1. Introduction to the Cold War
Although people might think of a cold war as innocent, such is not the case. Several times during this conflict, many people died. The Bay of Pigs is an excelent example of this. Do you consider Korea and Vietnam as part of the Cold War? If so, then you begin to look upon it as much less innocent.
A cold war, by definition, is a war in which both sides never really attack each other. It is a war of threats and insults. While there were, doubtlessly, some casualties as a result of the Cold War between the Soviets and Americans, the majority was based on fear and long tirades from politicians on both sides. A great amount of fear in the Cold War circa 1960s was based on anxiety from both sides regarding the launch of nuclear weapons (8,9).
It has been said several times that man works better under fear and competition than he works under peace and monopoly. The Cold War stimulated many inventions as a result of competition. In this light, it is a good thing.
According to John A. Garraty, "It became a standoff between western capitalism...and communism (144)."
According to John Pimlott, "To the West, the ideal political system was one based on elections to a multi-party, democratic parliament, with economic policies determined by the free-market enterprise of capitalism, in which people were able to enjoy the fruits of their own labors. Such a system would, it was believed, allow the people to live their own lives and to enjoy certain basic freedoms such as those of political and religious belief (9)."
By comparison, the Soviet system was controlled by the ideals of communism, in which the needs of the individual were subordinated to those of the society as a whole. Although the aim of a classless society in which the profits of labor would be shared between the people as required sounded fine in theory, the Soviets had been forced to impose strong central control on the economy and society in an attempt to put it into practice. In Western eyes, this destroyed the freedom of the individual; to the Soviets, it was a much fairer and less chaotic state of affairs (9)."
The only reason the United States and Soviet Union had not fought before was World War II. This gave them a common enemy, and they were united as friends. Once the common enemy vanished, there was not possible way, with their contrasting economic systems, that they could have remained friends.
A cold war is a war of words and nerves. The sides attempt to frighten each other into submission, and develop new technology to do this with. In the Cold War of the 1960s, the Soviet Union and United States of America developed new technology, such as the Hydrogen Bomb and the space satellite, to frighten each other. The main reason the two sides fought was the difference in their economy and political system. A conflict was inevitable.
Start of the Cold War
Another event that led to the Cold War is World War II in the early 1940s. When the war ended in 1945, Americans had destroyed the fascists, and no longer had a common enemy with the Soviet Union. Since both had very distinguished forms of economy that happened to contradict one another, fighting was imminent (Pimlott, 7,8).
"Harry S. Truman was more suspicious of Soviet motives that Roosevelt. He believed that the Soviets expected the US. to suffer a serious post-war depression (Garraty, 445)."
Harry Truman was very suspicious of Communism. Along with other nation administrators, he formed several campaigns to stop the spread of Socialism. In the end, he obviously failed.
With the Communist Revolution and World War II, the US. and Soviet Union became opposing forces. Franklin Roosevelt might have been able to settle the Cold War quickly and painlessly, but he died before he could use the chance. His successor, Harry Truman, was a known opposer of both socialism and communism. All of these events, though hardly significant alone, mixed togethor to create the perfect environment for a conflict.
The Cuban Fiasco
According to This great disaster was known as the Bay of Pigs. While socialism (modified) in Cuba was not a direct result of the dominoes, it was the result of a man called Fidel Castro. While Castro claimed to be anti-socialist, he proved, when put into the office of Cuban leadership, to be a communist. Because Cuba was practically America's footstool, the CIA arranged to eliminate Castro. Through very poor strategy and ignorance, the CIA failed their attempt, and 118 Cuban freedom-fighters died, with 1189 captured. Through the cunning media of this country, the operation was discovered and is called the Bay of Pigs after the bay the invaders landed in (Davis, 355 - 359).
According to John A. Garraty, "The Bay of Pigs dealt a terrible blow to the prestige of the United States and to Kennedy in particular. Was the youthful new president a reckless adventurer? Could he stand up to his clever communist opponents? Citizens who had voted for Kennedy because they did not trust Nixon were especially shocked by the mission's secrecy. Everyone was shocked by its failure (478, 479)."
When looking back upon the Kennedy era, one tends to be reminded of the court of Camelot. Every memory has something to do with peace and charity until you begin to think of how it really was. Like Camelot, Kennedy had his own problems. When the Bay of Pigs invasion failed miserably, Kennedy was forced to apologize to both the nation and the Soviets. This is comparable to a police officer getting caught trying to steal doughnuts.
"The secret invasion proved to be one of the worst-kept secrets in America. A number of journalists had uncovered most of the plan, and several editors, including those at the New York Times, were persuaded by the White House to withhold the information. When the curtain finally came down, it was on a tragedy (Davis, 358)."
Basically, the invasion seemed doomed to begin with. The Intelligence report had left out several bits and pieces including geographical obstacles such as jutting rocks. Kennedy had also made a misestimation by assuming that the Cubans were still loyal to the United States. In fact, they were loyal to Fidel Castro and his promises of freedom.
"...It would be impossible to discover that the United States...was being caught in a gigantic trap cleverly devised in Moscow. The doors of the trap had all but slammed closed (Daniel, 2)."
The Bay of Pigs was a terrible disaster in history, yet the United States did survive through it. They should have learned, however, not to be involved in a country's normal development. They did have business in Cuba, but there had to be a better, more mature, and definitely more of a success-potential move. By invading, the United States only made Fidel Castro more angry and less willing to negotiate. Had Kennedy not authorized the invasion, the Cold War could have had a different ending.
The Soviet Union had seen this as a great chance for their cause. Immediately, they shipped weapons overseas to Cuba. When the US. discovered this, they threatened the USSR. with an ultimatum. The Soviets eventually yielded, but in the thirteenth day intermission, civilians from both sides were not very secure. (Davis, 359, 360) To get the Soviet Union to yield, Kennedy posted a naval blockade around Cuba, demanding withdrawal of missiles. In return for a refrain from attacks on Fidel Castro, the Soviets agreed. This was perceived as a US. victory (Grolier, Cuban Missile Crisis).
According to John A. Garraty, "For three days the world held its breath. Then, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles. Kennedy won a great personal victory. More important, the possibility of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed less likely...The United States pledged never to invade Cuba and to remove some missile bases in turkey (480)."
When the Bay of Pigs failed, the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev also made a fatal misestimation. He became over-confident at Kennedy's failure, and this time he was on the receiving end of humiliation.
"The world waited with bated breath, aware the the slightest naval incident could trigger a nuclear war (Pimlott, 21)."
"The damage done to US. credibility by the Bay of Pigs fiasco had seemingly been undone. But the lesson of the foolishness of committing American military support to Anti-Communism hadn't really sunk in (Davis, 360)."
At this time, the United States had made several attempts to destroy Communism. They had tried to help Europe to protect them from Communist conditions, but they should have learned to keep their noses out of it. In the end, they should have realized that a system such as Socialism cannot survive a long period of time, anyway. With the Cuban Missile Crisis, the lesson of the Bay of Pigs had been lost.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the most frightening points on history, but out of it arose an important fact. Khruschev now respected Kennedy. Previous occurrences had convinced Khrushchev that Kennedy was a weak figure, but his handling of the crisis had convinced him otherwise. The Soviets, in contrast, had lost a great deal of respect for Khrushchev. In two years he was deposed (Pimlott, 21).
The Bay of Pigs had made Nikita Khrushchev, the premier at the time, critical of John F. Kennedy. This criticism might have triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it ended with it. When Kennedy threatened the Soviet Union with the naval blockade, Khrushchev easily yielded. This event might have been the cause of Khrushchev's downfall some years ahead of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Had Khrushchev put aside his overconfidence, the Soviet Union might still be alive today.
A Closer Look at Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro has proven himself to be one of the more deviously clever people in American History. He had cleverly overthrown the former leader of Cuba, and he dodged around thirty assassination attempts from the United States. When all said and done, few of them ever even came close, and Castro is still in power today.
Fidel Castro was the ruling official in Cuba during this time. He was extremely unpopular, as by 1965 the US. Government had made eight attempts at his life. Most textbooks conveniently ignore this fact. They also ignore that President Kennedy used the Mafia in at least one of these attempts. Had Kennedy not promised to stop assassination attempts on Castro, he would have probably used the army to knock Cuba off balance after the Bay of Pigs (Loewen, 224, 245).
Kennedy called his plan of destabilizing Cuba "Operation Mongoose." This operation came to a halt when he promised not to involve himself with Cuba anymore. Since then, no president has attempted anything of Fidel Castro Ruz.
Presidents during the 60s used the Communist situation to their advantage. Kennedy used an anti-Communist attitude to get elected and his debates with Nixon were greatly based on who could take a more offensive stance on the Fidel Castro situation. A miniature cold war, right at home (Davis, 349, 357)!
Kennedy's assassination attempts on Fidel Castro Ruz definitely make him look bad. These attempts might have been the source of Kennedy's own assassination, and that makes him look even worse. If indeed Castro did have Kennedy killed, he killed him with one stroke. Kennedy attempted to assassinate Castro multitudes of times, but Castro's still the dictator of Cuba to this day.
Before the Cuban Missile Crisis, both sides would react to events directly. Then, a direct communication system was routed from Washington to Moscow. Leaders of both sides agreed to talk things over before using hostile measures. This helped to create Détente, a time of eased tension (Pimlott, 22).
Nuclear Parity also led up to the Détente. Both the United States and the Soviet union developed the capability to send missiles to the other side. For a change, both sides took responsible action and stifled the capability away. This was the largest thing that led up to the Détente (23).
"The two powers seemed to be entering a period of détente, or reduction of tension between them (Garraty, 540)."
The Détente was a period of ease for the US. and Soviet Union. Although their weaponry ability had actually improved, their responsibility with these weapons had also improved. Both sides had the ability to launch ballistic missiles at the other side, and both finally realized that a non-confrontational strategy was the best way to go (Pimlott, 22, 23).
In the late fifties and early sixties, many treaties and informal agreements were made. The Treaty of Rome was one of the more important ones of these. It was signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany in 1957. Later, in 1986, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Britain, Spain and Portugal joined these. Western Europe was becoming much more settled (23).
Although it seemed as if the Détente would be the death of the Cold War, reality stated that it had simply started the process. No one trusted each other. They did not like each other, and things were still unsettled. However, the main players had at least learned to live on the same globe as the others (25).
The Americans used Détente to control the Soviets. By providing the Soviet Union with free technological advancements and crops, the US. could make the Soviets dependent on their support. At the same time, President Nixon made allies with China, and the Soviets were afraid of a war on two fronts (25).
While America was very clever with it's ideas to destroy the Soviet's economy and resistance ability, they had failed to recognize one thing. While they were doing this, they were taking their focus off global affairs and trades. The Soviets knew this and used it. At the same time, they were lulling the Americans into a sense of trust and security (25).
Although Détente means an ease of tensions, the Détente of the Cold War was definitely not an ease in the political world. Both sides were trying harder than ever to pull the rug out from under the other's feet. I think this is evidence that communism and capitalism really can't exist in the same world.
John F. Kennedy Assassination
On 22 November 1963, President John Kennedy was shot down during an attempt to smooth things out in an upcoming election. Kennedy was a major player in the Cold War, leading America through the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis. His death was apparently connected to the Soviets, since the assassin was from the USSR. At the same time, this might have been a clever trap to lull American politicians into believing that the Soviets were involved. The Cubans could have also been responsible, as Kennedy had made several attempts to kill Fidel Castro. Kennedy's successor was his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson (482).
"In personality and style, Johnson resembled Andrew Jackson more than any other president. He was both warm hearted and hot tempered. And like Jackson, he was energetic. He seemed to be everywhere - inspecting offices, signing bills, greeting tourists, settling disputes (491)."
Although Johnson had a very distinguished political career before his consequent placement into the presidency, this was his most remembered accomplishment. It is also suspected that he had connection to Kennedy's assassination, but the Soviet/Cuban theory makes more sense. In Johnson's presidency, he passed several civil rights acts as well as environmental laws. His contribution to the Cold War also distinguished him (491).
The Kennedy assassination had long been a mystery for the minds of Americans. There have even been rumors that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation had Kennedy killed. However, many people forget the Kennedy had authorized both the Bay of Pigs and several other assassination attempts on Cuba's dictator. The most likely answer to the enigma is that Castro had Kennedy killed as a revenge assassination.
When Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union died in 1953, his successors were willing to attempt a slightly less confrontational approach to the West. Nikita Khrushchev, one of the most successful of these, was responsible for many treaties as well as crises (15).
"Khrushchev was a difficult person to understand. At one moment, he was full of talk about peace, at the next he was threatening to use nuclear bombs. One historian described Khrushchev as a mixture of Santa Clause and a 'wild, angry Russian bear' (Garraty, 467)."
Khrushchev was one of the most distinguished and hated leaders of the Soviets. He was one of many people who achieved success by waiting for his enemies to eliminate each other. When Josef Stalin died in 1953, a board was appointed to take his place. Nikita Khrushchev was a member of the board (secretary). After five years, Khrushchev was the sole remaining person on the board. After his consequent domination, he expressed his plains of suppressing the US. After much success and congratulations, a bad wave of luck came over him. His success had outdone him (Grolier, Khrushchev).
"...Stalin's successors, aware of the weakness of their country...began to move away from a policy of confrontation (Pimlott, 15)."
One of Khrushchev's greatest accomplishments was the Austrian State Treaty of 1955. Khrushchev proposed that the West and East both withdraw troops from Austria. This treaty started a good relationship with the US. Khrushchev believed that East and West could exist happily in the same globe. Unfortunately, this new relationship didn't last long (15).
Khrushchev was a man of great contrasts. While he really did want peace with the United States, he was unwilling to give ground. Khrushchev goes down in history as an extremely short-tempered man with few good qualities. However, Khrushchev did denounce Josef Stalin and his way of dealing with communism. This suggests that Khrushchev really was in a good position to compromise. He didn't agree with either side.
Nikita Khrushchev, who originally planned to settle relations with the West, eventually began to stir tension. The Communists began to gain an advantage with nuclear technology, and the Western fears skyrocketed. With the Soviet development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in 1957, it became clear to the West that the Soviet's new advantage was dangerous to their livelihood (17).
The success of Sputnik sent shock waves through American society. Americans felt they led the world in science and technology. Now, many people blamed the educational system for falling behind the Soviets in the Space Race. Courses in science and mathematics were added to school and college curriculums, and valuable scholarships were awarded to promising students in these fields. America was determined to catch up (Garraty, 467)."
Necessity pushed the United States to close the gap in weapon technology. A summit meeting in Paris between the US. and USSR. was ruined by a captured American reconnaissance pilot. Khrushchev demanded an apology and a promise to end recon missions, but President Eisenhower refused an apology (Pimlott, 17).
While the Cold War was extremely destructive, it did bring about a number of different advancements in technology and education. The education system we know today was created out of the Cold War, and scholarships wouldn't exist if the United States didn't want to provide an incentive to raise people capable of taking on the world. In this one instance, competition really was somewhat productive.
In 1945, at the end of World War II, Germany, a unified nation, split into four territories. While West Germany (Federal Republic) was allied with the US., East Germany (Democratic Republic) became communists. After much hostility, East Germany merged with West Germany following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1994, the remaining Soviets were withdrawn (Grolier, Germany).
East and West Germany were at odds with each other after World War II. The US. controlled the West of Germany, and the Soviets controlled the East. In a way, Germany was one of the several chessboards that America used in their game against the Soviets. Khrushchev urged America to allow Berlin under Soviet control. Both sides refused to give any ground, and the situation in Germany grew worse (Pimlott, 18, 19).
Without consulting the western authorities in Berlin, Khrushchev suddenly had a wall built across the city, sealing the Soviet Zone from the other three zones. This Berlin Wall was actually a sign of communist weakness. Thousands of people form East Germany had fled to the west by way of Berlin since the end of World War II. They went in search of greater personal freedom and the higher wages they could earn there. The wall reduced this flow to a trickle. But it also reminded the world that large numbers of people in the Eastern European countries were captives of communism (Garraty, 479).
When Germany divided, several people in the communist sector did not agree with the Soviets. As a result of this, they crossed the border and defected. A great amount of these people worked in professional careers, and East Germany couldn't afford their loss. They erected a wall to prevent these defections, and it stood until its fall when communism collapsed (Pimlott, 18,19).
The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the Cold War. When it was built, people saw it as a result of the evil containment of communism. The wall's construction may have driven the United States and other countries to oppose communism and its cages.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall also broke up. The two territories reunited, and the Cold War ended. These developments greatly contributed to our society today.
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