The Cold War
Assignment 1
Read the passage below and complete  cornell notes

What is The Cold War?  Was it fought during the winter?  Who was it between? The Cold War was a different type of war.  It was a war without battles like the ones you are used to studying.  The Cold War lasted for over 40 years.  It was between the Soviet Union & the United States.  You could say that during the Cold War the Soviets and the Americans were not really fighting, they were fussing!  Basically, the two countries were not shooting bullets or dropping bombs on each other like they would have in other wars we have studied.  What they did was spy on each other, distrust each other and convince themselves that the other was just looking for a reason to attack. Each country was convinced that the other was just plain evil. A good definition for The Cold War is ‘A state of tension between the US and the Soviet Union without actual fighting that divided the world into two camps.’  That just means that the United States and Soviet Union did not like each other and thought each other was up to no good and that even though they did not really fight, they were always ready to fight.


Why did the US and the Soviet Union not like each other?  What was so different about the two countries that made them distrust each other so much? Remember that the Soviet Union was a Communist country and the United States was a Democratic country.  A Communist country has a dictator and the state owns everything, but it is supposed to be shared by all.  It sounds like a good idea doesn’t it?  It really doesn’t work that way.  The state does control everything, but everything really wasn’t shared fairly by all.  In the Soviet Union citizens had very few freedoms, and the majority of the people struggled to make a living for their families.  In the United States, we vote for our leaders.  Our government does not control everything.  We also enjoy many freedoms that the Soviets didn’t.  For example if you do not agree with our president, you have the right to say that but in the Soviet Union you didn’t.  It could be very dangerous for a citizen to talk out against the government in a communist country.  So, right there are some differences, the Soviet Union was Communist and the United States was democratic, the Soviet Union had a dictator and the United States votes for leaders, the citizens of the Soviet Union had few freedoms, the citizens of the United States had many.


The Soviet Union and the USA economies were very different.   We already learned that the Soviet Union was Communist and the USA was democratic. In the Soviet Union everything was owned by the state. That meant that all farms, businesses, and land belonged to the state, not to individuals. The United States is a capitalist country.   Capitalism is an economic system that allows citizens to own land, factories and other businesses.  Citizens of the Soviet Union were not allowed to own businesses or land because the state owned everything.


The countries on the western border of Russia were referred to as its Eastern European satellites.  They are countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia.   The western nations of Europe, the USA and Canada formed an organization called NATO to defend against Russian aggression and prevent the Russians from invading western Europe,  (NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.)  A few years later Russia and the satellite countries formed a military alliance called the Warsaw Pact to protect against the western countries and the US.  The Soviet Union’s domination over Eastern European countries prompted America to start a policy of containment.  In other words to start a policy to stop the spread of Communism.  


Remember the Atomic Bomb?  In 1945 the US was the only country that had one.  After WWII was over the Soviet Union was jealous and wanted one of their own.  They were also worried that the US had a terrible weapon that they would not be able to defend themselves against.  In 1949 scientists in the Soviet Union tested an Atomic Bomb.  The US was no longer the only nation with “the bomb”.  The world had two Superpowers The Soviet Union and the United States, and the arms race was on.

Complete graphic organizers from your teacher
Assignment 2
Assignment 3
Complete assignment 3 in Moodle
Assignment 4
Read the passages below and complete  cornell notes
The Korean War
Korea had been under Japanese control for about 50 years.  After Japan was defeated in WWII, The Big Three had agreed that Korea would be occupied by Soviet and American forces.  The Soviets would occupy the Northern part and the Americans would occupy the Southern part.  The border between the two would be the 38th parallel.  Originally, The Big Three wanted elections to be held in 1948 with the goal of uniting all of Korea.  The Soviets did not hold those elections and the North and South established separate governments.

Later in 1948 both the Soviets and the Americans left Korea.  North Korea was Communist, ruled by Kim Il-Sung and South Korea was democratic, ruled by Syngman Rhee.  Neither man was a popular ruler. Both wanted to rule all of Korea, and fighting along the 38th parallel was common.  In 1950, Kim Il-Sung ordered his troops to attack South Korea.  As North Korean troops poured across the border, the surprised South Koreans were soon in a full retreat.

President Truman and his advisors were sure that the invasion was part of a bigger Communist plot to conquer the world.  They figured that Stalin had ordered the invasion of South Korea.  This event would be the first major test of not only the Truman Doctrine, but of the United Nations as well.  Remember, the United Nations was formed to take the place of the League of Nations, which had proved it was not strong enough to back up what it told nations.  The US went to the United Nations for help, the United Nations ordered North Korea to stop their invasion.  When North Korea failed to follow that direction, the United Nations sent troops from 16 nations to help South Korea.  In a short time Kim Il-Sung’s army had retreated north to the Chinese border, complete victory appeared imminent. 

In 1949 China had become Communist.  Before South Korea and the United Nations could claim victory Chinese communists poured across the border and forced the South Korean and United Nation forces into a disorganized retreat.  A few months later an American counter-attack drove the communists back to the 38th parallel.  For the next two years the war would not move much from this point. 

In 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President of the US.  When he came to office in 1953, Eisenhower knew that the only way to win Korea was to take drastic action.  Not wanting to directly attack China his only other choice would be to use nuclear weapons.  Eisenhower chose not to do that either.   Eisenhower worked hard to negotiate a settlement.  The negotiations dragged on and thousands of men continued to fight and die along the 38th parallel.  Then in March of 1953 Joseph Stalin died.  Although The Soviet Union was not directly fighting in the Korean War, they were considered to be home base for all communist countries.  By July of ’53 the Korean War was finally over.  Korea remained divided along the 38th parallel.  Three long years of war had ended in a stalemate.  China and North Korea’s willingness to negotiate was attributed to Stalin’s death. 

The Cuban Missile Crisis

In 1961, the United States again elected a new leader, John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected president.  Kennedy believed that America had an obligation to lead the world’s democratic nations.  He considered America to be the defender of the free world.  The Soviet Union also had a new leader, Nikita Khrushchev.  Khrushchev had assumed control of the Soviet Union in 1957.  The Kennedy-Khrushchev era held more than one crisis.  In 1961, East German troops erected the Berlin Wall.  The wall soon became a symbol of repression as the people of East Germany were forced to accept communism.   The most famous crisis of this time was the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1959, Fidel Castro led a revolution against the Cuban government.  Castro had anti-American feelings and was unhappy that American leaders had supported the corrupt government of Cuba rather than the revolutionaries. Castro accepted aid from the Soviet Union and soon declared that Cuba would become a communist country.  Suddenly, the Communist threat was on a nearby island. 

In 1961 a group of Cuban exiles landed in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, the exiles expected the Cuban people to join them in the revolt.  They also expected the US government to back them.  Neither happened, the exiles were quickly defeated.  The event became an extreme embarrassment to Kennedy.  It also started Castro looking for a way to defend his island nation.  Meanwhile, Khrushchev had conceived of a plan to provide a real deterrent for the United States to attack the Soviet Union; placing missiles on Cuba.  During the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union quietly began to place missile on the tiny island.  On October 15th a US spy plane took pictures of the missile sites.  Kennedy and his advisors spent the next few days trying to decide how to handle the situation.  On the 22nd Kennedy gave a speech in which he stated 

“To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation and port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.”

Basically, what Kennedy did was to put a blockade around Cuba to make sure no more missiles got in.  He was justifying what he did be pointing out that we were only looking for weapons that could threaten the US, not trying to keep out food and other products the way the Soviets had during the Berlin Airlift.  Khrushchev on the other hand was feeling somewhat boxed in.  He knew that the US not only had more missiles than the US did, but that the US missiles were capable of going farther.  Khrushchev maintained that Soviet missiles in Cuba was no different than American missiles in Turkey. 

Neither Kennedy or Khrushchev wanted to go to war, but both were determined not to give in.  On the 24th Soviet ships approached the blockade America waited tensely to see what the ships would do.  The ships stopped.  On the 27th a US spy plane was shot down over Cuba, Kennedy became very disturbed and even considered a bombing mission over the missile sites.  What Kennedy didn’t know was that Khrushchev was upset over the spy plane being shot down as well.  An unknown Soviet commander in Cuba,  not Khrushchev had given that order.  Khrushchev and Kennedy both feared that events were slipping beyond their control.  Finally, on the 28th Khrushchev and Kennedy reached an agreement.  The Soviets would remove the missiles and the US would not invade Cuba.  No treaty was signed  but both sides kept their promise.  There was another secret part of the agreement, the US would remove the missiles from Turkey.  Since this agreement was kept secret, it looked to the world and more importantly to the Soviet government that Khrushchev had lost the struggle between the superpowers.  There is also the possibility that the Soviets only put the missiles in Cuba to get the US to remove the missiles in Turkey and had no intention of allowing the conflict to escalate to nuclear war.

John F. Kennedy
Nikita Khrushchev
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was one of the most painful events in American history.  The US entered the Vietnam War because we believed it was important to stop the spread of communism and defend freedom.  The US believed in the Domino Theory, that if one country became communist that others would follow like dominos falling one after another.  American leaders thought that the struggle in Vietnam was between communists and anti-communists.  It wasn’t, it was a war for independence by the people of Vietnam.

Americans generally think of the Vietnam war as beginning in 1965 and ending in 1975.  Each night on the evening news there was information on the Vietnam war about the American soldiers who were fighting and dying.  As the war dragged on and on, more people in America started to question if we should really even be there at all.  The 1960’s were a time of change in America.  Much of this was rooted in the war in Vietnam and the American public’s response to it. 

To understand the Vietnam war, you need to understand a little about the history of Vietnam.  Vietnam was settled over 2,000 years ago by tribesmen that had their own culture and language, the Vietnamese society was based on agriculture and placed a great emphasis on family loyalty.  China was a traditional enemy of Vietnam.  For over a thousand years Vietnam was ruled by Chinese warlords.  In the fifteenth century Vietnam finally won its independence from China. 

In the mid 1800’s France conquered Vietnam, making it a French colony.  The French exploited the Vietnamese people for over a century.  It didn’t take long for most Vietnamese to begin to deeply resent the French rulers.  In the mid 1900’s feelings of nationalism began to grow among young Vietnamese.  One young man affected was Ho Chi Minh.  War began between the Vietminh and the French in 1946.  By 1949, the war was not going well for the French.  They were seen as foreign invaders by the Vietnamese, and the war was becoming unpopular with the French people.  France turned to the US for aid.  Truman and his advisors saw Ho Chi Minh as a communist first and a nationalist second.  That means that they thought Ho Chi Minh was more concerned about making Vietnam communist than he was in freeing Vietnam from France.

When Eisenhower became president in 1956, he saw things in Vietnam the same way that Truman had.  Eisenhower was the president that used the “Domino Theory” as a reason for helping the French.  During this time American aid was limited to money and advisors.  Eisenhower was not prepared to send US troops to Vietnam.  In 1954 French troops surrendered and peace talks began in Geneva, Switzerland.  As a result of the talks the Geneva Accords were produced.  This divided Vietnam into two halves.  The north was ruled by Ho Chi Minh and the South was ruled by Ngo Dinh Diem.  Elections were to be held in 1956 to unify the entire country under one government.

Ho Chi Minh was very popular but he supported the communists.  Ngo Dinh Diem was probably not going to win the elections so, he cancelled them, violating the Geneva Accords.  American leaders were concerned about communism in the region so they supported Diem’s decision to cancel the elections.  This is also the reason that the United States intervened in Vietnam.  The US sent more than a billion dollars in aid and several hundred advisors to Vietnam to help Diem’s government become stronger.  Despite all this help, Diem was not a successful leader.  There were several reasons for this.  First, Diem’s soldiers terrorized the countryside looking for communists.  He also used repressive tactics against political opponents to retain power, in other words, he was mean to anyone who opposed him.  The biggest reason however was the fact that most Vietnamese saw Diem as a puppet to the Americans, and saw the Americans as nothing more than a replacement to the French.

During Kennedy’s presidency aid to Vietnam continued.  Kennedy like Truman and Eisenhower thought it was critical to prevent a communist victory in South Vietnam.  Also like Truman and Eisenhower, he did not want to commit US troops.  In 1963 Diem’s own generals overthrew his government and executed both him and his closest advisors.  Later in 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas making Lyndon B. Johnson president of the US.

When Johnson became president, the US again had a leader who strongly believed in the domino theory.  Johnson, unlike the presidents before him felt that it would be necessary to use American forces to save South Vietnam.  What Johnson needed was something to convince the American people that he was right.  In August of 1964, an event in The Gulf of Tonkin would give him what he had been looking for.   An American destroyer, the Maddox, was on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin.  The Maddox was fired on by what American leaders presumed to be a North Vietnamese patrol boat.  In reality there was a great deal of confusion about the event.  There had been a heavy fog, no visual sighting was made, no damage was done, but blips that had been seen on the destroyers radar screen appeared to be torpedoes.  The event was publicized all over the US, the American people were naturally upset, how dare the North Vietnamese attack them.  Johnson had what he needed, an event of apparent aggression, and an American public that was not happy about it.  Johnson went to congress and convinced them to give him the authority to intervene in Vietnam.  Congress quickly did just that.  The Tonkin Gulf Resolution gave President Johnson tremendous authority.  He could now decide to expand the war without having to ask congress for permission.  And expand the war he did.

The American public was at first strongly behind the Vietnam war.   Events of the Cold War had taught them to fear communism.  So, in 1964 the American public easily accepted the principle that not only did communism have to be stopped, but that communist countries would have to be dealt with strongly.  They also did not have any idea just how long this struggle would continue.  Most Americans felt that victory would be quick.

By 1968 the public began to realize that Vietnam had become a stalemate, with no end in sight.  Americans became divided over the war.  One extreme wanted to fight an all out war in Vietnam, this group were the “hawks” the other extreme wanted the US out of Vietnam immediately, they were the “doves”.  The US had a new leader, Richard Nixon.  Nixon had won the presidency by promising to achieve “peace with honor”  He knew that neither the hawks or the doves were correct and chose to appeal to the “silent majority” in the middle.  Nixon wanted the US out of the war, but insisted it be done honorably. 

Finally, on January 27, 1973, the US and North Vietnam signed the Paris Accords.  It stated that the US would withdraw all forces from Vietnam, North Vietnam would officially recognize the government of South Vietnam and return all American prisoners of war.  By the summer of ’73 most fighting had stopped.  Things stayed relatively calm until 1975.  In the spring of that year, North Vietnam launched an invasion against South Vietnam.  South Vietnam called to the US for help, but the Americans had no desire to reenter the war.  South Vietnam fell, and Vietnam became united under one government, a communist government.

Like all wars Vietnam had been costly, almost 200 billion dollars had been spent.  57,605 soldiers were killed, more than 300, 000 had been seriously wounded.  Many servicemen suffered from poor health due to contact with chemicals such as Agent Orange.  Many more had trouble readjusting to life at home again. Soldiers returning from the war were not greeted with cheers and parades as they had been in past wars, instead they were greeted with jeers and insults.  This made the transition back to civilian life even more difficult.  There was a division among the people of the US as well.  During the war many young men fled the country rather than be drafted.  In previous wars, Americans could justify the costs by pointing to the gains made by the war.  In the Vietnam War nothing of value was gained for America.