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The Cold War: A Presentation
Transcript of The Cold War: A Presentation
From 1948 to 1991, the world was divided
On ideologies, beliefs, ways of life.
Two conflicting ideas painted the globe in two different
Capitalists believe in individual freedom, both in terms of lifestyle and economy. They believe that markets work best when left free of any sort of intervension from the state, and that progress can only be made when market forces are allowed to determine what is produced, how much is produced, and how it is produced. It works on the profit motive, and values entreprenuership, innovation, individualism.
The Capitalist bloc in the Cold War was led by the United States of America.
Capitalist rhetoric often included words like liberty, freedom and democracy. USA saw itself as the 'leader of the free world'
Communism, derived from the works of Karl Marx, is an ideology that seeks to create a classless, moneyless and stateless society. They believe in equality, to an extent where private property or anything that gives one human being an advantage over another is banned. Economies are a means to an end in this system, and not an end itself. The aim of a Communist Economy is to provide for the people, based on needs and not wants. Communism values equality, society as compared to the individual, and an abolition of any sort of distincition between citizens. Communist states often adopt violent methods, using the theory of the greater good to justify them. It is a welfare based economic and political system.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR (CCCP in Russian) led the Communist bloc in the Cold War. It had the image of a strong, industrialised but authoritarian state, and the Americans liked to project it as an evil Orwellian empire
The conflict between the forces of Capitalism and Communism is refered to as the Cold War. This is because even though there was heavy rivalry and tension between the two opposing superpowers of the time, the USA and USSR, there was never a conventional war fought between the two (a hot or shooting war)
However, this does not mean that the rivalry wasn't expressed. There was intense propaganda on both sides. There were proxy wars throughout this period, like in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. There was heavy espionage activity between the two nations, spearheaded by the Soviet Intelligence Agency, the KGB and its American counterpart, the CIA. This era also witnessed a number of 'races': the space race and the arms race, during which both countries stockpiled huge arsenals of weapons, including WMDs. The world also witnessed an extremely tense stand off in 1962, which came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis
Bolshevik Revolution in Russia: Tired of living in economic ruin and political oppression, socialists known as Bolsheviks or Bolshevists, led by Vladimir Lenin, launch a revolution against the Russian Empire. The Tsar, Nicholas, and his family are forced to escape and eventually executed. Bolshevik Party takes power. Russia is now a Soviet Federative Republic
Russian Civil War: Russia is divided into two: Red Russia, supporting the Bolsheviks, and White Russia, or the Tsarists, who supported the old system. The Bolsheviks win, and the free nations of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland emerge from this war.
USSR Emerges: The Transcaucasian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Russian Soviet Republics come together to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) Vladimir Illyich Lenin becomes the leader of the Soviet Union. Josef Stalin is his Second in Command
United States begins diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union for the first time. The USA had been hostile towards the Bolsheviks till this time, and had infact provided financial support to the White Army and other anti-Bolshevik groups.
USSR signs the Ribbentrop - Molotov pact with Nazi Germany, promising mutual non agression and deciding to divide Poland.
Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, the son of a cobbler from Georgia, rises to become the leader of the Soviet Union.
June: Germany launches Operation Barbarossa, which is their invasion of Russia. The Ribbentorp - Molotov pact is rendered void; USSR enters World War II on the Allied side.
December: Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, leads to America also joining in the war. As a result, America and the USSR are now allies.
February: Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest skirmish in the War ends with a Soviet victory. Two million lay dead by the time the fighting for Stalin's own city stops.
July: The Soviets win another decisive battle at Kursk. The German war effort on the Eastern Front is over.
November: Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill meet at the Tehran Conference
June 6: D-Day: Allied forces land successfully in France, opening a second front which liberates Western Europe before Russia needs to.
August 1 – October 2: Warsaw Uprising; Polish rebels attempt to overthrow Nazi rule in Warsaw; Red Army sits back and allows it to be crushed to destroy the rebels
October 9 - 18: Moscow Conference. Churchill and Stalin agree percentage ‘spheres of influence’ in Eastern Europe.
World War II
Germany surrenders, and the Soviet flag is raised over the Reichstag in Berlin
USA drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, effectively putting an end to the war
The Potsdam conference is held in occupied Germany to discuss the aftermath of the war. Germany is divided between the victors. Berlin is bifurcated.
Winston Churchill delivers his famous Iron Curtain speech
North Atlantic Treaty signed, NATO formed.
The two zones of Germany become countries: East Germany becomes German Democratic Republic while West Germany is now Federal Republic of Germany.
USSR detonates its first nuclear bomb, codenamed First Lightning.
The Korean War starts: This is the first violent manifestation of the Cold War. Essentially a civil war between two governments in Korea - Communists in the North vs Capitalists in the south, becomes much bigger when Soviet Union and USA sponsor North and South Korea, respectively. Leads to the division of the Korean peninsula by the famous 38th Parallel. Interestingly, the war never ended as only a ceasefire and not a proper peace treaty was negotiated.
5 March: Josef Stalin dies of (officially) a brain haemhorrage. He is 73 at the time of his death. There are whispers that he was actually 'taken out' by Lavrentiy Beria, the interior minister at that time, also the chief of the infamour NKVD. This brings to an end an era where Stalin reigned supreme, an era of frequent purges, Gulag camps and a massive cult of personality. Estimates of how many deaths Stalin was responsible for vary, but the conservative estimate is 20 million. To put this into perspective, Hitler's death toll was about 6.5-7 million. Power is now in the hands of the troika of Molotov, Beria and Malenkov.
July: Ceasefire in Korea.
May 14: The Warsaw Pact is signed by Communist nations of Eastern Europe, partially in response to the inclusion of West Germany in NATO the same year. Members include Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.
USSR recognises GDR as a sovereign state. FDR announces the Hallstein Doctrine - Any nation to recognise GDR will be considered hostile to GDR.
Nikita Khrushchev denounces Stalin in his now famour 'Secret Speech', delivered behind closed doors at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party. De-Stalinization of Russia begins. Gulag camps are closed, forced labour is discontinued and censorship is relaxed. Stalin's name is removed from buildings, cities and landmarks.
A popular revolt in Hungary against the Soviet-dictated policies of the Communist government is crushed, as Soviet troops march into Budapest. Time Magazine's Man of the Year is "The Hungarian Freedom Fighter"
Communists, led by Fidel Castro come to power in Cuba, off the American state of Florida. The new Cuban government is extremely friendly with the Soviets. This makes the Americans jittery: the 'Red Menace' is much closer home now.
American plans to remove the communists from Cuba begin immediately.
American U-2 spy plane is shot down over Russian territory. The Soviet Union is appropriately indignant, pull out of the Paris Summit.
A young Democrat from Massachusets announces his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. He goes on to win the elections and becomes one of the most iconic presidents of America. His name is John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Nikita Khrushchev visits America, denied access to Disneyland.
Sino - Soviet Split: The People's Republic of China, tired of being portrayed as second fiddle to the USSR, declares its own brand of Communism superior.
After successfully launching two Sputnik satellites (1957) into space, the Russians send the first human being into space - Yuri Gargarin. USA, seeking better the Soviets, declare their intention of putting a man on the moon, launching the Apollo project.
Bay of Pigs: A CIA - backed 'invasion' of Cuba by counterrevolutionaries fails miserably, leaving the American administration red faced.
Berlin Wall erected: East Germany closes its border with West Germany, builds the infamous Berlin Wall.
The Soviet Union tests the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever, christened Tsar Bomba
Cuban Missile Crisis: The most tense stand off of the Cold War. The Soviets have secretly been installing military bases, including nuclear weapons, on Cuba, some 90 miles from the US mainland. Kennedy orders a "quarantine" (a naval blockade) of the island that intensifies the crisis and brings the US and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war. In the end, both sides reach a compromise. The Soviets back down and agree to withdraw their nuclear missiles from Cuba, in exchange for a secret agreement by Kennedy pledging to withdraw similar American missiles from Turkey, and guaranteeing that the US will not move against the Castro regime.
JFK Assassinated: Kennedy is shot dead in Dallas, Texas, allegedly by one Lee Harvey Oswald, a Communist sympathiser who had spent considerable time in the Soviet Union. However conspiracy theorists to this day believe in a number of alternatives - the Soviets, the Cubans, even the CIA. Lyndon B Johnson, the Vice-President, is sworn in as President.
Gulf of Tonkin Incident: LBJ claims that North Vietnamese gunships fired on two American destroyers, using this as casus belli to start open military involvement in the Vietnam War
Both the Soviet Union and USA declare reduction of nuclear development activities
Leonid Brezhnev replaces Khrushchev as the Soviet Premier after conspiring to remove him from power.
China tests its first atomic bomb, joins the nuclear club
The beginning of the Tet Offensive - North Vietnam launches surprise attacks on the Americans all over Vietnam. LBJ announces the end of aerial bombing, shall not run for re-election.
The NPT is opened for signatures.
The Prague Spring uprising in Czechoslovakia is crushed by Warsaw Pact.
The crew of the captured American ship, USS Pueblo, is releasaed by North Korea.
Richard Nixon becomes the President of the USA.
The Americans accomplish the first manned moon landing, Apollo 11, with Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins
Nixon visits China - first American state visit to the People's Republic since its founding. Huge step forward in Sino-US relations. He is greeted magnificently.
US and USSR start the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), committing to reduction of nuclear and non-nuclear arms to avoid another Cuban Missile Crisis.
End of American involvement in Vietnam. American forces pull out completely. 58,220 American men and women have died in 'somebody else's war', leading to public outrage back in America.
Democratically elected Socialist President of Chile, Salvador Allende, is overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet with the backing of the CIA.
The Yom Kippur War: Israel is attacked by Egypt and Syria. The war ends in a ceasefire, with the Egyptians unexpectedly going over to the American side by accepting their ceasefire proposals.
Richard Nixon resigns as the President after his role in the infamous Watergate scandal is exposed. He does this in the face of near-certain impeachment, and thus becomes the first American President to resign.
'Commies in Afghanistan': President Mohammed Daoud Khan is murdered by pro-Communist rebels known as the 'Khalq' faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. A Communist regime in Afghanistan, led by Nur Muhammad Tarqi is now in place.
Pro-Soviet Tarqi is deposed (and executed) by Hafizullah Amin, one of his erstwhile followers. The Soviets, declaring Amin to be a CIA stooge, enter Afghanistan, ending the Detente. This comes to be known as the Soviet Vietnam.
The Americans begin providing aid and assistance to religiously motivated freedom fighters in Afghanistan known as the Mujahideen
This is also the year of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Ronal Reagan is elected President of the USA. His platform includes a harder policy towards the Soviets.
In Poland, martial law is declared in an attempt to crush the Solidarity trade union movement, led by Lech Walesa against Communist rule
Ronald Reagan announces the Caribbean Basin Initiative, to prevent the overthrow of governments in the Carribean by Communist forces.
Brezhnev dies, is succeeded by Yuri Andropov
Argentina invades the Falklands Islands, which leads to the Falklands War, which ends with the British vanquishing the Argentines
In speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, Reagan labels the Soviet Union an "evil empire"
Civilian Korean Air Lines Flight 007, with 269 passengers, including U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald, is shot down by Soviet interceptor aircraft.
Exercise Able Archer 83 — Soviet anti-aircraft misinterpret a test of NATO's nuclear warfare procedures as a fake cover for an actual NATO attack; in response, Soviet nuclear forces are put on high alert.
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the leader of the Soviet Union. He proves to be one of the most dynamic leaders of the USSR, introducing a bevy of policy changes that alter the nature of the Union.
Within the Soviet party, there is opposition to Gorbachev's policy of Glasnost (transperancy) and Perestroika (openness)
The intention of the Perestroika is to make Socialism work more effectively in the Soviet Union, but Gorbachev proves to be ahead of his time.
Ronald Reagan, in a visit to Berlin, challenges Gorbachev, saying "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
George H.W. Bush is inaugurated as the President of the USA.
Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
Revolutions all across Eastern Europe succeed in restoring Democracy.
At the end of the Malta Summit, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George H. W. Bush declare that a long-lasting era of peace has begun. Many observers regard this summit as the official beginning of the end of the Cold War.
The Berlin Wall is breached, borders opened as thousands of Germans celebrate at the biggest symbol of the Cold War
The first McDonalds in Moscow, Russia opens. This is a symbolic victory for Capitalism.
Lithuania breaks away from the USSR, becomes an independent country.
The Berlin Wall is demolished, East and West Germany are unified
Iraq invades Kuwait, the Gulf War begins.
The penultimate year of the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact is formally dissolved.
On 19th August, a coup d'etat fails in Russia.
December 25: US President George H. W. Bush, after receiving a phone call from Boris Yeltsin, delivers a Christmas Day speech acknowledging the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the USSR. The hammer and sickle is lowered for the last time over the Kremlin.
December 26: The Council of Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR recognizes the dissolution of the Soviet Union and decides to dissolve itself.
December 31: All Soviet institutions cease operations. The Soviet Union, and the Cold War are now over.