How effectively did the USA contain the spread of communism?


Causes of the Korean War

  • Korea liberated from Japanese control by Soviets in the North and Americans in the South
  • Korea split by the 38th parallel, occupied by the US and USSR
  • Foreign troops withdrew in 1949 but fighting soon broke out along the border
  • Communist leader of the North, Kim Il-Sung, wanted to reunite Korea
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Events of the Korean War

  • June 1950- Kim Il-Sung launched a full-scale attack on the South with Soviet help; took all Korea except Pusan
  • June 1950- Truman appealed to the UN, who gathered an international army led by American General Douglas MacArthur. They could do this because the USSR was refusing to attend Security Council meetings.
  • October 1950- MacArthur had taken Seoul and reached the 38th parallel
  • October-November 1950- MacArthur sent troops across the border
  • November 1950- Chinese troops, supported by powerful Soviet MiG-15 planes, went over the border to fight the UN troops; here they began to suffer due to the cold weather making their weapons jam and the greater number of Chinese troops
  • January 1951- Chinese forces took Seoul and MacArthur's forces were in retreat
  • Spring 1951- UN counter-attack stopped Chinese forces at the 38th parallel; Truman replaced MacArthur with General Ridgeway, who went on the defensive and pushed the Chinese back
  • July 1951- Peace talks began
  • 1953- Truman replaced by Eisenhower; Stalin died and replaced by Khrushchev
  • July 1953- Ceasefire arranged by the UN, which ended international involvement
  • September 1953- Operation Big Switch- mass exchange of POWs
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Consequences of the Korean War

  • Huge loss of life- civilian casualties added to 3 million, 10% of the population
  • Chemical weapons such as napalm caused extensive human and ecological problems
  • Allowed Mao to consolidate his power and ended a period of a century of Chinese defeats by Western powers
  • Truman made the unpopular decision of sacking MacArthur, which meant he chose not to run for President again
  • It was the first proxy war (war fought by two nations on behalf of a larger nation, without that nation actively participating) that the two superpowers fought
  • The war is technically not over, as no peace treaty was signed between the North and South
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Causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • In April 1962, the Americans put nuclear missiles in Turkey
  • In 1959 Fidel Castro took power
  • He nationalised American companies in Cuba
  • Americans responded by stopping all aid to Cuba and all imports of Cuban sugar
  • In 1960 the USSR signed an agreement to buy 1 million tonnes of Cuban sugar every year
  • Kennedy sent a group of Cuban exiles trained by the CIA to the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Castro; the invasion was a disaster and Kennedy was humiliated
  • In September 1961 Russia publicly promised to give Castro weapons to defend Cuba against America
  • On 14 October 1962, an American U2 spy plane discovered the missile sites in Cuba
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Events of the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • 21 October 1962- Kennedy informed the US and Britain about the missile silo discovery
  • 22 October 1962- Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba; Khrushchev denied that there were missiles in Cuba
  • 23 October 1962- Krushchev sent a letter saying his ships would try to sail through the blockade
  • 24 October 1962- Soviet ships turned back before the blockade, but some missiles made it to Cuba before the blockade. The US threatened to invade and  Castro called for a nuclear attack
  • 25 October 1962- Clash in the UN; photographic evidence of the silos was shared
  • 26 October 1962- Khrushchev offered to remove the missiles if Kennedy promised to not invade Cuba
  • 27 October 1962- U2 spy plane shot down over Cuba and the pilot was killed. Kennedy delayed an invasion. Khrushchev made another offer- if Kennedy removed missiles from Turkey, he would remove missiles from Cuba; Kennedy ignored this and responded to the first offer; no official deal was made but the US made a guarantee that they would not invade and would remove Turkish missiles. The USSR was not allowed to reveal if this was done in exchange for the removal of Cuban missiles
  • 28 October 1962- Khrushchev accepted, ending the crisis
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Consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • Khrushchev claimed that he had won the Cuban missile crisis: he had achieved both his aims - America never bothered Cuba again and the US missile sites in Turkey were dismantled in November 1962
  • The West saw Kennedy as the hero who had faced down Communism because the deal over the Turkish missiles was a secret
  • Khrushchev lost prestige: China broke off relations with Russia and, in 1964, he was forced to resign
  • In 1963, a telephone hotline was set up to give instant contact between the two leaders if there was a crisis
  • In 1963, a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed
  • In 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed - the superpowers promised not to supply nuclear technology to other countries
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Causes of the Vietnam War and of US involvement

Causes of the Vietnam War

  • In 1945 Ho Chi Minh announced that Vietnam was an independent Republic
  • The French tried to establish control but after much fighting in 1954 the French agreed to leave Indo-China
  • In the peace talks that followed, Vietnam was split along the 17th Parallel
  • North Vietnam wasCommunist Republic led by Ho Chi Minh
  • South Vietnam was a Republic led by President Diem
  • Ho Chi Minh wanted to make all of Vietnam a communist Republic
  • Many of the South Vietnamese people supported Ho Chi Minh in the North and were against the corrupt leader in the South, Ngo Dinh Diem

Causes of US involvement

  • Domino theory- the Americans were worried that, if Vietnam became communist, then so would the rest of Asia
  • This would increase the size of the Soviet Bloc, making it more of a threat
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Events of the Vietnam War

  • From 1958 the South came under attack from communist guerrillas known as the Viet Cong
  • 1963- US resources failing to help the South; rebellions began
  • 1963-  Kennedy sent 16,000 military 'advisers' to help the South Vietnamese army; brutality of the South Vietnamese army made peasants more determined to fight back.
  • 1963- Diem's government overthrown
  • 1963- Kennedy assassinated; Lyndon B Johnson replaced him
  • 1964- North Vietnamese attacked US navy in the Gulf of Tonkin; gave US excuse needed to escalate the war
  • Congress passed the Tonkin Resolution which allowed him to fight a war against the north; US began bombing North Vietnam
  • 1965- US marines arrived in South Vietnam.
  • 1968- Tet Offensive- Viet Cong nearly captured the US embassy building in Saigon
  • 1969- My Lai massacre revealed; anti-war protests increased around the world; Johnson decided not to run for president, was replaced by Nixon
  • 1973- Peace treaty was signed and the US left Vietnam
  • 1974-75- North invaded the South and took control; Cambodia and Laos also became communist
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Consequences of the Vietnam War

  • 2.5 million South Vietnamese citizens were killed
  • 1.5 million people escaped from Vietnam to Hong Kong and Australia
  • 300,000 South Vietnamese were tortured in 're-education camps' after the war
  • Bombing destroyed Vietnam's economy
  • Use of chemical weapons increased cancer and deformities at birth
  • Many US soldiers became drug addicts
  • Congress passed the War Powers Act- restricted the President's ability to send troops abroad
  • Domino theory proved incorrect- Thailand and the Philippines did not become communist
  • Communism in Cambodia led to the mass murder of over 2 million people- almost a third of the population
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