The Cold War/Study Guide
Conflicts of the Cold War
Communist successes in 1947-48 enabled them to move freely over much of mainland Greece, but with extensive reorganization and American material support, the Greek National Army was slowly able to regain control over most of the countryside. Yugoslavia closed its borders to the insurgent forces in 1949, after Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia broke with the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union blocked Western rail and road access to Berlin from June 24, 1948 - May 1, 1949. This Berlin Blockade was one of the major crises of the Cold War. The crisis abated after the Soviet Union did not act to stop American, British and French airlifts (Berlin Airlift) of food and especially winter fuel for the winter of '48~'49, as well as other provisions to the Western-held sectors of Berlin following the Soviet land blockade.
- What ended the blockade?
- The crisis abated after the Soviet Union did not act to stop American, British and French airlifts of food and other provisions to the Western-held sectors of Berlin following the Soviet land blockade.
- What made West Berlin such an unusual part of the West German state, and what caused this arrangement?
- In 1945, the victorious Allied Powers reached the Potsdam Agreement on the fate of postwar Europe, calling for the division of a defeated Germany into four occupation zones (thus reaffirming principles laid out earlier by the Yalta Conference), and the similar division of the capital, Berlin, deep within the Soviet occupation zone, into four zones. Thus the French, German, and British sectors of Berlin were deep within the Soviet occupation zones, connected by a narrow land corridor to the maqin Allied occupation zones in Germany, and thus a focal point of tensions corresponding to the breakdown of the U.S-Soviet wartime alliance. (See Origins of the Cold War)
- Why were the Soviets interested in Germany?
- The Soviets sought to create a unified but demilitarized Germany under their tutelage, or as Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov told U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes in 1946, a united Germany that could be neutralized after Russia received industrial reparations from Germany. This strategy was a response to a 150-year history of repeated Western assaults on Russia, including World War I and Napoleon's 1812 invasion. Stalin considered it essential to destroy Germany's capacity for another war, which conflicted with the US desire to rebuild Germany as the economic center of a stable Europe. (Stalin assumed that Japan and Germany could menace the Soviet Union once again by the 1960s.)
- Why was the United States interested in Germany?
- The United States, however, stressed that postwar reconstruction in Western Europe depended on German economic and industrial recovery. The U.S. stance was that if it could not reunify Germany with Soviet cooperation, the West could develop the western, industrial portions of postwar Germany controlled by France, Britain, and the U.S. and integrate the areas into a new European sphere of democracy.
- When did the three western sections of Berlin fuse into the capital of West Germany?
- As outlined in an announcement on March 6, 1948, the London Conference declared support for fusing the three Western-occupied zones in Germany into an independent, federal form of government, and bring the fusion of the three Western zones into the U.S.-led economic reconstruction efforts (See Marshall Plan).
Korean War (1950-1953)
The Korean War was a conflict between communist North and anti-communist South Korea. Both sides sabre-rattled incessantly, threatening military action. However, more importantly, Stalin's interest in an ice-free Pacific seaport for Russia ( Pusan ), was the key motivation for his encouragement of a " blitzkrieg " military reunification of the Korean peninsula. It was also a proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Principal combatants were North and South Korea, the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the People's Republic of China, although many other nations sent troops under the aegis of the United Nations. The Soviet Union also supplied combat advisors and aircraft pilots, as well as arms, for the North Korean and eventually Chinese troops. In U.S. parlance, Korea was officially termed a U.N. police action, not a war.
- What caused the Korean War?
- Korea was a Japanese colony from 1905 effectively and 1910 officially, until the end of World War II in 1945. The Allies agreed that Japanese forces north of 38° north latitude (the 38th parallel) would surrender to the Soviet Union and those south of 38° would surrender to the USA. The Allies pledged that Korea would be a unified, independent country under an elected government but failed to specify the details.
- The United Nations held an election in 1948, but the Soviet Union refused to allow participation in their occupied zone. Instead, they handed over power to the North Korean Communist Party under Kim Il-Sung, the anti-Japanese Korean partisan forces leader, who had been secretly in exile in Moscow for years, being schooled in Stalin-style communist control and doctrine. In contrast, the South democratically elected the nationalist exile Syngman Rhee as its President.
- Why did China support North Korea?
- The People's Republic of China's recent victory over American-supported Nationalist Chinese forces, was wary of an American-led victorious war in Korea. Mao Zedong was concerned that it would encourage American intervention in Asia and would destabilize the region. General MacArthur's brilliant and rapid counteroffensive pushed North Korean forces almost to the Chinese border, at which point, China fearing invasion, hurriedly threw a million man army into the fray.
- Why did the United States support South Korea?
- American action was taken for a number of reasons. Truman was under severe domestic pressure for being too soft on communism. Especially vocal were those who accused the Democrats of having "lost China." The intervention was also an important implementation of the new Truman Doctrine, which advocated the opposition of communism everywhere it tried to expand.
- How did the Korean War begin?
- On June 25, 1950 North Korean forces moved south in force. Using Soviet massive materiel, military strategists and embedded advisors, together with huge reserves of Soviet-trained manpower, their surprise Blitzkrieg-style attack was a crushing success. Within days South Korean forces were in full retreat. Within three weeks, the South Korean forces, and the small number of Americans, mainly combat engineers rebuilding infrastructure, not military trainers, in Korea, were driven into a tiny area in the far Southeastern tip of the peninsula, around the city of Pusan. With the aid of U.N. troops, hastily shipped in, mainly American, American supplies ( war materiel ) and initially sporadic air support, the U.N.-led pitiful ROK forces, almost driven into the sea, managed to stabilize a defensive frontier / holding action, termed the Pusan Perimeter. Although more UN support eventually arrived the situation was perilous, and it looked as though the North would defeat the U.N. and, ultimately militarily reunify the peninsula.
- Besides the main powers (North and South Korea, China, US and USSR), what other countries participated in the Korean War?
- Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Greece, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Colombia, the Philippines, Belgium, and Luxembourg, all under the aegis of the United Nations.
- How did South Korea and UN forces recover from the North's rapid expansion and control of all but the tiny southeastern tip of the peninsula?
- In order to alleviate pressure on the Pusan Perimeter, MacArthur, as UN commander in chief of U.N.'s Korean theater of operations, ordered an invasion at Inchon, far behind the North Korean troops . This was an extremely risky operation, but it was extremely successful. United Nations troops landed at Inchon, faced only mild resistance and quickly moved to recapture Seoul. The North Koreans, finding their supply lines cut, began a rapid retreat northwards and the ROK and UN forces that had been confined in the south moved north and joined up with those that had landed at Inchon.
- Why did Truman fire General MacArthur?
- MacArthur meeting with ROC President Chiang Kai-shek in the role of a U.S. diplomat. MacArthur was also wrong at Guam when President Truman asked him specifically about Chinese troop buildup near the Korean border. Furthermore, MacArthur openly criticized the Commander-in-Chief during press conferences, and was rude and flippant when speaking to Truman. Most significantly, he suggested using nuclear weapons to deter China. MacArthur was succeeded by General Matthew Ridgway.
- Why was Korea significant in the development of the Cold War?
- The Korean War was the first armed confrontation of the Cold War, and a model for many later conflicts, that of conventional, limited warfare, instead of an all out nuclear war. It also expanded the Cold War frontiers, which to that point had mostly been confined to opposing Russian expansion in Central Europe.
- What are some famous artistic interpretations of the Korean War?
- Artist Pablo Picasso's painting Massacre in Korea (1951) depicted violence against civilians during the Korean War. By some account, civilian killings committed by U.S. forces in Shinchun, Hwanghae Province was the motive of the painting. In South Korea, the painting was deemed anti-American, a longtime taboo in the South, that it was prohibited for public display until the 1990s.
- In the United States, far and away the most famous artistic depiction of the war is the book, movie and television series M*A*S*H, which depicts the misadventures of the staff of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital as they struggle to keep their sanity through the war's absurdities through ribald humour and hijinks when not treating wounded.
Space Race (1957-1975)
The Space Race was an unofficial competition between the United States and the USSR in space exploration and technology, and especially to the race between the two nations to land a human being on the moon in the second half of the 1960s.
The Soviets beat the Americans in most firsts, but did not manage to beat them to the moon. Technology and especially aerospace technology advanced greatly during this period. In the sense that it was contested during the 1960s, the space race is usually considered to have been ended by the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.
In 1951, Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadegh, a militant nationalist, forced the parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry in Iran. Despite British pressure, including a economic blockade which caused real hardship, the nationalization continued. Mussadegh was briefly forced from power in 1952 but quickly returned and forced the Shah to flee. It was assumed Mussadegh would declare a republic, but a few days later the Shah returned and again forced Mussadegh from office on August 19 with U.S. CIA support. Mussadegh was arrested and a new prime minister was appointed.
In 1944, Gen. Jorge Ubico's dictatorship was overthrown by the "October Revolutionaries,"a group of dissident military officers, students, and liberal professionals. This started what is sometimes called The Ten Years of Spring, a period of rare free speech and political organizations, land reform, and a perception that great progress could be made in Guatemala. A civilian president, Juan Jose Arevalo, was elected in 1945 and held the presidency until 1951. Social reforms initiated by Arevalo were continued by his successor, Col. Jacobo Arbenz. Arbenz permitted the communist Guatemalan Labor Party to gain legal status in 1952. This greatly upset the American government which, under pressure from CIA Director Allen Dulles, brother of the U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, denounced the communist tendency of Guatemalan government and decided the Arbenz government had to be overthrown. Despite most Guatemalans' attachment to the original ideals of the 1944 uprising, some private sector leaders and the military adhered to the U.S.-imposed ideas about communist threat and started to view Arbenz's policies as a menace. The army refused to defend the Arbenz government when a United States and United Fruit -backed group led by Col. Carlos Castillo Armas invaded the country from Honduras in 1954 and quickly took over the government.
Suez Crisis (1956)
Dominican Republic (1965)
Prague Spring (1968)
El Salvador (1979-1989)
The Cold War
Introduction - Background - Strategy - Truman Doctrine - Marshall Plan - Berlin Blockade - Korean War - Hungarian Uprising - Cuban Missile Crisis - USSR under Gorbachev - USA under Reagan - Arms Race - Space Race
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