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Flashpoints & Key Events In The Cold War
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Flashpoints & Key Events In The Cold War


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For the class blog

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  • 1. Flashpoints & Key Events in the Cold War
    1950 – 1962
  • 2. Key Events
    Loss of China (1949)
    Korean War (1950-1953) *
    Hungarian Uprising (1956)
    U2 Spy Plane Incident (1960)
    Construction of Berlin Wall (1961)
    Nuclear Arms/Space Race
    Checkpoint Charlie Incident (1961)
    Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) *
    * SBQ examinable
  • 3. “Loss” of China
    After Jp surrender in 1945, China was locked in civil war
    Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) vs. the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
    CCP backed by Soviets while US support KMT.
    Due to KMT corruption & weakness, CCP won the war
    Mao & Chiang, toasting an alliance to fight the Jp. The fragile alliance crumbled after the Jp surrendered.
  • 4. “Loss” of China
    KMT remnants fled to Taiwan
    US shocked by this & accelerated rehabilitation Jp as a Cold War ally in the Far East.
    CCP was about to launch cross-strait invasion when Korean War changed everything
    UN recognised Taiwan as the legitimate China until 1972.
    With the “loss” of China, USSR had gained a massive & powerful ally in the Far East.
  • 5. Korean War 1950-1953
    First “Hot War” of the Cold War
    At Potsdam, Allies agreed that Korea would be split into 2 at 38th Parallel after Jp surrender.
    North zone under Soviets while South zone under Americans.
    Free elections would be held to unite the country
    Korea, split at the 38th parallel
  • 6. Events leading up to War
    N. Korean govt set up under Kim Il Sung while S. Korean under Syngman Rhee.
    Both Rhee & Kim were spoiling for a fight, pressured their Allies to help reunite country.
    Rising tensions in the Cold War made reunification & free elections impossible
    Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), was determined to unify Korea under Communist rule
  • 7. Events leading up to War
    While the Soviets left a well-trained & armed army in N. Korea, US left a token force.
    1949 – China turns Communist
    N. Korea now had a powerful ally to the north.
    Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), leader of S. Korea
  • 8. NSC-68 – Jan 1950
    Dean Acheson, Truman’s Sect of State delivered a speech on US defensive role in Asia.
    He stated that US was prepared to defend Japan, Ryukyu Islands, Aleutians & Philippines, S. Korea NOT mentioned
    Kim took this as a sign.
    The U.S. Far East Defence Perimeter, as mentioned by Dean Acheson in NSC 68
  • 9. The Invasion
    Kim persuades Stalin & Mao to support his reunification attempt.
    Both provided arms & advisors to Kim
    Believed US would not defend South.
    Jun 1950 – NK troops crossed the 38th Parallel into SK & the Korean War had begun
  • 10. Round 1 – NK Sweeps South
    UN demanded withdrawal but NK ignores call
    UN passes a resolution to repel NK aggression.
    Troops from 16 countries under UN banner, led by US, rushed to Korea
    Many of the troops defending SK came from Japan & never expected to see combat action.
  • 11. Round 1
    UN unable to halt NK advance.
    Until UN reinforcements arrived, troops in SK were ill-equipped & untrained.
    UN forces pushed to a small land area to the southern tip of Korea
    “Pusan Perimeter”
    UN forces were in danger of being pushed into the sea.
  • 12. Round 2 – UN Counter-Attacks
    US Gen, Douglas MacArthur, planned an ambitious amphibious attack behind enemy lines
    Managed to recapture Seoul & cut off NK troops in the south
    UN forces broke out of Pusan & pushed NK troops back to 38th Parallel
    MacArthur, commander of UN forces surveying the Incheon landings.
  • 13. Inchon Landings
    Thanks to their WW II experience, the US marines had become masters of amphibious warfare
    MacArthur hatched an ambitious plan to flank the enemy via the sea
  • 14. Round 3 – UN Troops Enter NK
    UN forces push into NK, taking Pyongyang, NK’s capital
    Debate as to how far north to push
    China starts to issue warnings to UN troops not to approach Yalu River (border between NK & China)
    Mao alarmed at idea of sharing border with enemy (US)
    UN troops fighting to retake Seoul.
  • 15. Round 4 – China Joins The Fray
    MacArthur thought China was bluffing, ordered UN troops to push on
    Without warning, Chinese troops poured into NK & pushed UN forces south again
    Battle reaches stalemate at 38th Parallel
    Battle drags on to 1953 until armistice signed
    Chinese propaganda poster on their “heroic” struggle in Korea. 1 Million Chinese troops poured in Korea.
  • 16. Impact of Korean War - Korea
    Korea still divided at 38th parallel
    Loss of life (2.5m Koreans) & property
    Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separates both Koreas
    Border heavily defended
    Families divided
    Civilians suffered terribly from the war.
  • 17. Impact – China & Taiwan
    China unable to invade Taiwan
    US moved 7th Fleet to Straits of Taiwan
    China showed its military power
    China & Taiwan still divided today
    Truman orders the 7th Fleet to defend Taiwan. He feared the Chinese might use the confusion of the Korean War as a chance to invade
  • 18. Impact – US & Japan
    Truman doctrine was put in practice
    Communism was “contained”
    Massive American military build up in Asia, esp. SK & Japan.
    Jp economy recovered from WW II thanks to Korean War
    Producing supplies for UN troops
    Jp became key American ally in Asia as well as a model for American style democracy.
    Truman showed the Communist world he was no pushover
  • 19. Impact – World
    Showed global impact of Cold War, not just in Euro
    Showed that smaller countries could influence conflict – e.g. Kim & Rhee
    First instance of superpowers using proxy war
    Iron Curtain in Euro, Bamboo Curtain in Asia
  • 20. Hungarian Uprising (1956)
    Stalin’s death in 1953 led to slight relaxation in E. Euro
    Hungary saw this as an opportunity to breakaway.
    Street protests called for Soviet pull out & democratisation
    One of history’s greatest mass murders had passed on
  • 21. Soviet Response
    Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, mobilised the alarmed Warsaw Pact countries
    Sent in the tanks to Budapest (Hungarian Capital) & killed thousands of civilians (1000+ dead, 20,000+ wounded)
    US could only condemn the action but could do nothing
    Hungarians took to the streets in Budapest to protest against Communism
  • 22. Hungarian Uprising – Impact
    Hungary brought back to Soviet control
    Communist control tightened among Warsaw Pact nations to prevent future incidences
    Many Hungarians fled to neighbouring countries
    It seems the Hungarians didn’t like Uncle Joe much.
  • 23. Sino-Soviet Split
    Soviet & Chinese roadmap to Communism different
    Mao was upset when promised Soviet aid during Korean War didn’t materialise
    In a secret meeting of Communist leaders, Khrushchev denounces Stalin, shocked China
    Henceforth, both competed for leadership of Communist world
    Mao & Stalin, in happier times
  • 24. U2 Spy Plane Incident (1960)
    US spyplane shot down in USSR
    US denied knowledge of operation
    Forced to admit when photos & pilot were released to the media
    Source of huge embarrassment for US
    A U2 spy plane
  • 25. Spy Plane Incident Impact
    Escalation of conflict between the two superpowers: Pres. Eisenhower refused to apologize
    Collapse of the Paris Summit where Eisenhower and Khrushchev was supposed to meet.
    The incident was a huge embarrassment to the US
  • 26. Berlin Wall (1961)
    West Berlin as the only capitalist outpost behind Iron Curtain.
    Many Berliners used this loophole to escape to W. Euro
    E. Gm built the wall to prevent “corrupting capitalist influences from coming through”
    Berlin was the chance for escape for many E. Germans
  • 27. Berlin Wall – Escape Attempts
    Anyone caught trying to escape would be shot
    Guard towers, patrol dogs, barbed wire, mines, poison gas, reinforced walls
    Escape: Tunneling, climbing
    More sophisticated attempts included zipline, hot air balloon, surfing, air gliders
    Hundreds died in failed escape attempts
  • 28. The Wall of Shame
  • 29. JFK at the Berlin Wall
    Pres. John F. Kennedy made one of his most famous speeches at the Berlin Wall
    Reaffirmed commitment to defend against Soviet aggression
    JFK addresses the crowds in Berlin
  • 30. JFK at the Berlin Wall
    Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was Civis Romanus Sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'... All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'
  • 31. A Berliner
    JFK, “I am a Berliner!
  • 32. Nuclear Arms Race
    Both sides engaged in massive buildup of nukes
    Mutually assured destruction (MAD)
    the policy or practice of pushing a dangerous situation to the brink of disaster in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome. It occurs in international politics, foreign policy and (in contemporary settings) in military strategy involving the threatened use of nuclear weapons
  • 33. Space Race
    After WW II, US & USSR competed for German scientists
    Germans were at forefront of rocket technology
    Needed the scientists for their space ambitions
    Soviets & Americans competed to see who could reach space first
    • 1957 – USSR launches Sputnik I into space
    • 34. 1969 – Apollo 11 lands on the moon
  • “One small step for man, one huge leap for mankind”
    The words uttered by Neil Armstrong when he became the first man on the moon
  • 35. Checkpoint Charlie (1961)
    E.g. of brinkmanship
    A border checkpoint between East & W. Berlin
    A minor border incident led to a standoff of US & Soviet tanks
    Both sides had orders to fire if fired upon
    JFK & Khrushchev finally agreed to withdraw tanks & situation was diffused
    Face off! American & Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie
  • 36. Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
    Jan 1959 – Fidel Castro, a Communist, comes to power in Cuba
    Brings Cuba closer to USSR
    Oct 1959 – US stations 15 nukes in Turkey within striking distance of Russian cities
    Fidel Castro – still alive! But barely…
  • 37. Bay of Pigs Invasion
    In 1960, JFK sanctioned the CIA to begin training Cuban exiles for a possible revolt & overthrow of Castro
    Apr 1961 – Operation goes horribly wrong & 1500 exiles were captured
    Greatly embarrassed JFK
    Cuban exiles rounded up by Castro’s men.
  • 38. Missiles in Cuba
    U2 spy planes detected Soviet missile sites in Cuba
    Alarmed JFK as nukes were striking distance of American cities
    Formed a high powered executive committee called EXCOMM to handle this
    Photograph taken from the U2 plane
  • 39. Cuban Missile Range
  • 40. American Options
    EXCOMM gave JFK 4 options:
    Do nothing & wait for Soviets to move
    Use surgical airstrikes on missile sites
    Invade Cuba
    Naval blockade of Cuba to prevent Soviets from shipping in more missiles
    The President had some tough decisions to make
  • 41. Naval Blockade
    US ships took up positions to quarantine Cuba
    Prevented Soviet ships from entering
    Were ordered to fire if ships tried to break blockade
    Khrushchev ordered ships to turn back
    JFK went public with the news of Soviet missiles & threatened to invade Cuba if missiles not removed
    The quarantine of Cuba
  • 42. Resolution
    Khrushchev agreed to withdraw missiles if US promised not to invade Cuba & also to remove its own missiles from Turkey.
    The world held its breath as WW III almost started
    Khrushchev was not prepared to start nuclear war over Cuba
  • 43. Impact
    Better US-Soviet relations
    Cuba remained Communist
    Khrushchev’s fall from power
    Tense Soviet-Chinese relations
  • 44. Better US-Soviet Relations
    War did not start as both sides were unwilling to risk nuclear war
    The famous Moscow-Washington hotline set up
    Started a series of disarmament talks to prevent nuclear buildup
    The red phone in the White House
  • 45. Communist Cuba
    Cuba remained Soviet ally
    Soviets promised aid if Cuba was attacked
    Numerous failed assassination attempts on Castro
    Castro, a thorn in America’s behind.
  • 46. Khrushchev’s Fall
    CMC was seen as American victory & Soviet failure
    Khrushchev perceived as weak by many Soviet officials
    Removed from power & replaced by Leonid Brezhnev
    Remained under house arrest until his death in 1971
    Khrushchev & Castro
  • 47. Tense Soviet-Chinese Relations
    China also accused USSR of being weak
    Exacerbated the Sino-Soviet split
    Both camps now competed for leadership of the Communist world