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The Cold War 2

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The Cold War 2

The Cold War began after World War Two. The main enemies were the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold war got its name because both sides were afraid of fighting each other directly. In a conventional war nuclear weapons might destroy everything. So, instead, they fought each other indirectly.

Over the years, leaders on both sides changed. Yet the Cold War continued. It was the major force in world politics for most of the second half of the twentieth century. Historians disagree about how long the Cold War lasted. Some believe it ended when the United States and the Soviet Union improved relations during the nineteen-sixties and early nineteen-seventies. Others believe it ended when the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989. The United States and the Soviet Union were the only two superpowers following the Second World War. The fact that, by the 1950s, each possessed nuclear weapons and the means of delivering such weapons on their enemies, added a dangerous aspect to the Cold War. The Cold War world was separated into three groups. The United States led the West. This group included countries with democratic political systems. The Soviet Union led the East. This group included countries with communist political systems. The non-aligned group included countries that did not want to be tied to either the West or the East. During the Second World War, the Soviet Union was an ally of the Western democracies, in their struggle against the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan and Italy. As the War neared its conclusion, the future of Eastern Europe became a point of contention between the Soviet Union and its Western allies. The Soviet Union had been invaded via Eastern Europe in both the First and Second World Wars. In both conflicts, some of the

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nations of Eastern Europe had participated in those invasions. The Soviets believed that they had an agreement with the western democracies that made Eastern Europe a Soviet sphere of influence, i.e. the Soviet Union would have dominant influence in that region.

The Western democracies, led by the United States, were determined to stop the spread of communism and Soviet power. While not being able to stop the Soviets in Eastern Europe, the U.S. and Britain were determined to prevent communist regimes from achieving power in Western Europe. During the Second World War, communists parties throughout Western Europe, had gained popularity in their resistance to Nazi occupation. There was a real possibility the communist parties would be elected in both France and Italy.

Harry Truman was the first American president to fight the Cold War. He used several policies. One was the Truman Doctrine. This was a plan to give money and military aid to countries threatened by communism. The Truman Doctrine effectively stopped communists from taking control of Greece and Turkey. Another policy was the Marshall Plan, which provided financial and economic assistance to the nations of Western Europe. This strengthened the economies and governments of countries in western Europe, and as the economies of Western Europe improved, the popularity of communist parties declined. This conflict extended to the future of Germany, and the Soviet Union blockaded all surface transport into West Berlin in June 1948. In June 1948 the Soviets blocked all ways into the western part of Berlin, Germany. President Truman quickly ordered military planes to fly coal, food, and medicine to the city. The planes kept

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coming, sometimes landing every few minutes, for more than a year. The United States received help from Britain and France. Together, they provided almost 2.5 million tons of supplies on about 280,000 flights. Gradually there was a massive build up of an airlift of supplies into that city through until September 1949, although the blockade was officially lifted in May 1949.

The United States also led the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. NATO was a joint military group. Its purpose was to defend against Soviet forces in Europe In 1953 Soviet leader Joseph Stalin died. His death gave the new American president, Dwight Eisenhower, a chance to deal with new Soviet leaders. Cold War tensions increased, then eased, then increased again over the years. The changes came as both sides actively tried to influence political and economic developments around the world. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser then seized control of the

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