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Origins of the Cold War

AP.USH:
KC‑8.1.I (KC)
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Unit 8: Learning Objective B
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WOR (Theme)
The Cold War was a period of heightened tensions between the US and the Soviet Union. Lasting from 1945-1991, the two nations never directly fought, but instead engaged in proxy wars to advance their own ideologies-- the US aiming to repel communism, and the USSR seeking to spread it.

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  • hopper jumping style avatar for user Aryan
    What do russians today think of the Soviet Union?
    (17 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user Joel Forey
    If Russia had gone to war with the US would anyone still be alive?
    (10 votes)
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    • leafers ultimate style avatar for user William H
      We did actually fight against the Soviets in some conflicts such as Vietnam and The Soviet War in Afghanistan, however in those cases they were military advisors provided by the USSR in Vietnam, and the US in Afghanistan, not an entire army. Thankfully things stayed at this level, however had things escalated it's very possible is could have gone nuclear. The only time we went against large, powerful communist forces was against China in Korea, however they were not fully nuclear. Had the USSR decided to invade Europe, sent bombers&troops, things could have likely turned very ugly very quickly. Thankfully though, nuclear war and total annihilation was not appealing to anybody and we avoided direct confrontations. (Sorry, hope this wasn't too long).
      (18 votes)
  • starky sapling style avatar for user Joel Forey
    Which countries are in NATO
    (6 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Cosmos
      Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States
      (21 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user nathan Penoyar
    Didn't the Soviets put the Jews and other people that were in German concentration camps in the Gulags (Soviet concentration camps).
    (5 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user SolarTree
      Stalin was also considered an evil man. He was responsible for the murder of millions of Russians and he imprisoned anyone he wanted to in the Gulags. One woman was thrown into the Gulag for many years because she took the food grown on her own land, which was against the law of collectivization of agriculture and was considered stealing, to feed her children. After she was thrown into the Gulag for some many years, she never was able to find her children again. I remember my history teacher telling us that Stalin did also persecute Jews during his lifetime.
      (10 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user pfeifer.alexander
    what is meant by the cold war
    (4 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user Alex Hickens
      A war in which the two or more opposing belligerents do not have direct military action, in which neither side sheds each other's blood directly, but indirectly, in the form of proxy wars, in which the belligerents promote and expand their interests and ideologies in other nations through war. If what I said is long and daunting, basically a "Cold War" is where the two opponents do not go in a full blown out scale war with each other.
      (5 votes)
  • mr pants teal style avatar for user Owen Grin
    i never hear australia in any of these wars what were they doing in the time of the cold war.
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user lhwa3322
    What is the most significant impact of the Cold War?
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      There were many impacts. Americans wasted billions of dollars on military equipment that was never used. American males continued to be drafted to serve in the armed forces, having armed and trained forces drew the US to use those forces in places like Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. The United states overthrew legitimately elected governments in Guatemala and Iran, leading to fascist dictatorships. As to which of these was "most significant" (your question, not mine), I'll leave it to you to choose.
      (5 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user johnsrac002
    how did the soviet uion start?
    (3 votes)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user Yohan Lee
      The Soviet Union had its origins in the Russian Revolution of 1917. Radical leftist revolutionaries overthrew Russia’s Czar Nicholas II, ending centuries of Romanov rule. The Bolsheviks established a socialist state in the territory that was once the Russian Empire.
      (5 votes)
  • starky sapling style avatar for user Joel Forey
    Were Atomic Bombs more prominent in the Cold War than any other time in history
    (3 votes)
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    • leafers ultimate style avatar for user William H
      Atomic weaponry had just been discovered (no atoms bombs before WWII), and the US had just used one. Also the Soviets, another major power and enemy of the US, then stole the "recipe" for them. This created lots of tension and an arms race to see whose were better. Luckily we realized if it came to war we'd all be dead and stopped. Nowadays "mutually assured destruction" and the fact there aren't any major superpowers at war willing to use them accounts for this fact.
      (3 votes)
  • starky tree style avatar for user Everett
    how did the cold war begin? was it a war, or an argument between the two sides?
    (2 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      The Cold War wasn't an outright war, just a series of proxy wars and scientific one-upmanship between the US and USSR. It was caused because the USA and Russia were the greatest superpowers of the world in the Post-World War 2 era, and they had vastly different ideals and beliefs. Cold War is said to have started immediately after the end of World War 2, since even during the war, the US and USSR were spying on each other's nuclear programs. At the end of World War 2, America had nukes and nobody else did, and US and USSR troops were at standoffs in both Korea and Berlin. The rising tensions soon resulted in the Cold War.
      (4 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hi, Dr. Kutz. - [Voiceover] Hello, David. How are you doing? - [Voiceover] I'm doing well. I'm excited to learn about this thing we call "the Cold War." What is a "cold war" and what makes it different than a "hot war"? - [Voiceover] So, a cold war, and in this case it's really, it might be a term that we could debate. is a war where the two major combatants never actually fire bullets at each other or drop bombs on each other. So never in the course of the Cold War did the US ever meet the ground troops with the USSR. - [Voiceover] But people still died in combat. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] So the Cold War is kind of fought through proxy wars. And these are wars that are taking place in other nations, developing nations of the world where the US is supporting one side, generally the pro-capitalist side, and the Soviet Union is supporting the other side, a communist side. So this is the case in the Korean War in the 1950s, and then definitely the case in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. - [Voiceover] So the US and the USSR aren't fighting directly but they're kind of betting on boxing matches, betting on different fighters in the same boxing match. - [Voiceover] Yeah, but they're not just betting, they're also putting money and arms where their mouth is. - [Voiceover] So now if there are two different fighters in the ring, the US is given the capitalist fighter... feeding him... - [Voiceover] So you've got the capitalist fighter in one corner and he's sweaty and he's beaten, but the US is behind him with a towel and one of those water buckets, splashing water in his face, like "Get in this fight! Get in there!' - [Voiceover] Right. And if necessary, tying up his boxing gloves, maybe giving him a new pair of shoes. - [Voiceover] Sure. - [Voiceover] Doing whatever they can... - [Voiceover] Paying his rent... - [Voiceover] Right. Doing everything that they can... - [Voiceover] Buying him meals, probably, like at the Marshall Plan. - [Voiceover] Exactly! - [Voiceover] Okay, so tell me about these two combatants. In this corner... - [Voiceover] Laughs. - [Voiceover] Wearing a suit... - [Voiceover] (laughs) Is Harry Truman. And Harry Truman is the President of the United States, starting in 1945. He was Vice President to Franklin Roosevelt, who had been the US's president since 1932, and who tragically died in 1945. So Truman is really in charge of ending World War II for the United States and also kind of setting up post-war plans. - [Voiceover] So he prosecutes the end of the war. He makes the decision to drop the atom bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and he ends the war in both theaters. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] Okay. - [Voiceover] And... - [Voiceover] And in the other corner, wearing a very fine mustache... - [Voiceover] (laughs) Is Joseph Stalin. And he's the Soviet premier. He's been in charge since the 1920s. And for him, I would say the most important thing that Stalin wanted after World War II was security, shall we say. - [Voiceover] Okay. - [Voiceover] So if you remember your history, in World War I Germany invaded Russia. In World War II Germany invaded Russia. - [Voiceover] Oh, I'm seeing a pattern. - [Voiceover] And if there's anything that Stalin wants in the post-1945 era, it is not to be invaded by Germany anymore. - [Voiceover] Sure. - [Voiceover] So he is very anxious to make sure that the world is safe for communism. He thinks that the best way to make sure that Russians can continue the experiments and the revolution of communism is to have a buffer zone, shall we say, between Russia and the rest of Europe. - [Voiceover] Okay. - [Voiceover] And if he does that by kind of shoring up some puppet governments, in what we now call the Eastern Block, these nations that had been taken over by Hitler and then when the Soviet Union joined the war on the side of the Allies, then were retaken over by Russia as they fought Hitler back. - [Voiceover] Okay. So a lot of those central European countries like Hungary, and Lithuania, and the former Czechoslovakia, and the former Yugoslavia. - [Voiceover] And he had the advantage of having boots on the ground there because he'd beaten back Hitler's invasion, eventually White Russian troops were fighting against Hitler, and American troops who were fighting against Hitler. You know, they meet in Berlin at the fall of Hitler, and kind of shake hands in Berlin. But the advantage that Russia had was that they've got a lot more people here. They've got most of Europe now, at least east of Berlin, has Soviet troops on the ground. - [Voiceover] Sure. So you've been telling me that the Soviet Union did yeoman's work in containing and basically prosecuting the entire Eastern Front during World War II. - [Voiceover] Yeah, and the Soviet Union actually lost 20 million people during World War II. That's just a ludicrous number. They lost more than anyone except for China and Germany. So they feel like they have a real stake in the outcome of World War II. - [Voiceover] So, at the end of this, what is the situation in the USSR? Like they've conquered all of this territory but are they strong enough economically to hold all of it and feed everyone? - [Voiceover] No, not really. In fact, most of Europe is in pretty dire straits if you think about it. All of World War II was really kind of fought, right, in Europe... - [Voiceover] Right in the European bread basket. - [Voiceover] And so there is serious economic trouble in the aftermath of World War II. People don't have enough to eat. They certainly don't have any cash, and they don't have any fuel, which is very worrisome in 1946 because of the terrible winter. So people are cold and they are hungry. And when people are cold and hungry there is a lot of fuel for a possible revolution, right?. Even in the 1930s, in the United States, there's a lot of different political ideas that come up during the Great Depression. Because when your political system isn't working well, you consider other kinds of political systems. - [Voiceover] So the United States is worried that, because of the cold winter of 1946, and scarcity across western Europe, this blue part of the map will turn much redder. - [Voiceover] Right. So for the United States, they're worried that communism is kind of the child of hunger and poverty. And they're afraid that because Stalin has so much territory in Europe, that he is really well poised to become "Hitler, part two." - [Voiceover] Okay. And that is a sequel the United States does not want to see. - [Voiceover] No. Absolutely not. And if they really learned anything from World War II, it's that appeasement doesn't work, right? During the 1930s, many people in the West, the prime minister of England, Neville Chamberlain, kind of felt like they didn't want to go back to war because World War I is still very much on people's minds during the 1930s. And so they figured, let's not confront Hitler head on because we're not up for that right now. We're also in the middle of worldwide depression. And that helped nothing because it just meant that Hitler could gain a whole lot of territory and World War II was much worse than it might have been if they hadn't gone after Hitler earlier. - [Voiceover] And stopped the Anschluss. - [Voiceover] Yes. - [Voiceover] If you stop the Anschluss, you stop the "onschlaught." - [Voiceover] (laughs) Exactly. So they're really trying to say, all right, Stalin, if he wants to, could probably just run his way through the rest of Europe, right, with very little resistance, because the only nation in the world that has the military and economic power to stop the Soviet Union is the United States. - [Voiceover] Because their factories and fields were not bombed to cinders during the European theater. - [Voiceover] Right. So if they wanna stop "Hitler, part two, the Stalin years," then they're going to have to really stand up for capitalism and also for the kind of material comforts and democratic, what we call, self-determination. This is one of the most important ideas to come out of the alliance between the United States and Britain, which is that the citizens of a region should have the right to decide their own form of government. - [Voiceover] And they think of the Soviets as being totalitarians. And that's not a wrong assessment because there is a very strong totalitarian control coming out of Moscow and the Soviet Union. So they say, If we're going to keep Europe from turning all red, all communist, then we're going to need to kind of shore up Europe. They think of communism as kind of being a little bit like a flood, shall we say, that you gotta, you gotta put sandbags around the edges of communism. Otherwise, it's gonna leak out. - [Voiceover] So is the United States and their allies also interested in creating their own kind of light blue buffer zone, also next to the Eastern Block? Or are they interested in... Is this when we get into the creation of NATO? - [Voiceover] NATO really comes out of an understanding that World War II has not created peace and so the US is going to have to forego their more than a century-long commitment to being isolationist and take a stronger role in the world. - [Voiceover] So, okay, for the folks at home, what does NATO stand for? North Atlantic Treaty Organization? - [Voiceover] North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And this is a defensive alliance between, at first, 12 nations, which say that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all. - [Voiceover] Gotcha! Well, that sounds like they're maneuvering their boxers into position and rubbing the shoulders and getting them ready. - [Voiceover] Yes. Very much so. And I think one of the tragedies of the post-war era is that maybe things didn't have to be like this? Right after the US and the USSR had worked together to defeat Hitler, it might have possible for them to coexist peacefully? But I think they both had the idea that the other economic system, and we're talking about communism and capitalism, were just kind of riddled with internal inconsistencies and that eventually the world would be all capitalist or all communist. And they were going to have to really marshal all of their resources behind their chosen boxer or they were gonna lose. - [Voiceover] Sounds like a fight that's gonna take a long time. - [Voiceover] And it did. - [Voiceover] End round one!