14) In the fall of 1946, communist Guerillas were fighting for control over Greece. During the late days of World War II the only thing that kept the communist from gaining control over Greece was that the British were giving military and economic aid to the Greek government. In February of 1947 the British told the United States that they could no longer support the Greek government s fight against the guerillas. They also warned the United States that they could not aid Turkey resist communist pressure. At this time president Harry Truman was convinced that the United States should help any free country that resist communist aggression. President Truman was convinced that the United States had to intervene. He feared that a Communist victory in Greece would bring Soviet Power into the Mediterranean Sea, astride shipping routes to the oil rich Middle East. (15) On March 12, 1947 President Truman spoke to congress. He discussed not only the Communist threat in Greece, but also the serious situation in Turkey. That s why the president insisted that the United States had to help Greece and Turkey: We shall not realize our objectives unless we Are willing to help free peoples to maintain their Free institutions and national integrity against Aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them Totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank Recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed Upon free peoples by direct or indirect aggression under- Mine the foundations of international peace and Hence the security of the United States of America. (16) The congress of the United States granted Truman s request of $400 million to aid Greece and Turkey. With this aid Greece and Turkey were able to resist Communism. This new American policy became to be known as the Truman Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine was designed to hold back the expansion of communism throughout the world. The Truman Doctrine, which included both economic and military aid, and the Marshall Plan, a program of economic aid were the first containment policies. During the Cold War the United States used many means economic, military, political to carry out containment. By 1948, Joseph Stalin was just as upset about the situation in Europe as was Harry Truman. Stalin wanted to keep Germany weak and out of the Western Block, but the United States, Britain, and France were taking Steps to combine their three zones into a unified and anti-Communist West Germany.. The Berlin Blockade was the Soviet answer to the West s plans for West Germany. Stalin wanted to keep Western Europe weak, as this would strengthen the soviets position on the European continent. By blocking railroads, highways, and water traffic to East Germany the Soviets believed that the blockade would force the West to leave Berlin, but instead the Americans, French and British set up the Berlin Airlift. For eleven months Berlin was supplied with food and fuel through airplanes. Eventually over seven thousand tons of supplies reached Berlin daily, arriving on planes that landed every ninety seconds on peak hours. (17) In May the three western zones combined into the new Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with its capitol in Bonn on the Rhine River. During the Berlin Blockade, the United States, Canada, and ten other Western European Countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty in April 1949. This defense treaty set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance NATO). NATO was an unmistakable sign that the United States intended to back up its allies in Europe. For the first time in history the United States entered a military peacetime alliance. During the late 1940 s military strength became more and more important. In 1945 after the war in the pacific was over (WWII), President Truman asked all those concerned to take whatever steps where necessary to prevent the spread of information concerning the atomic bomb. This was a just a cautious measure by Truman prior to choosing three other policies that were then conceivable: giving up the atomic bomb; offering to come with an agreement with Russia on its use; or start a new arms race and at the same time doing everything possible to maintain the American lead. If the United States gave up the Bomb, there was no guarantee that the Soviets would not try to make one. In November of 1947, Molotov announced that The USSR had the secret top nuclear fission. Many political leaders thought he was lying. But it was President Truman himself who told the World that the Russians had just tested the atomic bomb. (19) In September 1949 American and British planes had been checking the atmosphere for traces of radioactivity which was indicative of the Soviets testing nuclear weapons. The American monopoly of nuclear weapons, which was seen as the balance against the Red Army, was over after only four years. (20) During the 1940 s a communist wave also engulfed Asia. It was at this time that Communism strength increased In Asia. The Soviet Union had occupied Manchuria before World War II was over. After the Soviets left Manchuria in 1946, the Chinese Communists took over most of northern Manchuria. The collision Between the Nationalists and Communists armies in Manchuria exploded into all-out civil war. In moving into Manchuria, the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kaishek, were challenging the Communists, led by Mao Zedong, on Communist ground. Almost immediately the communist gained the upper hand, pushing the Government troops back with a combination of guerilla tactics practiced in the war against Japan, numbers that grew with success, and an arsenal that also kept growing. (21) In September of 1949, Chiang and his government fled to the island of Taiwan. Mao Proclaimed total victory and sovereignty over Communist China. Within six months China and the Soviet Union signed a treaty inking the two massive Communist nations, whose borders now enclosed more than one fourth of the human race. At the end of World War II, Soviet troops occupied the North Korea and U.S. forces occupied South Korea. In 1945 Korea had been divided up into two countries divided at the 38th Parallel. This Division was meant to be temporary, but cold war tensions made it permanent. In 1948 North Korea and South Korea set up separate Governments, each claiming to rule the entire country. The Government of North Korea was lead by Kim Il Sung. President Syngman Rhee headed the Government of South Korea. The southern republic faced economic and political instability after World War II. The United States built up the South Korean army as a counter balance to the Soviet-trained northern forces. After repeated confrontations between the South Korean and The North Korean Troops, the North Korean army invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. On June 27 President Truman sent U.S. forces to aid the South Koreans. The UN Security Council adopted a United States resolution branding North Korea as an aggressor. Truman Late explained: I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores. (22) Seventeen other nations contributed men to the UN force while the Chinese communist Groups aided the North Korean army. In 1951 peace talks began. They went on for two years while the bloody fighting continued in Korea. By the summer of 1951, the war had reached a bloody stalemate. On July 27, 1953 negotiators agreed to an armistice that divided Korea into two nations, Communist North Korea and Non-Communist South Korea which were divided roughly by the 38th parallel. For the first time the United States had fought a hot war against Communism. It extended the Containment Policy to the Far East. The death of Stalin changed the character of the Cold War. Stalin died in March 1953, two months after Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president of the United States. Stalin was replaced by Nikita Khrushchev as Soviet Leader. Khrushchev wanted to ease some of the difficulties of Soviet policy towards the West. The Soviets adopted a softer policy towards tits satellites and the West. In June 1953 the Soviets put down a revolt in East Germany but the Soviet Union s softer coarse of action was obvious. However the arms race continued. In November of 1952 The United States tested its first Hydrogen bomb. In November 1955 the USSR tested its first H-bomb. Military alliances were also strengthening during this period. In 1955 West Germany joined NATO, while the Soviet Union and its satellites signed the Warsaw Mutual Defense Pact. The United States announced its support towards the military alliance formed by the Baghdad pact, which included countries from the Middle East. The Eisenhower Doctrine was approved in congress in March 1957 because the United States feared Communist penetration in the Middle East. This Policy permitted the United States to use military force to aid any nation in the Middle East requesting aid against armed aggression from any country c that was controlled by international Communism. The Vietnam War was also product of the Cold War. The United States got involved in the Vietnam War because it wanted to contain the spread of Communism. During the Vietnam War millions of Americans turned against the president and the country ended up more divided than any time since the Civil War. The Vietnam War cost several million, lives including those of over 58,000 American soldiers. The Vietnam War was the single most dramatic and costly example of the expansion of the Cold War to the third world. The Vietnam War ended in Defeat for the United States and in the destruction of South Vietnam, the non-communist country the United States was trying to help. Part of the problem in South Vietnam was that the government under Ngo Dinh Diem was dictatorial and corrupt. In addition many of Diem s key officials were Catholic who ruled a land that was predominantly Buddhist. All of this played into the hands of the Communist forces in North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh led the Communist Forces. Ho Chi Minh s forces took advantage of Diem s troubles by sending help to the rebels in South Vietnam and it soon took over the anti-Diem Uprising. In 1960 the National Liberation Front was set up in South Vietnam to run the rebellion against Diem. Diem referred to the organization as the Vietcong or Vietnamese Communists. By 1961 the Vietcong were already threatening to defeat Diem and take over South Vietnam. Enormous shipments of U.S. aid failed to solve the problems of the South Vietnamese government. In January 1973 the United States withdrew out of Vietnam. Although the fighting in Vietnam continued, for the United States the longest war in its history, and its least successful was finally over. (24) Within two years of the withdrawal of the United States from the Vietnam War, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese overran South Vietnam and the country was unified under a communist dictatorship. In the late 1950 s The Soviet Union improved its ability to produce nuclear weapons, and the Western Bloc feared Soviet rocket superiority. In June 1957, the USSR successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. (25) That same year the Soviets launched Sputnik I, the first artificial earth satellite. The Launching of the Sputnik I led the United States and The Soviet Union into the Space, race. On October 4, 1957 the soviets launched their satellite Sputnik I into space. On January 31, 1957 the United States launched they re own satellite, Explorer I. To the United States the launching of the Sputnik I was a wake up call. Historian William Manchester observes, it was a shock on the order of the 1929 Wall Street Crash. (26) the object of all the commotion was a steel sphere about the size of a beach ball, weighing about 185 pounds. Sputnik, the name given to this satellite was Russian for the word companion or fellow traveler The Soviets found themselves in a situation in which they knew that the United States industrial was not invulnerable to a Soviet counterattack. Khrushchev commented this on the matter: No longer were we contaminated by Stalin s Fear . No longer was the industrial Heartland Of the United States invulnerable to our counterattack. Of course we tried to derive maximum political Advantage from the fact that we were the first to Launch our rockets into space. However, now that We had nuclear bombs and the way to deliver them, We had no intention of starting a war. (28) From its humiliating start, the American space program made a remarkable recovery. About two months later, On January 31, 1958, with a Jupiter rocket borrowed from the army, the first American satellite was launched into orbit. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was organized with foundations planted firmly in the defense establishment and with a goal of putting a man into space. In April 11959, the first group of candidates for that mission were introduced to the public. They were a crew of the finest test pilots selected from the military services. Their mission was widely perceived as an extension of the Cold War. The first American to go into space was Alan Shephard, but before he got his chance to fly he had to go through two years of rigorous training. Meanwhile, there were efforts to disengage from the cold war even as the arsenals grew and the potential battlefield was extended from earth and into space. Even though the United states seemed to be behind the Soviets all the tome during the space race, it was the Americans who won the space race after they got the first man on the moon. On a July weekend in 1969, with half a billion people around the world witnesses by way of television, saw a pair of American astronauts stepped out of the Apollo II landing module onto the surface of the moon. That s one small step for man, astronaut Neil Armstrong declared to perhaps the largest audience ever addressed, one giant leap for mankind. The Cold war had important consequences in the within the United States. In July 1947 congress replaced the War Department with the Department of defense. Congress also set up the National Security Council to advice the p[resident on strategic matters. The Central Intelligence Agency was also established to gather information over seas. The Cold War also aroused fears of communism at home. Truman opposed Communism abroad, but some republicans accused him of allowing communist to be involved in the American government. Responding to such charges, Truman set up the Loyalty Review Board in 1947 to investigate all federal employees. Congress also tried to crack down on communism. The anti-Communist crusade in congress was being led by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). This committee was established in 1938 to investigate Anti-American propaganda.