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Cold War


The Cold War was an ongoing geopolitical rivalry between two countries and their respective allies. On one side were the United States and the Western Bloc. On the other side were the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. This began in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The Cold War never escalated to the point of direct confrontation between the US and the USSR. In fact, aside from the nuclear arms race, the struggle for world dominance was primarily waged through propaganda campaigns, espionage, proxy wars, athletic rivalry at the Olympics, and the Space Race.

Proxy war

A war fought between two groups or smaller countries that represent the interests of other larger powers. These larger powers may support them but are not directly involved in the fighting.

The Cold War is generally considered by historians to have begun between 1947 and 1948, with the introduction of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. US financial aid brought many Western countries under American influence in an attempt to contain communism. At the same time, the Soviets began to establish openly communist regimes in the countries of eastern Europe. These became satellites of the USSR. They were tactical bases for confrontation with the West, and a safeguard against a renewed threat from Germany.

The United States and the USSR gradually built up zones of influence around the world, dividing it into two vast opposing camps. It was not just a struggle between two enemies, it was a global conflict.

Political expert Raymond Aron called the Cold War:

Impossible peace, improbable war.

This is because the ideological differences between the two camps made peace impossible. War, on the other hand, was highly improbable because nuclear weapons acted as a deterrent.

The Cold War ended in 1991, after the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Why was it called the ‘Cold’ War?

It was called the Cold War for a number of reasons:

  • First of all, neither the Soviet Union nor the United States officially declared war on the other. In fact, there was never any direct large-scale fighting between the two superpowers.

  • The war was only waged through indirect conflict. The US and USSR supported regional conflicts in their own interests, known as proxy wars.

  • It describes the ‘chilly’ relationship between the two Second World War allies.

Cold War history

A cold war is a war waged through indirect conflict, based on an ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence between two or more superpowers. The expression ‘cold war’ was rarely used before 1945.

Don Juan Manuel - Fourteenth century

Some credit the fourteenth century Spaniard Don Juan Manuel with first using the term ‘cold war’ in Spanish, to describe the conflict between Christianity and Islam. However, he used the word ‘tepid’ not ‘cold’.

George Orwell - 1945

The English writer George Orwell first used the term in an article published in 1945 to refer to the hostility between the Western and Eastern blocs. He predicted that a nuclear stalemate would ensue between:

two or three monstrous super-states, each possessed of a weapon by which millions of people can be wiped out in a few seconds.

Furthermore, he warned of a world living in the constant shadow of the threat of nuclear war: ‘a peace that is no peace,’ which he called a permanent ‘cold war’. Orwell was directly referring to the ideological confrontation between the Soviet Union and the Western powers.

Nuclear stalemate

A situation where both sides possess equal amounts of nuclear weapons, meaning neither can use them. Doing so would result in mutual destruction.

Bernard Baruch - 1947

The term was first used in the United States by the American financier and presidential adviser Bernard Baruch. He delivered a speech during the unveiling of his portrait in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1947, saying:

Let us not be deceived: we are today in the midst of a cold war.

He was describing the post–Second World War geopolitical relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.

For over 40 years the term ‘cold war’ became a staple in the language of American diplomacy. Thanks to newspaper reporter Walter Lippmann and his book ‘Cold War' (1947), the term is now commonly accepted.

Who were the principal participants of the Cold War?

We have already mentioned that the main rivalry during the Cold War was between the US and the USSR and their allies. Who were these allies that made up the Eastern and Western Blocs?

The Grand Alliance and the ‘Big Three’

In the Second World War, the three great allied powers, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, formed a Grand Alliance in order to defeat Nazi Germany. This alliance was led by the so-called ‘Big Three’: Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. These three leaders represented the three great powers, which were the principal contributors of manpower and resources, as well as strategy.

A series of conferences between the allied leaders and their military officials allowed them to gradually decide the direction of the war, the members of the alliance, and eventually, the postwar international order.

However, the alliance partners did not share political aims and did not always agree on how the War should be fought. Although the United Kingdom and the United States maintained close relations thanks to their bilateral Atlantic Charter, they were capitalist countries, while the USSR had been communist since the 1917 Russian Revolution. Nazi aggression against the USSR in 1941, in Operation Barbarossa, turned the Soviet regime into an ally of the Western democracies.

The Grand Alliance brought together two sides divided by their political and economic ideologies. In the post-war world, these increasingly divergent viewpoints created rifts between those who had once been allies and signalled the beginning of the Cold War.

Cold war Photograph of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Teheran (1943) StudySmarterThe ‘Big Three’: Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill in Tehran (1943), Wikimedia Commons

By 1948, cooperation between the Western Allies and the Soviets had completely broken down. The world became deeply divided between the Western powers who promoted capitalism and the Soviet Union which embraced communism.

The Western world and capitalism

The Western Bloc was led by the United States of America. The US represented capitalism, with the strongest economy (by GDP) in the world during the cold war, and up to the present day. It was also known as the leader of the ‘Free World’, a propaganda term used to refer to the Western Bloc, since collectively it was the biggest democracy worldwide.

Capitalism is an economic system in which private actors can own and control the means of production. This means that people are free to set up private businesses and make money for themselves. The production and pricing of goods are dictated by market forces resulting from the interaction between private businesses and individuals, and not the government. Capitalism is founded on three principals: private property, profit motive, and market competition.

In a democracy, there are several competing political parties, each representing different sectors of society or political ideology. Governments are chosen through democratic elections; citizens vote for their preferred Party and thus participate in the democratic process. The freedoms and rights of individuals are extremely important, which is why freedom of speech and freedom of the press are guaranteed in a democracy.

During the Cold War, the Western Bloc consisted of the United States and its NATO allies. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was signed on the 4th of April 1949, and was supposed to provide a military counterweight to the Soviet bloc. It replaced the Brussels Treaty of 1948 between the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which concluded in a collective-defense agreement also known as the Western European Union. NATO saw the US, Canada and Norway join the alliance.

Cold war The NATO flag StudySmarterThe NATO flag, Wikimedia Commons

The alliance’s purpose was to deter the Soviets from expanding their influence in Europe by allowing a strong North American presence on the continent and encouraging European political integration.

The Eastern bloc and communism

The Eastern bloc was led by the Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The USSR was a socialist state that spanned Europe and Asia during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was the second most powerful state, after the USA, during the Cold War and its goal was to spread communism worldwide.

Communism is an economic system in which all property is owned by the community, or state, meaning that private property is abolished. In a communist state, everybody must contribute according to their abilities, and only receive what they need. The Communist International (Comintern) was an international organization founded by the Soviet Union in 1919 that advocated world communism.

The political system of the Soviet Union was a federal single-party soviet republic. The USSR was divided into several federations and there was only one political party allowed: the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). This meant that the Soviet Union was essentially a dictatorship. There were no democratic elections and the possibility of changing the government by election was nil. The state owned all the businesses and factories, as well as the land. The Communist Party was controlled by a single leader. The individual rights and freedoms of individual citizens were deemed less important than obedience to the state. Finally, the government controlled the media and censored anyone who disagreed with it.

The Eastern bloc consisted of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. The USSR thus had immense influence over the many countries that bordered it, especially in Eastern Europe.

Satellite state

A satellite state is a country that is officially independent but is in reality under the political or economic influence or control of another.

This influence was consolidated when the Warsaw Pact of 1955 was signed, establishing the Warsaw Treaty Organization, a mutual defence alliance that was originally composed of the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. The treaty meant that the USSR kept military troops on all the territories of the other participating states. A unified military command was also created, with the other countries having to volunteer their own troops to the Soviet Union.

The Non-Aligned Movement

In 1955, in the context of the wave of decolonisation that swept the globe, delegates from 29 countries met at the Bandung Conference, also referred to as the Asian-African Conference. They argued that developing countries should remain neutral and not ally with the US or the USSR, but rather come together in support of national self-determination to combat imperialism.

In 1961, drawing on the principles agreed in 1955, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was founded in Belgrade and held its first conference, thanks to Yugoslav President Josip Tito. The aim was to give a voice to developing countries and encourage them to act on the world stage in international politics. For this reason, the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement could not be part of a multilateral military alliance. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, more than 100 states had joined the Non-Aligned Movement.

Below is a map representing how the world was divided for the majority of the Cold War:

Cold War Cold War alliances in 1970 StudySmarter

World Map of the Cold War alliances in 1970

China and Mongolia, although communist states, did not depend on the USSR and had actually distanced themselves from the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and early 1960s during the Soviet-Sino split. The same can be said of Tito’s Yugoslavia.

Causes of the Cold War

There were many factors that made the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union inevitable. The most important are explained below.

Early tensions

First of all, the wartime alliance between the US and USSR was one of circumstances and not ideology. When Hitler broke the non-aggression pact he had signed with Stalin, by invading the Soviet Union, he took the Red Army by surprise, making important territorial gains. This forced the Soviet Union to join the Allied powers.

This meant there were many tensions between the allies, along with a range of complex issues:

  • The Allies were unsure of Stalin’s loyalty since he had allied himself with Hitler in 1939, through the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

  • The US did not open a second front in France until 1944, delaying the invasion of Europe, having previously opened a front in Italy during the summer of 1943. This delay allowed Hitler to concentrate his forces against the Soviets.

  • The USSR did not help the Polish resistance during the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944, in order to get rid of its anti-communist government.

  • The US and UK excluded the Soviets from secret talks with the Germans.

  • US President Harry Truman omitted to inform Stalin that he would deploy atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Stalin’s suspicion and distrust of the West intensified as a result.

  • US victory in the Pacific, without Soviet help, alienated Stalin further and the USSR was denied any share of the occupation in that area.

  • Stalin believed the US and Britain were allowing Germany and the Soviet Union to fight it out, so that both countries could be weakened.

At the end of the Second World War, the uneasy wartime alliance had begun to unravel.

Ideological differences

An ideological schism had separated the Allied powers since World War One and was evident at the peace conferences of Yalta and Potsdam in 1945. This is when the allies decided what would happen to Europe, and in particular Germany, at the end of the Second World War. There were two reasons for this:

  1. The emergence of communism

The Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 replaced Russia's tsar with a "dictatorship of the proletariat", and established a communist state. The Bolsheviks then decided to withdraw Russia from World War One as civil war engulfed the country, leaving Britain and France to fight the Axis powers alone. The White Army, tsarist supporters who fought the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War, were then supported by the Western powers.

  1. Capitalism and communism: ideological opposites

The political and economic systems of the capitalist USA and communist USSR were ideologically incompatible. Both sides wanted to affirm their model and force countries around the world to conform to their ideologies.

Disagreements over Germany

At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the US, USSR, and Britain agreed to divide Germany into four zones. Each zone was administered by one of the Allied powers, including France.

Cold war Map showing the division of Germany between the four powers StudySmarterMap showing the division of Germany between the four powers created with Canva

Furthermore, the USSR would receive reparation payments from Germany to compensate for the country's losses.

The Western powers envisioned a booming capitalist Germany that contributed to world trade. Stalin, on the other hand, wanted to destroy the German economy and ensure that Germany could never become powerful again, after Russia nearly lost to them during the Second World War.

Fierce competition between East and West Germany ensued. The French, US, and British sectors remained free to trade and reconstruction was started, whilst Stalin forbade the Russian zone from trading with other zones. Much of what was produced in the Russian zone was also confiscated, including infrastructure and raw materials, which were brought back to the Soviet Union.

In 1947, Bizonia was created: the British and American zones unified economically thanks to a new currency, the Deutschmark; this was introduced to the Western zones to stimulate the economy. Stalin feared that this new idea would spread to the Soviet zone and strengthen rather than weaken Germany. He decided to introduce his own currency in East Germany, called the Ostmark.

Nuclear arms race

In 1949, the USSR tested its first atomic bomb. In 1953, the US and USSR both tested hydrogen bombs. The Americans believed that the Soviets had caught up technologically, which led to a nuclear arms race. The two superpowers tried amassed nuclear weapons, both sides fearing they might fall behind in research and production. Over 55,000 nuclear warheads were produced during the Cold War, with the US spending an estimated $5.8 trillion on nuclear weapons, laboratories, reactors, bombers, submarines, missiles, and silos.

Nuclear warfare eventually became a deterrent rather than a weapon. The theory of mutually assured destruction (MAD) meant that a superpower would never use its nuclear weapons knowing that the other side would automatically do the same. This relied on neither side being able to do a “first strike”.

What was the scale of the Cold War?

Although the Cold War began as a conflict between two superpowers it quickly escalated into a global matter.

Conflict over Germany and Europe

As explained above, Western powers and Stalin’s Soviet Union disagreed about how Germany should be administered after the War. With tensions rising, the Soviets decided to act upon Germany, and more importantly Berlin, to “squeeze” the allies out. The landscape of Eastern Europe was also altered by the Soviets.

After the Second World War, Berlin was divided into four zones. Berlin was deep inside East Germany, in the Soviet zone. West Berlin’s status had always worried Stalin because it constituted an enclave inside the Eastern bloc and behind the Iron Curtain. This caused Stalin to block all road and rail access to the western part of Berlin from June 24, 1948: this was known as the Berlin blockade. By cutting communication between West Berlin and West Germany Stalin hoped to put pressure on the allies and force them to leave West Berlin altogether. However, the Americans reacted by organising an extraordinary air bridge, restocking the city entirely by air. They succeeded in transporting over 1.5 million tons of food, fuel, and other supplies to West Berlin, and made Stalin’s blockade completely ineffective. On May 12th, 1949, after 322 days, he abandoned the blockade, and once again free access to the city by land was restored.

The Berlin wall

Each of the superpowers instrumentalized their respective zones in Berlin to showcase their regimes and strengthen their image. The US was successful, and between 1949 and 1961, three million Germans emigrated to the FRG. For the USSR, Berlin had become a complete failure. As a result, the GDR erected a wall between the zones to stop free movement between east and west. It was erected on the night of August 13th, 1961 and became known as the “Berlin Wall”. East Germans could no longer enter West Berlin, which was one possible route out of the Soviet Union.

Widening of the Cold War

By the 1950s, competition between capitalism and communism had spread to the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, each superpower vying for control.

Then, in the 1960s, the Cold War reached Africa. Many former colonies which had gained independence from European empires, sided with either the Americans or Soviets to receive economic aid.

The global war

Finally, the Cold War became a global war. Some of the most important Cold War conflicts took place in Asia. This is because communists took power in China in 1949, which meant that Americans, on the basis of the Truman Doctrine, stationed troops in Asia, most notably in countries bordering China.

Cold War Summary

Let's take a quick look into the timeline of the most important facts and events during the Cold War.

Red Scare

The Red Scare was a period of anti-Communist fervour and mass hysteria over the perceived threat posed by communists in the US during the Cold War. Some believed that a communist coup was imminent, especially since the American Socialist Party and Communist Party were well established at the time.

The Red scare intensified in the late 1940s and early 1950s. During this period, federal employees were evaluated to determine their loyalty to the government. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), formed in 1938, and most notably Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, investigated allegations of “subversive elements” in the federal government, and exposed communists working in the film industry. This is where the term McCarthyism comes from: the practice of making accusations of subversion and treason, especially when related to communism and socialism.

Communists were often referred to as ‘Reds’ for their allegiance to the red Soviet flag. This climate of fear and repression finally began to ease by the late 1950s.

Wars around the world

There was never any direct large-scale fighting between the US and USSR. The two superpowers waged war only by supporting different regional conflicts, known as proxy wars.

Korean War

In 1950, Korea was divided into two zones: the communist north, and the capitalist democratic south. In a bid to contain the spread of communism to South Korea, the US sent troops to the country. The Chinese responded by sending their own troops to the border. Following clashes along the border, the Korean War began on the 25th of June 1950. North Korea invaded South Korea when over 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People's Army poured over the 38th parallel. The war killed nearly 5 million people, ending in a stalemate. Korea is still divided to this day and, theoretically, still at war.

Just like Korea, Vietnam was divided into a communist north and pro-West south. The Vietnam War was an extremely long and costly conflict that pitted North Vietnam against South Vietnam and the United States in the 1960s. The Soviet Union sent money and supplied weapons to the communist forces. By 1975, the US was forced to withdraw, and the North seized control of the South. More than 3 million people and over 58,000 Americans died in the conflict.

In the 1980s, just as the United States had done in Vietnam, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan. In response, the US supported the Mujahideen (Afghani guerrillas) against the USSR, by sending them money and weapons. The USSR was unsuccessful in its efforts to turn the country into a communist state during the Afghan War, and the Taliban, a US-funded Islamic extremist group, eventually claimed power in the region.

Space Race

Space exploration served as another arena for supremacy in the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union competed for superior spaceflight capabilities. The space race was a series of technological advancements that were exhibits of superiority in spaceflight, each nation trying to outdo the other. The origins of the space race lie in the nuclear arms race between the two nations after the Second World War when ballistic missiles were being developed.

On 4 October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the world's first satellite, into orbit. On 20 July 1969, the US successfully landed on the moon, thanks to the Apollo 11 space mission. Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

Cuban missile crisis

Both the Soviet Union and the United States developed intercontinental ballistic missiles in 1958 and 1959 respectively. Then, in 1962, the Soviet Union began to secretly install missiles in communist Cuba, in easy striking distance of the US.

The confrontation that followed became known as the Cuban missile crisis. The US and USSR were on the brink of nuclear war. Thankfully an agreement was reached, and the USSR withdrew its planned missile installation. The agreement showed that the two countries were extremely wary of using nuclear missiles against each other, both fearing mutual annihilation.

‘Détente’

Détente was a period of easing in Cold War tensions from 1967 to 1979. This phase took a decisive form when US President Richard Nixon visited the secretary-general of the Soviet Communist party, Leonid Brezhnev, in Moscow, in 1972.

During this era, cooperation with the Soviet Union increased. The historic Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) treaties were signed in 1972 and 1979.

How did the Cold War end?

The Cold War gradually came to an end. Unity in the Eastern bloc started to falter during the 1960s and 1970s when the alliance between China and the Soviet Union fell apart.

In the meantime, some Western countries as well as Japan became more economically independent of the US. This led to more complex relationships internationally, which meant that smaller nations were more resistant to efforts to vie for their support.

Gorbachev: perestroika and glasnost

The Cold War began to break down properly in the late 1980s, during Mikhail Gorbachev’s administration. His reforms, like the creation of the Congress of People’s Deputies, weakened the Communist Party by transforming the Soviet political system into a more democratic one, removing a raft of totalitarian aspects.

These reforms were meant to distract from the economic problems in the Eastern Bloc where goods were in short supply. The USSR was not able to keep up with American military spending. To stop citizens from revolting, economic reforms known as perestroika, or ‘restructuring’, were passed and the restrictions on freedom of expression were relaxed in a policy called glasnost, or ‘openness.’

But this was too little too late. Communist regimes in Eastern Europe were collapsing as democratic governments rose to replace them in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

In 1989, the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the Iron Curtain, was torn down by Germans on both sides as they sought to unify Germany. At the same time, waves of anti-communist feeling spread throughout the Eastern Bloc.

The collapse of the Soviet Union

The end of the Cold War was finally marked by the dissolution of the Soviet Union into fifteen newly independent nations in 1991. The USSR became the Russian Federation and no longer had a communist leader.

Cold War - Key takeaways

  • The Cold War was an ongoing geopolitical rivalry between two countries and their respective allies. On one side was the United States and the Western Bloc. On the other side were the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. This began in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • During the Cold War, there were three main sides: the Western Bloc, the Eastern Bloc, and the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • The Western Bloc was led by the United States of America and represented capitalism and democracy.
  • The Eastern Bloc was led by the Soviet Union and represented communism and totalitarianism.
  • The Non-Aligned Movement represented all the countries (mainly newly created states) that did not want to be part of the Cold War and ally with either the US or the USSR.
  • A range of factors led to the Cold War: the uneasy wartime alliance between the US and USSR was riddled with tension; ideological differences; conflicts over how the world should be governed; and the race to create the most powerful nuclear weapons.
  • The Cold War was confined to Europe and Germany at first but soon expanded into South America and Asia. In doing so, it became a global war that involved the whole world.
  • The Cold War ended when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 and many Eastern European countries gained independence from Soviet influence and embraced democracy instead.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was symbolic of the end of the Cold War across the world.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cold War

The Cold War was an ongoing geopolitical rivalry between two countries and their respective allies. On one side was the United States and the Western Bloc. On the other side was the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. This began in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The Cold War is generally considered to have begun between 1947 and 1948 when the United States and its allies openly criticized Stalin and the Soviet Union, most notably by introducing the Truman doctrine, a plan to contain communism and stop its spread. The Cold War ended in 1991 when the USSR was dissolved.

It is generally accepted that the United States won the Cold War, since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, and communism across Eastern Europe disappeared. Capitalism and democracy, by contrast, became the main political models across the world. However, some historians believe that it was not so much the case that the Americans ‘won’, but rather that the Russians lost. The dissolution of the Soviet Union was caused by a lack of financial control (the Soviets spent most of their money on proxy wars and developing nuclear weapons) and the communist model created a stagnant economy, leading to dissent within the Soviet states.

It was called the ‘Cold War’ because the USSR and US never declared war on each other and never engaged in direct conflict. The war was only waged through indirect conflicts known as proxy wars. The term ‘cold’ also described the chilly relations between the two superpowers.

The Cold War was caused by the ideological schism between the two superpowers: the United States embraced capitalism whilst the Soviet Union opted for communism. As a result, they disagreed about what to do with post-War Germany. They started to distance themselves and soon launched a full-scale indirect conflict to propagate their political models around the world.

Final Cold War Quiz

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Q1. What was the Cold War?

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The Cold War was an ongoing geopolitical rivalry between two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. It began in the aftermath of the surrender of Hitler’s Germany.

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Give examples of indirect confrontations between the US and USSR. 


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The Cold War was primarily waged through indirect confrontations like propaganda campaigns, espionage, proxy wars, the Olympics and the Space Race.

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Q3. When did the Cold War start? 


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The Cold War is generally considered by historians to have started between 1947 and 1948.

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Q4. What was Raymond Aron’s definition of the Cold War?


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Political expert Raymond Aron perfectly summed up the Cold War system with this phrase: ‘impossible peace, improbable war’.

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Q5. Define the term ‘Cold War’. 


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A “cold war” is a war waged through indirect conflict, based on an ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence.

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Q6. Who first used the term “Cold War” in modern times? What meaning did they attribute to it?


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The English writer George Orwell first used the term in an article published in 1945 to refer to the hostility between the Western and Eastern blocs. For Orwell, a Cold War was a nuclear stalemate “by which millions of people [could] be wiped out in a few seconds”.

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Q7. Who first used the term “Cold War” in the United States of America?


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The term was first used in 1947 by the American financier and presidential adviser Bernard Baruch.

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Q8. Who were the Big Three? 

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The Big Three were the leaders of the three most powerful Allied nations during WW2: US president Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet President Joseph Stalin.

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Q9. What was the Western Bloc? 


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The Western Bloc was composed of the United States of America as well as its NATO allies, mainly Western European countries.

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Q10. What was NATO? 


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 NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was signed on the 4th of April 1949. This was a collective-defense alliance between the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the US, Canada and Norway. 


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Q11. Describe capitalism. 


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Capitalism is an economic system in which private actors can own and control the means of production. Capitalism is founded on three principals: private property, profit motive, and market competition.

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Q12. What was the Eastern Bloc?


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The Eastern Bloc was composed of the Soviet Union (USSR) and its satellite republics, states that were forced to accept communism and which had signed the Warsaw Pact.

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Q13. Describe communism. 


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Communism is an economic system in which all property is owned by the community, or state, meaning that private property is abolished. In a communist state, everybody must contribute according to their abilities, but only receive what they need. 


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Q14. What was the Warsaw Pact? 


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The Warsaw Pact, signed in 1955, established a mutual defense alliance to counter the formation of NATO. It was originally composed of the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

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Q15. What was the Non-Aligned movement? 


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The Non-Aligned Movement represented all the countries, mainly newly created states, that did not want to be part of the Cold War and ally with either the US or the USSR.

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Q16. What happened to Germany after the end of WW2?


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After the end of WW2, Germany was divided into four zones, as was Berlin. Each zone was administered by one of the Allied powers, the US, USSR or Britain, and France.  

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Q17. Who was responsible for the Red Scare in the United States?


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The Red Scare, a period of anti-Communist fervour and mass hysteria over the perceived threat posed by communists in the US, was chiefly driven by senator Joseph R. McCarthy. He investigated allegations of “subversive elements” in the federal government and exposed communists working in the film industry.


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Q18. What was the Cuban Missile crisis?


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The Cuban Missile crisis was an intense confrontation between the US and USSR which nearly led to nuclear war. The Soviet Union The Soviet Union had started construction on sites for launching  ballistic nuclear missiles in Cuba and was sending ships with these towards the now -communist country in order to launch attacks on American cities. 


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Who introduced reforms that weakened the Communist Party in the Soviet Union?


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Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991.


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Q20. How many new states were formed when the Soviet Union was dissolved? 


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The Soviet Union dissolved into fifteen independent nations.


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Which of the following were strategies used to implement US Containment in Asia? (Choose two answers)

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 Creating mutual defence treaties


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Which of these countries signed the South East Asian Treaty Organisation? (Choose two answers)

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Japan


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How did economic aid help prevent communist expansionism?

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Firstly, economic aid was used to help rebuild countries that had been ravaged during World War II - the idea being that they would be less likely to turn to communism if they were thriving under capitalism. 

Secondly, economic aid was given to anti-communist armies so they could defend themselves better. Supporting these groups meant that the US did not have to risk getting directly involved, but could still contain the spread of communism.

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Which of these events led the US to feel a policy of Containment was necessary for Asia? (Choose two)

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The division of Germany


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Which of these countries had Japan dominated at the height of its expansion? (Choose three)

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 Pakistan


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Explain what the ‘Domino Effect’ was.


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The US believed that if one state fell or turned to communism then it would lead rapidly to the surrounding countries doing the same, much like dominoes falling.


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Which countries formed the Tripartite Pact?


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 Japan, Italy and Germany


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What four opportunities would allying with a rearmed Japan give the Western allies?


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  • Industrial and military resources

  • The potential for a military base in North-East Asia

  • Protection for US defensive outposts in the Western Pacific

  • A model state that would encourage other states to fight against communism

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 Which reforms were part of the Punish and Reform period for Japan? (Choose three options)


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The breaking up of elite Zaibatsu families


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What was the Red Purge of 1949-51?


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After the Chinese Revolution of 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the US had heightened concerns about the spread of communism in Asia. In 1949 Japan had also experienced a ‘red scare’ with industrial strikes, and communists polling three million votes in the elections. Worried that Japan might be at risk, the government and SCAP purged thousands of communists and leftists from government posts, teaching positions and private sector jobs. This act reversed some of the steps taken towards democracy in Japan and emphasised how important US Containment Policy was.

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What was the outcome of the Chinese Revolution in 1949?


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The Communist Party founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1 October 1949 and the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan, where they set up an independent government.

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Why was Taiwan’s geographical location important?

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As a West-backed nationalist island, it served as a barrier to the Western Pacific, preventing Communist forces from reaching Indonesia and the Philippines. Taiwan was a key territory for containing communism and preventing China or North Korea from expanding any further.


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Which of these islands was attacked by the PRC during the Taiwan Straits Crisis?


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Taiwan


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What did the “Formosa Resolution” give President Eisenhower?


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It gave Eisenhower the total authority to defend Taiwan and the off-shore islands.


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 In which countries was the US Containment Policy Unsuccessful? (Choose three)


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Korea


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What did Nikita Khrushchev begin to ship to Cuba in 1960? Choose two.


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Ballistic missiles


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What was the Incirlik Air Base?


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A joint air base between the USA and Turkey with nuclear weapons. It was based in Turkey and functioned as a strategic launch pad due to its proximity to the Soviet Union.

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What two events during the Cuban Missile Crisis almost tipped the scales and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war? Choose two.


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Answer

Khrushchev’s receiving a letter from Kennedy


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What did Kennedy agree to do in return for Khrushchev removing the missiles from Cuba? 


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He agreed to end the blockade of Cuba, pledged to not invade Cuba, and agreed to remove American missiles from Turkey.

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 Why did the crisis only end on 20 November?


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Although Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles on 28 October, the crisis continued until 20 November, when their removal was officially verified. Kennedy then ended the blockade and the crisis was over.

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How did General Fulgencio Batista influence the Cuban Revolution? 


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An elected president from 1940-44, he regained power through a US-backed military coup in 1952. Batista’s corrupt and oppressive military dictatorship was wildly unpopular with Cubans. He allowed the US an almost complete domination of Cuba’s economy. Popular discontent led to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro creating a force of guerilla fighters to try and overthrow him.

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What did Castro do that led to the deterioration of US-Cuba relations after the Cuban Revolution? Choose three.


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He nationalised US businesses


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How did Domino Theory affect Eisenhower’s attitude to Cuba? 


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Eisenhower was concerned that the Cuban Revolution might lead to other states in Latin America falling to communism, like dominos. This would weaken the position of the US in the global power balance, and result in them being essentially surrounded by unfriendly states. This guided him and then Kennedy to try to overthrow Castro.


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How did Eisenhower retaliate to Castro’s reforms in 1960? Choose three.


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He sent in Cuban exiles to try and assassinate Castro


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Why was a relationship with Cuba beneficial to Khrushchev?

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Answer

Khrushchev was losing support in Russia due to his domestic policies, and had just lost a key alliance with China. Building a relationship with Cuba would be seen as supporting an endangered communist state, and an opportunity to spread communism in Latin America.

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How did the Bay of Pigs invasion affect Khrushchev’s opinion of Kennedy?


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The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion established Kennedy as a weak and ineffective leader in the eyes of Khrushchev. He felt the US president lacked the expertise or power to resist Soviet desires, and wouldn’t intervene in the military build-up in Cuba.


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Which summit allowed Kennedy and Khrushchev to meet for the first time?


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The Vienna Summit of 1961.

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Kennedy and Khrushchev emerged differently from the Cuban Missile Crisis. How?


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Kennedy was praised for his calm and firm stance in the negotiations, whereas Khrushchev was seen as reckless and having bowed down to Kennedy’s demands. This, along with his failed domestic policies in the Soviet Union, led to Khrushchev’s enforced early retirement.

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What does brinkmanship mean?


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Brinkmanship is a foreign policy where one side forces the enemy to the threshold of conflict to gain negotiating power.

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How did the Cuban Missile Crisis change communication between the USA and USSR?


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Answer

The Cuban Missile Crisis highlighted the potentially devastating outcomes of the Cold War and accentuated the need for clear communication between the powers. Kennedy and Khrushchev established a Moscow-Washington hotline to facilitate direct communication between the two.

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