The Cold War Essay

Submitted By Lilith1019
Words: 1580
Pages: 7

The Cold War is a major part of not only US and Russian history, but it had an effect on many parts of Europe and North America. The Cold War was a long period of tension between the democracies of the Western World and the communist countries of Eastern Europe. The west was led by the United States and Eastern Europe was led by the Soviet Union. These two countries became known as superpowers. Although the two superpowers never officially declared war on each other, they fought indirectly in proxy wars, the arms race, and the space race. In 1945, the United States and Soviet Union were allies, jointly triumphant in World War II, which ended with total victory for Soviet and American forces over Adolf Hitler's Nazi empire in Europe. Despite the common victory, there were disagreements between the former allies. The USSR, formed in 1922 by Vladimir Lenin, had a Communist government. Communism is a type of government and philosophy. Its goal is to form a society where everything is shared equally. All people are treated equally and there is little private ownership. In a communist government, the government owns and controls most everything including property, means of production, education, transportation, and agriculture. During the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union became engaged in a nuclear arms race. They both spent billions and billions of dollars trying to build up huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Near the end of the Cold War the Soviet Union was spending around 27% of its total gross national product on the military. This was crippling to their economy and helped to bring an end to the Cold War. Truman worked tirelessly to clean up the postwar mess and establish a new international order. He helped create the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and funded the rebuilding of Japan under General Douglas MacArthur. After prosecuting Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, Truman in 1947 also outlined the Marshall Plan, which set aside more than $10 billion for the rebuilding and re-industrialization of Germany. Although Stalin joined with the United States in founding the United Nations, he fought Truman on nearly every other issue. He protested the Marshall Plan as well as the formation of the World Bank and IMF. In defiance, he followed through on his plan to create a buffer between the Soviet Union and Germany by setting up pro-Communist governments in Poland and other Eastern European countries. As a result, the so-called iron curtain soon divided East from West in Europe. Stalin also tried unsuccessfully to drive French, British, and American occupation forces from the German city of Berlin by blocking highway and railway access.The Berlin crisis, as well as the formation of the Eastern block of Soviet-dominated countries in Eastern Europe, caused foreign policy officials in Washington to believe that the United States needed to check Soviet influence abroad in order to prevent the further spread of Communism. Kennedy’s greatest Cold War challenge came in Cuba. Hoping to topple Cuba’s new pro-Communist revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, Kennedy authorized the CIA to train and arm a force of more than 1,000 Cuban exiles and sent them to invade Cuba in the spring of 1961. When this Bay of Pigs invasion failed embarrassingly, Kennedy authorized several unsuccessful assassination attempts against Castro. Outraged, Castro turned to the USSR for economic aid and protection. Khrushchev capitalized on the opportunity and placed several nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy consequently blockaded the island nation, pushing the United States and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war. Khrushchev ended the terrifying Cuban missile crisis when he agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for an end to the blockade. Kennedy also removed American missiles from Turkey and agreed to work on reducing Cold War tensions. Tragically, Kennedy was assassinated in late 1963, just as tensions were rising…