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Unit 8

8.2 The Cold War

3 min readjune 11, 2020

Katie Moore


AP World History 🌍

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Hold up… what was the Cold War?

Great question!
Basically, the Cold War was the capitalist United States against the communist USSR. Though there was never actually a physical war (proxy wars excluded; we’ll get to those later!), there was an insane amount of tension between the two superpowers, and the world got closer to nuclear war than any other time in history. 
It wasn’t just the U.S. vs. USSR, either; a large part of the world picked sides. In short, the tensions spread across the globe.

End of WWII/Start of Cold War Tensions

As with all wars, the winners get to decide what happens to the losers. This was largely the U.S. and USSR (oh, and Britain). However, decisions on who would influence what led to some conflict, to say the least.
The U.S., USSR, and Britain first met in the Yalta Conference after WWII in 1945 to figure out what to do with Nazi Germany. All came in with different goals, and nobody left very happily, such as whether Poland should be communist or not.
The Potsdam Conference later that same year only increased tensions between the three powers. Nobody solved any of the previous issues of the Yalta Conference, and Great Britain and America remained deeply suspicious of the USSR and its influence in Eastern Europe.

U.S. vs. USSR

This suspicion came to light in the U.S. with the Truman Doctrine (1947). It revealed a change in U.S. policy and established the policy of containment. Containment is huge in the Cold War-- basically, it was U.S. foreign policy that they must “contain” communism, and the only way to do that was to aid surrounding countries in developing capitalism and democratizing. If that involved military, then so be it, said the U.S. Otherwise, they were worried that there would be a domino effect-- if one country fell to communism, the rest would, too. 
The Marshall Plan in 1948 shows a sort of economic example of this. This was an American economic plan that provided enormous financial aid to rebuild Western Europe-- but not Eastern Europe, which was under Soviet influence. Seeing a pattern?

Neutrality in the Cold War☮️

As you’re going to see in a minute, almost the whole world got involved in the Cold War at some point, but there was a smattering of countries that vowed to stay neutral, called the Non-Aligned Movement, which was created in the Bandung Conference (1955). 
This alliance of countries, led by Sukarno of Indonesia and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, promised to stay neutral in the Cold War. It’s important to note, too, that a lot of these countries were newly independent, and wanted to protect their developing nations.

Additional Resources: 

🎥Watch: WHAP -The Cold War
🎥Watch: WHAP -Decolonization
🎥Watch: WHAP -Newly Independent States
🏆Trivia: WHAP - Cold War Review
🏆Trivia: WHAP - Decolonization Review

Resources:

REVIEW GAME: Matching

Match each event/term with its description
TERMS: 
  • Yalta Conference
  • Potsdam Conference
  • Truman Doctrine
  • Containment
  • Marshall Plan
  • Non-Aligned Movement
DESCRIPTIONS:
  • U.S. foreign policy theory that to stop communism, it must aid in democratizing countries surrounding the USSR. (matches with Containment)
  • First meeting after WWII between Great Britain, the U.S., and the Soviet Union about what to do with Nazi Germany-- ended in tension (matches with Yalta Conference)
  • United States economic blueprint that gave aid to Western Europe but not Eastern (matches with Marshall Plan)
  • Second meeting after WWII between the “Great Three” that only increased the tensions of the previous one between Great Britain/America and the USSR (matches with Potsdam Conference)
  • Alliance between (mostly) new nations pledging to stay neutral in the Cold War; began with the Bandung Conference (matches with Non-Aligned Movement)
  • Change in U.S. foreign policy that shifted the U.S. from a withdrawn nation to one willing to interfere due to idea of containment (matches with Truman Doctrine)

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🐎Unit 1: The Global Tapestry
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