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Cold War

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The Cold War did not have one single cause; rather it was caused by the many differences between the Soviet Union and the United States. The two countries had totally different ideas on how a country should be run; one favored communism while the other supported democracy. They also had very different goals after WWII was over. Should they help Eastern Europe rebuild, or use the disheveled countries to further their own plans? Also, there was still tension between the two countries for actions they had taken prior to the war. The Soviet Union could not forgive Great Britain and the US for trying to end the Russian Revolution in 1918, and also felt that they had not been given enough help during WWII. Britain and the US could not forget that Stalin had signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Germany in 1939. All these differences caused the tension between the two countries to intensify, which led to the cold war. The Soviet Union and the United States never formally declared war on each other, but there were many important conflicts between the countries (Cold War).

After WWII the Japanese, who had occupied Korea since the early 1900's, were driven out. Soviet forces occupied the Northern half of Korea and the United States occupied the southern half. The Soviet Union decided to support North Korea in an invasion of South Korea, and on June 25, 1950 the North Koreans invaded South Korea. On June 27, President Truman sent American soldiers into South Korea. The UN also sent international forces into South Korea. The troops, from sixteen nations, were led by General Douglas MacArthur. The two sides battled back and forth, but by September 1950 the North Koreans controlled of all of Korea except for a small part in the southeast. General MacArthur decided to land a small group of marines at Inchon, behind North Korean lines. The UN forces were able to push the North Korean army all the way to the Korean border with China, but then the plan backfired. Chinese troops poured into Korea with 300,000 soldiers and pushed the UN forces back. The Chinese wanted North Korea as a communist buffer state to protect their province of Manchuria, and did not like the U.S. troops on their border. The Chinese army was large enough to drive the UN forces south, capturing Seoul, the South Korean capital. MacArthur felt the atomic bomb would be the best way to assure Chinese defeat, but President Truman denied the request stating, "We are trying to prevent a world war--not to start one." (Overview of the U.S. Army in the Korean War)

The goal of the war changed from that point on. The U.S. only wanted to push the North Koreans back beyond the 38th parallel, and they did in 1952. In July 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed a cease fire agreement. The war had cost an estimated 5 million lives, and the boarder was barely changed. However, the Korean War did magnify the fact that the cold war was not just between two countries, but a fight between communism and democracy (Overview of the U.S. Army in the Korean War).

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world had ever come to nuclear war. In 1962, the Soviet Union was behind the United States in the arms race. Their missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe, yet U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In April 1962 Nikita Khrushchev came up with the idea of putting missiles in Cuba. At that time, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his country from a U.S. attack. Since the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 Castro felt another attack was inevitable. As a result, he approved Khrushchev's plan to place missiles on the island (Frankel).

For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba. Early the next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. He immediately organized the EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis. Kennedy decided to impose a naval quarantine around Cuba to prevent the Soviet Union from getting more weapons. On October 22, Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public, and his decision to quarantine the island. He also stated that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba. On the October 25, Kennedy pulled the quarantine line back and raised military readiness to DEFCON 2. The next day EX-COMM received a letter from Khrushchev offering to remove Soviet missiles and personnel if the U.S. would guarantee not to invade Cuba. October 27 was possibly the most tense day of the whole crisis. A U-2 was shot down over Cuba and EX-COMM received a second letter from Khrushchev. This one demanded the U.S. remove its missiles in Turkey in exchange for Soviet removal of missiles in Cuba. Tensions began to ease on October 28, when Khrushchev expressed his trust that the U.S. would not invade Cuba. Negotiations were held to implement the terms agreed to in the letter and others (Frankel).

Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese were at war with France. The



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