US History Overview 3: WWII to Vietnam World War II, Hitler, Cold War, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis and the Space Race
US History Overview 3: WWII to Vietnam
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- We finished off the last video entering into the Great Depression. It wasn't just a depression in the
- U.S. it was a depression all over the world. But I want to back up a little bit because I forgot to
- mention a very important fact that's hugely important to the rest of U.S. history in the 20th century
- and that's what happened in 1917 during World War I. And that's the Bolshevik Revolution. The Russian
- Empire was overthrown by the Bolsheviks and it became the Soviet Union, which you probably know was
- a Communist state and it became the United States's arch enemy over the rest of...well not over the rest
- of...but near the second half of the twentieth century. So with that out of the way, I just want to make
- sure you know that Russia is now the Soviet Union. Let's fast forward back through the Great Depression
- and probably the one point when we're doing this very high level overview that's of interest, and as
- you can see, even though the focus of this series of videos is on U.S. interests, what's happening in
- the rest of the world is starting to become much more important because the U.S. is starting to become
- this really serious global actor. And so in 1933, so this is right in the middle of this global depression
- and Germany was especially hit hard because of all the damage done by WWI and all the war
- reparations and all the rest. You have Hitler coming to power as Chancellor of Germany.
- It's interesting to note that he came to power in a Democratic process. Chancellor of Germany
- is analogous to Prime Minister in other countries.
- Essentially he was ruling a coalition. The Nazis, his party, did not have a majority, but they were able
- to control a coalition. Although it was a very weak one. But what they were good at is intimidating
- and rigging elections and all the rest. And so over the course of the rest of the
- 30s, essentially the Nazis consolidated power until we get to 1939, and the rest of the world
- kept watching Hitler, you know he was consolidating power, and he came in democratically but he
- was essentially consolidating power under himself, turning it into a dictatorship,
- he was militarizing Germany. People started to get concerned but they all kind of wanted to
- ...they had the doctrine of appeasement - you know "hey, let's just kind of not make him too
- angry and maybe he won't start anything too bad." But in 1939
- Germany invades Poland. And this is kind of viewed
- as the one event that kind of...you know the straw that breaks the camel's back so-to-speak...
- and so it begins WWII
- And initially it's between...I guess the great powers that initially get involved are
- the British Empire and the Soviet Union. France is involved and quickly gets overrun by the Nazis
- And what happens is that the U.S., it wasn't like this situation with WWI when the U.S. was trying to
- stay neutral. The U.S. had recognized, especially FDR - Franklin Delano Roosevelt -
- he had recognized that Hitler was an aggressor.
- That he was, I guess from FDR's point of view, definitely in the wrong here.
- So even in the beginning of WWII, the U.S. did help support the allies
- so it would send arms and any other type of assistance. When Japan and Italy
- go in on the side of Germany, the U.S. embargoed oil to Japan.
- The U.S. was an exporter of oil to Japan and you can imagine Japan did not produce
- a lot of its own oil, and oil is super important when you are trying to run a
- war machine. So that didn't make Japan too happy. So you fast-forward to 1941 and you have
- Japan bombing Pearl Harbor. So until this point the U.S. kind of played a nondirect
- role. It definitely supported the allies and did what it could economically
- and by providing military aide, but it did not actively participate in the fighting
- But then 12/7/1941, the Japanese bomb the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor
- and this is a whole interesting debate because it was lucky for the US that most
- of the Pacific fleet was not there, but it was obviously this kind of thing that
- convinced the US public that WWII was worth joining.
- So 1941, because of Pearl Harbor, the US enters the war. And it enters the war in both arenas,
- both in Europe and the Pacific. And then you fast forward - it goes against the Italians
- in North Africa, and then you fast forward to 1944 and it actually enters
- into the fight in mainland Europe. This is the invasion of Normandy. This is D Day
- June 6th 1944. If you've ever seen Saving Private Ryan it starts with this.
- I've never stormed a beach, but I can imagine that was probably the most realistic
- reenactment of what it was like to storm the beach at Normandy. But if we fast forward to 1945
- and eventually the, especially between the Soviet and the US, or I guess I should say
- all of the allied forces, they are able to win the European front of WWII and then fast forward
- to the end of that year. Japan was still fighting pretty ferociously
- And so the US, and once again I could make many videos of this, we could debate the ethical
- implications of this, but the US develops the atomic bomb and ignites one over here in Hiroshima
- and then a few days later one in Nagasaki and that essentially ends WWII.
- And so the outcome of WWII is you have two remaining superpowers: you have the Soviet Union
- and you have the United States.
- And what happens after that is you have the Cold War. These two huge powers - the Soviet Union
- is this Communist country and it's obviously trying to create this Communist sphere of influence
- a lot of Eastern Europe was falling under Soviet sway, the US - not a Communist country, a very
- capitalist country, uh you can imagine. And this is something that gets confused a lot - the
- Soviet Union was Communist and it was totalitarian. Communism and democracy are not
- necessarily things that go against each other.
- But the Soviet Union had neither a capitalist system nor a democracy.
- It was both Communist and Totalitarian. And when I say Communist I'm talking
- about no private wealth - the state really owns all private resources.
- The US on the other hand was hugely capitalist and you can imagine the US did not want
- any of this Communism business to kind of come to us.
- You have this major battle that never really erupts into direct conflict
- between the Soviet Union and the US.
- It's always done through proxies, through people who are acting on behalf of the US
- or the Soviet Union.
- You have the Cold War beginning.
- And it's called a cold war because it wasn't really a hot war.
- The US and Soviet Union never really fired bullets at each other.
- Instead they supported other parties that would fire bullets at the Soviet Union.
- And the Soviet Union would support other parties that would fire bullets at the US.
- For the US it was all about stopping Communism. It was all about preventing this domino
- theory that if one country in a region would fall to Communism, the other countries would.
- And the US became a bit paranoid - and maybe it was justified, but either way it was very concerned
- about the spread of Communism. And the first time this really gets tested - and 1950 is an interesting
- year - because this is the first time (obviously the US had nuclear weapons as of 1945), but
- in 1950, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear weapon. So now the Cold War
- is starting to get very serious. Both of these adversaries can now nuke each other if they wanted.
- And also in 1950, you have Korea. Korea, before WWII was a Japanese colony.
- But obviously Japan had now lost and so after WWII it was split between North Korea,
- which was influenced by the Russians and South Korea, which was influenced by the US.
- So it was split along the 38th parallel, and I know this is a super small diagram.
- (We'll go into more detail when we do detailed videos about the Korean War)
- But in 1950 you have the North Koreans invading the South.
- And that started the Korean War. The US sent troops. The North Koreans had China on their side -
- the Chinese army. The Soviets were also supplying them.
- But at the end of the day in 1953 you fast forward, it ends up being
- a little bit of a stalemate because the end result is that the original 38th parallel
- border gets reinstated. That was the first real conflict of the Cold War.
- Notice that there were never US or Soviet troops directly firing at each other.
- The US was at war with the North Korean and Chinese troops, but they
- were kind of proxies for the Soviet Union. And at the same time, as you can imagine,
- because we have these two technically sophisticated adversaries - they both had nuclear weapons -
- it became very interesting on who can kind of dominate space.
- You have the space race developing in 1957. The Soviets are able to
- launch the first artificial satellite around the Earth. This is Sputnik 1. Some people think
- the first Sputnik is the one that had the dog in it, but no, that came a few months later.
- That was Sputnik 2 (I actually had the picture of the doge here, the dog actually dies
- but it was alive for a little bit in orbit). So that gets everyone freaked out and the US
- responds. Then in 1961 you have Yuri Gagarin, he is the first person in space.
- The first human being in space. He returns safely. We eventually get up there as well (the US).
- And then you fast forward all the way to 1969, the US is the first to be on the moon.
- So you have this space race that is, you know, the two countries really trying
- to one up each other and at the same time that's happening, you have
- (and I bring this up because so much happened during his presidency)
- in 1960 you have John F Kennedy being elected, kind of in the heart
- of the Cold War. And the other interesting thing is he is the first Catholic president
- which was, you know, people questioned whether---that by itself was interesting
- which was---that by itself was interesting
- But what was really interesting in his short presidency---
- he actually became president in '61
- he was elected in '60, but he became president in '61
- He had a very short presidency, and he was assassinate in '63.
- But, a lot happened in that short presidency.
- In 1959, right before he became president, you have the Cuban revolution.
- Cuba became Communist.
- Fidel Castro takes over; it becomes Communist.
- So, as you can imagine, the Americans didn't like a Communist
- state so close to our own borders. So in 1961, we support some ex-cubans---
- some cuban exiles to try to invade Cuba---and that also can be a whole topic
- for another video. There's debates between the CIA and the Kennedy Administration
- of who is to blame for it being such a failure.
- But it was a failure. So it was a huge embarrassment to the United States.
- And from the Communist Revolutionaries' point of view, they kind of viewed this as
- solidifying their hold of Cuba; it showed they could fend off a counter-revolutionary assault
- And then you have in 1962 we have these spy planes and we see that the Soviets are starting to put
- these ballistic missles in Cuba, which really freaks the United States out because
- these ballistic missles could reach any part of the United States
- We actually had similar ones in parts of Europe and Turkey.
- But we didn't like these things here, so we essentially use our Navy to
- "blockade" anymore arm shipments to the Soviet Union.
- So Kennedy has this kind of stand-off with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missle Crisis in 1962.
- And most people believe that this was the closet that the United States and the Soviet Union ever got
- to actually having a war---and, which would have probably turned into a nuclear war.
- But the standoff eventually got resolved.
- The Soviet Union eventually agreed to remove their missiles.
- Well, one, not send anymore missles and dismantle the ones they had already set up.
- And, (and this wasn't publicly stated at the time) but the United States also agreed
- to do the same thing for our missiles that were pointed at the Soviet Union to remove those from Turkey.
- So the world---at that point in time---had avoided kind of a mutually assured destruction.
- The whole time that this is happening, remember that the United States is paranoid---
- and maybe, justifiably so---(paranoia usually means worried when there's not a cause)
- but maybe justifiably worried about the spread of Communism.
- You have a situation where in Vietnam.
- You have Vietnam which is right about...
- In Vietnam you have the Communists come to power in North Vietnam
- (this was formerly a French colony).
- The US, right from the get-go, in the 1950's starts sending advisors to aid the "anti-Communists" in South Vietnam.
- In Kennedy's administration the amount of "advisors"---and I should probably put that in quotes
- because these advisors started becoming much more involved---really grew.
- And until 1965, the United States started sending its "official" combat troops to fight in Vietnam.
- And you fast-forward that all the way to 1975---and the reason why this is significant
- (other than this being one of the more recent major wars that the United States has been in)
- it's the first war that the United States kind of unambiguously lost.
- In 1975, the last presence of the United States left, and essentially Saigon (which was the capital of South Vietnam)
- fell to the Communists.
- So I'll leave you there, and we're now essentially in modern history---at least from my point of view
- because I was born not too long after that.
- Anyway, hopefully you found that interesting.
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At 5:31, how is the moon large enough to block the sun? Isn't the sun way larger?
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