Week 5 Discussion: The Cold War
Read/review the following resources for this activity:
- Textbook: Chapter 7
- Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook)
Select one of the following smaller nations:
- Another smaller nation of your choice with instructor approval
For the initial post, address the following in relation to your selection:
- Examine how Cold War policy by the main players affected the smaller nation.
- Examine why democracy was not successful in that nation.
- Describe the loss of personal liberties that were a result of democracy failing.
- Has the nation’s political system changed since the Cold War? Explain.
Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. At least one of your responses should be to a peer who chose an option different from yours. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification.
- Minimum of 3 posts (1 initial & 2 follow-up)
- Minimum of 2 sources cited (assigned readings/online lessons and an outside source)
- APA format for in-text citations and list of references
After World War II there was a jockeying for power between countries. Britain and the United States wanted to keep the Soviet Union from taking over more countries and spreading communism. The Soviet Union wanted to strengthen their position as well as protect themselves. At this time nuclear weapons were being developed and both the United States and the Soviet Union were the super powers with this capability.
Cuba became involved in this struggle when the the “Soviets began secretly installing missiles in Cuba that could be used to launch nuclear attacks on U.S. cities. This sparked the Cuban missile crisis (Links to an external site.) (1962)”. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2021)
Before we go further we must look at what was going on at this time in Cuba. Cuba was just taken over Fidel Castro who enforced a more totalitarian type government. This of course was supported by the Soviet Union. The United States would not support this type of regime. President Kennedy was looking to overthrow this government so in looking for help, Castro turned to the Soviets. In return, the Soviets placed missiles there because they were close to the United States and this enabled the Soviet Union to be able to cause serious damage to the US.
In answer to how the policies of the main players of the Cold War affected Cuba, the Soviet Union protected them against the United States because they supported this type of government. The US responded by imposing trade restrictions until they reformed their government which did not happen.
Cuba was never a democracy. When examining the history of this small country I see many variations of authoritarian rule with various leaders overthrown by another restrictive authoritative leader.
The loss of liberties of the people of Cuba were great. Like other governments with totalitarian characters, Castro used force to stop opposing positions from cropping up. They censored the media just like we have seen in other governments of this type. ” Fidel Castro forbade the sale of automobiles in revolutionary Cuba,” (Duiker, 2015) which impaired mobility of both business as well as personal transport. He would imprison people unjustly and keep them under harsh conditions, forcing labor, even preforming experimental medical procedures without consent or even warranting diagnoses. The general population lived in poverty and under strict rule.
Today, Cuba is still has a communist type of government. Having said this, there have been two leaders since Castro. In the past number of years, restrictions have eased a small amount. For example, people can have cell phones and cars. The government still censures all forms of media.
Good Morning, Professor and Class-
Cold War policy by the main players affected many smaller nations, including Korea. Containment, the major Cold War policy of the U.S. and its allies, consisted of numerous strategies intended to prevent the spread of communism. This Cold War policy was the response to the Soviet Union’s ongoing attempts to increase communist influence in Eastern Europe, China, Korea, and Vietnam. Containment represented a middle-ground stance between détente and rollback (Lumen Learning, 2020). During the Cold War, containment meant implementing strategies to prevent the spread of Communism to new countries while not waging war against those nations already under Communist rule (Lumen Learning, 2020).
The U.S., in line with this Cold War policy, endeavored to suppress Soviet influence on the Korea Peninsula by occupying the southern portion of that region. The area occupied by the U.S. became known as South Korea. The northern part became North Korea (Lumen Learning, 2020). At first, the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to divide the Korean Peninsula at the 38th parallel into two separate occupation zones. U.S.-Soviet relations soon crumbled, however, and two different governments arose in Korea: a Communist government in North Korea and a non-Communist government in South Korea (Duiker, 2015). In 1949, fighting broke out between North and South Korea near the 38th parallel border. On June 25, 1950, North Korean People’s Army troops, backed by the Soviets and Chinese, crossed the 38th parallel, invading South Korea in an attempted Communist takeover. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. The UN, backed mainly by the U.S., came to the aid of South Korea. (History.com, 2020). The fighting ended on July 27, 1953 when an armistice was signed. While no peace treaty was signed, the agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 2.5 mile-wide fortified buffer which, still today, separates North and South Korea (History.com, 2020).
Democracy was not completely successful in the Korean Peninsula. Today, the countries remain divided. North Korea’s political system has not changed; the nation is still ruled by a Communist regime (History.com, 2020). In 1987, however, South Korea successfully transitioned to a democracy. South Korea is a democratic republic with a presidential system of government. The National Assembly has legislative power, decides upon budget bills submitted by the Executive, and consents to the conclusion of treaties and declarations of war (Umeda, 2020).
As a result of democracy failing and Communism prevailing in North Korea, there was, and still is today, tremendous lose of personal liberties including basic freedoms, such as life itself (Lumen Learning, 2020). After the Korean War, approximately 100,000 North Koreans were executed in purges. It is estimated that between 1945-1987 over one million North Koreans died in forced labor concentration camps. The 1990’s North Korean famine resulted in 100,000’s of deaths. Today, the North Korean government is still accused of “crimes against humanity” (Lumen Learning, 2020).
At the end of World War II, Europe lay in ruins. In the West, only two superpowers remained: The United States and the Soviet Union. Their relationship would soon be marked by a Cold War that would last for more than forty years (1947-1991). This would coincide with the ultimate victory of Communism in China, lead to the Korean War (1950-1953), and lead to the Vietnam (or Second Indochina) War (1954-1975).
The Cold War: Containment and Confrontation
The Soviet Union appeared to most Americans as an enigmatic and threatening presence on the world scene. Despite President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision of an international world society, the Soviet Union remained “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” (Churchill, 1939). Stalin’s insistence on maintaining a Soviet sphere of influence would dictate American policy for the next forty years. One approach to Soviet expansionism was drawn from the general history of empires. In the past, aggressive empires were contained by diplomatic and political restraints. Over time, these empires declined, both from within and from without. The history of Russia had proven again and again its territorial ambitions. The most logical response by America was to constrain Russia’s expansionist tendencies through a policy of containment.
The principal architect of containment was George F. Kennan (1904-2005). Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kennan made his way to the United States Foreign Service, with early appointments to Germany and the Baltic countries. He became a leading expert on Russian affairs during the 1930s and was a key member of the United States Embassy in Moscow at that time. After the war, he served as deputy head of the United States Mission in Moscow, and at the end of his term in 1946, he sent his now famous Long Telegram, perhaps the best-known cable in American diplomatic history, to James Byrnes, President Harry S. Truman’s Secretary of State. Kennan (1946) argued that Soviet policy was dictated by a “traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity” (p. 4). Stalin used Communist ideology to legitimize his autocratic rule and protect his self-interests. However, Kennan argued that, although Stalin was “impervious to the logic of reason,” he was “highly sensitive to the logic of force” (p. 9). Kennan’s strategy was to contain Soviet power by a system of alliances and foreign aid. He belittled the idea that Stalin was determined to destroy the United States and argued that, when pressured, he [Stalin] would back down. Kennan (1947) stated:
…the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be a long-term, patient, but firm, and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies… Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence. (p. 6, 7)
Kennan’s ideas became the basis of both the Truman Doctrine (1947) and the Marshall Plan (1947). However, Kennan later lamented that his ideas also became the basis for the arms race and insisted that he never believed that the Soviet Union would (or intended to) invade the United States. Stalin was not Hitler, Kennan argued, and although the Soviet leader often used ideology to justify his actions, he was primarily concerned with maintaining power over his sphere of influence.
The Cold War: Anti-Communism
While the United States policy of containment ultimately proved too successful, there were moments in American history when this policy was put aside in favor of a more virulent anti-Communism. This was particularly evident during the 1950s. The John Birch Society was founded as a radical anti-communist organization. Financed by wealthy conservatives, the group claimed that communists and communist sympathizers had infiltrated all levels of government. They even accused President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chief Justice Earl Warren of being part of a communist conspiracy.
Among the supporters of the John Birch society was Senator Joseph McCarthy, a junior senator from Wisconsin. McCarthy became nationally famous when he charged that the United States Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, knew the names of more than 200 Communist sympathizers. McCarthy became chairman of the Committee on Government Operations and the subcommittee on investigations. Among those called before the committee were playwright Arthur Miller, musician Leonard Bernstein, and actor Charlie Chaplin. Hundreds of Hollywood writers and actors were blacklisted as Communists or Communist sympathizers.
In the fall of 1953, McCarthy investigated the Army Signal Corps but failed to uncover an alleged espionage ring. McCarthy’s treatment of General Ralph W. Zwicker during that investigation caused many supporters to turn against him. That opposition grew with the March 9, 1954 broadcast of Edward R. Murrow’s See it Now, which was an attack on McCarthy and his methods. Both sides of the dispute were aired over national television between April and June of 1954, during what became known as the Army-McCarthy Hearings. McCarthy’s frequent interruptions of the proceedings and his calls of “point of order” made him the object of ridicule, and his approval ratings in public opinion polls continued to see a sharp decline. The hearings petered out to an inconclusive end, but McCarthyism, as it came to be known, would never recover. Joseph McCarthy died of acute hepatitis brought on by excessive drinking in 1957.
Watch the following civil defense social guidance film that show school children what to do in case of a nuclear explosion. Many saw this film as propaganda to incite fear of the Soviet Union and communism.
Duck and Cover (1:45)
Click on the following link to access the transcript:
The Cuban Missile Crisis
In his Memoirs, Kennan later regretted that his policies were often associated with the massive build-up of conventional and nuclear weapons that characterized the 1950s. However, confrontation could not be avoided in Cuba. During the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1952-1960), Fidel Castro, a young Cuban lawyer, led a successful revolution against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Battista. Castro entered Havana in triumph but soon imposed harsh socialist rule. Thousands of Battista supporters were executed, American holdings were confiscated, and many Cubans fled to Florida. President John F. Kennedy (1960-1963) decided to use a CIA plan from the previous administration to secretly invade Cuba. However, the Bay of Pigs invasion was a total failure and set the stage for a more deadly confrontation with both Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Watch the following video clip on the events that lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although the U.S. had gathered intelligence on nuclear weapons in Cuba, the information was incomplete and greatly underestimated. As you watch, consider Sergei Khrushchev’s analysis that the Soviet presence in Cuba was a display of power much as the U.S. does with all of its allies.
The Cuban Missile Crisis: Inciting Events (9:19)
Next, let’s look at how America prepared for war as things began to escalate.
The Cuban Missile Crisis: Preparing for War (3:34)
This final clip looks at how the shooting down of an American U-2 spy plane brought the U.S. to the brink of war. Do you think Robert McNamara was right in his assessment of the lessons learned?
The Cuban Missile Crisis: On the Brink (6:23)
Click on the following link to access the transcript for these videos:
Kennen, G. F. (1946, February 22). Long telegram. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116178.pdf
Kennen, G. F. (1947, July). The sources of Soviet conduct. https://www.cvce.eu/content/publication/1999/1/1/a0f03730-dde8-4f06-a6ed-d740770dc423/publishable_en.pdf
Phizicky, S. (Producer). (2003). Voices from the brink: The Cuban missile crisis [Video]. Filmakers Library. Academic Video Online.
Teachers TV/UK Department of Education (Producer). (2005). Cuban missile crisis: Film archive [Video]. Academic Video Online.