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Cold War Tension Meter

The increase and relaxation of tensions during the Cold War.
by

M Liu

on 21 February 2014

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Transcript of Cold War Tension Meter

A Roller-Coaster of Tensions
The Cold War
Cuban Missile Crisis
1971 - 1979
Yalta Conference
Warsaw Pact
The Korean War
Potsdam Conference
The Vietnam War
The Truman Doctrine
Building of the Berlin Wall
Marshall Plan
S.A.L.T. I
S.A.L.T. II
Prague Spring
NATO
Iron Curtain Speech
Peaceful Coexistence
Blockade of Berlin
Time
Tension
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1945
1955
1965
1975
1985
1990
Here, the division of Germany was decided, final arrangements were made for peace treaties, and thoughts about how Europe would re-develop after the war were discussed. The fate of post-war Germany was one of the most pressing issues at the conference. The Soviet Union wanted a unified Germany that was completely unarmed. United States President Truman was suspicious of the Soviet Union's intentions in Europe as there was a massive Soviet army already occupying Eastern Europe and believed that a strong Germany was the only obstacle in the way of Soviet domination of Europe. This left Truman even more convinced that he had to adopt a tough policy toward the Soviets. Another issue that was virtually unspoken of was the atomic bomb that the United States had recently tested successfully. This added to the tensions that would become a big part of the Cold War, the development of nuclear weapons.
July 17 - Aug 2, 1945
Feb 4-11, 1945
This was the second post-war meeting for the heads of government from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The leaders met to establish an agenda for governing post-war Germany, re-establish European countries and determine the future of post-war Europe. The differing agendas of the communist and democratic countries emerged, foreshadowing the crumbling of the alliance that had developed between the countries. The Soviet Union wanted post-war economic assistance as well as US and British recognition of the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. Great Britain wanted the protection of its empire and clarification of Germany's post-war status. The United States wanted the establishment of the United Nations and gaining Soviet agreement to enter the war against Japan. The meeting became intensely controversial in the years afterward as it brought about tensions between the US and the Soviet Union that helped begin the Cold War.
Less than a year after the end of the Second World War, the wartime leader of Britain, Winston Churchill, delivered a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri that popularized the term "iron curtain" to describe the increasing seclusion of the Eastern European states from the rest of the world. The iron curtain became the metaphor for the division between American and Soviet ideologies.
Mar 5, 1946
Mar 12, 1947
The policy introduced by American government that announced their foreign policy of containment toward the Soviet Union's communist influence. For example, the United States provided support to the governments of Turkey and Greece to help keep them out of the sphere of influence of the USSR It is considered by some historians as the start of the Cold War.
June 1947
Started by the State Secretary George Marshall, it was a plan instituted by the American government to help the governments of war-torn Europe rebuild their nations to help keep them from falling into the USSR's sphere of influence. The plan was offered to all European countries, democratic of communist, but came with "strings attached" such as banning trade barriers and encouraging economic freedom, all incompatible with Soviet ideology. The Soviet satellite states rejected the Marshall Plan aid due to the diplomatic and political pressure applied by the United States.
June 24,1948 - May 12,1949
The blockade of Berlin was an attempt by the government of the USSR to cut off West Berlin from the western powers and their ideological influences in an attempt to acquire control of the entire city. It was circumvented by the use of an airlift that managed to get more supplies into the city then the trains and trucks were able to deliver. After a period of 11 months, the Stalin lifted the blockade.
Apr 4, 1949 - Present
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was and is an organization that tries to assure the mutual protection of its member states, by each agreeing to protect the other in case of war. It was set up by the Americans during the Cold War to provide collective security against the Soviet Union and keep communist influence at bay. This was seen as a threat by the Soviets which led to the creation of their own alliance. The organization still runs today.
June 25, 1950 - July 27 1953
The Korean War was fought between the communist North Korea who invaded the democratic South Korea. The United Nations, led by the United States, provided aid to the south with both weapons and soldiers, whereas the north was supported by the USSR who did not actively participate in the war. This was the first of many proxy wars fought between the two superpowers as the country became an ideological battleground.
Nov 1, 1955 - Apr 30, 1975
The Vietnam War was fought between the communist North Vietnam and the democratic South Vietnam. It was another ideological battleground between the two superpowers of the Cold War. The north was like North Korea, supported by the Soviets while the south was being "protected" by the United States. This war was part of the US's policy of containment to try and keep out the "Red Menace", while the north was fighting for reunification, and independence from colonial power, that being the United States.
Arms Race
Competition between nations to expand their weapons and arms in order to gain military superiority over other nations.
Brinkmanship
International behavior or foreign policy that takes a country to the limits of safety before stopping or pushing one’s demands to the point of threatening military action. Similar to a game of chicken with countries.
Capitalism
An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profits.
Collective Security
A policy in which nations agree to protect each other during an attack. This was the purpose for the creation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
Communism
A system of society with property vested in the community and each member working for the common benefit according to his or her capacity and receiving according to his or her needs.
Containment
The American Cold War foreign policy of containing the spread of communism by establishing strategic allies around the world through trade and military alliances.
Detente
The period of the Cold War during which the major powers tried to ease tensions or strained relations between them through diplomacy, arms talks and reductions, and cultural exchanges.
Deterrence
The Cold War foreign policy of both major powers aiming to deter the strategic advances of the other through arms development and build-up. A negative motivational influence to try and prevent a nation from doing something.
Totalitarianism
A government that has complete control over all aspects of society. Most hold off and reject the beliefs and values of liberalism.
Domino Theory
The theory that a political event in one country can cause a chain reaction that affects other countries.
Espionage
The practice of spying or of using spies, especially to obtain secret information. It was a key tool during the Cold War and help both superpowers in their policies of expansionism and containment.
Expansionism
The policy of territorial or economic expansion. During the Cold War, it was an attempt to enlarge territorial and ideological influence beyond a country's border and allies. This is what both the Soviet Union and the United States would practice until the end of the Cold War.
Hot War
A war with active military hostilities. Instead of hot wars, the United States fought its ideological conflict by creating alliances and giving aid.
Iron Curtain
Introduced by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his famous Iron Curtain speech after WWII, which served as an important metaphor to the Cold War. It was an impenetrable barrier to communication or information especially as imposed by rigid censorship and secrecy.
Marshall Plan
A plan the US developed to revive war-torn economies of Europe. This plan offered $13 billion in aid to western Europe.
McCarthyism
A campaign to uncover and persecute those in the US government and other institutions with perceived ties to communism. It was carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Cold War.
Neo-conservatism
An approach to politics or theology that represents a return in a traditional point of view.
Potsdam Conference
The conference after Yalta that decided the division of Germany and outlined the terms of Japan’s surrender. It increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, contributing to the ideological conflict that would last for many years.
Proxy War
Conflicts where one superpower provides support to a group or states that opposes the rival superpower that was carried out between the USSR and the US but without direct fighting between the two, such as the USSR Afghanistan War where the USSR fought the Afghanistan locals trained and armed by the US.
Satellite States
Smaller states within the influence of one larger state or superpower, usually they are very influential in policy and culture of the larger state.
Spheres of Influence
The combined countries that are in a superpower’s influence are said to be in their sphere of influence or where the superpower has greater influence over the other states than all others.
Warsaw Pact
An alliance made by the Soviet Union and several of its satellite states to establish a mutual defense organization that was to be led by the Soviet Union. Was a way for the Soviet Union to keep its Eastern European allies under its military and political control.
Yalta Conference
A meeting between the Allied leaders Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin in February 1945 at Yalta, a Crimean port on the Black Sea. Purpose was to establish an agenda for governing post-war Germany, redraw the map of Europe and discuss the future for post-war Europe. Foreshadowed the crumbling of the alliance and the battle of ideologies.
38th Parallel
Parallel of latitude in East Asia that roughly separates North and South Korea. The line was chosen by the US at the Potsdam Conference as an army boundary, north of which the Soviet Union was to accept the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea and south of which the Americans were to accept the Japanese surrender. The line was to create a temporary division.
May 14, 1955 - 1991
Like NATO, the Warsaw Pact was an agreement by Soviet satellite states to militarily align themselves with the USSR to establish a mutual defense organization. Headed by the Soviet Union, it was designed to make sure that the countries would not be threatened because no one would want to threaten all of the countries in it at once. It fell apart as the communist government of most of the countries were removed from power.
1955 - 1962
The Hungarian Revolution
Oct 23 - Nov 10, 1956
This was a nation-wide revolt against the Hungarian government and its Soviet imposed policies. The Hungarian citizens demanded that they be granted personal freedoms, removal of secret police, more food, and the removal of Soviet control. The Soviet Union responded brutally by invading Hungary. They suppressed and killed many citizens who opposed their influence and successfully reinstated the communist government, effectively reasserting their control of the area.
In light of a possible nuclear war, the policy of peaceful coexistence was adopted by the Soviet Union under President Khrushchev to show that they could peacefully coexist with the capitalist bloc. The theory was applied to reduce hostilities between the two superpowers and the belief that communism would eventually win anyways, with or without fighting. Unfortunately, other events during this time prevented the policy from being fully carried out, especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Built almost over night by East German troops, the Berlin Wall was "to protect the people of East Berlin from Western influence." From the perspective of the Western powers, the main purpose of the border fortification was to prevent East Germans from escaping to West Berlin and thus to West Germany. The Berlin Wall became the physical manifestation of the iron curtain metaphor. The Soviet When the wall came down it was a sign that the "war" was nearing it's end.
Aug 13, 1961 - Aug 19, 1989
Oct 14-28, 1962
The Cuban Missile Crisis is an example of two nations using brinkmanship in an attempt to resolve a situation. After discovering that the USSR was storing nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba, the US threatened the Soviet Union with military confrontation that included the invasion of Cuba and nuclear war, which came with mutually assured destruction. It is widely held to be the period of time that the two superpowers came the closest to the brink of nuclear war. It was resolved when the US agree to remove it's outdated missiles from Turkey if the USSR removed it's missiles from Cuba.
Detente
Helsinki Accords
July - Aug 1,1975
A declaration that was signed by 35 countries, including the USSR and the US It enumerated the respect for a nation's sovereignty, refraining from the threat or use of force, the territorial integrity of states, the peaceful settlement of of disputes, non-intervention in internal affairs of other countries, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and equal rights and the right to self-determination.

The Soviets were happy to have their borders recognized and respected. Other countries were happy to see the Soviets promise to address human rights issues in communist-bloc countries. The signing of the document helped to highlight the values and beliefs that were similar between communist and liberal democratic countries.
The detente was a period of time where the cold relations between the US and the USSR thawed a little. It started after the missile crisis in Cuba when a direct "Red Line" telephone line was installed between Washington and Moscow to help prevent the chance of nuclear war again. Tensions also also diminished with the help of the Helsinki Accords, and SALT I, but ended after the intervention in Afghanistan on the USSR's part, and the boycott of the Moscow Olympics on the US's part.
Jan 5 - Aug 21 1968
Hot
Cold
The election of reformist Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia led to a period of many reforms in the nation. He tried to decentralize the government and economy as well as loosen Moscow's hold on the nation's affairs. They also granted more rights like for travel, speech, and media. This did not sit well with the Soviets. After talks failed between the Soviet Union and the Czechoslovakian government to reach and understanding about the nature of the country’s reforms, Eastern Bloc armies from four Warsaw Pact countries invaded and occupied the country. Within one year, the previous government’s reforms were reversed.
The Strategic Arms Limitations Talk was the first of two treaty discussions to limit the amount of nuclear weapons each superpower could have. It limited the number of strategic ballistic missile launcher and prevented the addition of submarine based missiles only after the same number of intercontinental missiles were dismantled.
Ping Pong Diplomacy
April 6 - 17, 1971
This featured the invitation of American ping pong players to the People's Republic of China, which was the first time any group of Americans were allowed into the country since communist takeover. Although it showed that two vastly different governments could meet on grounds of common interest, this was not good news for the Soviets, as the act went against the USSR and their communist ideologies, increasing tensions between the two Cold War superpowers.
Nov 17, 1969 - May 1972
1972 - June 18, 1979
Soviet War in Afghanistan
The second Strategic Arms Limitations Talk was designed to prevent the development of new missile programs, and to outline which programs the US and USSR would be allowed to keep. However, the treaty was never ratified by the two countries but was being voluntarily observed by both sides.
Dec 1979 - Feb 1989
In an effort to keep the government loyal to Moscow in power, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in order to fight the anti-communist guerrillas and ensure that an alliance remained with the nation. The rebels were secretly being supported by the US government, with the CIA supplying and arming them with weapons to aid their cause.
Truman Doctrine
The principle that was introduced in 1947 by US president Harry Truman that stated the United States was willing to give help and support to countries and people threatened by Soviet forces or communist insurrection. It announced America's policy of containment toward Soviet communist ideologies.
Gorbachev Becomes Soviet Premier
1985 - 1991
Determined to end the Cold War, Gorbachev introduced some liberal reforms through his policies of openness and restructuring. He signed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with US president Ronald Reagan and withdrew Soviet forces from Afghanistan followed by the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the satellite states of Eastern Europe. He also agreed to the unification of East and West Germany and was awarded the Nobel Peace Price for his achievements in international relations.
Vocabulary Defined
Full transcript