Although the United States and the Soviet Union were the major players during the Cold War, many other countries were also affected by this world

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  • Although the United States and the Soviet Union were the major players during the Cold War, many other countries were also affected by this world wide tension. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were never involved with each other in any military conflicts but flexed their muscles through armed conflicts of smaller countries. The most notable of these conflicts were the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 and War in Vietnam from 1964 to 1973. In both of these conflicts, troops from the United States and its United Nations allies were attempting to prevent the spread of communism.
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  • These conflicts were fought because the allies felt if they did not stop the Spread of communism in these vulnerable countries it would spread from One country to the next. This idea was given the name The Domino Theory
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  • During the Cold War, there were several incidents that strained the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union even further. In 1957 the Soviet Union put the first man- made satellite into orbit around the Earth. This alarmed the U.S. military and politicians because they felt if the Soviets could launch a missile into space they might be able to launch a nuclear weapon to the United States. This event also had a detrimental effect on the morale of the American people. There was great fear that a nuclear attack on the United States from the Soviet Union was a real threat.
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  • In an effort to monitor military build-up in the Soviet Union, the United States and several allies instituted a program to use high altitude spy planes to photograph Soviet military bases. In 1960, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union and its pilot captured. Initially the U.S. reported it was a weather plane that had wandered off course. The Soviets produced photographs recovered from the U-2 showing several military instillations. U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower finally admitted the airplane was on a spy mission but refused to offer an apology to the Soviets. Again, tensions ran high between the two counties.
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  • The closest the United States and the Soviet Union came to nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After U.S. President John F. Kennedy placed nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy, Soviet president Nakita Khrushchev made a deal with Cuban president Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. The United States discovered the preparation of missile sites in Cuba when in October of 1962 an American U-2 spy plane photographed the construction sites. Tensions between the two countries ran high and the possibility of nuclear war was imminent. Presidents Kennedy and Khrushchev eventually negotiated an agreement in which the U.S would remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy while the Soviets would do the same in Cuba.
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  • This constant threat of nuclear war caused the American public to make drastic changes to the way they went about their everyday lives. Many built underground bomb shelters, learned to duck and cover, and became involved in the Civil Defense. Americans were truly afraid the U.S.S.R. would attack at any time.
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  • As time passed, both countries became more involved with domestic disputes and the threat of nuclear war became less prevalent. Eventually the U.S.S.R. began to unravel. Like dominoes, eastern European communist dictatorships fell one by one. Communist regimes were ousted in Poland, Hungary, Rumania and Czechoslovakia. In December 1991, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia itself declared independence and the Soviet Union was dissolved. Americans found it difficult to get used to the idea of no Cold War. Since 1945, Americans were born into a Cold War culture that featured backyard bomb shelters, spy planes, a space race, a missile crisis, the Berlin Wall and Soviet dominance in eastern Europe. But to most Americans, the enemy had been beaten.

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