What caused tensions in the 1950s?

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  • Created on: 01-06-14 11:53
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Reasons for tensions in the 1950s
· 3 Word Expansionism. The USSR begin expanding its
influence in the 3rd World, as many countries were becoming
decolonised and thus had a power vacuum that needed to
be filled. The US distrusted this and saw it as typical Soviet
expansionism. The Korean War signalled that the Cold War
had now been globalised. Egypt became a pawn in the Cold
War, after the US had promised to build the Aswan Dam.
However, they soon became a Soviet ally after the Egyptian
leader, Nasser, bought arms from Eastern Europe and the US
became angry- therefore, they turned to the Soviets for help.
This developed the Suez Crisis. The beginnings of the
Vietnam War began to develop in this period aswell; the
Soviets were vocally supportive of the Vietnminh whilst the
US supported the French, South Vietnam and Diem's regime.
The Cuban Revolution of 1959 also happened, and despite
the fact that Cuba weren't communist for a few more years,
the US became worried about Soviet expansionism in what
they perceived as "their backyard". The US also encouraged
3rd World Expansionism; for example whenever there was
rumours of a slightly left wing government they became
worried; for example they used the CIA to destablise a
rumoured left wing government in Guatemala. Eisenhower
also had his own 3rd world policy; the Eisenhower
Doctrine to send troops to help fight influence of external
forces (ie Soviets), for example he sent the 6th Fleet to
Jordan and 10,000 marines to Lebanon. Asia also became a
focal point; it became clear that Japan was now firmly an
American ally, and following the Korean War the US set up
SENTO and SEATO to ensure protection of Asia (and the
US' interests in Asia). They were also protective of Taiwan;
the Chinese Nationalists enclave. They viewed this as China
and sent the 7th Fleet to protect it when Mainland China
began shelling the Taiwanese Straits.
· Arms Race/Space Race- This caused tension as it increased
a fear of nuclear war- what could happen if there was a
nuclear war. Every time there was a new development, the
other had to keep up. If you admitted defeat in the Arms
Race, you admitted defeat in the Cold War and suggested
that your country had inferior systems to the others.
Brinkmanship, going to the edge of war, also caused
tension as it meant both sides were always prepared to go to
war, this policy was demonstrated in Suez Crisis and the
Berlin Crisis, as a result of Khrushchev, in the words of

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Gaddis, "rattling his rockets". The perceived Missile Gap
also caused tension. Due to the USSR's developments, US
public quickly began believing that there was a missile gap,
and the US was behind. This was fuelled by Khrushchev's
"potenkinism", his boasts that USSR had nuclear weapons
when they were behind. This is proven by the Moscow Air
Show; where the same planes kept going around to appear
that they had more then they actually did.…read more

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Kennedy didn't back down and
responded with a threat of nuclear war, "Then I guess it's
going to be a cold winter".
· Khrushchev's Personality- Tension was also increased
because of Khrushchev's unpredictable behaviour, which
culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although he
advocated peaceful co existence, he believed in the ultimate
victory of communism and thought they could co exist in the
mean time. His "rattling of rockets" also increased fear of
nuclear war and created tensions.…read more


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