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End of the Cold War

As the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union grew it was clear that the US had a decided advantage. The US was the worlds only atomic power and United States policy became of containment had proven to be successful. Stalin felt forced to respond. Stalin acted quickly and decisively to attempt to limit US influence in Eastern Europe and balance the emerging power of the United States. As the Cold War pressed on the US tried to enforce its policy of containment. Sometimes it was successful, other times it was not. The policy of containment brought US troops to the far edges of the world. Perhaps to the young it seemed inevitable but on that day in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down (brick by brick sold off in a capitalist venture it should be noted!) It seemed almost surreal. The giant monolith of the Soviet Union had been defeated. The foundation of the Soviet Union had been crumbling for a decade... some might say it had never actually been solid yet nonetheless for those of us that lived through the Cold War the sight was still shocking. It all seemed so sudden. The days of air raid drills and realistic fears of a nuclear war would never leave us. What had vanquished the giant of the Soviet Union? What would be the future of world politics? What would happen to all of those nuclear weapons? So many questions... a very uncertain period of time.

What was the Vietnam War?

1. The US under Eisenhower and Kennedy slowly sent advisors beginning to S. Vietnam to aid them in their war against the North Vietnamese Communists. They were afraid of other nations falling to Communism - The Domino Effect! LBJ expanded the war until over 500,000 soldiers were in Vietnam.

2. There was never a declaration of war.

3. The jungle war in Vietnam was difficult to fight and the US withdrew in 1972 without having achieved her strategic objective.

How did LBJ expand US involvement?

  • President Johnson used an attack on a US ship in the Gulf of Tonkin as an excuse to send large amounts of troops. Congress then passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which gave President Johnson expanded powers to wage war.
  • When it was proven that LBJ had lied, this power was withdrawn during the Nixon administration with the passage of the War Powers Act that only allows the President to commit troops for 90 days without Presidential approval. (NY Times v United States)

Kennedy's response to Berlin Wall


Kennedy's response to Sputnik?

NASA - space race

In 1959 Fidel Castro, a Marxist, took control of Cuba. What did we do about it?

The Bay of Pigs Invasion

1. US sends unsupported ex convicts to oust Castro.

2. The invasion is a disaster and we are thoroughly embarrassed.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

1. U.S. and Soviet ships steamed towards each other for the first time. It was like a giant game of "chicken" called Brinksmanship

2. Both Kruschev and Kennedy appeared willing to go to war.

3. At the last minute Kruschev ordered his ships to turn around.

4. Kennedy is remembered for his strength and skill in the diplomatic game known as "brinkmanship

How did things cool off in the 70's

Kruschev - Peaceful Coexistence

Brezhnev - Detente

End of Cold War

1. After reforms were begun by Gorbachev, USSR started to collapse.

2. Summits held between Gorbachev and Reagan.

3. USSR allows satellite nations to break away in 1989 - Fall of Berlin Wall

4. Coup in USSR - Gorby out, Yeltsin in.

Why did the US win the Cold War?

US military spending bankrupted USSR when they tried to keep up.

The Soviet system was naturally flawed. (Ethnic minorities, command economy)

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