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A World Divided. ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR. Key Questions. 1. How did the war-time allies attempt to prevent future wars? 2. Why did the United States and the USSR go from being friends to enemies after 1945?

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A world divided

A World Divided


Key questions

Key Questions

  • 1. How did the war-time allies attempt to prevent future wars?

  • 2. Why did the United States and the USSR go from being friends to enemies after 1945?

  • 3. What steps did each side take to assure ideological supremacy, and economic and political hegemony, 1945-47?

  • 4. Was it inevitable?

  • 5. What role did personalities play? (e.g. Truman replaced Roosevelt)

  • 6. To what extent did the USA and USSR present themselves as rival systems? (economic and ideological).

Major topics to be covered

Major Topics to be Covered

  • Origins of the Cold War

  • Truman and Containment

  • Cold War in Asia- China, Korea, and Japan

  • Policies of Ike & JFK

  • Vietnam War

  • Détente

Meaning of cold war

Term introduced into modern context by Walter Lippmann. Refers to a set of rivalries between USA and USSR.

Different from a ‘Hot War’.

Defined second half of 20th century. Shaped politics on every continent.

Meaning of Cold War


Created wars on a global scale.

Proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Led to the overthrow of many governments.

Cost between 5-8 trillion dollars.

Brought USA and USSR into wars they couldn’t win.

Triggered worst recession in 40 years as the 2 countries spent themselves in huge debt.


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The Cold War

  • The Cold War was a ‘war’ involving the USA and the USSR in which no direct fighting actually occurred between the two countries, but tensions were very high.

  • The USA and the USSR in 1945 were two very different countries with very different ideologies:

    The USA was capitalist The USSR was communist

Underlying tensions ideological differences



Underlying Tensions: Ideological differences

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How are these beliefs different?

Communism =

Where all factors of production (industry, business and agriculture) are owned by the state for the good of everyone.

Capitalism =

Where all factors of production (industry, business and agriculture) are owned by private individuals or firms who run them for their own profit.

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  • One leader, voted for by the people

  • Works with Parliament to pass laws

  • Could be from a variety of political parties


  • Ideally no need for a leader - Run by a committee – so no voting

  • Oversees day to day business

  • Only one political party

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  • Owned by individuals or companies

  • Develops/ mass produces

  • Sells as much as possible for profit


  • No need for an owner – factory owned by the Government

  • Only makes what is needed by the state

  • Not for profit

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  • Farmers produce for own gain

  • Sells food for as much as possible - for profit

  • Personally buys equipment and tools to make work more efficient.


  • Farmers produce for the state

  • All produce is taken and given out to the people – not for profit

  • Machinery/ equipment is provided by the state

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  • There should be a variety of political parties for people to choose between

  • People should be free to start their own businesses and make a profit

  • There should only be one political party

  • Everyone must work for the state

  • We should make as many products as we can and sell them for profits

  • We should only make as many products as we need

  • We believe in people having freedom of speech on political matters.

  • We will enforce strict censorship – no-one should criticise the state.

peace brought about by prosperity achieved through capitalism and democracy


  • Fairness and equality for all!

  • Freedom and opportunity for all!

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Difference in post-war world visions

German Problem

Distrust between US & USSR

Cold War Begins

Yalta Conference

Berlin Airlift

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World War Two

  • Why did the relationship between the USSR and the USA change during the war?

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What happened to ruin relations?

  • In your groups you will have been given a source about an event.

  • As a group you will need to use the source to work out the answers to the following:

  • Fill in your table as you go.

  • Make sure you learn the facts - You will need to be able to explain what happened to the rest of the class in 5 minutes time!

What happened?

How did this raise tensions between the USSR and the USA?

Who was at fault – the USA, the USSR or both?

Strange bedfellows

Wartime Allies but historical divisions.

Capitalism versus Communism.

Russia excluded from Versailles.

American support for Whites in Russian Civil War.

Soviet Government not recognized by USA.

Soviets proclaimed world revolution.

Diplomatic relations established 1933 for economic reasons only.

Strange Bedfellows

Emergence of the cold war

‘My enemies’ enemy is my friend’ but…

Russia bore the brunt of the war effort;

20 million killed. 1700 towns, 31000 factories, 100,000 collective farms, 128 billion dollars of property destroyed.

1941 pleading for second front. Suspicious of Allied special pleading. Source of conflict.

Not invited to Atlantic Conference. Tensions apparent.

Emergence of the Cold War

Russian interests buffer zone

Russian concerned about threats from Western Europe and Japan.

USA and Britain not seriously interested.

Russia wants protection from Western invasion.

Russia wants to use defeated countries to rebuild its own.

Wants to keep some conquered lands.

Goals contrary to USA free trade ambitions.

Russian Interests: Buffer Zone

The us perspective

Thinking how postwar world will be shaped.

Establish bases around the world during war.

Allow them to protect military strength around the globe – bases not territory important

Launching pads for potential attacks, preserve access to raw materials and deny them to rivals.

An archipelago of bases from Manila to Casablanca.

The US wants access to markets for trade as they fear a return of the Great Depression.

The US perspective

Cold war origins post war world vision

US Goals

Rebuild Europe/Germany

“Wilsonian” Peace

Self-determination or free elections



Cold War Origins: Post-War World Vision

  • Soviet Goals

    • With tens of millions killed in both world wars the Soviets main goal was… “NEVER AGAIN!”

      • Soviets wanted buffer states of “friendly” governments to protect them from future invasion

    • Exact revenge/reparations from Germany

Potential threat

Russia wrecked economically.

Little evidence that they wanted to challenge USA.

Concern amongst American thinkers of potential future threat Russia posed in the unstable postwar environment.

Worried that America’s access to oil and raw materials could be cut off by nationalist and communist movements (supported by the USSR).

Potential Threat

Mistrust and misunderstanding

Two industrial military powers determined to expand.

USA determined to prevent any one country from dominating the Eurasian land mass.

Explains USA opposition to USSR presence in Mediterranean, Middle East, Turkey, Iran, etc.

Explains why USA became involved in Korea and Vietnam.

Mistrust and Misunderstanding

Yalta and potsdam

Wartime Conferences about postwar world.

Potsdam more problematic than Yalta

Conflicts over spheres of Influence;

What to do with Germany

Borders of Poland

Governments of liberated countries

America’s Trump card.


Cold war origins yalta conference 1945

Cold War Origins: Yalta Conference (1945)

  • Major Agreements at Yalta

    • Free elections in Eastern Europe

      • Poland becomes a nation again

    • Agreed to create the UN

      • Security Council

    • FDR convinces Stalin to go to war with Japan 90 days after the war in Europe is over

      • Mistake?

Cold war origins the german problem

Cold War Origins: the German Problem

  • Potsdam Conference (1945)

    • Treatment of Germany

      • US = Rebuild

      • USSR = Punish

    • Nuremburg Trials

      • High ranking Nazis are tried

    • Partition of Germany

      • France was given part of Germany as long as it came out of the Allies part

        • Berlin is also split into sectors

      • Germany gets split into two (West and East)

    • Truman informs Stalin of the atomic bomb in an effort to intimidate him

Verbal grenades personality conflicts

Leadership speeches increase tensions.

Stalin spoke of need to rebuild Soviet industry and military.

Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech, March 1946.

Truman: ‘Russians only understand one syllable words.’

Verbal grenades: Personality conflicts

Sources of conflict

Eastern and Central Europe.

Partition of Germany.

Russia refuses to go along with plans to rebuild Germany.

Tensions surrounding Soviet troops remaining in Eastern Europe.

The Atomic Question. ( Source of leverage)

Sources of Conflict

Arms race before the arms race

Dropping Atom bombs demonstrated US power to Soviets.

US built up Nuclear arsenal in anticipation of the Soviets being chief threat.

Between mid 1947 and 1948, 40 nuclear bombs, dozens of bombers built.

Arms Race before the Arms Race


Britain’s weakened position

Civil War in Greece

The Truman doctrine

Czechoslovakia turns communist

Marshall Aid

Stalin forms Cominform and Comecon

First test of Containment would happen in Germany with Berlin Blockade.

First example of Brinkmanship.


Cominform and comecon

Stalin now wanted to tighten his control on each country. He did this by using Cominform and Comecon.

Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) 1947.

coordinated governments in Eastern Europe.

Ran meetings and gave out instructions to Communist governments as to what they must do.

Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) 1949.

coordinated industries and trade of Eastern Europe.

traded with each other and not the West.

favoured USSR produced goods and guaranteed a cheap supply of raw materials for the USSR.

Set up the bank for Socialist countries.


Brinkmanship putting containment to the test

The impact of early crises:

i) Berlin Blockade and airlift

ii) Communist Revolution in China 1949

iii) Korean War 1950-53

Brinkmanship: Putting Containment to the Test

Cold war begins berlin airlift 1948 1949

Cold War Begins: Berlin Airlift (1948-1949)

  • Stalin wants Berlin all to himself

    • All roads leading into west Berlin

      • Hopes to starve West Berlin and gain control of city

      • US led airlift supplies Berlin and embarrasses USSR

        • 1 plane lands every 30 seconds!!!!!

    • After a year Stalin stops the blockade

Iron curtain drops symbolic and physical separation of western and eastern europe

Iron Curtain Drops-Symbolic and physical separation of Western and Eastern Europe

Truman doctrine

Truman Doctrine

  • Greece is on the verge of collapse to Communism and Truman is forced to make a momentous decision

  • Truman Doctrine

    • Policy of Containment is introduced

      • Communism is evil, and it must not be allowed to spread

    • Marshall Plan: billions of dollars given to European nations to help them rebuild and survive

      • Help keep communism isolated

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Marshall Plan Aid in Europe

Us guarantees peace by readying for war

US Guarantees Peace By Readying for War

  • National Security Act of 1947 creates the Department of Defense

    • Pentagon is built

    • National Security Council is created to advise the President

      • NSC-68: allowed for the President to quadruple military spending

    • Peacetime draft is created

  • US gets entangled in a foreign alliance

    • NATO (1949): a defensive alliance to protect from Soviet aggression

      • An attack on one is an attack on all

      • Warsaw Pact is the Soviet response to NATO

Cold war in asia

Cold War in Asia

  • Japan

    • Gen. MacArthur rebuilds Japan into a peaceful and thriving democracy

  • China Falls (1949)

    • China becomes Communist (25% of the world)

  • Soviets detonate an atomic bomb in 1949

    • US responds by developing the H-Bomb

      • Arms Race begins

Containment put to the test korea

Containment Put to the Test: Korea

  • Korean War: 1950-1953

    • Korea separated in two after WWII

    • With USSR backing North Korea invaded South Korea

    • US led coalition come to South Korea’s aid

    • Containment Policy: do not allow communism to spread

    • Back and Forth war

      • China eventually enters the war

      • General MacArthur wants to nuke China and end this war quickly

    • War never officially ended

    • Koreas are still technically at war

Massive retaliation

Massive Retaliation

  • President Eisenhower

    • 1952-1960

  • Not a fan of containment

    • Promised to liberate captive people

  • Massive Retaliation

    • Mess with us or our allies and we will use our nukes…

    • Use of nuclear weapons as a first strike option

      • Smaller army and smaller price tag

  • Brinksmanship: go to the brink of war to show strength

  • Nuclear war is not something to get into over minor conflicts

    • Hungarian Revolt of 1956

      • Americans did nothing to assist the revolt

Mutual assured destruction

Mutual Assured Destruction

  • Each side knew that if they used nuclear weapons against the other side, the other side would have enough weapons left to destroy you

  • Using nuclear weapons would be suicide

Jfk and flexible response

JFK and Flexible Response

  • JFK shifted away from massive retaliation because it was impractical

    • Flexible Response: respond to each crisis accordingly based on importance to the US

  • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

    • Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba

    • JFK threatened war if they were not removed

      • In the end a compromise is made

        • Closest the world has ever been to nuclear war

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The Cuban Missile Crisis

In August 1962, the Cuban and Soviet governments secretly began to build bases in Cuba for a number of medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) with the ability to strike most of the continental United States.

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Worried about SU becoming friends

with Cuba – only 80 miles away from

US – SU could put missiles on Cuba that

could destroy the US within minutes

Wants Castro dead – Capitalist to take

his place

JFK must be seen as strong after the Bay

of Pigs otherwise never be elected back in

  • Wants to put missiles on Cuba

  • US can destroy SU from missiles in Turkey – SU want the same capacity

  • Khbelieves he can bully JFK – JFK is weak

  • after the Bay of Pigs and a young President

  • Khis also under pressure from other SU

  • leaders – Kh must put missiles on Cuba

  • for his own political survival

  • Worried about USA Bay of Pigs

  • Wants protection – Soviet Union

  • USSR = fellow Communist country

  • CIA tried to kill Castro

  • Needs Soviet money as economy is in ruins

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1. Do nothing and allow the missiles to be put on Cuba

2. Airstrike on the Cuban missile sites to ensure that they could not fire any nuclear weapons

3. Invade Cuba and take the country over to ensure that it can never be used for such a site

4. Blockade Cuba with US warships to block any Soviet ships from entering Cuba with the nuclear weapons

5. Start a nuclear attack on Cuba and if necessary the Soviet Union

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The Cuban Missile Crisis – October 1962

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Kennedy – Decision time!


Avoids direct confrontation and war – that would be nuclear

Puts the ball in Khrushchev’s court

If war – Soviets could strike in Europe – start WW3

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1. Turn Soviet ships back

2. Tell ships to continue on their present course – call America’s bluff

3. Try and make a deal with JFK – missiles in Cuba for missiles in Turkey

4. Invade Berlin to create a distraction

5. Support ships with submarines in the area – do not turn back

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The Cuban Missile Crisis – October 1962

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Khrushchev – decision time!


Sends a telegram offering a summit – no strings attached – probably sent by Khrushchev

Second telegram – with demands for missiles to be taken off Turkey and no invasion of Cuba in the future – probably sent by hardliners

Soviet Union can NOT just back down without any concessions!

BUT can not start a nuclear war it knows it can NOT win

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The End of the Crisis

Bobby Kennedy meets Dobrynin SU representative and assures him that missiles will be taken off Turkey

Agreed that Missiles should return to the SU and that missile bases on Cuba should be dismantled

US agrees NOT to invade Cuba

The ships turn around and the world pulls back from nuclear war

US takes obsolete missiles out of Turkey – kept secret

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A Hotline was set up between Moscow and Washington – directly between the Presidents – to stop any further misunderstandings

In 1963 a Test Ban Treaty was signed – no more nuclear weapons could be tested in the atmosphere

Nuclear war had been avoided

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Who has won the Cuban Missile Crisis?

The Outcome


Fidel Castro


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The Vietnam War

I believe that we can win victory for freedom both at home and abroad. I believe that we can be strong enough and determined enough to win those victories.  I believe that appeasement and weakness can only bring war.  I’ve asked and will continue to ask: Why Not Victory–why not victory for sound, constitutional principles and government–why not victory over the evils of communism?

LBJ has to answer the question “what are you doing about communism?”

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How did two little boats lead to one big war?

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4th August two American gunboats the Maddox and the Turner Joy were attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin

Why is this going to have an impact on the war?

The Gulf of Tonkin resolution

It was “like a grandma’s nightshirt – it covered everything”

What powers did the President gain from the resolution?

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Congress passed the resolution on 7th August 1964 by 88 votes to 2 votes

How does this help LBJ?

He has full political support from both Democrats and Republicans

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1964 Presidential election

After the Gulf of Tonkin American aircraft bombed North Vietnam for the first time

LBJ’s approval rating went from 42% to 72%

LBJ won the ‘64 election with 61% of the popular vote

How does this help LBJ?

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What was the situation in South Vietnam?

The Working group report 1965

What recommendations does the report make?

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Why did the Superpowers pursue a policy of détente?


Detente refers to a period of ‘apparent’ easing or thaw in tensions between the two superpowers

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Why did the Superpowers pursue a policy of détente?

Most significant

Organise the factors into a “Diamond nine”

Least significant

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Why did the Superpowers pursue a policy of détente?

Looking at somebody else’s ‘diamond nine’

Compare your choices and discuss your reasons. Rearrange your cards, if you have changed your mind

Most significant

If you have moved the cards prepare to explain why

Least significant

Summing up

Historical legacy of distrust.

Ideological differences.

Divergent postwar needs and concerns.

Personality conflicts.

Postwar conditions.




  • The Unfinished Nation, Chapter 29

  • The Cold War, pp. 750-770

  • Mastering Modern World History

  • part I Chapter 7 The Cold War pp. 122-140

  • Chapter 8 The spread of communism outside Europe pp. 142-168

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