The Cold War: Severe Tension between the United States and the Soviet Union

The feuding began after World War II, mostly regarding political and economic power. After the destruction that World War II caused, the United States and the Soviet Union were left standing. Gaining control of countries was sought after, even if the countries weren’t benefiting them in any way. During this time, it was all about power. From the years of 1957 to 1975, the Cold War was in full effect and the United States and the Soviet Union were in competition for everything. Through events like the Space Race innovation was heightened. Wars like the Vietnam, which was the deadliest, and the Korean War, had many effects, including negative and even some positive effects. These took part on both countries, and even the Cold War as a whole. The Cold War was very influential for both countries, during and post war. Fear was a big part in the advancements during the cold war. With all of the technology being developed it would have been easy to have mass destruction on your enemy with simply the click of a button. The cold war could have ended in world destruction, although it never got that far. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the epitome of this, and the closest the two countries got to nuclear war. During the cold war, there was always a fear of a nuclear war. For the 45 year period of the cold war, safety was not felt.

Why was the Cold War such a driving factor behind the Space Race?

The Space Race was a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to see who was more technologically advanced at the time through space advancements. At the time tensions were very high because of the Cold War, and these tensions were carried through to the space race. On October 4, 1957 Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union, starting the competition. The race was not necessarily about space advancements, although more about who was more advanced during that time proving that they were more of a threat. If the Soviet Union was able to get a satellite into space, a serious question was posed. What else could they achieve? Nuclear Weapons had become more of a threat during the Cold War, meaning both countries had to make advancements during this time to become the bigger threat. If the Soviet Union was able to launch a satellite into space, it was feared they would be able to launch nuclear missiles as well. During this time, both countries were also trying to develop missiles to launch far distances. With the technology and power to do this, mass destruction could be possible. When one country was able to make progress in the space race they were considered the more advanced country at the time, which was sought over. In the beginning of the space race, the Soviet Union kept making small advancements putting the United States behind. At the time, Russia was seen as the enemy, so the enemy was winning thus far, which didn’t sit well in the states. Although in 1961, the Soviet Union became the first to put a man into space. Being so behind the Soviet Union, the United States made a bold claim. On May 25, 1961 president John F. Kennedy said the United States would be the first to land a man on the moon. Not wanting to fall behind, The United States put more money into space research, thus the apollo program was created. After this the competition between the two countries continued, and both continued to make advancements. In 1969, finally, Apollo II was launched. On board was three American astronauts. With this, the United States became the first to successfully land a man on the moon. Although the road to get there was long and difficult, they were the first to make it happen. The first man to walk on the moon was Neil Armstong, with his famous words being, One step for man, on giant leap for mankind. In the years to come the Soviet Union tried to achieve the same. In a 3 yearn period they continued their attempts to make it to the moon. Although when they proved unsuccessful, that marked the end of the space race, and landing a man on the moon had meant victory for the United States. The cold war caused years of tension, with one country always wanting to better, and with the space race the United States proved to be victorious.

Discuss why the Americans were so afraid of communist infiltration after the end of World War II. Items for discussion should include the HUAC, McCarthyism and the Red Scare.

The Red Scare was a time period of American history where communist infiltration was the number one worry on everyone’s minds. The term Red Scare came about to define this time of intense fear of communism for a couple reasons. Red stood for the red of the soviet flag, while scare was in the name because American citizens were terrified. The Red Scare that happened during the Cold War was actually the Second Red Scare. The first Red Scare had occurred in the 1920s, and was slightly different than the second one. The Second Red Scare caused a lot of changes to come to American society, and to American politics. The soviets wanted to push the boundaries of their union to other countries, and there was a lot of unstable countries out there that they could easily take advantage of. The Red Scare occurred during the first several years of the Cold War, when fear of immediate communist invasion and infiltration was at its peak. The Second Red Scare was a big issue for Americans everywhere. Communism was a household name, and everyone was glued to their television screens and radios waiting to see what would be the next step that the soviets took. Along with scaring the everyday American, the Second Red Scare also found its way into the lives of American politicians. One politician in particular, senator McCarthy from the Republican party, was famous for his use of the Second Red Scare to further his political interests. He knew that the lives of Americans everywhere were plagued by the thought of communists all around them, and he decided to capitalize on these fears. McCarthy began to use something that was later called McCarthyism. McCarthyism was a way to attack the politicians that were running against him, or simply politicians that he did not like. What he would do, is that he would say that whatever politician he did not like was affiliated with the Soviet Union. He would say that their beliefs, and the ideas that they promoted were aligned with those of the soviets. He would do whatever it took and say whatever it took to smear the name of the other politicians he was running against, and sadly enough it worked. McCarthyism was a popular tactic during the Second Red Scare, and it was made popular by just how effective it could be. Another political thing that happened because of the Second Red Scare was the rise to power of the HUAC. The HUAC was a political thing made by the House of Representatives. The HUAC was a way for American citizens to report suspected communists in their lives, and to work to keep each other safe. The HUAC investigated suspected communists in the government and in daily life. This organization was made with the right intentions, and could have been useful if it were run in a better way, but it ended up not doing much for American society other than terrifying the people it investigated, and those that were reported to it.

What were the causes of the American economic boom in the 1950’s? How did prosperity affect the nation socially, politically, and economically?

The 1950s were a period of many good things for America. The best part of this that will be discussed in this essay was that of the economic boom of 1950. This was called the golden age of America and for good reason. During this period of time, the overall economy grew by 37%, the automobile industry of the country produced nearly four times as many cars as the decades prior, and the housing industry grew as well. All the industries of America enjoyed serious development during the 50s, all except for the farmers. The farmers suffered a lot during this decade, as they had to sell crops for cheaper, and their business as a whole suffered. Although the farmers were not having a great time, the average American was. With the economy up so much more than it had been before, the average consumer had a heavy surplus of money to spend. This surplus translated to more sales for small businesses, more innovation among inventors and entrepreneurs, and more business for the entire country. This meant that exportation and importation from the United States and other countries flourished, and the global economy benefited a lot. The economic boom led to a lot of suburban growth, as many families could now afford cars and houses. The lower prices from the supply of the housing market and automobile market increasing so much mean that the barrier to entry was much lower than it had been before, and families could be started in the suburbs. Access to cars meant that people could live further from their jobs, and the amount of money being made by businesses everywhere meant that employers would pay their employees more. This golden age of America was named the golden age for a reason. All of this money kept circulating, boosting the economy even more. Because businesses made more money, they could pay their employees more money. These employees could spend the money on their family, or give it to their wives and children to spend. These family members would in turn spend the money, or the family would deposit it in the banks. With the banks having more money in their vaults, they were legally allowed to loan more out. People borrowed more, spent more, and businesses made more, allowing the cycle to continue. The combination of better global trade, more money supply flowing through the pockets of American citizens, banks being able to loan more, and even lower taxes from the government meant that everyone could afford to live better than they ever had before. America became the best known country for living in extravagance. While other nations might have been suffering with poverty, or barely passing by with essentials and few extra goods, America became the number one place to go if you wanted to be successful. This economic boom of the 50s did not last forever, but it did change America forever. Ever since that decade, Americans have expected more from themselves, their country, and the goods they buy. The boom of the 50s was one of the best things to ever happen to America, and the Cold War was a contributor to it.

Discuss the significance of NATO, the Marshall Plan, The Truman Doctrine, and the Warsaw Pact as contributing factors to the Cold War.

The United States did whatever they could to contain the spread of the Soviet Union’s repressive communism beliefs. The Soviet Union wanted to spread their communistic ideas to the rest of the world because the Soviets believed that that democracy leads to inequality. The Soviets believed that everything should be split between everyone equally. The United States saw these ideas as repressive, they took away people’s freedoms and rights. They wanted to contain communism before it got out of hand. They were afraid that the Soviet Union would become more powerful than America if they continued to expand at a fast rate. American leaders considered it necessary to give assistance to countries that might fall to the aggressive Soviets. This began with the Truman Doctrine. The doctrine was a speech given by United States President Harry S. Truman in March of 1947. In the speech he stated that it was our duty to protect the world from the spread of communism. He stated that he wanted to give about four hundred million dollars to the aid of Turkey and Greece. He was worried that they could fall to the hands of the communists. He hoped that giving them an economic boost would help to prevent that from happening. This same idea was used by Secretary of the State George Marshall when he proposed the Marshall Plan in 1948. George Marshall wanted to expand their economic support to more European countries, not just Greece and Turkey. This plan was a much bigger commitment. In four years it put billions of dollars into the rebuilding of Western European countries. The U.S. was worried that Western Europe was still dealing with the destruction that was caused in World War II. Europe’s economy was really down and the U.S. worried that this made them a much easier target for the Soviet Union. The U.S. hoped that if they provided economic aid then they would be able to defend themselves better. The plan ended up being relatively successful. After four years Europe’s economy was at a better place than it was before the start of World War II. The U.S. also formed an alliance with Western European countries. This alliance is known as the National Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. The purpose of NATO was to provide military assistance to each other against any threat but especially against the Soviet Union. A few years the Soviet Union formed their own alliance with other communistic nations to counter NATO. This alliance was the Warsaw Pact. The Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO escalated the tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States because the U.S. was clearly trying very hard to slow down the expansion of communism. The Soviet Union did not want to feel less powerful, so by forming the Warshaw pact they countered Nato and proved where they stand. This was just the start of the Cold War. The conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union would eventually lead to much more devastating events.

Discuss the influence of the Vietnam War on the Cold War

The Vietnam War had a big effect on the Cold War, being a very deadly war with, at times, no end in sight. After China became a communistic country, communism began to spread throughout Indochina. In 1954 Vietnam had gained its independence from France. But Vietnam was split into two parts at the time, Communistic North Vietnam under the rule of Ho Chi Minh and South Vietnam under the rule of dictator Ngo Dinh Diem. Both leaders wanted to unify all of Vietnam under one ruler but they disagreed about who that should be. This conflict led to them going into war. The United States began assisting South Vietnam in hopes of preventing Northern Vietnam from taking over. The Soviet union and China also intervened in the war by providing aid to the Vietcong (Vietnamese Communists). At first, under President John F. Kennedy, the United States only provided weapons, economic aid, and a few thousand soldiers. But slowly Kennedy began providing more and more soldiers. In 1964 Kennedy was assassinated and his vice president Lyndon B. Johnson took on his role as president. Kennedy was reluctant to send more soldiers, he felt that the way the victory was not as simple as just sending a lot of soldiers. However, Johnson was much more willing to send American soldiers to fight in Vietnam, especially after chaos erupted in South Vietnam with assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. The amount of soldiers stationed in Vietnam went from a few thousand to almost five hundred thousand in a few years. All of a sudden, the United States was caught up in a violent war. The war was not going well for the United States. The soldiers were not unaccustomed to the environment they were fighting in which left them at a disadvantage. It was also difficult for them to tell the difference between their allies and their enemies. On top of that, the Vietcong used guerilla war tactics that would catch the American soldiers by surprise. They would ambush the American soldiers and set traps for them. American soldiers were not trained for this type of warfare. Casualties began to rack up, which led to anti-war protests across the nation. Many Americans considered the war to be unjust and they did not like the fact that young teens were being forced to fight through the military draft. As time went on the Vietnam situation only got worse. It got to the point where South Vietnamese citizens no longer wanted American presence in the war. The war became extremely unpopular. The was was pretty much hopeless, the United States was clearly losing it. U.S. President Richard Nixon decided that it was time to pull out in 1973. After twenty years of fighting the U.S. failed to stop the communists from invading South Vietnam. In April of 1975 the Vietcong took over all of Vietnam. It was a total embarrassment for the United States. The Vietnam War made the United States look extremely weak. Americans began to question their government because they wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives trying to assist a dictator. They also found out that the government was doing things behind their backs like killing innocent civilians. This war caused America to lose confidence in their own power, and they were no longer arrogant about it. In the end, the United States had felt defeated, and because of this war they had re evaluated their approach in the Cold War.

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