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Cold War Timeline

A timeline for an Alberta Social Studies 30 class relating curriculum based concepts to the events of the Cold War

Hannah McNeil

on 27 May 2014

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Transcript of Cold War Timeline

Expansionism: the attempt to
enlarge territorial and ideological
influence beyond a country's borders and allies
Spheres of Influence: the territories and countries over which a powerful country dominates
Containment: the attempt to thwart another country's expansionism through means other than direct warfare
Mutually Assured Destruction: an un-winnable, nuclear war which deters each side from entering direct conflict
Deterrence: a method of cold war which involves building up one's capacity to fight so that one's opponent will not because of the expected outcome; Baseley syndrome
Brinkmanship: the attempt to stress a situation as far as possible without conceding anything to your opponent
Detente: a period of reduced tension
Espionage: human intelligence which was a key
tool in the superpowers policy of expansionism and containment; spying
Proxy Wars: conflicts in which one superpower gives support to a group opposed to their rival. This support may include money, aims or personnel.
Marshall Plan
Red Scare/McCarthyism
Berlin Airlift
Korean War
Warsaw Pact
Hungarian Revolution
U-2 Incident
Berlin Wall
Cuban Missile
Partial Test
Ban Treaty

Prague Spring
Vietnam War
Soviets Invade Afghanistan
Cold War Timeline
Truman Doctrine:
The United States President Truman created
the Truman Doctrine in 1947 which described the US foreign policy. He called upon the United States to "support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." This policy has been an important aspect of American politics for the last sixty years.

The concepts of proxy war, expansionism and spheres of influence apply to the Truman doctrine. Truman was able to apply this policy to justify American involvement in the Vietnam War, Korean War and Bay of Pigs, all of which were proxy wars which Americans supported as an attempt to contain the perceived threat of communism. Interfering on behalf of others also allowed Americans to expand their own influence, relating the Truman Doctrine to American expansionism and sphere of influence.
Marshall Plan:
An aid plan to assist in the recovery of countries
destroyed by the second World War. It was offered by the United States to European countries that were communist or democratic. Seventeen countries accepted money and technical expertise from the United States. States under Soviet influence refused aid due to conditions set by Americans that recipient countries submit to an economic assessment and participate in a unified European economy, which was incompatible with Soviet ideology.

The Marshall Plan can be related to the Cold War concepts of containment, expansionism and spheres of influence. The conditions set by Americans placed political pressure on recipient countries to follow American ideologies and the capitalist economy, creating a strong faction of capitalist countries and increasing the American sphere of influence in Europe.
Cold War Concepts
Cold War Events
McCarthyism/Red Scare:
Berlin Airlift:
Berlin was located in East Germany, which was controlled by the Soviet Union and was segregated into four zones of occupation, the American, French and British zones made up West Berlin or Bizonia and the Russian zone was East Germany. Stalin saw West Germany as an unwelcome capitalist influence in Eastern Europe and on June 24, 1948, he blocked all road, rail and canal access to West Berlin. The Western response was to fly in the needed supplies for the 2.1 million people residing in West Berlin since agreements made in 1945 included air access. American, French and British forces continued the airlift for 11 months supplying Berlin with all food, coal and gasoline needed. The blockade was lifted on May 12, 1949.

The Berlin Airlift relates to the concepts of expansionism and the Western nations desire to expand their political influence and curb the rise of communism. They refused to abandon West Berlin which would have resulted in the loss of their political influence in Germany.
Hungarian Revolution:
An violent uprising in Hungary against the Stalinist government occurred during the fall through the formation of militia and battles against the state police and Soviet troops. In the two weeks following the state police were disbanded, a Hungarian government was formed and steps were taken towards creating a democratic state. However, Soviet forces invaded in November reversing the changes made by the revolution and strengthening Soviet power in Europe.

This event shows the concepts of sphere of influence and the methods used to maintain it by the superpowers. It sent a message to the world of the ierreversability of communism in the sphere of Soviet influence.
Prague Spring
Alexander Dubcek became the leader of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) and began his plan for reforms in based on a 10-year transition in January. By April he had established additional rights and freedoms, loosened restrictions on media, speech and travel. He also limited the powers of the secret police and intended to transition the CSSR into a nation with democratic elections, improved relations with Western countries and a multiple-party government. Other communist bloc countries became critical of these reforms, resulting in the invasion of the CSSR in August, 1968 and its occupation by the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. Dubcek's reforms were reversed within a year.

This shows the Soviets policy of expansionism and containment. The Soviet Union was very willing to use force to prevent communist countries under their sphere of inluence to prevent the influence of liberalism and capitalism.
Bandung Conference:
A conference held in Java where representatives from 29 African and Asian countries met to discuss opposing colonial and imperialist intentions from superpowers. They also met to improve their relations by promoting economic and cultural co-operation. It was the beginning of the Non-Aligned Movement and coined the term Third World referring to nations that had gained independence form colonialism after the Second World War.

The Bandung Conference was one of first official discussions of the intentions of these nations to stand together in non-alignment. They attempted to choose entire different ideologies or have independence from the American and Soviet spheres of influence.
A military alliance designed to defend member countries from an attack from the Soviet Union and its allies. Canada, the United States were among the founding members in 1949.

NATO clearly demonstrates the Cold War concept of deterrence. This military alliance was created to discourage the Soviet Union from initiating a war with any of the members of NATO.
The Bay of Pigs:
An invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles trained and supported by the American military in an attempt to return Cuba to a capitalist government and overthrow Castro. The attack failed due to poor planning, inadequate support from the US military and the false assumption that the Cuban people would support this attack. It increased tensions and suspicions between the United States and Cuba.

This attack shows the concept of proxy wars as the two superpowers competed for influence and power. America supported the rebels trying to restore capitalism while the Soviet Unions supported Castro's socialist government.
Cuban Missile Crisis:
Increased tensions between the United States and Cuba resulted in strengthened relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba. The Soviet Union offered financial aid, developed a strong trade relationship and helped strengthen Cuba's military. The American President ordered a naval blockade of Cuba due to intelligence reporting that Soviet-supported missiles were being built in Cuba and ships carrying missiles were traveling across the Atlantic. The crisis ended on October 27, 1962 when Kennedy agreed not to invade Cuba and remove missiles in Turkey if Krushchev would remove its missiles from Cuba and turn his ships around. This crisis led to a period of relatively peaceful relations as both nations realized how close they had come to mutually assured destruction in a nuclear war.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was considered the climax of the Cold War and involved MAD, brinkmanship and espionage. The Americans used intelligence information to learn about the missile threat and both superpowers used brinkmanship in a show of strength. If the Cuban Missile Crisis had not been solved through diplomacy it is certain that both nations would have experienced mutually assured destruction along with the majority of their allies.
The Red Scare occurred after the Second World War when an intense fear of communism began to affect the American population beginning roughly in 1947. It was fueled by Soviet espionage, propaganda in television and media, the rise of communism in China and the Soviet's acquisition of an atomic bomb. These fears led to a backlash against American communist supporters which was termed as McCarthyism due to the actions of ex-marine and Republican senator Joseph McCarthy. He made false accusations of communist supporters working in the Senate in 1950. Regardless of his accusations being proven false, he continued to accuse government officials of supporting communism. It wasn't until 1954 that the Senate formally reprimanded McCarthy for his zealous and usually unfounded accusations.

The Red Scare and McCarthyism show the result of espionage and the paranoia it instilled in American citizens. Propaganda caused them to fear and hate what they did not understand. It also showed a great deal of Russian spies as villians, increasing the paranoia of individuals like McCarthy.
Korean War:
The first traditional war that broke out as a result of the ideological conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Republic of Korea was primarily supported by the United States while the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was supported by the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. War broke out as a result of the division of Korea into two zones after the Second World War with free elections to take place. However, the elections meant to unite the zones did not take place as plan resulting in a war between the zones based on their ideological conflict.

The Korean War was the first proxy war fought between the United States and the Soviet Union as their ideological conflict continued. Both superpowers gave troops, financial support and advice to the nations they supported.
Vietnam War:
The Vietnam War began in 1954 and was a proxy war between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Soviet Union supported the communist Northern Vietnam while the United States supported South Vietnam. The war did not end until 1975 but American troops were withdrawn in 1973. Vietnam was in a similar situation in 1954 to Korea's situation in 1945. Both, by agreement among world powers were divided into two zones and free elections were to take place. These elections did not take place as expected and war broke out becoming the battleground for the ideological conflict between the Americans and the Soviets.

The Vietnam War was a proxy war fought between the United States and the Soviet Union. Both nations got involved in Vietnam's conflict to follow their policies of containment and expansionism. Vietnam sustained high numbers of human casualties and suffered long-term political and economical setbacks.
Soviets Invade Afghanistan:
The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan had aims to establish a pro-Soviet regime. The CIA equipped Afghan resistance fighters with rifles from the first World War and other arms in a covert operation. The American budget for this operation increased from $5 million annually to $750 million annually. When the Soviet soldiers retreated in 1989, they left behind their allies, the Afghan army, to find the Mujahedeen, a strong, well-armed insurgent force, including some commanders who later supported the Taliban regime and al Queada.

This is another example of the proxy wars fought between the Soviet Union and the United States. This particular conflict would later have severe consequences for the United States who provided the Mujadedeen with weapons to overthrow the Socialist government. The Mujadeen later evolved into the al Quaeda terrorist organization which attacked the New York Trade Towers.
A Jewish-American couple who were tried and convicted of espionage against the American government 1951. They were accused of delivering intelligence to the Soviets about American military weaponry, possibly including the atomic bomb. Julius Rosenberg was working as an electrical engineer for the Army Signal Corps and had access to technical information and to people working on military projects. Active communist sympathizers, they were recruited by the KGB into becoming Russian spies.

Espionage was another concept of the Cold War and both sides persecuted any discovered spies. Intelligence was used as a weapon to determine the amount of weapons held by the other and their plans.
U-2 Incident:
An American intelligence installation was established in Pakistan during the late 1950's with permission of the Pakistani government. The base was used for surveillance missions flying into Soviet territory. On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane flew over the Soviet Union to take photographs and measure the output of uranium plants. It was detected and shot down by the Soviets, the captain and plane were both captured. The American cover stated that a weather research aircraft had flown off course and gone missing. They were caught in a lie when a few days later, the Soviet government reported that an American spy had been captured and his plane was recovered virtually intact.

Espionage was an important aspect of the Cold War but it increased the mistrust and suspicion between the United States and the Soviet Union. The U-2 Incident aggravated American-Soviet relations causing the East-West summit for that month to be canceled.
Warsaw Pact:
Soviet-influenced countries aligned themselves militarily with the USSR by signing this agreement. It was signed by eight communist countries including Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovak Republic, Romania, German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, Albania and the Soviet Union. It was a Soviet response to West Germany joining NATO.

It strengthened the Soviet sphere of influence and hold on Eastern Europe. It was also used as a deterrence for Western countries wanting to start a war.
Berlin Wall Built:
The divided city of Berlin was a hotbed for Cold War tension because it contained a Western zone in a Soviet nation. In August, 1961, East German troops began tearing up the streets and installing barbed wire and fences. The East German government claimed the fence was to protect East Germans from Western aggression. West Germans felt the wall was made to stop East Germans moving into West Berlin where they had economic and political freedom.

The Berlin Wall is an excellent example of containment as the Soviet zone attempted to prevent people from East Berlin leaving or being influenced by the capitalist threat West Berlin held. It also shows the competition between the American and the Soviets to obtain the most influence over other nations.
Partial Test Ban Treaty:
The Partial Test Ban Treaty was an agreement made between the United States and the Soviet Union to stop the testing of nuclear weapons. Its aims were to slow the arms race and to decrease the amount of nuclear waste being released into the environment.

The treaty resulted in a detente or a period of reduced tension which would last until 1979 when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. It was created after narrowly avoiding a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Bay of Pigs
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