Cold War


Truman President

1945 - 1953

Truman was very aggressive against the Soviets--he listened to his more radical advisor Harriman over Sec of War Stimson (who said peace between the US and Soviets was more important than containment) and took more harsh policies against communism--increasing tensions between the countries and escalating the war

Eisenhower President

1953 - 1961

He didn't want to back down from the Soviet threat, but he did want to decrease the deficit--he tried appealing to the Soviets to back down on arms, and when they didn't he increased reliance on nuclear weapons, escalating the war. He made the domino theory very public, saying that if one country falls to communism those around it are likely to fall as well. He also started a bunch of social programs to improve US standard of living and make the Soviets look even worse

Dulles: "massive retaliation" to Soviet threats--he planned to nuke the Soviets or China if they attacked the US

Kennedy President

1961 - 1963

right when he came into office the war was escalating, and Vietnam started and he sent a bunch of troops to train Vietnamese soldiers. He had to deal with a lot of issues in Southeast Asia.

Johnson President

1963 - 1969

he got all of the blame during the Vietnam war because it was going so badly during his presidency

Nixon President

1969 - 1974

he and Kissinger form the "detenté" where they try to ease tensions with the Soviets
he also preached "Vietnamization" where the US would gradually ease troops, but he increased them instead (ass)
he agreed to disagree with the Chinese (didn't apply the civil rights thing he did to other countries) to keep them friendly, and they didn't like the Soviets, which doesn't ease tension at all

Ford President

1974 - 1977

took over after Nixon's scandal: Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended.

Carter President

1977 - 1981

gave Panama back the canal, but they have to take care of it according to our requirements and we reserve the right to take care of it militarily and take it back
Camp David
SALT: strategic arms limitation talks
received a Nobel Peace Prize
Afghanistan and Carter Doctrine: if the Soviets get involved in the Middle East we will fight them
he boycotts the Olympics in Moscow
Iran Hostage Crisis

Raegan President

1981 - 1989

right when he gets into office the hostages are released. he was a firmer and more big picture president. He was responsible for the Iran-Contra scandal..
Reagan Doctrine: fight commies anywhere!
but relations with the Soviets still improved because of Gorbachov

Bush the Elder

1989 - 1993

the Cold War officially ended under his administration, and he and Gorbachov made a compromise to reduce nuclear weapons and they both destroyed a lot of them. the gulf war started under him. he started environmental concern policies.


Berlin Airlift

June 1948 - May 1949

the Soviets blockade the French, British, and American parts of Berlin from them, stopping all railway and car entrances so the only thing we could do was fly stuff in to them. the Soviets were hoping we would give up our part of Berlin--but we airlifted more supplies to help the US part of Berlin that the Soviets were embarrassed and it eventually resulted in splitting Berlin into two separate states

Soviets explode atomic bomb

August 29, 1949

Korean War

1950 - 1953

Started as a Civil War between North and South Korea, and we thought that North Korea was being funded by the Soviets so we entered and pushed back the North Koreans, then the Chinese came and sat at the border because they were afraid we'd invade them too and MacArthur wanted to drop an Abomb on them, but he just bombed one of their bridges to keep them from entering so they went to war aaagghhh

did it really help us at all? not really--there was no gain from the war. but they wanted to make sure the domino effect didn't take place here so i guess they stopped that kind of... but it was only a civil war...

Dienbienphu falls

May 7, 1954

Ho Chi Minh (communist) takes over French garrison in South Vietnam. He wasn't totally anti-American though--he had appealed to the US in the past for aid and hadn't really gotten anything, so he really just wanted his country back and unified without western control. after this, they meet with France (who had pulled out) and the US at Geneva to discuss peace, which didnt last long..

Arbenz overthrown in Guatemala

June 27, 1954

CIA sponsored coup overthrows Arbenz because the UFC said he was a communist and the US didnt like the idea of a communist running a country where one of the biggest businesses was located. there was lots of lies by the US radio stations to the people during this time.

Suez Crisis

July 26, 1956

Egypt (Nasser) seizes the Suez canal from a US company, threatening to cut off Europe's oil supply, so the US got the Israelis to invade and take it back, but they still tried to play mediator peacefully and not invade, keeping their relations good with the middle east while Israel's status fell even more

Cuban Revolution puts Castro in Power

January 1, 1959

Castro lead a revolution against Batista (who was a friend to the US) and he was very left wing oh nooo

U2 incident

May 1, 1960

Soviets catch a US spy plane within their walls and shoot it down--now theyre super pissed and leave the Paris summit (scheduled to discuss the ongoing situation in divided Germany, the possibility of an arms control or test ban treaty, and the relaxation of tensions between the USSR and the United States.)

Bay of Pigs

April 17, 1961

Kennedy thinks that Soviets are supporting Cuban communists to he sets up an invasion by Cubans who escaped into the US. Khrushchev gives Cubans nukes...

Cuban Missil Crisis

October 14 1962 - October 28, 1962

Kennedy got word of Khruschev giving missils to the Cubans and issued a national state of emergency. He didn't really know how to respond: the army wanted a land invasion (which would take too long and be too risky) the airforce wanted to bomb (they could risk not getting all of the bombs and get a bad retaliation) and the politicians wanted to negotiate....
So JFK issues a naval blockade of Cuba to keep Soviet ships from giving them more weapons. he was worried about the elections and couldnt take too radical of an action because the American citizens had very conflicting opinions on the matter, but this was still a risky escalation...
he ended up pulling missils out of Turkey which were pointed at the Soviets for them to pull the missils out of Cuba--ended diplomatically

Diem assassinated

November 2, 1963

Diem came into power in South Vietnam and the US supported him because he was a capitalist, even though he had a terribly corrupt regime--he was a corrupt Catholic with drug dealing ties (he was ruling a Buddhist country--he did not know how to appeal to the people) the US arrested him after awhile for being an asshole then one of our Vietnamese generals shot him

Gulf of Tonkin

August 7, 1964

An American destroyer was hanging out listening in on North Vietnam's radio trying to find out if there was an invasion about to happen and they get attacked by NV's relatively weak navy. Johnson requests that Congress ups the navy in Indochina, so Congress passes a resolution allowing the president to have any power he needs to send military over... basically giving him power to declare unofficial war... Johnson gets a higher approval for this (containment and credibility) and he needs to show the third world that the US can fight off communism. This resolution became the legal basis for the Johnson and Nixon Administrations prosecution of the Vietnam War.

Rolling Thunder Starts

March 2, 1965

big bombing of North Vietnam: US forces come from all sides (Cambodia, Laos, etc) basically destroying everything. They drop more bombs than on Germany during wwII.... huge escalation of the war

TET offensive

January 31, 1968

although Viet Cong (Ho Chi Minh) forces seem to be declining (which we brag about) on the Vietnamese lunar new year (tet) they launch an attack and hit a bunch of our forces all at once--although we win the battle ultimately it looks bad because they still have the capacity to do that... downfall of US citizen support of the war

Camp David Accords


the US mediates a peace treaty between Israel and Arab nations, making Egypt back off. the US needs Israel in its side so it can have some sort of foothold/ally in the middle east for oil: we need stability so the oil flows freely

Iran Hostage Crisis

November 4, 1979 - January 20, 1981

the US protected the old shah of Iran (who the Iranians all hated) and after Islamic extremists won the Iranian revolution they held the American embassy in Tehran hostage for 444 days--it undermined Carter’s conduct of foreign policy. The crisis dominated the headlines and news broadcasts and made the Administration look weak and ineffectual. the hostages were freed right after Reagan was sworn into office.

Iran-Contra Scandal breaks

November 1986

Nicaragua was in the midst of a civil war and the US saw it as another cold war involvement, so we sold weapons to Iran (even though we dont like them--but we wanted them and Iraq to have about an even power so war wouldnt break out and oil would still flow) so we could sponsor the contra which was fighting against the Nicaraguan government

Berlin Wall Falls

October 1989

Gorbachov's non-military policy and relaxing policies in neighboring states inspired East Germans to rally for freedom to enter West Berlin, and the wall fell. This inspired more and more people calling for reforms in Czechoslovakia etc, and as elections and reform became more and more popular the domino effect seemed to be working in reverse as communism started collapsing

Soviet Union Collapse

1990 - 1991

Mikhail Gorbachev paved the way for political and economic reforms in East Central Europe. Gorbachev abandoned the "Brezhnev Doctrine" -- the Soviet Union's policy of intervening with military force, if necessary, to preserve Communist rule in the region. Instead, he encouraged the local Communist leaders to seek new ways of gaining popular support for their rule. In Hungary, the Communist government initiated reforms in 1989 that led to the sanctioning of a multiparty system and competitive elections. In Poland, the Communists entered into round-table talks with a reinvigorated Solidarity. As a result, Poland held its first competitive elections since before World War II, and in 1989, Solidarity formed the first non-Communist government within the Soviet bloc since 1948. Inspired by their neighbors' reforms, East Germans took to the streets in the summer and fall of 1989 to call for reforms, including freedom to visit West Berlin and West Germany. Moscow's refusal to use military force to buoy the regime of East German leader Erich Honecker led to his replacement and the initiation of political reforms, leading up to the fateful decision to open the border crossings on the night of November 9, 1989.

Persian Gulf War and Desert Storm

January 1991

Iraq invades Kuwait and US air forces come in to save the day: beginning of the war on terror.

Plans and Documents

Kennan's Long Telegram

February 22, 1946

said we need to contain communism because it's not going to go away: we could not peacefully coexist with the communists because we are fundamentally different. sparked Truman's containment policy.

Truman Doctrine

March 12, 1947

Truman sent aid to Greece and Turkey because their economies were collapsing and he feared they would fall to communism because communist parties were rising in the states. Truman also thought the Soviets were funding the communist parties here.

Marshall Plan

June 5, 1947

More US Economic aid to European countries to prevent more communistic threats. the Soviets wouldnt allow their sphere to accept the aid so the US wouldn't have an economic advantage over them, and their crumbling countries were sad and their economies got worse..

National Security Act signed

July 26, 1947

established the CIA and other agencies: basically simplified the US defense system so it all ran together, also gave the executive branch more power over these defenses

NATO founded

April 4, 1949

first peacetime military alliance--US and some Western European countries, US said that they would help anyone militarily and financially who is fighting the threat of communism.


September 30, 1950

Truman's plan to militarize America against communism: started the arms race. He decided the only way to defend ourselves against the Soviets was to build an insane amount of weapons to counter their weapons and nuclear weapons.

Geneva Accords

July 20, 1954

US, Soviets, British, French tried to find a way to reunite Vietname and restore peace to Indochina, but they ended up just splitting it into the North and South

SEATO founded

September 8, 1954

United States, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan: military alliance in southeast asia to prevent communism from entering any of these countries

Warsaw Pact


military alliance between Soviets and the Eastern bloc countries--but the Soviets pretty much controlled everything and used it as an excuse to barge in on other countries decisions

Eisenhower Doctrine


a country could request American economic assistance and/or aid from U.S. military forces if it was being threatened by armed aggression from another state. Eisenhower singled out the Soviet threat in his doctrine by authorizing the commitment of U.S. forces "to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism."


October 4, 1957

first successful satellite launch into space--scared the bajeezers out of the US, who in turn upped their production of weapons to combat this new threat



"Star wars"--plan to launch a laser into space that will shoot down Soviet missils before they come over to the US. Raegan trying to calm people down about potential nuclear attack (even though they clearly did not have the technology to do this)
the Soviets hear about this (they dont hear the lack of tech part) and start making more missils, thinking the US cant catch em all.. but they overspend on this even more and it starts to wear and tear on their economy

Gorbachev Reforms begin


Glasnost- openness to west
more accepting of capitolism and less worrying about it: he started opening the borders etc to western places in order to get more people in to support their economy

Perestroika- restructure to help the faltering economy. some people really dont like this and start rebelling against him-- soviet starts crumbling