-Political differences between former Allies of the Soviet Union & Western Allies caused major post tensions.
-The U.S. & the S.U. were the only two post W.W. II superpowers & they greatly distrusted each other.
-Soviets forced East European governments to become communist (to form a buffer zone along the Soviet border.)
-Americans promoted democratic and anti-communist nations around the world.
-Soviet Union feared the capitalist West & Western Powers feared communist Eastern Europe.
“an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern Europe… in the Soviet sphere and are all subject… to soviet influence… and increasing measure of control from Moscow.” (Winston Churchill)
-Stalin responded to Churchill’s speech: “Mr. Churchill now stands in the position of a firebrand of war.”
-Civil war broke out in Greece, between communist & anticommunist forces.
-Marshall Plan (U.S. secretary of state George C. Marshall) was successful aid program designed to rebuild prosperity & stability of war-torn Europe: to prevent communist takeover & for humanitarian reasons.
-Soviets did not let East Europe satellite states participate. Soviets own aid program COMECON failed.
-The nation of Germany & the city of Berlin were both divided into fourallied controlled zones (U.S, Britain, France & S.U.)
-Western powers wanted to unify their three zones. Soviets opposed unification by blockading West Berlin in an attempt to force entire city under Soviet rule. Western powers responded w. successful Berlin Airlift
1949, West Germanywas created (capital = Bonn) & East Germany created (capital = East Berlin.)
1949, Mao Zedong’s communist forces won civil war in China. Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist forces fled to island of Taiwan.
1949, S.U. exploded its first atomic bomb. Nuclear arms race of M.A.D. had begun! By mid-1950’s both U.S. & S.U. developed numerous H-bombs & I.C.B.M.s
1949, Western powers formed the military alliance N.A.T.O.“An attack on one, is an attack on all.”
-1955, Soviets formed the military alliance Warsaw Pact.
-Communist govt. of N. Korea attempted to take over S. Korea, but stopped by U.S. & United Nations forces in Korean War (1950-53.)
-1957, Soviets first to launch a satellite (Sputnik) into space (Space Race had begun!)
-Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev ordered E. German govt. to build the imposing Berlin Wall, to prevent East Berliners from escaping into W. Berlin!
-Left-wing revolutionary Fidel Castro overthrew Cuban dictator Batista and set up a Soviet-supported totalitarian regime.
-U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy approved secret plan for anti-communist Cuban exiles to start revolt vs. Castro in the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
-In 1962, a U-2 American spy plane photographed the building of nuclear missile sites inside Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida! Kennedy set up a naval blockade of Cuba.
-U.S. & S.U. went to highest level of military security. Krushchev decided 8 days later to turn back Soviet fleet carrying missiles in return for promise from Kennedy to not invade Cuba.
-World had come frighteningly close to nuclear war! Washington, D.C. & Moscow set up hotlinesystem to improve communications between the two superpowers.
-France tried reestablish its colonial hold on Vietnam but was defeated by communist forces of Ho Chi Minh.
-In 1964, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson sent large #s of American troops to prevent communist N. Vietnam from conquering S. Vietnam. U.S. fears based on the domino theory in Southeast Asia.
-TV images of war & mounting U.S. casualties produced antiwar movement, especially among draft age college students. Vietnam War revealed the limitations of American power!
-President Richard M. Nixonexpanded U.S. bombing targets on neighbor countries of Laos & Cambodia
-Finally in 1973 a peace agreement with North Vietnam was reached & the U.S. withdrew its troops.
-By 1975, N. Vietnam defeated S. Vietnam and forcibly reunited all of Vietnam under Communist rule.
-Cambodia & Laos also fell to communists, but no other countries fell to communism in Southeast Asia.