Cold War

Cold War Events including Hungary 1956, Berlin Wall 1961, Czechslovakia 1968, Afghanistan 1979-89 and overview summary.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Terrie
  • Created on: 17-03-12 18:19

Hungarian Uprising

Impatient for reforms, Hungarian students repeatedly rioted in Budapest in 1956. In response a reformist government under Imre Nagy came to power with the promises of increased personal freedom for Hungarians and the possibility of leaving the Warsaw Pact. All over Hungary, statues of Stalin were pulled down and Soviet flags were burnt as more and more people came out in support of independence from Moscow.

Soviet troops began to withdraw from Hungary as Nagy announced multiparty elections and the withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.

1 of 36

Berlin Wall Causes

The Soviet Empire
A city divided | Krushchev's reaction

Berlin had been a source of conflict between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies - it was a battlefield for the Cold War

Capitalist West Berlin had become a serious problem for the Soviet Union because it was completely surrounded by the Communist state of East Germany. By the end of the 1950s West Berliners enjoyed a very high standard of living, which contrasted sharply with the drab and difficult conditions in East Berlin. Because of this obvious contrast it was estimated that 3 million people had crossed from East to West Berlin between 1945 and 1960. This was a severe drain of money and skills from the East, which if left unchecked could threaten the economic survival of East Germany. This obvious brain drain was a serious propaganda setback for the Soviet Union and Communist eastern Europe.

2 of 36

Czechoslovakia 1968

In 1967 Alexander Dubcek became general secretary of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party.

In the spring of 1968 he began to reform the communist system. Dubcek called thiscommunism with a human face. Press censorship was ended, other political parties were allowed, political prisoners were released and Czechoslovakian citizens were given greater freedom to travel outside the country.

These reforms became known as the Prague Spring.

3 of 36

Afghanistan 1979-89

Afghanistan lies in Central Asia, on the southern border of the USSR.
The Soviet government was worried about the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in central Asia. The USSR also wanted influence in the region because it was so rich in oil. In 1979 the USSR invaded Afganistan and imposed a pro-soviet government. At first the invasion worked. But then the Afghans fought back with a long guerrilla campaign led by the Mujaheddin.

The 1970s had seen an improvement in relations between the Soviet Union and the USA, until the invasion of Afghanistan. Important talks over nuclear disarmament became bogged down, and most of the Western world boycotted the Moscow Olympics of 1980.

The USA suspended the shipment of grain to the Soviet Union, which was to cause serious long-term economic effects. Secretly the USA began to arm the Afghan rebels, the Mujahadin.

After twelve years of fighting, the Russians were forced to pull out of Afghanistan.

4 of 36

Afghan 2

  • Within weeks of the invasion Soviet troops were facing the same problems the Americans had in Vietnam in the 1960s. The Soviets were fighting a war to prop up a corrupt and unpopular government in a country where the majority of the population supported the Mujahadin.
  • As the Americans found in Vietnam, if you could not win the hearts and minds of the population, no number of troops with technologically advanced weapons would be able to win the war.
  • Besides international condemnation and worldwide sympathy for the Mujahadin, the Soviets also had to contend with a strong anti-war movement at home. As thousands of young Russian conscripts were dying in Afghanistan, many Soviet citizens began to question the reasons for and the high cost of the war.
  • In 1991 after a futile 12-year occupation, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, withdrew the Russian troops from Afghanistan. The Soviets had little to show for this futile war, they had failed utterly and at enormous cost to defeat the Mujahadin.
  • The war in Afghanistan was to have a serious long-term political impact on the Soviet Union. The Soviets ability to keep control of their satellite states was slipping from their grasp.
5 of 36

Summary of Hungary, Berlin Wall, Czechslovakia and

  • The invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 showed that the Soviet Union would not tolerate reform in any of its satellite states that could in any way threaten Russian dominance or security.
  • The erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 showed the weakness and vulnerability of the Soviet-imposed communist system on East Germany. The Wall was to stop the brain drain to the West, which was threatening the existence of the East German state.
  • The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan for ideological and strategic reasons, and found like the USA had in Vietnam, that it could not win a war when the enemy had the support of the local population.
6 of 36


The Hungarian uprising 1956

  • Repeated protest and riots led to a reformist government led by Imre Nagy.
  • Major political reforms were planned, including the withdrawal of Hungary from the Warsaw Pact.
  • The Soviets invaded Hungary and brutally crushed the rebellion.
  • Nagy was shot, and a new pro-Soviet government was set up.

The Berlin Wall 1961

  • The high standard of living in West Berlin contrasted with the hardship in the East.
  • Between 1945 and 1960 3 million people had fled from East to West Berlin.
  • As this threatened the existence of the East German state, a wall was erected around West Berlin.
  • The flow of refugees stopped, but it showed the vulnerability of Soviet-imposed communism.
7 of 36

Summary 2

Czechoslovakia 1968

  • In the spring of 1968 Alexander Dubcek began to reform communism in Czechoslovakia.
  • This was known as the Prague Spring or communism with a human face.
  • These reforms were seen as a major threat by the Soviet Union, which believed they would undermine communism in eastern Europe.
  • In August 1968 the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia, restored the Communist Party to full power and reversed Dubcek's reforms.

Afghanistan 1979

  • The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in order to maintain its influence in the area.
  • The Soviets hoped by doing so they could contain the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and develop their interests in the oil-rich Middle East.
  • The invasion brought international condemnation and a return to Cold War tensions.
  • Like the Americans in Vietnam, the Soviets got bogged down in a costly war they could never win.
  • They withdrew after 12 years, without defeating their enemy.
8 of 36

End of WW2

By February 1945 with the defeat of Germany only months away Stalin of the USSR, Roosevelt of the USA and Churchill of Britain met at Yalta in the Soviet Union. The Allies were united in their efforts to defeat Germany and Japan. On the surface there appeared to be much agreement but behind the scenes much was happening.

  • There was a general lack of trust between the leaders. Churchill was now in a much weaker bargaining position than Roosevelt and Stalin.
  • Stalin trusted no one and was preoccupied with having an eastern Europe friendly towards the Soviet Union.
  • Roosevelt's main concern was lasting world peace to be achieved through a strong and respected United Nations.
  • Churchill feared communism and did not trust Stalin at all. He was deeply concerned that the USSR would take control of eastern Europe.
  • The underlying ideological differences were growing between communism and capitalism.

9 of 36



  • This is a political and economic system first put into practice in a modern state by the Bolsheviks in Russia after the October Revolution in 1917.
  • Under communism the state takes over the management of the economy (mines, factories and farms) and is the sole employer of workers. The state also takes full responsibility for the provision of housing and social services (health, education, etc). In theory few people are rich under communism but few are unemployed or living in poverty.
  • The state looks after the people, but the price of a centrally planned economy and a centrally controlled political system is that the freedom of the individual is severely limited. The Communist Party was enormously powerful and acted in the name of the people, but there were no direct democratic checks on its policies.

10 of 36



This is an economic system based on the ideas of a free market economy. Under capitalism the ownership and management of the economy (mines, factories and farms - the 'means of production') are in the hands of individuals who work to make a profit. These individuals or groups use their money (or capital) to invest in the economy for this purpose. Capitalists hire workers to work in their factories for wages. The state interferes little in the running of the economy, allowing it to develop under the forces of the free market.

The belief is that the wealth generated in this way will eventually trickle down to all members of society. The more wealth is created, the more jobs there will be and consequently there will be less and less poverty. The state therefore takes little or no responsibility for the provision of housing and social services. In theory any individual has the freedom to become extremely rich, but while this can happen, in practice many people are unemployed and live in poverty.

Capitalism works best in a multiparty democracy with guaranteed political and economic freedom for individuals. In reality the capitalist system creates a wealthy elite who use their access to capital to influence the political process to protect and expand their social and economic interests. This gives rise to an unequal class system, which is prone to social conflict.

11 of 36

Yalta Agreements

The following agreements were reached at the Yalta Conference:

  • A new world peacekeeping organisation, the United Nations, was to be set up with the "Big Three' (USA, USSR and Britain) all agreeing to join.
  • Stalin agreed that the USSR would enter the war against Japan.
  • The Big Three agreed that Germany would be divided into four sectors: American, French, British and Soviet. The German capital, Berlin, was deep in the Soviet sector, so it was agreed that Berlin itself would be divided into four sectors.
  • They agreed to hunt down and punish Nazi war criminals.
  • They agreed that as countries were liberated from occupation by the German army, they would be allowed to hold free elections to choose the government they wanted.
  • The Big Three agreed that eastern Europe should be seen as 'a Soviet sphere of influence' as a buffer for 20 million deaths
  • The USSR promised not to influence Greece in percentages agreement
12 of 36

Yalta Disagreements

However, there were disagreements.

  • Churchill and Roosevelt could not agree with Stalin on the amount of compensation owed to the USSR as a result of losses during the War.
  • Stalin wanted a communist government in Poland because he wanted to prevent the USSR from being invaded through that country, which had happened twice before. He wanted to move the border of Poland further into Germany. Churchill rejected this, wanting rather to have the same government that had been in power in Poland in 1939.
  • Churchill was very worried that Stalin was planning to dominate eastern Europe. Roosevelt seemed less concerned about this, although his failing health might have seen him giving in to Stalin's demands.
13 of 36

From Yalta to Potsdam

April - Roosevelt died, succeeded by Harry S Truman = 'get tough with Stalin'. He felt that the Soviets did not share the West's ideas about democracy for the states of eastern Europe.

July VE day - no longer need for USA and USSR to be wartime allies - Truman discontinued American supplies to the Soviet Union, and a huge loan to the Russians was turned down by the American Congress- now that the war was over it was under no obligation to help the Soviet Union- strong anti-communist feeling

Churchill replaced by Atlee- Stalin only remaining figure who also attended Yalta

Truman furious on hearing that the Soviets were trying to force a pro-Soviet government on Poland and Stalin's arrest of Polish leaderssaw as excuse to build up Soviet empire / 

- Stalin exploiting Soviet sphere granted - by 1945 Soviet troops controlled most of Eastern Europe

Stalin suspicious over USA's development of A-Bomb - drops it on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - fact that USA had kept it secret develops mistrust

14 of 36


At this conference the Big Three confirmed some of the decisions made at Yalta:

  • Germany was split into four zones, each run by an Allied army.
  • Germany was to be disarmed, and war criminals put on trial.
  • Germany was to pay some reparations - USSR could take 25% reparations
  • The allies agreed that the Nazi Party would be banned and its leaders tried as war criminals.
  • They also agreed on the border between Poland and Germany.

However, there were disagreements even over some of their confirmed decisions

  • GERMANY:Stalin wanted to see Germany permanently crippled. Truman did not want to repeat the mistakes made at Versailles in 1919.
  • Stalin demanded huge reparations of $10 million to compensate for 20 mil soviet buffer. Truman resisted- wanted to rebuild Germany as a trading partner.
  • EASTERN EUROPE: Stalin exploiting ‘Soviet Sphere of Interest’ – by 1945 Soviet troops controlled most of Eastern Europe – Truman angry about Stalin’s arrest of Polish leaders/ saw as excuse to build up Soviet empire/ suspicious of the pro-Soviet governments that Stalin was imposing.
15 of 36

Salami Tactics

  • As the Red Army drove the Germans out of eastern Europe, they installed pro-Soviet communist-dominated governments. This became a major cause of superpower rivalry.By 1945 there were 12 million Red Army soldiers in eastern Europe.
  • By 1946, all of Eastern Europe; Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania, except Yugoslavia and Greece all had pro-Soviet governments taking orders from Moscow and owed their loyalty to Stalin.

Salami Tactics

:-USSR coming into Eastern European governments and entering into elections.-Gained support as many Eastern European countries were happy to be rid of Nazi control – needed recovery

- Forming coalition governments and then getting rid of opposition by execution whilst the secret police imprisoned anyone who opposed communist rule– formed one party states

-For example; first Eastern European state under Communist control; Bulgaria in 1945 – formed coalition and then executed leaders of other parties. Hungary – used secret police; AVO to get rid of opposition / In Poland – Stalin invited leaders and then arrested them

+Formed Cominform – political alliance between Communist and East European states – helped keep close watch on satellites- Yugoslavia not a member

16 of 36

Iron Curtain Speech and Greece/Turkey

  •  - March 1946 Churchill described the border between Soviet-controlled countries and the West as an 'Iron Curtain'. It described the way that Soviet control in eastern Europe had divided the continent in two. Stalin responded angrily to Churchill's speech - declaration of war

Greece and Turkey

With pro-Soviet governments established throughout eastern Europe, Stalin gradually tightened his control in each country, with the exception of Greece. A civil war had been raging there since 1944 between Soviet-backed communists and British-backed royalists. The British had also given aid to Greece's neighbour Turkey. However, by 1947 the British could not sustain this aid. It seemed therefore that Greece would fall to the communists.

-Truman was concerned that Greece would fall under Communism and was also concerned if Turkey became the USSR's ally, Stalin would use it as a stepping stone of spread Communist influence to the Middle East (important to USA for oil reserves)

17 of 36

Greece and Turkey Bill -> Truman Doctrine March 19

-Truman stepped in by sending US support to Greek Royalists of $400m and gave turkey aid. By 1949 they had won the Civil War and Greece did not fall behind the 'Iron Curtain'.= GREECE AND TURKEY BILL

  • March 1947 - Truman declared that the USA would send help via money, equipment or advice to any country that was trying to prevent a communist take-over. This was known as the Truman Doctrine.
  • The Truman Doctrine meant that the USA would not return to isolationism - new era in USA's attitude to world affairs
  • The American aim was containment: in other words, to prevent communism from spreading. It was not to try to overturn existing communist governments.
  • The general economic situation of Europe caused great concern in the USA. Poverty, disease and homelessness were rife. Truman feared that these conditions would be a breeding ground for communism. Already in some western European countries, communist Parties were rapidly gaining support. = MARSHALL PLAN - $17billion necessary
  • Congress refused until Czechslovakia turned communist in Feb 1948
18 of 36

Marshall Plan

  •  'Marshall Plan' the USA provided 16 European countries with $17bn dollars of aid between 1948 and 1952. The money was used to repair war damage and restart economies. 
  • Aims 1) Give economic stability to Europe 2) raise living standards to reduce appeal of communism – Truman believed Communism thrived in poverty – Europe was ‘breeding ground of hate’ 3) Weaken soviet control over Easter Europe 4) Help US economy by stimulating new markets to and investments in Europe + help Europe repay war debts
  • Truman offered to extend the Marshall Plan to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Stalin refused, believing that the USA wanted to create new markets for American goods. He also felt that the anti-communist aims behind the Marshall Plan would weaken his hold on eastern Europe. Stalin believed that Truman was trying to dominate as many states as possible by making them dependent on dollars = dollar imperialism
  • Stalin responded with Cominform (October 1947) instead - Communist Information Bureau (Cominform)- political alliance between Communist satellites = coordinate the activities of the communist parties in Europe, thereby strengthening their power and influence   
  • Comecon (economic alliance) between USSR and Eastern European allies
19 of 36

Berlin Blockade - Causes and Events

There were different aims regarding Berlin; Stalin wanted to continue to cripple its zones by taking reparations out, whilst the West wanted to help their zones recover

  • In 1948 the French, British and American zones merged to become West Germany (Bizonia -> Trizonia)
  • Introduced a new currency - West Germany was recovering economically, but the Soviet-controlled East Germany was not.
  • Stalin believed that the currency reforms undertaken by the Western Allies were done to undermine Soviet control.

The Berlin blockade

  • Stalin tried to blockade Berlin.
  • He closed all road and rail connections from Berlin to West Germany in an attempt to force the Western allies out of Berlin.
  • There seemed to be a real risk of war.
  • It was the first time Stalin directly opposed the west and tried to defeat it

20 of 36

Berlin Airlift - Events and Consequences

The airlift

  • The allies decided to airlift supplies for 11 months - plane landed every 3 mins and by 1949; 8000 tons a day
  • Could have led to a nuclear war if Stalin shot planes down - however did not 
  • By May 1949 the USSR lifted the blockade - moral victory for USA


  • Relations between the West and the East hit rock bottom 
  • Iron Curtain became permanent: Division of Germany into East and West
  • Cooperation of Germany was unlikely in the future.
  • Led to formation of NATO in April 1949; Western military alliance of 12 countries- attack against one was attack against them all
  • USSR formed Warsaw Pact in response when West Germany joined
  • Led to development of Arms race - increasing threat to peace and chance of nuclear war
21 of 36

NATO and The Warsaw Pact


  • This military alliance of 12 democratic countries - most of states in western Europe as well as the USA and Canada.
  • Its main purpose was to defend each of its members.
  • If one member were attacked, the others would rally to defend this member.
  • The threat to western Europe was seen as the USSR, particularly after it developed an atomic bomb in 1949.

The Warsaw Pact

  • In 1955 West Germany joined Nato.
  • The Soviet response was to set up the Warsaw Pact - a communist version of Nato.
  • The USSR had not forgotten the damage caused by Germany during the Second World War.
  • The creation of alliances for self-defence on one side could easily be seen as an alliance preparing to attack.
22 of 36

Fears of Communism spreading

While US President Truman was trying to contain communism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, Stalin was supporting communists in China, Malaya, Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam and the Philippines.

In 1949 China fell to the communists under Mao Zedong, a victory that was achieved with little help from the Russians. To the Americans, however, communism was a threat, whether it was of Russian or Chinese origin.Truman was now determined to vigorously contain the further spread of communism.

Why was communism a threat to the United States?

As was mentioned previously there had been mistrust and suspicion between the Soviet Union and the United States since 1917. The events of the Cold War between 1945 and 1950 worsened this mistrust and suspicion, and between 1950 and 1954 the United States experienced anti-communist hysteria in the form of what became known as the 'McCarthy witch hunts'.

McCarthy was a US senator who claimed that communists and their sympathisers had infiltrated American society, and this was part of a broader Soviet plot to destroy the United States. McCarthy played on the fears and anxieties of ordinary Americans, and launched a witch hunt against alleged communists. While McCarthy could never back up his accusations, he ruined many people's lives in the process, the US government's policy towards communism was certainly affected by this hysteria.

23 of 36

Korean War Causes

24 of 36

Korean War 1950-53 Events

August: North Korean army pushed the South Korean and UN forces southwards and trapped them in a small pocket near Pusan.

To avoid defeat, General MacArthur launched a sea-borne counter-attack near Inchon in September 1950 and recaptured Seoul, capital of South Korea.
The UN forces pushed on, and crossed the 38th Parallel, which was the border between North and South Korea agreed upon in 1945. China, alarmed at this, warned the Americans to stay south of this line, but MacArthur pushed on until the UN forces were at the Yalu River, the North Korean border with China.

With Stalin's blessing, the Chinese army crossed the Yalu River in November 1950, drove back the UN forces and advanced into South Korea. By January MacArthur and his forces had managed to halt the Chinese and North Koreans, and by March he was slowly able to push them back across the 38th Parallel.

At this point President Truman was prepared to negotiate a ceasefire but MacArthur had meanwhile re-crossed the 38th Parallel into North Korea and was demanding its surrender. He wanted a complete victory over communism, which included an attack on China and the use of the atomic bomb - Truman sacked him - could have led to WW3

25 of 36

Summary of Korean War Events

The Korean War 1950-1953

  • June 1950 North Korea NKPA invaded South Korea.
  • South Korean forces were pushed back. Truman asked the UN to help.
  • Nov 1950: UN forces, which were mainly American, drove the North Korean army to the Yalu River.
  • Jan 1951: Chinese People Volunteers (200,000) invaded Korea and drove the UN back. MacArthur wanted to use atomic weapons and continue into China. He was fired by Truman - could have led to WW3. 
  • UN forces pushed the North Koreans back to the 38th Parallel - stalemate
  • Peace talks began in 1951
  • Truman replaced by Eisenhower - wanted to end war
  • Stalin died in Jan 1953 - made North Koreans and Chinese less confident.
  • A truce was agreed in 1953.
  • Containment had worked, but at a great cost 

26 of 36

Results of Korean War

RESRE            -10 million died – similar to WW1 – showed severity of war and how far Cold War was developing

-USA formed SEATO (1954) CENTRO (1955) – showed how they were making alliances in South East Asia – Cold War becoming even more of global threat – Stalin accused it as having aggressive purpose – trying to encircle Communist world – Warsaw Pact in 1955

Conc: -showed how Cold War became global, using other countries to fight each other without forming ‘hot wars’ – rivalry and competition becoming even more intense – see-saw fighting highlights how either side were not willing to give in – although they reached stale mate to end Korean War – was only beginning of Cold War – prepared to get revenge and destroy other for good


-first 'hot' war between superpowers - use Korea as a front to fight each other at arms length

27 of 36

Domino Theory

Since the end of the World War II, the United States had been determined to contain communism in Russia and eastern Europe, and to stop it spreading in other parts of the world.

At the end of the Korean War in 1953, US President Eisenhower explained what would happen if communism was not contained.

Domino theory The loss of any single country in South-East Asia could lead to the loss of all Asia, then India and Japan, finally endangering the security of Europe. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one and what will happen to the last one is a certainty that it will go over very quickly.

America's involvement in Vietnam from 1962 to 1973 was prompted by the belief that unless communism was contained there, it would have a 'domino effect' elsewhere.

28 of 36

Vietnam War Background

Since the latter part of the 19th century, Vietnam had been part of the French Colonial Empire, and the area was referred to as French Indo-China. During World War II the Japanese occupied these French colonies, and the League of Vietnamese Independence - the Vietminh - was set up to drive them out, and form a Democratic Republic of Vietnam. It was led by Ho Chi Minh, a communist.

When Japan was defeated in 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The French tried desperately to hold onto their colonial possessions. However, after the humiliating defeat of the French army at Dien Bien Phu, independence was granted to French Indo-China, which became Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Vietnam was temporarily divided into communist North Vietnam and non-communist South Vietnam.

Communist guerrillas in South Vietnam (called Vietcong) continued fighting to create a single communist Vietnam. They were trained, supplied and assisted by the North Vietnamese.

29 of 36

Vietnam War 2

 In an effort to contain communism, the United States had supported the French in Vietnam. After the French defeat they began sending money and arms directly to South Vietnam for the same purpose. The fact that South Vietnam was ruled by a corrupt, tyrannical dictator, who oppressed his own people, did not prevent the Americans from supporting him. In line with the 'domino theory' they believed that if South Vietnam fell to communism, other countries in south-east Asia would be vulnerable.

Kennedy sent military supplies and 16,000 advisors - to advise and train the South Vietnamese army. However, the Vietcong were still gaining support among the peasants of South Vietnam.

Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. He was succeeded by Lyndon Johnson, who believed that the Vietnam War could be won if the Americans committed vast amounts of troops and equipment to the war. This policy was known as escalation. There is considerable argument as to whether Johnson (who had been Kennedy's vice president) was simply continuing what Kennedy had started.

30 of 36

Vietnam War 3

By 1967 there were 500,000 American troops in Vietnam. Johnson had also adopted a policy of bombing North Vietnam, which supplied the Vietcong with military supplies, equipment and men.

The United States Air Force dropped more bombs on North Vietnam than all the bombs dropped by both sides in World War II. 52,000 civilians were killed in these raids.

The United States government began to realise that the war could not be won. Johnson did not stand for re-election in 1968, having lost substantial support because of the war.Despite this massive bombing, on 30 January 1968 the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army launched the 'Tet Offensive' whereby the Vietcong were able to capture nearly 80% of South Vietnam's towns and villages. Although the Americans and South Vietnamese eventually drove them back, the Tet Offensive played a major role in turning the American public against the war. Vietnam was the first television war and the American public was seeing images of their beaten army daily. The war was also proving to be enormously costly in terms of both men and money. In 1969, 14,000 Americans had been killed and the war was costing $200 million a month.

31 of 36

Vietnam 4

In 1969 Richard Nixon, the new president, declared that he would end the war if the North Vietnamese would decrease their military activity and the South Vietnamese army could hold its own without American support. But by then the situation had gone beyond that. The North Vietnamese were operating from bases in Laos and Cambodia and were rapidly gaining ground.

Secretly, Nixon ordered intensified bombing of Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. Far from bringing the war to a close, it clearly worsened the situation.

Nixon offered a ceasefire. This was eventually signed in 1973, although the fighting continued until the end of 1974 when the South Vietnamese army was defeated and Saigon, their capital, fell to the North Vietnamese army.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam came into being. Not long afterwards, communist governments took power in Laos and Cambodia.

32 of 36

Consequences of Vietnam War

-Vietnam still fell under communism despite US’s actions- proved them that they could not win every war -damaged USA’s confidence- prestigue; small state of North Vietnam had beaten one of the world’s superpowers

- idea that Communism was winning -  Domino theory had proved correct to some extent, where as suspected after Vietnam became Communist so did Laos and Cambodia, nevertheless Thailand, Burma and Malaysia did not.

-Cost: from sending military advisers to 58,000 dead and 300,000 wounded. Cost $120 billion + US troops kept as prisoners of war

 - relatives of dead blamed politians for draft law and there was bitter hostility towards ‘draft dodgers’ who escaped fighting due to their well off position.

-US actions in Vietnam; defoliant bombs; student protests worldwide, deep divisions in American society

-war had escalated under Johnson, Nixon needed to make major decisions to avoid further damaging the USA’s reputation and regain support and confidence of American people; -public pressure to reduce risks of war. Therefore to minimize chances of getting involved in another war without making it seem like Capitalism was losing, the only way to do so without starting another military fight was through restoring relations and easing tension through the détente

33 of 36

Vietnam Summary

The Vietnam War 1962-1975

  • The United States had supported the French in Vietnam as part of their policy of containment.
  • When the French left the Americans began sending arms and money to South Vietnam to help it fight communism.
  • In 1961 American assistance was stepped up, even though the South Vietnam government was corrupt and repressive.
  • The Americans believed in the domino theory whereby if South Vietnam fell to communism so would the rest of south-east Asia.
  • The US involvement increased rapidly. By 1969 there were 500,000 troops in Vietnam.
  • The Vietnam War became very unpopular in America, as thousands of American soldiers died.
  • In 1973, after a peace agreement, American troops left Vietnam.
  • By 1975 South Vietnam had fallen to the communists, as had Laos and Cambodia.
  • The United States had lost the Vietnam War and the policy of containment was a complete failure.
34 of 36

Summary of USA Containment in Korea, Cuba and Viet

The Cold War: containing communism

From the early stages of the Cold War it was the United States' objective to contain communism in the USSR and eastern Europe. At great cost America was able to prevent South Korea becoming communist between 1950 and 1953 even though it had been unable to prevent the Communist Party from gaining power in China in 1949.

An attempt by the United States to reverse the communist revolution in Cuba in 1961 backfired to the point where the Soviet Union placed missiles on that island, directly threatening American cities. Containment not only failed in Cuba, it was a significant factor in the world's coming close to a nuclear war in October 1962.

In Vietnam, the United States' objective to contain communism in the north blinded it to the fact that it was propping up a corrupt and unpopular regime in the south. By 1969 the conflict had escalated into a major war, which the United States had no real chance of winning. South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese communists in 1975, less than two years after the American withdrawal. Vietnam was a humiliation for the United States and a complete failure for containment.

35 of 36

Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 Summary

The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

  • US sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion failed to topple Castro.
  • Soviets placed their missiles on Cuba.
  • The Americans blockaded Cuba and began to stop any ships carrying arms and equipment.
  • Cuba and the Soviets complained to the UN.
  • President Kennedy threatened to invade Cuba and remove the missiles by force.
  • For ten days the superpowers headed for a nuclear war.
  • On 28 October 1962 Krushchev agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for America leaving Cuba alone and removing some of its missiles from Europe.
  • The Cuban missile crises was the height of the Cold War.
  • However, the crisis actually resulted in arms reduction, and improved communication between the superpowers.
  • The policy of containment was not a success.
36 of 36


Will Hamilton


decent but it's pretty all over the place, in order would've been nice

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The Cold War resources »