Timeline of the Cold War

U.S. Foreign Policy


1947 - 1972

U.S. changed foreign policy to containment in an attempt to stop the spread of communism.


1972 - 1979

United States President Richard Nixon took trips to China and the Soviet Union as a display of the change in United States foreign policy to détente.


1979 - 1991

United States Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter change U.S. foreign policy from détente back to containment in response to Soviet military actions in Afghanistan.


WWII Officially Ends

2 September 1945

Red Scare


The "Red Scare" begins in America as the government begins to seek out and arrest suspected communists.

The Iron Curtain

5 March 1946

Winston Churchill proposed the idea of the communist Iron Curtain in Europe

Failed Reunification of Berlin


Three of the four countries that controlled Berlin wanted reunification. Stalin considered reunification a threat to the Soviet Union and opposed it.

Alliance for Progress


President Kennedy implements the Alliance for Progress program to improve quality of life for people in Latin America

Soviet Aid in Afghanistan


The Soviet Union sends troops and supplies to Afghanistan to aid in installing a communist government.

Mikhail Gorbachev Rises to Power


Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in the Soviet Union and supported drastic social and economic reform in an attempt to save the nation.

Soviet Union Falls


After improving relations with the United States and implementing drastic economic reformations, the Soviet Union collapses.

Korean War

Korean War

25 June 1950 - 27 July 1953

The Korean War begins after North Korean forces cross over the 38th Parallel into South Korea and lasts until 1953.

Space Race

Start of Space Race


The Soviet Union successfully launches the first satellite named Sputnik into orbit and starts the Space Race with the United States.

Moon Landing

20 July 1969

The Space Race neared completion as United States astronauts Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Neil Armstrong successfully landed on the Moon.

End of Space Race

July 1975

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project marked the undisputed end of the Space Race as the United States and Soviet Space programs worked together to test orbital operations and rendezvous between the Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts.

Vietnam War

Vietnam War Begins

1 November 1955

Communist North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam and the United States intervened to stop a North Vietnam takeover and, as a result, further spread of communism.

Vietnam War Ends

30 April 1975

Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, falls to the North Vietnamese on 30 April 1975 and marks the end of the Vietnam War.


Bay of Pigs

17 April 1961

A counter-revolutionary militia, funded and trained by the United States government, is sent to invade and overthrow the Cuban government and fails.

Cuban Missile Crisis

16 October 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis begins as the United States uncovers ICBM installations on the island of Cuba.