The Cold War Review for AP World History (page 2)
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The Beginnings of the Cold War
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the new postwar world order by stating that an "iron curtain" dividing free and communist governments had fallen across Europe. In order to prevent communist-dominated nations east of the Iron Curtain from spreading totalitarianism, the United States sponsored a program of European recovery known as the Marshall Plan (1947). The program provided loans to European nations to assist them in wartime recovery. The U.S. policy of containment of communism was set forth in 1947 in the Truman Doctrine. When Greece and Turkey were threatened by communism, U.S. President Truman issued his policy, which pledged U.S. support for countries battling against communism.
In 1946, Great Britain, France, and the United States merged their occupation zones into a unified West Germany with free elections. In 1947, Western attempts to promote economic recovery by stabilizing the German currency resulted in a Soviet blockade of Berlin—the divided city located within the Russian zone of occupation. For nearly eleven months, British and U.S. planes airlifted supplies to Berlin until the Soviets lifted the blockade.
Two opposing alliances faced off during the Cold War era. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), led by the United States, was founded in 1949. NATO allied Canada, the United States, and most of Western Europe against Soviet aggression. The Soviet Union responded with an alliance of its eastern European satellites: the Warsaw Pact. U.S.-Soviet rivalry intensified in 1949, when the Soviet Union developed an atomic bomb.
The Cold War escalated to military confrontation in 1950 when North Korean forces invaded South Korea. North Korea eventually received the backing of the Soviet Union and Communist China, while a United Nations coalition led by the United States supported South Korea. The Korean Conflict ended with the establishment of the boundary between the two Koreas near the original line.
The Beginnings of Decolonization
After the end of World War II, most European nations and the United States decided that their colonies were too expensive to maintain. Within the colonies, renewed nationalist sentiments led native peoples to hope that their long-expected independence would become a reality. In 1946, the United States granted the Philippines their independence. France was alone in wanting to hold on to its colonies in Algeria and Indochina.
In 1957, Ghana became the first African colony to gain its independence. By 1960, French possessions in West Africa were freed, and the Belgian Congo was granted independence. Independence movements in the settler colonies of Algeria, Kenya, and Southern Rhodesia took on a violent nature. By 1963, Kenya was independent; in 1962 a revolt in Algeria also had ended colonial rule in that country. Southern Rhodesia became the independent state of Zimbabwe in 1980, and in 1990, Namibia (German Southwest Africa, which had been made a mandate of South Africa in 1920) became the last African colony to achieve independence.
In South Africa, the white settler population was divided almost equally between Afrikaners and English settlers. Although the white settlers were a minority, by 1948 the Afrikaners had imposed upon South Africa a highly restrictive form of racial segregation known as apartheid. Apartheid prohibited people of color from voting and from having many contacts with whites. The best jobs were reserved for whites only. Apartheid continued after South Africa gained its independence from Great Britain in 1961.
Egypt won its independence in the 1930s; meanwhile, the British continued to maintain a presence in the Suez Canal zone. After Egypt's defeat in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, the Egyptian military revolted. In 1952, King Farouk was overthrown; in 1954, Gamal Abdul Nasser was installed as ruler of an independent Egypt. In 1956, Nasser, backed by the United States and the Soviet Union, ended the influence of the British and their French allies in the Suez Canal zone.
In 1967, Nasser faced a decisive defeat once again in the Six-Day War with Israel. His successor, Anwar Sadat, strove to end hostilities with Israel after a nondecisive war with Israel in 1973. Sadat's policy of accepting aid from the United States and Western Europe has been continued by his successor, Hosni Mubarak, who came to power after the assassination of Sadat by a Muslim fundamentalist.
The Effects of Decolonization
Independence did not buy peace or prosperity to most of the new African nations. New states tended to maintain colonial boundaries, meaning that they often cut through ethnic and cultural groups. Sometimes ethnic conflicts turned violent, as in the tribal conflicts in the territories of the former Belgian Congo.
After the Russian civil war, which lasted from 1918 to 1921, Lenin moved quickly to announce a program of land redistribution and a nationalization of basic industries. When his initial programs culminated in industrial and agricultural decline, Lenin instituted his New Economic Policy (NEP). The NEP permitted some private ownership of peasant land and small businesses; it resulted in an increase in agricultural production.
In 1923, Russia was organized into a system of socialist republics under a central government and was renamed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The republics were under the control of the Communist Party. When Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin eventually became the leader of the Soviet Union. Stalin's regime was characterized by purges, or the expulsion or execution of rivals. Especially targeted were the kulaks, wealthy peasants who refused to submit to Stalin's policy of collectivization. Collectivization consolidated private farms into huge collective farms worked in common by farmers. Farmers were to share the proceeds of the collective farms and also to submit a portion of the agricultural products to the government. Millions of kulaks were executed or deported to Siberia. Even after farmers accepted collectivization, however, lack of worker initiative prevented it from being successful.
Stalin had greater success in improving Soviet industry. He set up a series of Five Year Plans that concentrated on heavy industry. By the end of the 1930s, the Soviet Union was behind only Germany and the United States in industrial capacity.
The Expansion of Soviet Rule
During the final weeks of World War II, the Soviet Union liberated Eastern Europe (except Yugoslavia and Greece) from Nazi rule. By 1948, these areas, except for Greece, had communist governments. Yugoslavia's communist rule under Marshall Tito did not become a part of the Soviet bloc, attempting instead to forge a style of communism more responsive to its citizens.
In 1956, a Hungarian revolt against repressive Soviet rule was put down by Soviet tanks. When large numbers of East Germans began migrating to West Berlin, the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to stem the tide of refugees. In Prague Spring (1968), Czech leader Alexandr Dubcek stood up against Soviet oppression, abolishing censorship; the result of his efforts was Soviet invasion. Only in Poland was Soviet rule somewhat relaxed; religious worship was tolerated and some land ownership allowed. In the late 1970s, Solidarity, Poland's labor movement, challenged the Soviet system.
Soviet Rule after Stalin
In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev rose to power in the Soviet Union. Criticizing Stalin's ruthless dictatorship, Khrushchev eased up on political repression. In 1962, Soviet construction of nuclear missiles in Cuba brought days of tense confrontation between Khrushchev and U.S. President Kennedy. Khrushchev ultimately backed down, and the missiles were removed. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a classic example of brinkmanship, or the Cold War tendency of the United States and the Soviet Union to be on the brink of war without actually engaging in battle. Also during Khrushchev's regime, the rift between the Soviet Union and Communist China widened.
The Later Decades of the Twentieth Century
In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to support communist combatants in Afghanistan's civil war. The Soviets withdrew their forces in 1989 after failing to establish a communist government for Afghanistan.
In the 1980s, economic setbacks and the military power of the United States produced a reform movement within the Soviet Union. The new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, reduced Soviet nuclear armaments. His reform program revolved around the concepts of glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost, meaning "openness," allowed Soviet citizens to discuss government policies and even criticize them. Perestroika was an economic reform program that permitted some private ownership and control of agriculture and industry. Foreign investments were allowed, and industry was permitted to produce more consumer goods.
Mexico emerged from its revolution with a one-party system. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) dominated Mexican politics for seventy years.
In Argentina, government was under the control of military leaders who wanted to industrialize the country. Some of them were fascist sympathizers, among them Juan Perón and his wife, Evita. Although Perón raised the salaries of the working classes, his government controlled the press and denied civil liberties to its citizens. When he died in 1975, Argentina continued to be ruled by military dictators. In 1982, a short war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands resulted in Argentine defeat.
From 1934 to 1944, and from 1952 to 1959, Cuba was ruled by dictator Fulgencio Batista. U.S. trade relations with Cuba gave it an influence over the island nation. In 1959, the Cubans revolted against the corruption of the Batista regime, replacing it with the rule of a young revolutionary lawyer named Fidel Castro. During the revolution, Batista lost the support of the United States because of his corrupt government.
Shortly after assuming power in Cuba, Castro proclaimed himself a Marxist socialist. He seized foreign property and collectivized farms. In 1961, Castro terminated relations with the United States and gradually aligned Cuba with the Soviet Union. Also in 1961, the United States sponsored an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles. Cuba's dependence on the Soviet Union led to the missile crisis of 1962.
Throughout Central America, U.S. businesses such as United Fruit invested in national economies, resulting in a U.S. presence often resented by Central Americans. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas carried out a protest against U.S. intervention that resulted in a socialist revolution in the 1980s.
The United States attempted to contain communism in Latin America by supporting governments that professed adherence to democratic principles. It also sponsored programs such as the Alliance for Progress, begun in 1961 and intended to develop the economies of Latin American nations. By the final decades of the twentieth century, the United States changed its position to one of less intervention in Latin America. Under the Carter administration, the United States signed a treaty with Panama that eventually returned control of the Panama Canal to Panama. By the 1980s, the United States was again assuming a more direct role in Central America. In 1990, the United States helped end the Noriega government, which was known for its authoritarianism and control of the drug trade.
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