The Cold War Begins After World War II

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The Cold War

The Cold War Begins

After World War II

After WWII the US and the USSR emerged as the

world’s two superpowers. Although allies during

WWII, distrust between the communist USSR and

the democratic US led to the Cold War.

Cold War – Tension and hostility between the US and USSR after 1945 because of political and economic differences, with no armed battle between the superpowers.

Roots of the Cold War

United States


Soviet Union


Capitalist Democracy


Free Elections

Communist Party in Charge

Economic and Religious Freedom

No Economic and Religious Freedom

Private Property

No Private Property

Respect for Individual Differences

No Respect for Individual Differences*

*Opposing or questioning Stalin risked imprisonment & death.
After WWII, the US liberated western European countries, but the Red Army occupied eastern European countries and forced them to accept communism and become Soviet satellites.

Satellite – A smaller country dominated by a nearby power.

Britain, France and the US united their German sections to create

independent West Germany, while the USSR created East

Germany, another satellite nation. Due to the growing tension, Winston Churchill said that a figurative “iron curtain” had now divided Europe.

Meeting the Soviet Challenge

After WWII, several European and Asian

countries were struggling against communist

movements supported by the Soviets.

Truman Doctrine
In 1947 President Truman launched

the Truman Doctrine, which

was a program to economically and

militarily help nations resist communism

anywhere in the world.

Greece and Turkey received aid and

successfully resisted Stalin’s control.

Victory for US and Democracy
US 1 – USSR 0

In dealing with the Soviet Union, George F. Kennan, an American diplomat and a leading authority on the Soviet Union, believed in a policy of containment.

Containment – The policy of keeping communism contained within its existing borders.

This policy believes that the Stalin would not chance war with the U.S. – a war that might destroy his power in the Soviet Union – just to spread communism.

Containing Soviet Expansion

Marshall Plan
o strengthen democratic governments and lessen the appeal of communism the US provided a massive economic aid package called

the Marshall Plan. Billions of US dollars helped western

European nations recover from World War II.

Cold War Heats Up

Germany was divided into four zones with Britain, France and the US controlling the west, while the USSR controlled the east. In the Soviet sector was

Berlin, which was also divided into four sections.
Stalin stopped all highway, railway, and waterway traffic from western Germany into Western Berlin.
Germany was the focus of Cold War tension. While the US worked to rebuild the West German economy,

Stalin wanted to keep Germany weak and divided. In 1948 Stalin closed all roads leading to West Berlin in hopes of forcing out the western powers.

In response the western powers

mounted a successful airlift. For

almost a year food and supplies were

flown into West Berlin, until Stalin gave

up and ended the blockade.

Victory for US and Democracy

US 2 – USSR 0



Warsaw Pact

For protection against further Soviet aggression the US and western European countries formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a defensive alliance.

The USSR formed an alliance with its satellites called the Warsaw Pact.

Nonaligned nations such as India and Yugoslavia did not take sides during the Cold War, but instead focused on making economic progress, often accepting aid from both sides.


The Cold War

The Korean War

Communists Control China

After World War II, China broke out into a civil war. Chiang Kai-shek was supported by the US and the communist leader Mao Zedong was supported by the USSR. By promising to feed the people, Mao won increased support and Mao’s forces dominated the war. China fell to the Mao and the Communists.

Victory for USSR & Communism

US 2 – USSR 1

Historical Significance: Communists

regimes controlled about ¼ of the world’s

landmass and 1/3 of its population.

America Fight in Korea

After WWII, Korea was divided into two independent countries by

the US and USSR.

The dividing line was the 38th parallel of


In June 1950, the N. Koreans attacked across the 38th parallel

(armed with powerful Soviet weapons and tanks). S. Koreans lost

their capital city in days and were forced to retreat.

Truman announced that he would support the S. Koreans. Truman did not ask

Congress for a formal declaration of war, as required by the Constitution.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the WWII hero, led a bold plan to drive the invaders from S. Korea. MacArthur’s plan was successful and he pushed back the invaders.
Truman says NO to a N. Korea invasion, but MacArthur says YES! Truman did not to be confronted with a major land war.
MacArthur sent a letter to the House Republican leader attacking the President’s policies. The letter became public and Truman said… You’re Fired! There was a huge outcry in the US, and MacArthur returned home a national hero.

Korean War’s Effects

Korean War’s Impact on America

Immediate Effects

Long-Term Effects

37,000 Americans killed

Military spending increases

103,000 Americans wounded

Military commitments increase worldwide

Relations with China worsens

Relations with Japan improve

Armed forces racially integrated

Future presidents send military into combat without Congressional approval.

**Establishment of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was a defensive alliance aimed at preventing the spread of communism.

The Cold War

The Cold War Expands

Arms Race Heightens Tensions

The USSR detonated its first atomic bomb in 1949.

The US and the

USSR also developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs),

which were long-range rockets carrying nuclear warheads.

Both superpowers spent great amounts of money on weapons,

and many feared world destruction.

However, with ICBMs came the possibility of MAD, or mutually assured destruction. This theory stated that a nuclear war between the superpowers would result in the total annihilation of both nations, and would therefore actually result in a tense, but stable


Eisenhower & New Policies

President Eisenhower & John Foster Dulles (Sec. of State) had a new vision for the role that the U.S. would play in world affairs.

Eisenhower wanted to stockpile nuclear weapons.

He assumed that if there were a war, it would be nulcear. Dulles announced the policy of massive retaliation.

Massive Retaliation – Policy of threatening to use massive force (possibly nuclear) in

response to aggression.

Dulles believed that only by going to the brink of war could the US protect its allies, discourage communist aggression, and prevent war.

This policy became known as brinkmanship.
Joseph Stalin dies on March 5th, 1953

and Nikita Khrushchev assumes power.

Uprisings Shake Eastern Europe

First In Poland
orkers in Poland rioted against Soviet rule and won greater control of their government. The Polish never threatened to leave the Warsaw Pact, so Soviet leaders permitted the actions.

Next In Hungary

Encouraged by Khrushchev’s words and Poland’s example, Hungarian

students and workers organized huge demonstrations.

They demanded Soviet troops to be withdrawn and free elections to be

restored. Khrushchev sends in the army and tanks and Crushes the Rebellion.

Historical Significance: Eisenhower’s massive retaliation

approach was powerless.

Eisenhower Doctrine
old War Goes Global

Eisenhower announced that the US would use force to help

any Middle Eastern nation threatened by communism.

Central Intelligence Agency
The Eisenhower administration also used the CIA in its

struggle against communism. During the 1950s the CIA

aided coups in Iran and Guatemala that installed new

democratic governments.

The Space Race

The superpowers also competed in space. In 1957 the USSR

launched the satellite Sputnik into Earth’s orbit.

US Congress soon created NASA to improve space technology,

and the race was on. Both the USSR and the US used satellites as propaganda.


The Cold War

The Cold War At Home

The Red Scare

The spreading of communism to China and the apparent growing

strength of the Soviet Union led some Americans to fear that

communism could spread to the United States. This fear led

some Americans to take actions that violated the civil rights of others.


Smith Act

he Truman Administration passed the Smith Act, which made it illegal for anyone to advocate “overthrowing…any government in the US by force” or to “affiliate” with groups that called for such action.

House of Un-American Activities Committee

HUAC was formed as a temporary investigative unit to look into communist activity in the US. HUAC operated for 30 years and was well known for attacking the

movie industry, which led to the blacklisting many in Hollywood. HUAC attacked one group of writers, directors, & producers known as the


Spy Cases Worry America

Alger Hiss
iss was a former advisor to FDR and was charged with

having been a Communist spy during the 1930s.

Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist Party member,

made these charges, which Hiss denied.

Hiss was eventually convicted on perjury charges and fueled the

Republicans argument that FDR and Truman had not been alert

enough to the dangers of communism.

Julius & Ethel Rosenberg

The Rosenbergs were charged with giving atomic

secrets to the atomic during World War II. After

a highly controversial trial, they were convicted of espionage.

The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953.


The Wisconsin Senator began to hunt for his communists.

In 1950, he claimed to have a list of State Department

employees known to be communists.
Over the next four years, McCarthy went on to charge that

many other people and government agencies had been

corrupted to communism.

In 1954, McCarthy charged that even the army was full of

communists. McCarthy made bold accusations without any evidence. This tactic became known as “McCarthyism.”

He held televised investigations into these charges and for the first time, millions of Americans saw McCarthy’s

bullying tactics for themselves.

His public support quickly faded away, and in 1954 the Senate denounced him for “conduct unbecoming a member.”

Historical Significance: The fall of McCarthy ended the red scare of the 1950s, although anticommunist attitudes lingered as the Cold War continued to drag on.

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