The Cold War was a very terrible war that started in 1945 between the United States and the Soviet Union and lasted 45 years. The Cold War got its name because both sides were too afraid to fight each other directly. They used words against each other to make the enemy look dumb and foolish. They fought through many other wars, too afraid of nuclear attacks directly hitting them. These wars caused great devastation across the globe. This war had started because the Soviet Union wanted to spread communism across the world, but America being a democracy, did not want that.
The first ten years were somewhat interesting. On February 4 1945, there was a Yalta Conference, a wartime meeting between the heads of government from the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union, and the Cold War began. Right after that, Germany surrendered to the Red Army in Berlin. On August 6, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and killed 80,000 people. Then three days after, the United States dropped another bomb on Nagasaki that killed 70,000. Shortly after that, the Japanese surrendered and that was the end of World War II. Winston Churchill had issued warnings about the Soviets in 1946 and first used the term “iron curtain”. This term was used to describe how the Soviets had wanted power. 1946 was also the year Josef Stalin made a very hostile speech, claiming communism and capitalism couldn’t live in peace. In June of 1947, the Marshall Plan was announced.
This plan set a precedent for helping countries combat poverty, disease and malnutrition. That same year, the Rio Pact was established. This was a security zone around the hemisphere with the 19 Latin American countries. Between June 1948 and September 1949, Britain and America were struggling to keep West Berlin supplied through aircraft, since the Soviet government closed all ground traffic. That year, they made 277,000 flights to carry products. In March of 1948, Truman started a Loyalty Program which was made to catch Cold War spies. Then, in that same year the Brussels Pact was made to protect Europe from communism. In 1949, China became a communist country because Mao Zedong took over. He then established the People’s Republic of China.
In June of 1950, the Korean War started and Stalin supported North Korea and gave them Soviet weapons to invade South Korea. The war in Korea ended two years later, though. In 1951 the Federal Defense Administration was established which was a program that spread information about communism and the threat of attacks. March 1954 was when KGB (Committee for State Security) was established. KGB was the national security of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In May of 1955 the Warsaw Pact was established. This pact was a mutual defense treaty between the eight communist states of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. During these ten years, there were a few treaties and some different experimental things done, also some different groups were made just for this one huge war.
The next 10 years (1956-65) didn’t have as many exciting things happen. In 1956, there was a rebellion in Communist Hungary. Then after that in 1957, Sputnik was launched into space and Laika died in space. In 1958, Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War, made the Soviet troops withdrawal from Berlin. Khrushchev then visited the United States in 1959 which caused the Kitchen Debate. This was a debate between Nixon and Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition. In 1960, the Soviets revealed that there had been a United States plane shot down over Soviet territory. This year was also the year John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States. Cuba aligns itself with the Soviet Union and their policies that same year.
The Bay of Pigs invasion happened in 1961, this invasion was by CIA trained exiles of Cuba into southern Cuba to try to overthrow the government, but it was unsuccessful. In 1962 the United States becomes more involved in the Vietnam War to keep communist takeover of South Vietnam as a strategy of containment. That was the same year of the Cuban missile crisis between the Soviet Union and Cuba and the United States, it lasted thirteen days. November of 1963 was a sad month because President Kennedy was assassinated, probably because of a conspiracy. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was in 1964 which was a confrontation between North Vietnam and the United States. In 1965 some United States marines were sent to the Dominican Republic to fight Communism. These 10 years were not very exciting but there were a few important events that changed the United States.
From 1966 to 1975, not much happened. It was kind of a dull period compared to the last twenty years. In 1967 the United Stated Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara admitted that the United States bombing raids had failed to meet their objectives. Richard Nixon was elected for president and North Korea captured U.S.S. Pueblo the year after. The USS Pueblo was a United States spy ship and it is still currently being held captive by Korea, though it is a museum now. Then, in 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon which had Neil Armstrong in it. He was the first person to step on the moon and it was a great accomplishment in US history. In 1970 Nixon spread the Vietnam War to Cambodia.
The Pentagon papers were signed the year after in 1971. These papers were a United States history of its involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1972 not only did Nixon visit China, but SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Talk) was signed; this was between the two Cold War superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union on the issue of armament control. The United States supported coup overthrew the Chilean government in 1973. The year after that, Nixon resigned but since then he has been the only president to ever resign. In 1975 North Vietnam defeated South Vietnam who then fell into communism. I do not know why these ten years were so boring, but they were even though they ended in another country falling into communism.
The next ten years from 1976 to 1985 were even duller than the ones before. It started off with the Soviet Union and Cuba forcing Angola to become a communist state. In 1979, SALT II was signed. This time it was just an experimental negotiation about curtailing the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. The same year SALT II was signed, the Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan and the United States and China established diplomatic relations. In 1980, Polish shipyard workers started a strike and the Solidarity Union was formed, which was the first non-communist trade union in Warsaw Pact territory, and the strike leader, Lech Walesa, was elected as the head of the Solidarity Union.
Three years later, President Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative. That initiative was created to protect the United States from nuclear missile attacks. In that same year, United States troops invaded and overthrew the regime in Grenada and ended in a victory. Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union and initiated a campaign of increased openness and transparency in government institutions called “glasnost” and a political movement within the Soviet Union called “perestroika” in 1985. As you can see, not much happened during these ten years but there were still some interesting things that happened.
The last five years were when quite a few countries became independent after so long. In 1986 President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev resolve to remove all intermediate nuclear missiles from Europe. Then in the year after that, Reagan and Gorbachev agree to remove all medium and short-range nuclear missiles. This meant that the war was coming to a close and things were becoming less violent. The Soviet groups with drawled from Afghanistan in 1989. Poland and Hungary both become independent and communist governments fall in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Rumania, the Soviet empire declined in this year as well. Russia got a new president; Boris Yeltsin, in 1990 also. Another country became independent a year later, Lithuania. Germany also became reunited during this year. In 1991, the Warsaw Pact ended which meant the Cold War was over and the Soviet Union was done for, the end of it all.
The Cold War was something terrible that happened between the United States and the Soviet Union for a stupid reason. It caused a lot of problems and different wars throughout the world just because they were too afraid to fight face to face but, it did not cause a huge amount of deaths. The Cold War was not really the kind of war that killed people; it was more of a war on which country could develop faster. This war could have been easily prevented but I guess some things just have to happen. A 45 year war for only one thing. Power.
“Cold War.” enotes. n.d. Web. 20 May, 2012.
“Cold War Timeline.” History Timelines. n.d. Web. 20 May, 2012.
Pillai, Prabhakar “Causes and Effects of the Cold War.” Buzzle. n.d. 21 May, 2012.
“Timeline of the Cold War.” Think Quest. n.d. Web. 20 May 2012.
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