by Jake P.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization sparked from the beginning of the Cold War. As a result of the two superpowers (US, USSR) against each other, other world powers formed alliances which each side. When the blockade in Berlin occured, this increased Western European fears of Soviet agression. To defend against such a threat, in 1949, 10 Western European Nations joined both the U.S. and Canada to form a defensive military alliance. If any of the NATO members were attacked, these nations within the pact promised to defend such a nation with armed force. In the United States’ perspective, NATO membership marked the country’s first peacetime military commitment. Becuase the Soviets viewed NATO as a threat, they eventually formed the Warsaw Pact with their allies to form their own containment policy. These alliances were splitting the world up once again, similar to World War II, and there was definite possibility of another world war breaking out again during this time.

Not every country joined these new alliances; some chose to remain neutral and focused on their own affairs. An example of such a country is India. Even China, the worlds largest communist country at that time, built up resentment towards the Soviet Union. I agree with such countries; getting involved in the Cold War at such crucial points would have created and built even more conflict that already existed.

Currently NATO is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Balkans while building better links with former potential enemies to the east, which culminated with several former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. On April 1, 2009, membership was enlarged to 28 with the entrance of Albania and Croatia. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NATO has attempted to refocus itself to new challenges and has deployed troops to Afghanistan as well as trainers to Iraq. NATO still exists today fighting such events and keeps their name stronger for themselves as time goes on.

Mikhail Gorbachev

by Annie S. 

Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the U.S.S.R before its final collapse in 1991. He served as General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1985 to 1991, and as President from 1988 to 1991. Many of his reforms, and conferences with the United States, were reasons for the end of the Cold War, and the Communist Party’s rule in Russia.

The first major reform that was made by Gorbachev was the alcohol reform  put into place in 1985. He wanted to fight alcoholism all around the Soviet Union, doing this by making the prices of vodka, wine and beer and other alcohols higher. As well, by restricting the amounts sold. In 1988 Gorbachev introduced his most famous reform known as glasnost. Glasnost gave many freedoms that the people were not familiar with under previous rulers. It gave new freedoms to people such as the freedom of speech, which was a radical change. Although many of his reforms were very politically positive and brought freedom and democracy to the Soviet Union, after some time the economic policies of the government, known as perestroika,  brought catastrophe to the country. Severe food shortages were all over the U.S.S.R; there was more of a fight for independence in Moscow and the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In 1991 a coup to remove Gorbachev was put into place and failed, yet the men that had gone through with the coup were former allies or promoters of Gorbachev. Leading up to his decline in power, the individual countries of the U.S.S.R claimed and fought for their independence, ultimately leading up to the founding of
the Commonwealth of Independent States and the break up of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev’s end as leader.

The Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan, or European Recovery Program, was a project instituted by the United States at the Paris Economic Conference (July, 1947) to foster economic recovery in certain European countries after World War II. The Marshall Plan took form when U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall urged (June 5, 1947) that European countries decide on their economic needs so that material and financial aid from the United States could be planned on a broad scale. In Apr., 1948, President Truman signed the act establishing the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) to administer the program.

The ECA was created to promote European production, to bolster European currency, and to facilitate international trade. Another object was the containment of growing Soviet influence (through national Communist parties), especially in Czechoslovakia, France, and Italy. Paul G. Hoffman was named (Apr., 1948) economic cooperation administrator, and in the same year the participating countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States) signed an accord establishing the Organization for European Economic Cooperation as the master coordinating agency. The ECA functioned until 1951, when its activities were transferred to the Mutual Security Agency. Over $12 billion in aid  was dispersed (1948–51) under the program. From the start, the Soviet Union strongly opposed the Marshall Plan while the various countries in Eastern Europe denounced or ignored it. Completed in 1952, the Marshall Plan was one aspect of the foreign aid program of the United States and greatly contributed to the economic recovery of Europe. 

Dutch Image from 1948

Cartoon depicting the Dutch view of the Marshall Plan from a booklet printed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, November 1949.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis, or October Crisis in Cuba, or Caribbean Crisis in Russia, occurred in October of 1962, while Nikita Khruschev was the premier of the USSR, and JFK was the president of the US.  Basically what occurred was that Cuba believed it had evidence that the United States would invade Cuba, because of the combination of its proximity to the US and its communist government under Fidel Castro, which the American government openly opposed.  Because of this, Fidel Castro decided to ask his allies, the Russians, to provide him with nuclear missiles.  The USSR was more than happy to oblige, because the US had many missiles within a close range of the USSR, and the USSR had none within that short range.  Because of the hostilities between the two nations, it was an imminent possibility that the two could enter into a nuclear war, and Russia did not want to be at a disadvantage.

Once the US was aware of these missiles, they came up with five possible courses of action: a) Do nothing, b) Use diplomatic pressure to cause the USSR to remove the missiles, c) Execute an air strike on the missiles, d) Organize a full military invasion of Cuba, and e) Create a naval blockade of Cuba halting the flow of military supplies in and out of the country.  Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that the most viable option was option D, a full military invasion, the Kennedy Administration decided to go with E, a naval blockade.  The tension during the next few days escalated to the point where the Strategic Air command was escalated to DEFCON 2, the only confirmed time that this ever occurred.  Eventually, Khruschev sent JFK a telegram, in which he stated that the missiles would be disarmed and removed from Cuba if the US agreed not to invade Cuba or support any armed force that had the intention of invading Cuba.  Both parties finally agreed to accept this offer, and the crisis was averted.

In the process of this crisis, all three nations experienced what it might be like if the Cold War erupted into a real war.  The end of the Crisis was a turning point in the Cold War, in that both of the superpowers realized how destructive each other could be if necessary.  Although I’m sure the Cuban Missile Crisis was unbelievably scary for anyone who was a part of it, it showed both nations that they needed to back off each other a bit, so in a way the result was a positive one.


Détente is a French word meaning relaxing or easing. Détente is applied in a situation of increasing tension between nations. It is a way to find peace through Diplomacy without fighting. Détente was used during the Cold War in 1970’s and did reduce tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

At that time, the major world super powers of the USA, USSR and China, feared a Nuclear holocaust if the Cold War continued. Détente greatly calmed the tensions of the USA and USSR and encouraged more peace worldwide. Around 1989-1990 the Cold War ended, with Détente being finally successful.


The Berlin Airlift and The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Airlift-Post war Germany was divided into two sections: The Allied part, controlled by the US, Great Britain and France, and the other part by the Soviet Union. Berlin was also divided in two: West Berlin occupied by Allies and East Berlin occupied by Soviets. The Soviet Union wanted to control all of Berlin, and they attempted to do so in June 1948, by stopping transportation to West Berlin. This starved the population and cut off their businesses, which was a strategy to obtain control. The Truman administration decided to provide a daily airlift, which brought necessary food, fuel, and supplies to West Berlin. The success of this Airlift was embarrassing for the Soviets, who insisted that it wouldn’t work. When they were proved wrong, the blockade in Berlin was lifted in May.

The Berlin Wall-A physical and symbolic divider between West Berlin and East Germany. It separated democracy and communism during the Cold War. Completely encircling West Berlin, the wall stretched over a hundred miles. It was constructed in the middle of the night and kept East Germans from fleeing to the West for 28 years, as the flight to the West was depleting the country’s labor force, among other things. A prominent victims’ group claims that more than 200 people were killed trying to flee from East to West Berlin, by the shooting orders to border guards issued by the East Berlin government. The destruction was celebrated all around the world, and it paved the way for German reunification.

German Reunification (Deutsche Wiedervereinigung)

During the 1980s the Cold War began to decline, especially due to the changes in the Soviet government with Mikhail Gorbachev becoming the first President of the USSR.
The first step towards West German freedom was made in May 1989, when Hungary opened its borders to Austria. Thousands of East Germans applied for visas and arrived in Hungary. But because of the unbelievable flow of people it was impossible to let them all into Austria.
In 1989, East Germany celebrated the 40th anniversary of the state foundation. There was a traditional military parade. A few days later, people went out in the streets chanting, “Freedom”, “No More Violence”, urging the others to join them. By October 16, the number of the demonstrators reached millions. What they demanded was the free access to West Germany, the right to disagree with the government, to travel, to discuss and influence the politics. Without these basic rights, the nation would have no future.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Germany’s reunification began. On July 1, 1990, an economic, monetary and social union between East and West Germany was formed, and all restrictions concerning travels were dropped. On October 3, 1990, reunification of the two Germanys was a fact. The new Germany emerged – right in the heart of Europe with a great united German nation. The new nation created five new lands – Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia.
The hardships connected with the economical and political reforms taking place both in the East and in the West cannot be underestimated. The will of Germans for the co-existence and cooperation between the East and West was so strong that a revolution was inevitable to overcome the rule of communism.

Central Intelligence Agency

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was established in 1947, just at the beginning of the Cold War, and was the successor to the Office of Strategic Services. The goal of the CIA was, and still is to uncover information which can assist the United States in early and strategic decision making. During the Cold War, the CIA played an important role in the Bay of Pigs invasion by training the exiled Cubans who would later carry out the invasion. The CIA also planned and attempted the assassination of Fidel Castro, which of course failed. In Iran, the CIA assisted in restoring Shah Mohammed Reza Phlavi after he was exiled. He was restored in part due to CIA support for Iranian General Mohammad Fazlollah Zahedi and his followers whose goal was to allow the Shah to return to power by overthrowing Mohammed Mossadegh. The CIA worked alongside the US Military in planning and developing reconnaisance missions and technology. After a US reconnaisance aircraft was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, a new aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird was developed and was capable of evading surface-to-air missiles, one of which destroyed its predecessor. This, and later satellites allowed the US to continue to conduct reconaissance missions over the Soviet Union.

(Sources: , wikipedia)

Cuba                                                                   SR-71 Blackbird

Warsaw Pact

By Carly

The Warsaw Pact was an alliance of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, or communist satellite countries. This Pact divided east and west completely and precisely. The “iron curtain” fell neatly along this division. The Warsaw Pact developed as a result of mistrust between the United Sates and the Soviet Union. The United States and Canada formed a defensive military alliance known as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). The Soviet Union disapproved of NATO and viewed it as a threat to their well-being and power stance. In an effort to build unity and ensure support of their country, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and formed the Warsaw Pact. This alliance included Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. With two opposing forces, all contact between the two was stopped.

Map of NATO and Warsaw Pact Countries

Korean War

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 (1950-06-25) and has not exactly ended yet; major hostilities ended on July 27, 1953 although North and South Korea have still not signed a peace treaty. A Korean War Armistice was signed between the United States, China, and North Korea to bring an end to the war although North and South Korea haven’t made peace. This conflict arose due to the tensions created when the governments of each Korea tried to unify the other Korea under their government. North Korea was officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea while South Korea was officially known as the Republic of Korea. The country had been divided at the 38th parallel, with the U.S. backing South Korea and the Soviet Union supporting the North. In June 1950, the North Koreans launched a surprise attack on South Korea, and the South Korean capital of Seoul fell within a few days. The United Nations sent troops from 25 nations to support South Korea; these troops were led by General Douglas MacArthur of the United States. MacArthur had saved the only city (Pusan) that had not fallen to the North, and decided to keep pushing through North Korea. The Chinese were infuriated and sent massive numbers of troops to help their fellow communists in North Korea. There was no official violence between the two superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but there were 2 million Korean civilians killed/wounded and over 2 million soldier casualties.

American trucks crossing the 38th parallel