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					                                        Cold War

Cold War is a term used to describe the post-World War II struggle between the United
States and its allies and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and its allies.
During the Cold War period, which lasted from the mid-1940s until the end of the 1980s,
international politics were heavily shaped by the intense rivalry between these two great
blocs of power and the political ideologies they represented: democracy and capitalism in
the case of the United States and its allies, and Communism in the case of the Soviet
bloc. The principal allies of the United States during the Cold War included Britain,
France, West Germany, Japan, and Canada. On the Soviet side were many of the
countries of Eastern Europe—including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, East
Germany, and Romania—and, during parts of the Cold War, Cuba and China. Countries
that had no formal commitment to either bloc were known as neutrals or, within the Third
World, as nonaligned nations (see Nonaligned Movement).

American journalist Walter Lippmann first popularized the term cold war in a 1947 book
by that name. By using the term, Lippmann meant to suggest that relations between the
USSR and its World War II allies (primarily the United States, Britain, and France) had
deteriorated to the point of war without the occurrence of actual warfare. Over the next
few years, the emerging rivalry between these two camps hardened into a mutual and
permanent preoccupation. It dominated the foreign policy agendas of both sides and led
to the formation of two vast military alliances: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO), created by the Western powers in 1949; and the Soviet-dominated Warsaw
Pact, established in 1955. Although centered originally in Europe, the Cold War enmity
eventually drew the United States and the USSR into local conflicts in almost every
quarter of the globe. It also produced what became known as the Cold War arms race, an
intense competition between the two superpowers to accumulate advanced military
weapons.

Background

Hostility between the United States and the USSR had its roots in the waning moments of
World War I. Soon after the Bolsheviks (later Communists) overthrew the existing
Russian government in October 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin resolved to
withdraw Russia from the war. In 1918 the United States, along with Britain, France, and
Japan, intervened militarily in Russia. They did so to restore the collapsed Eastern Front
in their war effort against Germany; however, to Lenin and his colleagues, the
intervention represented an assault on Russia’s feeble new revolutionary regime. In fact,
the European powers and the United States did resent Russia’s new leadership, with its
appeals against capitalism and its efforts to weld local Communist parties into an
international revolutionary movement. In December 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR) was formed as a federal union of Russia and neighboring areas under
Communist control. The United States refused to recognize the Soviet state until 1933.
The deep ideological differences between the USSR and the United States were
exacerbated by the leadership of Joseph Stalin, who ruled the USSR from 1929 to 1953.
In August 1939, on the eve of World War II, Stalin signed a nonaggression pact with
German dictator Adolf Hitler. The two leaders pledged not to attack one another and
agreed to divide the territory that lay between them into German and Soviet spheres of
influence. Hitler betrayed the agreement, however, and in June 1941 he launched his
armies against the USSR. Britain and the United States rallied to the USSR’s defense,
which produced the coalition that would defeat Germany over the next four years. This
American-British-Soviet coalition—which came to be known as the Grand Alliance—
was an uneasy affair, marked by mistrust and, on the Soviet side, by charges that the
USSR bore a heavier price than the other nations in prosecuting the war. By 1944, with
victory approaching, the conflicting visions within the alliance of a postwar world were
becoming ever more obvious.

Course of the Cold War

The Struggle for Europe

Even before the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945, the United States and the USSR
had become divided over the political future of Poland. Stalin, whose forces had driven
the Germans out of Poland in 1944 and 1945 and established a pro-Communist
provisional government there, believed that Soviet control of Poland was necessary for
his country’s security. This met with opposition from the Allies, and it was not long
before the quarrel had extended to the political future of other Eastern European nations.
The struggle over the fate of Eastern Europe thus constituted the first crucial phase of the
Cold War. Yet during this period, which lasted from 1944 to 1946, both sides clung to the
hope that their growing differences could be surmounted and something of the spirit of
their earlier wartime cooperation could be preserved.

While the United States accused the USSR of seeking to expand Communism in Europe
and Asia, the USSR viewed itself as the leader of history’s progressive forces and
charged the United States with attempting to stamp out revolutionary activity wherever it
arose. In 1946 and 1947 the USSR helped bring Communist governments to power in
Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland (Communists had gained control of Albania
and Yugoslavia in 1944 and 1945). In 1947 United States president Harry S. Truman
issued the Truman Doctrine, which authorized U.S. aid to anti-Communist forces in
Greece and Turkey. Later, this policy was expanded to justify support for any nation that
the U.S. government considered to be threatened by Soviet expansionism. Known as the
containment doctrine, this policy, aimed at containing the spread of Communism around
the world, was outlined in a famous 1947 Foreign Affairs article by American diplomat
George F. Kennan. Containment soon became the official U.S. policy with regard to the
USSR.

By 1948 neither side believed any longer in the possibility of preserving some level of
partnership amidst the growing tension and competition. During this new and more
intense phase of the Cold War, developments in and around postwar Germany emerged
as the core of the conflict. Following its defeat in World War II, Germany had been
divided into separate British, French, American, and Soviet occupation zones. The city of
Berlin, located in the Soviet zone, was also divided into four administrative sectors. The
occupying governments could not reach agreement on what the political and economic
structure of postwar Germany should be, and in mid-1947 the United States and Britain
decided to merge their separate administrative zones. The two Western governments
worried that to keep Germany fragmented indefinitely, particularly when the Soviet and
Western occupation regimes were growing so far apart ideologically, could have negative
economic consequences for the Western sphere of responsibility. This concern echoed a
larger fear that the economic problems of Western Europe—a result of the war's
devastation—had left the region vulnerable to Soviet penetration through European
Communist parties under Moscow's control. To head off this danger, in the summer of
1947 the United States committed itself to a massive economic aid program designed to
rebuild Western European economies. The program was called the Marshall Plan, after
U.S. secretary of state George C. Marshall

In June 1948 France merged its administrative zone with the joint British-American zone,
thus laying the foundation for a West German republic. Stalin and his lieutenants opposed
the establishment of a West German state, fearing that it would be rearmed and
welcomed into an American-led military alliance. In the summer of 1948 the Soviets
responded to the Western governments’ plans for West Germany by attempting to cut
those governments off from their sectors in Berlin through a land blockade. In the first
direct military confrontation between the USSR and the Western powers, the Western
governments organized a massive airlift of supplies to West Berlin, circumventing the
Soviet blockade. After 11 months and thousands of flights, the Western powers
succeeded in breaking the blockade.

Meanwhile, in February 1948 Soviet-backed Communists in Czechoslovakia provoked a
crisis that led to the formation of a new, Communist-dominated government. With this,
all the countries of Eastern Europe were under Communist control, and the creation of
the Soviet bloc was complete. The events of 1948 contributed to a growing conviction
among political leaders in both the United States and the USSR that the opposing power
posed a broad and fundamental threat to their nation’s interests.

The Berlin blockade and the spread of Communism in Europe led to negotiations
between Western Europe, Canada, and the United States that resulted in the North
Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in April 1949, thereby establishing the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO). The Berlin crisis also accelerated the emergence of a state
of West Germany, which was formally established in May 1949. (The Communist
republic of East Germany, comprising the remainder of German territory, was formally
proclaimed in October of that year.) And finally, the Berlin confrontation prompted the
Western powers to begin thinking seriously about rearming their half of Germany,
despite the divisiveness of this issue among West Europeans.

The death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 had a significant impact on the course of the Cold
War. His successors, including Nikita Khrushchev, who ultimately replaced Stalin as
Soviet leader, sought to ease some of the rigidities of Soviet policy toward the West, but
without resolving the core issue: a divided Germany at the heart of a divided Europe. The
Western powers responded cautiously but sympathetically to the softening of Soviet
policy, and in the mid-1950s the USSR and the Western powers convened the first of
several summit conferences in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the key issues of the Cold
War. These issues now included not only the problem of German reunification, but also
the danger of surprise nuclear attack and, in the background, the momentarily quieted but
still unresolved conflicts in Korea and Indochina (for more information, see The Cold
War Outside Europe below). The 1955 Geneva Conference achieved little progress on
the central issues of Germany, Eastern Europe, and arms control. However, on the eve of
the conference the two sides resolved the issue of Austria, which had been united with
Germany during the war and divided into American, British, French, and Soviet
occupation zones in its aftermath. The signing of the State Treaty between Austria and
the Allies established Austria’s neutrality, freed it of occupation forces, and reestablished
the Austrian republic. This period also saw fundamental change in one critical realm:
Both the United States and the USSR came to recognize that nuclear weapons had
produced a revolution in military affairs—making war among the great powers, while
still a possibility, no longer a sane policy recourse.

Meanwhile, the struggle over Europe continued. West Germany was recognized as an
independent nation in 1955 and was allowed to rearm and join NATO. In response to this
development, a group of Eastern European Communist nations led by the USSR formed
the Warsaw Pact . In the late 1950s Khrushchev launched a new series of crises over
Berlin, and in 1961 the Soviet government built the Berlin Wall to prevent East Germans
from fleeing to West Germany.

The Cold War Outside Europe

In 1950 the superpowers’ involvement in Third World areas—limited previously to
sporadic jousting—changed suddenly, as the USSR and the United States became
entangled in an Asian war. In June of that year, Stalin appeared to endorse the plans of
North Korean Communist leader Kim Il Sung to attack South Korea, assuming—
according to documents that have since come to light—that the United States and other
major powers would not get involved. This mistaken assumption led to the Korean War
(1950-1953), which pitted American-led United Nations forces against the military forces
of North Korea and China (which had become a Communist republic under the
leadership of Mao Zedong in late 1949). The first armed conflict of the Cold War, the
Korean War led to a major increase in defense spending by the United States. Because
American leaders saw Stalin’s actions in Korea as a potential precursor to aggressive
movements in Europe, the war helped prompt the United States to turn NATO into an
ambitious and permanent military structure.

In 1954, following the military defeat of France in its bid to reclaim Vietnam in the First
Indochina War (1946-1954), the great powers assembled in Geneva with representatives
from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to negotiate an end to that conflict. Among other
provisions, the resulting agreement, known as the Geneva Accords, provided for the
temporary partition of Vietnam into northern and southern portions, with the Viet Minh
(a Communist group seeking Vietnamese independence) concentrated in North Vietnam
and the French and their Vietnamese supporters in the south. To avoid permanent
partition, the accords called for national elections to reunify the country to be held in
1956. When the South Vietnamese refused to hold the elections because Viet Minh leader
Ho Chi Minh was favored to win, the North Vietnamese began to seek the overthrow of
the South Vietnamese government.

The Vietnam War, which began in 1959, pitted the Communist North Vietnamese and the
National Liberation Front, a Vietnamese nationalist group based in South Vietnam,
against the South Vietnamese. In 1965 the United States sent troops into Vietnam to fight
alongside the South Vietnamese. A long and bloody conflict, the Vietnam War lasted
until 1975. Before it ended, it spread to the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia,
where it continued long after 1975. In Cambodia, the war brought to power the
Communist movement known as the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, whose regime
inflicted a genocidal massacre on the Cambodian people. Meanwhile, by the mid-1960s
the Communist world had been dramatically reconfigured as the result of an increasingly
bitter and open split between the USSR and China. The dispute stemmed in part from
ideological disagreements but also reflected the intense rivalry of two former empires.

The most serious Cold War confrontation between the United States and the USSR that
took place in the Third World—one that raised the specter of nuclear war—occurred in
1962. In the summer of that year, the U.S. government discovered that the Soviets were
in the process of deploying nuclear missiles in Communist Cuba. In October the United
States moved to block Soviet ships carrying missiles to Cuba. The resulting standoff,
during which the world stood seemingly on the brink of ultimate disaster, ended with
Khrushchev capitulating to the demands of U.S. president John F. Kennedy. From the
Cuban missile crisis both sides learned that risking nuclear war in pursuit of political
objectives was simply too dangerous. It was the last time during the Cold War that either
side would take this risk.

In the early and mid-1960s the great powers even superimposed their competition on
local conflicts in faraway Africa. In newly independent nations such as the Republic of
the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Nigeria, the United States
and the USSR chose sides and lent military backing and other assistance to groups or
leaders thought to be sympathetic to their interests. In the Middle East, the underlying
conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors became entangled with maneuvering by
the superpowers to push one another out of the region. The Arab-Israeli wars of 1956,
1967, and 1973 drew in the United States and the USSR, creating the possibility of
escalation to a direct confrontation between them.

In the early 1970s the tenor of the Cold War changed. During the first administration of
U.S. president Richard Nixon (1969-1973), the United States and the USSR sought to put
their relationship on a different footing. While neither side abandoned its basic positions,
the two superpowers tried to take the first steps toward controlling the costly nuclear
arms race and finding areas for mutually advantageous economic and scientific
collaboration. Détente, as this policy came to be called, collapsed in the second half of
the 1970s, when the American-Soviet competition in the Third World intensified once
again, this time during the civil war in Angola and the Somali-Ethiopian war over the
Ogadēn region. During this phase of the Cold War, Communist Cuba played a significant
role alongside the USSR, while the Chinese, now deeply wary of the USSR, participated
on the side of the United States.

End of the Cold War

The early 1980s witnessed a final period of friction between the United States and the
USSR, resulting mainly from the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up a
Communist regime and from the firm line adopted by U.S. president Ronald Reagan after
his 1980 election. Reagan saw the USSR as an “evil empire.” He also believed that his
rivals in Moscow respected strength first and foremost, and thus he set about to add
greatly to American military capabilities. The Soviets initially viewed Reagan as an
implacable foe, committed to subverting the Soviet system and possibly willing to risk
nuclear war in the process.

Then in the mid-1980s Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR. Gorbachev was
determined to halt the increasing decay of the Soviet system and to shed some of his
country’s foreign policy burdens. Between 1986 and 1989 he brought a revolution to
Soviet foreign policy, abandoning long-held Soviet assumptions and seeking new and far-
reaching agreements with the West. Gorbachev’s efforts fundamentally altered the
dynamic of East-West relations. Gorbachev and Reagan held a series of summit talks
beginning in 1985, and in 1987 the two leaders agreed to eliminate a whole class of their
countries’ nuclear missiles—those capable of striking Europe and Asia from the USSR
and vice versa. The Soviet government began to reduce its forces in Eastern Europe, and
in 1989 it pulled its troops out of Afghanistan. That year Communist regimes began to
topple in the countries of Eastern Europe and the wall that had divided East and West
Germany since 1961 was torn down. In 1990 Germany became once again a unified
country. In 1991 the USSR dissolved, and Russia and the other Soviet republics emerged
as independent states. Even before these dramatic final events, much of the ideological
basis for the Cold War competition had disappeared. However, the collapse of Soviet
power in Eastern Europe, and then of the USSR itself, lent a crushing finality to the end
of the Cold War period.

Berlin Wall, fortified wall surrounding West Berlin, built in 1961 and maintained by the
former German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly known as East Germany, until
1989. The Berlin Wall was a highly visible symbol of the Cold War, the post-1945
struggle between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and its allies, including
East Germany, and the United States and its allies.

At the end of World War II in 1945, the city of Berlin was completely surrounded by
territory occupied by Soviet forces. This territory officially became the country of East
Germany in 1949. The city of Berlin itself was partitioned into East Berlin and West
Berlin. West Berlin was occupied by British, French, and United States forces and was
supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly known as West Germany.
Between 1949 when East Germany was established and the middle of 1961, at least 2.7
million people fled East Germany, more than half of them through West Berlin.
Compared to other countries in Eastern Europe, East Germany was the most productive
Communist nation between 1949 and 1961. However, East Germans had limited access
to West German media and were aware that their standard of living was substantially
lower than that of their counterparts in West Germany. Many East Germans left the GDR
hoping to find better economic opportunities in the West.

In 1961 the East German government decided to stop this flight to the West, which was
depleting the country's labor force, among other things. During the night of August 13,
1961, East German soldiers and members of its militia surrounded West Berlin with
temporary fortifications that were rapidly replaced by a concrete wall, 4 m (12 ft) high
and 166 km (103 mi) long, of which 45 km (28 mi) lay between two sides of the city.
Where a wall was not possible, buildings were bricked-up. The only openings in the wall
were two closely guarded crossing points. Although the GDR announced that the wall
was needed to prevent military aggression and political interference from West Germany,
the East German government built tank traps and ditches along the eastern side of the
wall, suggesting that it was constructed to keep East German citizens in.

Between 1961 and 1989, a few East Germans managed to escape to West Berlin, but at
least 80 people died trying to cross the border. In the summer of 1989, the Berlin Wall
became irrelevant when Hungary allowed East Germans to pass through Hungary on their
way to Austria and West Germany. In the fall of that year, the East German regime was
on the verge of collapse, and on November 9, enthusiastic private citizens began to
demolish whole sections of the wall without interference from government officials. East
Germany eventually participated in the removal of the Berlin Wall and reunited with
West Germany in 1990 as one nation, the Federal Republic of Germany. The Berlin Wall
is now commemorated by a few remaining sections and by a museum and shop near the
site of the most famous crossing point, Checkpoint Charlie.

Control of the Means for Mass Destruction

After World War II ended in 1945, considerable support again developed for arms control
and for alternatives to military conflict in international relations. The United Nations
(UN) Charter was designed to permit a supranational agency to enforce peace, avoiding
many of the weaknesses of the League of Nations covenant. Thus, Article 11 of the
charter stated that the General Assembly could consider the general principle of
disarmament and the regulation of armaments. Article 26 required the Security Council to
submit plans for a system of armament regulation. Article 47 established a military staff
committee to assist the Security Council in this task.

Atomic Arms Race

The development of the atomic bomb by the United States toward the end of World War
II brought with it the capability of devastating whole civilizations. While the United
States still maintained a monopoly on nuclear weapons, it made overtures in the UN for
the control and elimination of atomic energy for military purposes. In June 1946,
American representative Bernard Baruch presented a plan to the UN Atomic Energy
Commission, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, international control over the
processing of nuclear materials, full sharing of all scientific and technological
information concerning atomic energy, and safeguards to ensure that atomic energy
would be used only for civilian purposes. The government of the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics (USSR) vetoed the Baruch Plan in the Security Council, objecting to
the UN's authority over disarmament and citing the domination of that body by the
United States and Western Europe.

In 1949 the USSR exploded an atomic weapon of its own, ending the U.S. monopoly.
The possibility of a nuclear war was now present, because relations between the USSR
and the West were tense. Both the United States and the USSR were engaged in a race to
develop thermonuclear (hydrogen) devices, which have many times the destructive power
of atomic bombs. These weapons raised the possibility of ending all life on earth in all-
out war. After 1954, when the USSR exploded its first hydrogen bomb, the primary
concern of arms control was to reduce nuclear arsenals and prevent the proliferation of
nuclear weapons technology.

Agreements Limiting Nuclear Weapons

In 1957 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established to oversee the
development and spread of nuclear technology and materials. Two years later a treaty
was negotiated to demilitarize the Antarctic and to prohibit the detonation or storage of
nuclear weapons there. Both the United States and the USSR were among the signatories.

In 1961 the UN General Assembly passed the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for
Disarmament Negotiations. It was followed in 1963 by a treaty that bound the United
States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union not to test nuclear weapons in space, in
the atmosphere, or under water. In 1967 another treaty between the same nations limited
the military use of outer space to reconnaissance only. The deployment of nuclear
weapons in orbit was expressly prohibited. A second treaty in 1967 banned nuclear
weapons from Latin America.

One of the most important agreements on arms control was the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty of 1968. Signatories pledged to restrict the development, deployment, and testing
of nuclear weapons to ensure that weapons, materials, or technology would not be
transferred outside the five countries that had nuclear weapons (Great Britain, France,
China, the United States, and the USSR). In 1995 more than 170 countries agreed to
permanently extend the treaty.

In the late 1960s the United States and the USSR initiated negotiations to regulate
strategic weapon arsenals. These negotiations became known as the Strategic Arms
Limitation Talks. The SALT I negotiations produced two important agreements in 1972:
the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty), which drastically limited the
establishment of defensive installations designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, and the
Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. That same year the
two superpowers also signed a treaty barring the testing of nuclear weapons on the ocean
floor. The SALT II negotiations, which began in 1972, produced another treaty in 1979
that would limit the total number of U.S. and USSR missile launchers. After the USSR
invaded Afghanistan in 1979, relations between the United States and the USSR rapidly
deteriorated, and the U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty.

During the early 1980s controversy surrounded the placement by the United States of
ballistic missiles on the territory of some of its Western European allies. Opposition to
this within West Germany (which became part of the united Federal Republic of
Germany in 1990) played a part in unseating Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1982. In
1983 U.S. antinuclear groups rallied to support a bilateral arms freeze, and U.S. Roman
Catholic bishops approved a pastoral letter with a similar aim.

Controversy also surrounded the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) introduced by
President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This research program for developing a defense
against ballistic missiles appeared likely to undermine the ABM Treaty and challenged
the assumptions of nuclear strategy since the beginning of the arms race. Since the late
1940s both deployment of nuclear arms by the superpowers and restrictions upon their
use had been founded upon a theory of deterrence. According to this theory, the mutual
likelihood of destruction in the event of a nuclear confrontation between the United
States and the USSR preserved a delicate balance between the two superpowers. Stable
relations between the nations required that they possess a roughly equal capacity to harm
each other. Critics of SDI believed that efforts to construct a defense against nuclear
weapons would destroy that balance and remove the conditions that prevented nuclear
weapons from being used.

Despite these concerns, U.S.-Soviet arms negotiations resumed in 1985. At a summit
meeting in Washington, D.C., in December 1987, President Reagan and Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which
eliminated many nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that had been deployed throughout
Europe and the western Soviet Union. The treaty called for the destruction of all U.S. and
Soviet missiles with ranges of about 500 to 5,500 km (about 300 to 3,400 mi) and
established a 13-year program to verify compliance. The INF treaty was ratified by the
U.S. Senate and the Soviet Presidium in May 1988.

Non nuclear Weapons Agreements

Agreements to restrict or eliminate the production and use of biological and chemical
weapons date back to the Geneva Convention of 1925. In 1972 the United States, the
USSR, and most other nations signed a convention prohibiting development, production,
and stockpiling of biological and chemical weapons. In the late 1980s and early 1990s,
Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and civilians during the Iran-Iraq
War, and in subsequent attacks on its own Kurdish population, prompted renewed
international efforts to ban the use of such weapons. In 1993 representatives from 160
nations approved the Chemical Weapons Convention. This agreement banned production,
use, sale, and storage of all chemical weapons. It also mandated destruction of existing
stocks of weapons by the year 2005. The United States ratified this convention in 1997,
despite concerns about the proliferation of chemical weapons among nations such as
Libya, Syria, Iraq, and North Korea that were not signatories to the agreement.

Conventional weapons such as booby traps and land mines also possess enormous
destructive capacity. Land mines are especially troubling because they retain their
destructive power for indefinite periods of time. The International Committee of the Red
Cross estimates that nearly 2 million land mines around the world kill or maim nearly
15,000 civilians every year. Global sentiment against land mines led 125 countries to sign
a treaty banning the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of the weapons. The
effectiveness of the ban was called into question, however, by the refusal of major
powers such as the United States, Russia, Turkey, and China to sign the agreement.

Cold War Aftermath

As the 1990s began, the United States and the USSR continued to negotiate arms-control
accords. In May 1990 Gorbachev and U.S. president George Bush approved a treaty to
end production and reduce stockpiles of chemical weapons. In 1991 the United States and
the USSR signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), requiring both nations
to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals by about 25 percent. Both sides also moved to
reduce conventional weapons and to continue phased withdrawal of their forces from
Europe.

The collapse of the USSR in late 1991 raised complex new problems. The location of
strategic nuclear weapons at multiple sites in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus
raised concerns about the safety and security of these weapons. The U.S. Congress
appropriated $1.5 billion to help these former Soviet states dismantle nuclear weapons
and develop safe storage of weapons-grade nuclear materials. In 1992 these countries and
the United States agreed to abide by the terms of the 1991 START I agreement.

In 1993 President Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed the START II treaty.
This treaty called for the elimination of almost two-thirds of the nuclear warheads and all
the multiple-warhead land-based missiles held by the United States and the former Soviet
republics. In January 1996 the U.S. Senate ratified the START II treaty, but the Russian
parliament never approved the accord. The START II treaty never went into effect, and in
2002 it was replaced by a new strategic arms reduction agreement known as the Treaty of
Moscow.

In September 1996 leaders of the five major nuclear powers—the United States, Russia,
China, France, and Britain—and dozens of other countries signed the landmark
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which banned most types of nuclear weapons testing. In
order to take effect, however, the treaty must be formally approved, or ratified, by all
nations believed to be capable of producing nuclear arms. In 1999 the U.S. Senate
rejected the treaty by a vote of 51 to 48. China, Israel, Pakistan, and India are among
other known nuclear powers that have not ratified the treaty.
The Senate’s failure to ratify the treaty drew criticism from many U.S. allies, including
Britain, Germany, and France. Senate opponents of the treaty argued that it was
unenforceable, and they raised concerns that the treaty left open the possibility that rogue
powers, such as Iraq or North Korea, could stockpile nuclear weapons, while at the same
time it blocked the United States from upgrading its nuclear arsenal.

The Senate’s failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty came on the heels of
another setback. In mid-1998 India conducted a series of underground tests of nuclear
weapons. About two weeks later, India’s archrival, Pakistan, detonated its own nuclear
devices to demonstrate that it also possessed the powerful weapons. Both nations were
internationally condemned for the tests. The United States, the International Monetary
Fund, the European Union, and individual nations imposed economic sanctions on India
and Pakistan in retaliation. Roughly a year later India tested a ballistic missile capable of
delivering a nuclear warhead to any target within Pakistan, and days later Pakistan
responded by testing a missile with similar capabilities. In 2002 tensions between the two
nations over the disputed territory of Kashmīr raised fears of a nuclear war.

Meanwhile, the United States under the administration of President Bill Clinton reached
an important arms control arrangement with North Korea in 1994. Although relations
between the United States and North Korea remained tense, under the arrangement North
Korea agreed to freeze all work on the infrastructure of reactors and reprocessing plants
needed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. In exchange, Japan, South Korea, and
the United States agreed to provide fuel oil and other economic aid to North Korea.

In 2002, however, this arrangement began to unravel. United States intelligence agencies
discovered that while being paid not to produce plutonium, North Korea was at work to
enrich uranium, the other way of obtaining nuclear weapons. That triggered North
Korea's inclusion in the “axis of evil” cited by U.S. president George W. Bush in his
State of the Union speech in January 2002. In October 2002 North Korea openly told
U.S. officials that it had a covert program to develop nuclear weapons with enriched
uranium. The United States responded by halting supplies of fuel oil. In January 2003
North Korea expelled United Nations (UN) monitors and withdrew from the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty.

In April 2003 North Korea told U.S. officials that it possessed nuclear weapons, and in
October 2003 North Korean officials said they were extracting plutonium from spent
nuclear fuel rods to produce nuclear weapons. In November 2003 the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency repeated its belief that North Korea possesses at least one and
possibly two nuclear bombs. However, other former and current U.S. intelligence
officials said they were skeptical that North Korea had the technological know-how to
produce nuclear weapons. In February 2004 North Korea entered talks with China, Japan,
Russia, South Korea, and the United States to discuss an agreement that would end North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program. As of early 2004 the talks were inconclusive.

Outlook for the 21st Century
As the world entered the 21st century, both progress and setbacks occurred in arms
control. In 2001 the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush announced that it
would unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty, laying the groundwork for the
deployment of defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. For the first time the U.S.
government also announced a policy that under extreme circumstances it would consider
using nuclear weapons against a nonnuclear state that employed biological or chemical
weapons. The Bush administration, however, also pursued an arms reduction agreement
with the Russian Federation, and the two nations signed a treaty in 2002 to deactivate
about 75 percent of their strategic nuclear arsenals. Under the 2002 agreement, both
nations were to reduce their active inventories of strategic nuclear warheads from about
6,000 each to about 2,200 warheads each by the year 2012. The agreement, known as the
Treaty of Moscow, required ratification by both the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma
(parliament) before it could go into effect. Once ratified the new treaty was to replace the
previous START II treaty.

Observers noted that the new treaty contained a number of escape clauses. Either side
could withdraw from the treaty with only three months’ notice, and the reductions did not
have to take effect until 2012, the same year the treaty expires. The treaty also enabled
both nations to place the deactivated warheads in storage or to set them aside as
“operational spares” that could be quickly reactivated. Critics of the agreement argued
that the deactivated warheads should be destroyed, rather than stored, because of the
danger that terrorists could obtain access to stored weapons, which are presumably less
well guarded than those in active service.



                                  Cuban Missile Crisis

Introduction

Cuban Missile Crisis, major confrontation between the United States and the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that occurred in 1962 over the issue of Soviet-
supplied missile installations in Cuba. Regarded by many as the world's closest approach
to nuclear war, the crisis began when the United States discovered that Cuba had secretly
installed Soviet missiles able to carry nuclear weapons. The missiles were capable of
hitting targets across most of the United States. The discovery led to a tense stand-off of
several days as the United States imposed a naval blockade of Cuba and demanded that
the USSR remove the missiles.

Background

The crisis was the culmination of growing tension between the United States and Cuba
following the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The revolution ousted Cuba’s dictator,
Fulgencio Batista and brought to power a government headed by Cuban revolutionary
leader Fidel Castro.
Prior to the revolution, the United States had had significant influence in Cuba’s
economic and political affairs, but the Castro government refused to be influenced by the
United States. Castro also caused concern in the United States when he confiscated
property belonging to wealthy Cubans and foreigners in an attempt to implement policies
to improve conditions for poor and working-class Cubans. Many of these properties
belonged to businesses owned by U.S. companies.

Fearing that Castro would establish a Communist regime in Cuba, the United States
applied economic pressure, and in 1960 implemented an embargo that cut off trade
between the United States and Cuba. Castro refused to give in to the pressure. He
responded by establishing closer relations with the Communist government of the USSR.
At the time, the USSR and the United States were engaged in the Cold War—an
economic, military, and diplomatic struggle between Communist and capitalist nations.

In an effort to topple Castro’s government, the United States trained and armed anti-
Castro Cuban exiles living in the United States. The exiles invaded Cuba in 1961, with a
landing at the Bay of Pigs. Castro’s army easily defeated the exiles. His victory during
the Bay of Pigs Invasion solidified Castro’s control over Cuba. Most Cubans resented
U.S. intervention in Cuban affairs and they rallied behind Castro, who declared that Cuba
was a Communist nation.

The Crisis Emerges

In 1960, as tensions mounted between Cuba and the United States, Soviet premier Nikita
Khrushchev began planning to secretly supply Cuba with missiles that could deliver
nuclear warheads to most parts of the United States. Khrushchev mistakenly assumed that
the United States would take no action.

By 1962, however, concern was growing in the United States over reports that the USSR
was channeling weapons to Cuba. In September, U.S. president John Fitzgerald Kennedy
warned the Soviets that “the gravest issues would arise” should they place offensive
weapons (a phrase widely understood to mean nuclear weapons) in Cuba.

On October 14 U.S. spy planes flying over Cuba spotted the first ballistic missile. On
October 16 U.S. intelligence officials presented Kennedy with photographs showing
nuclear missile bases under construction in Cuba. The photos suggested preparations for
two types of missiles: medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) able to travel about 1100
nautical miles (about 2000 km, or 1300 mi) and intermediate-range ballistic missiles
(IRBM) able to reach targets at a distance of about 2200 nautical miles (about 4100 km,
or 2500 mi). These missiles placed most major U.S. cities—including Los Angeles,
Chicago, and New York City—within range of nuclear attack. Kennedy also saw
evidence of nuclear-capable bombers.

Kennedy now faced a situation with potentially grave consequences. However, he had
noclear choice on the actions to take against the Cubans and Soviets. He knew that an
attack on Soviet installations in Cuba risked touching off a global nuclear war that would
result in the loss of millions of lives. At the same time, he thought, and repeatedly said,
that he also risked war by doing nothing. If he ignored Soviet defiance of his pledge in
September to oppose offensive weapons in Cuba, then all U.S. pledges might become
suspect.

A U.S. promise to defend the beleaguered city of West Berlin in Germany was already
under severe pressure. Following the allied victory in World War II (1939-1945), Berlin
had been divided into East Berlin, controlled by Communist East Germany, and West
Berlin, governed by capitalist West Germany. Earlier in the year Khrushchev had
threatened to take over West Berlin and told Kennedy he was willing to bring the matter
to the point of war. Khrushchev set a deadline of November 1962 for the resolution of the
issue.

Before the Cuban missile crisis began, Kennedy and his advisers believed U.S. nuclear
superiority would deter any aggressive Soviet moves. But when the photographs of the
missiles arrived, Kennedy and his experts agreed that the weapons might have been
placed in Cuba to keep the United States from going to war over West Berlin. For
Kennedy, doing nothing about the missiles would only increase the danger in another
war-threatening crisis later in the year, this time over Berlin. The dilemma, as Kennedy
understood it, was acute.

Debating the Options

Kennedy quickly assembled a small circle of advisers, including both national security
officials and others whose judgment Kennedy prized. On October 16, the first day of the
crisis, Kennedy and almost all of his advisers agreed that a surprise air attack against
Cuba—followed, perhaps, by a blockade and an invasion—was the only reasonable
response.

On October 18, however, former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Llewellyn
Thompson suggested that Kennedy announce a blockade as a prelude to an air strike.
Kennedy’s advisers supported a blockade, but not all for the same reasons. One group
saw the blockade as a form of ultimatum. Unless Khrushchev announced he would pull
the missiles out of Cuba, the blockade would be followed very shortly by some kind of
military action. Another group saw the blockade as an opening to negotiation. After his
advisers debated the options, Kennedy decided to go ahead with the blockade. At the
same time, the U.S. military began moving soldiers and equipment into position for a
possible invasion of Cuba.

Before Kennedy publicly announced the blockade, he wanted to prepare both military
and congressional leaders. On October 19 he met in the Cabinet Room with the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, the president’s military advisory group. The Joint Chiefs favored an air
strike and an invasion, but Kennedy rejected their proposal, stating that an invasion could
escalate into a nuclear war. Kennedy met with congressional leaders on October 22. The
legislators' opinions mirrored those held by Kennedy and the majority of his advisers.
Following the meeting with congressional leaders, Kennedy went on worldwide radio and
television and announced the discovery of the missiles. He demanded that Khrushchev
withdraw them and said that as a first step he was initiating a naval quarantine zone
around Cuba, within which U.S. naval forces would intercept and inspect ships to
determine whether they were carrying weapons. Kennedy warned that if Khrushchev
fired missiles from Cuba, the result would be “a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet
Union.”

Because international law defines a blockade as an act of war, Kennedy and his advisers
decided to refer to the blockade as a quarantine. The United States was supported by
other members of the Organization of American States, an organization of nations in the
western hemisphere that seek to cooperate on matters of security and economic and social
development.

Waiting for War

The first days after the speech were consumed with tension as Kennedy waited to see
whether the Soviet ships would respect the blockade or trigger a military confrontation at
sea. For several tense days Soviet vessels en route to Cuba avoided the quarantine zone,
and Khrushchev and Kennedy communicated through diplomatic channels. This cautious
action postponed any confrontation between the U.S. Navy and the Soviet freighters or
the Soviet submarines escorting them.

On October 26 Khrushchev sent a coded cable to Kennedy that seemingly offered to
withdraw missiles from Cuba in return for a U.S. pledge not to invade the island, a pledge
Kennedy had already volunteered more than a week earlier during a meeting with Soviet
Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko. Before Kennedy and his advisers could react,
Khrushchev delivered a public message in which he linked the withdrawal of the Cuban
missiles to the removal of “analogous” U.S. weapons in Turkey along the southern border
of the USSR. Khrushchev may have been emboldened to make this added demand by the
fact that the United States allowed some Soviet-bloc ships to pass through the blockade.
None of Kennedy's top advisers valued the U.S. missiles in Turkey, which were
considered obsolete. However, nearly all of them counseled against removing the
missiles in response to a Soviet demand, a demand they thought was made in bad faith to
derail any solution.

Meanwhile the United States faced the difficult problems of maintaining the blockade
and keeping track of the Soviet missiles, which were camouflaged and moved soon after
Kennedy's speech. Low-flying U.S. surveillance aircraft encountered hostile fire, and on
October 27 the Cubans shot down a U-2, killing its pilot. The Kennedy administration
debated the question of whether or not to retaliate by destroying some air defense sites in
Cuba, but retaliation ran the risk of killing Soviet advisers and thereby escalating the
crisis.

Kennedy sensed that the U.S. public would support removing the missiles in Turkey, but
he did not want to appear to be capitulating to Khrushchev's demand. Finally Kennedy
decided his public reply would only address Khrushchev's first message, which offered to
withdraw the missiles in exchange for a pledge not to invade Cuba.

At the same time, however, Kennedy planned to privately assure Khrushchev that he
intended to remove the missiles in Turkey. The president’s brother, Attorney General
Robert Kennedy, paid a secret visit to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin at the Soviet
Embassy in Washington, D.C., to convey the president's pledge and its terms. If the
Soviets disclosed the assurance or intimated that the missiles in Turkey were part of the
bargain, the missiles would not be withdrawn, Robert Kennedy told Dobrynin. He also
warned the Soviets that time was running out and that the president would soon feel
compelled to attack Cuba.

By the time he received Dobrynin’s report, however, Khrushchev had already decided to
remove the missiles because the danger of nuclear war was too great. Cuban leader Fidel
Castro had sent Khrushchev a message saying Castro believed a U.S. invasion was
imminent and that Khrushchev should be ready to launch the missiles. Khrushchev
decided that Kennedy was serious and that an air attack on Cuba and an invasion were at
hand. Khrushchev told his ministers that the missiles must be withdrawn from Cuba in
return only for a noninvasion pledge.

Resolution

On October 28 the tension began to subside. In a worldwide radio broadcast Khrushchev
said he would remove “offensive” weapons from Cuba in return for a U.S. pledge not to
invade. He also called for United Nations (UN) inspectors to verify the process. Kennedy
believed Khrushchev was sincere, but many of Kennedy’s advisers remained wary of the
Soviets' intentions.

A further problem developed when Castro refused to allow UN oversight of the
dismantling process. Eventually an agreement was reached: The bombers would be
removed within 30 days, and the missiles and other “offensive” weapons would be
evacuated in the open so that U.S. surveillance aircraft could observe their removal.

Conclusion

In the years since the crisis, more details about the incident emerged from declassified
U.S. and Soviet files; from conferences involving those who participated in the crisis,
including some Soviet officials; and from the release of secretly recorded White House
tapes of the meetings involving Kennedy and his advisers.

The facts that came to light revealed that a U.S. invasion of Cuba might have met more
opposition than the United States expected. Unknown to the U.S. government, Soviet
forces in Cuba had been equipped with nuclear weapons intended for battlefield use. The
United States had also incorrectly estimated the number of Soviet troops stationed in
Cuba. Instead of a few thousand troops, there were about 40,000 Soviet soldiers in Cuba.
Any U.S. invasion would have faced stiff resistance.
The Cuban missile crisis was a very dangerous episode, bringing the world’s major
military powers to the brink of nuclear war. Kennedy has been criticized for such policies
as the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, which helped cement the Soviet-Cuban relationship
and led Khrushchev to think Kennedy might be bullied. Yet most historians agree that it
was Kennedy's good judgment, and the prudence Khrushchev displayed once the crisis
intensified, that helped avert catastrophe.

The crisis led to a temporary strain in relations between the USSR and Cuba. Castro felt
he had been unfairly excluded from the negotiations over the fate of the missiles, which
he thought Cuba needed to discourage a potential invasion from the United States.
However, with the threat of invasion removed by the U.S. pledge and with Cuba badly in
need of Soviet financial aid, relations between Cuba and the USSR soon grew closer.

The apparent capitulation of the USSR in the standoff was instrumental in Khrushchev's
being deposed as leader of the USSR in 1964. The younger Soviet leaders who ousted
Khrushchev perceived his action during the crisis as weak and indecisive. This
perception, combined with other foreign policy setbacks and difficulties meeting his
goals for domestic programs, contributed to his removal from power.

The Cuban missile crisis marked the point at which the Cold War began to thaw. Both
sides had peered over the precipice of nuclear war and wisely decided to retreat.
Khrushchev eventually accepted the status quo in West Berlin, and the predicted conflict
there never materialized. The thaw also led to the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test
Ban Treaty in 1963 by Britain, the United States, and the USSR. The treaty outlawed
nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere or underwater, but allowed them underground.

                                     The Cold War

At the end of World War II, the United States and the USSR emerged as the world’s
major powers. They also became involved in the Cold War, a state of hostility (short of
direct military conflict) between the two nations. The clash had deep roots, going back to
the Russian Revolutions of 1917, when after the Bolshevik victory, the United States,
along with Britain, France, and Japan, sent troops to Russia to support the anti-
Communists. During World War II, the United States and the USSR were tenuously
allied, but they disagreed on tactics and on postwar plans. After the war, relations
deteriorated. The United States and the USSR had different ideologies, and they
mistrusted each other. The Soviet Union feared that the United States, the leader of the
capitalist world, sought the downfall of Communism. The United States felt threatened
by Soviet expansionism in Europe, Asia, and the western hemisphere.

The United States and the Soviet Union disagreed over postwar policy in central and
eastern Europe. The USSR wanted to demilitarize Germany to prevent another war; to
control Poland to preclude any future invasion from its west; and to dominate Eastern
Europe. Stalin saw Soviet domination of Eastern Europe as vital to Soviet security.
Within months of the war’s end, Stalin installed pro-Soviet governments in Bulgaria,
Hungary, and Romania. Independent Communist takeovers in Albania and Yugoslavia
provided two more “satellite nations.” Finally, the Soviets barred free elections in Poland
and suppressed political opposition. In March 1946 former British prime minister
Winston Churchill told a college audience in Fulton, Missouri, that a Soviet-made “Iron
Curtain” had descended across Europe.

President Harry S. Truman, enraged at the USSR’s moves, at once assumed a combative
stance. He believed that Soviet expansion into Poland and Eastern Europe violated
national self-determination, or the right of people to choose their own form of
government; betrayed democratic principles; and threatened the rest of Europe. In
contrast to the USSR, the United States envisioned a united, peaceful Europe that
included a prosperous Germany. Truman became an architect of American Cold War
policy. So did State Department official George Kennan, then stationed in Moscow, who
in 1946 warned of Soviet inflexibility. The United States, wrote Kennan, would have to
use “vigilant containment” to deter the USSR’s inherent expansionist tendencies. The
doctrine of containment became a principle of U.S. policy for the next several decades.

Throughout 1946 a sequence of events drew the United States and the USSR deeper into
conflict. One area of conflict was defeated Germany, which had been split after the war
into four zones: American, British, French, and Soviet. Stalin sealed off East Germany as
a Communist state. The two countries also encountered problems beyond Europe.

In 1945 and 1946, the Soviet Union attempted to include Turkey within its sphere of
influence and to gain control of the Dardanelles, the strait in Turkey connecting the
Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Control of the Dardanelles would give the USSR a
route from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. In response, Truman offered Turkey
large-scale aid, and the two countries entered a close military and economic alliance.
Meanwhile, an arms race began; each superpower rejected the other’s plans to control
nuclear arms, and the United States established the Atomic Energy Commission to
oversee nuclear development. Within the year, the Cold War was under way.

The Truman Doctrine

In 1947 the Cold War conflict centered on Greece, where a Communist-led resistance
movement, supported by the USSR and Communist Yugoslavia, threatened to overthrow
the Greek monarchical government, supported by Britain. When the British declared that
they were unable to aid the imperiled Greek monarchists, the United States acted. In
March 1947 the president announced the Truman Doctrine: The United States would help
stabilize legal foreign governments threatened by revolutionary minorities and outside
pressures. Congress appropriated $400 million to support anti-Communist forces in
Turkey and Greece. By giving aid, the United States signaled that it would bolster
regimes that claimed to face Communist threats. As George Kennan explained in an
article in Foreign Affairs magazine in 1947, “containment” meant using “unalterable
counterforce at every point” until Soviet power ended or faded.

In 1947 the United States further pursued its Cold War goals in Europe, where shaky
postwar economies seemed to present opportunities for Communist gains. The American
Marshall Plan, an ambitious economic recovery program, sought to restore productivity
and prosperity to Europe and thereby prevent Communist inroads. The plan ultimately
pumped more than $13 billion into western European economies, including occupied
Germany. Stalin responded to the new U.S. policy in Europe by trying to force Britain,
France, and the United States out of Berlin. The city was split between the Western
powers and the USSR, although it was deep within the Soviet zone of Germany. The
Soviets cut off all access to Berlin from the parts of Germany controlled by the West.
Truman, however, aided West Berlin by airlifting supplies to the city from June 1948 to
May 1949

NATO

In 1949 the United States joined 11 other nations (Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark,
France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal) to form the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact. Members of NATO
pledged that an attack on one would be an attack on all. Stalin responded by uniting the
economies of Eastern Europe under the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
(COMECON). Then late in 1949, Americans learned that the Soviets had successfully
exploded an atomic bomb in August. Finally, in February 1950, Stalin signed an alliance
with the People’s Republic of China, a Communist state formed in 1949.

The doctrine of “containment” now faced big challenges. To bolster the containment
policy, U.S. officials proposed in a secret 1950 document, NSC-68, to strengthen the
nation’s alliances, to quadruple defense spending, and to convince Americans to support
the Cold War. Truman ordered the Atomic Energy Commission to develop a hydrogen
bomb many times more destructive than an atomic bomb. In Europe, the United States
supported the independence of West Germany.

Finally, the United States took important steps to contain Communism in Europe and
Asia. In Europe, the United States supported the rearmament of West Germany. In Asia
in early 1950, the United States offered assistance to France to save Vietnam (still French
Indochina) from Communist rule, and signed a peace treaty with Japan to ensure the
future of American military bases there. Responding to the threats in Asia, Stalin
endorsed a Communist reprisal in Korea, where fighting broke out between Communist
and non-Communist forces.

The Korean War

Japan had occupied Korea during World War II. After Japan’s defeat, Korea was divided
along the 38th parallel into the Communist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the
north and the U.S.-backed Republic of Korea in the south. After June 1949, when the
United States withdrew its army, South Korea was left vulnerable. A year later, North
Korean troops invaded South Korea. Truman reacted quickly. He committed U.S. forces
to Korea, sent General Douglas MacArthur there to command them, and asked the United
Nations to help protect South Korea from conquest.
MacArthur drove the North Koreans back to the dividing line. Truman then ordered
American troops to cross the 38th parallel and press on to the Chinese border. China
responded in November 1950 with a huge counterattack that decimated U.S. armies.
MacArthur demanded permission to invade mainland China, which Truman rejected, and
then repeatedly assailed the president’s decision. In 1951 Truman fired him for
insubordination. By then, the combatants had separated near the 38th parallel. The
Korean War did not officially end until 1953, when President Dwight Eisenhower
imposed a precarious armistice. Meanwhile, the Korean War had brought about
rearmament, hiked the U.S. military budget, and increased fears of Communist
aggression abroad and at home.

Cold War at Home

As the Cold War intensified, it affected domestic affairs. Many Americans feared not
only Communism around the world but also disloyalty at home. Suspicion about
Communist infiltration of the government forced Truman to act. In 1947 he sought to
root out subversion through the Federal Employee Loyalty Program. The program
included a loyalty review board to investigate government workers and fire those found
to be disloyal. The government dismissed hundreds of employees, and thousands more
felt compelled to resign. By the end of Truman’s term, 39 states had enacted
antisubversion laws and loyalty programs. In 1949 the Justice Department prosecuted 11
leaders of the Communist Party, who were convicted and jailed under the Smith Act of
1940. The law prohibited groups from conspiring to advocate the violent overthrow of the
government.

The Communist Party had reached the peak of its strength in the United States during
World War II, when it claimed 80,000 members. Some of these had indeed worked for
the government, handled classified material, or been part of spy networks. Although
Communist party membership had fallen to under 30,000 by the 1950s, suspicion about
disloyalty had grown. Concerned about the Sino-Soviet alliance and the USSR’s
possession of atomic weapons, many Americans feared Communist spies and Soviet
penetration of federal agencies.

Attention focused on two divisive trials. In August 1948 Time magazine editor Whittaker
Chambers, a former Communist, accused former State Department official Alger Hiss of
being a member of the Communist Party and, subsequently, of espionage. Hiss sued
Chambers for slander, but Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 and jailed.. In 1951
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage for stealing atomic secrets. They
were executed two years later. Both of these trials and convictions provoked decades of
controversy. Half a century later, the most recent evidence seems to support the
convictions of Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg.

Meanwhile, Congress began to investigate suspicions of disloyalty. The House Un-
American Activities Committee (HUAC) sought to expose Communist influence in
American life. Beginning in the late 1940s, the committee called witnesses and
investigated the entertainment industry. Prominent film directors and screenwriters who
refused to cooperate were imprisoned on contempt charges. As a result of the HUAC
investigations, the entertainment industry blacklisted, or refused to hire, artists and
writers suspected of being Communists.

One of the most important figures of this period was Senator Joseph McCarthy of
Wisconsin, who gained power by accusing others of subversion. In February 1950, a few
months after the USSR detonated its first atomic device, McCarthy claimed to have a list
of Communists who worked in the State Department. Although his accusations remained
unsupported and a Senate committee labeled them “a fraud and a hoax,” McCarthy won a
national following. Branding the Democrats as a party of treason, he denounced his
political foes as “soft on Communism” and called Truman’s loyal secretary of state, Dean
Acheson, the “Red Dean.” McCarthyism came to mean false charges of disloyalty.

In September 1950, goaded by McCarthy, Congress passed, over Truman’s veto, the
McCarran Internal Security Act, which established a Subversive Activities Control Board
to monitor Communist influence in the United States. A second McCarran act, the
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, also became law over Truman’s veto. It kept
the quota system based on national origin, although it ended a ban on Asian immigration,
and required elaborate security checks for foreigners visiting the United States.

The Cold War played a role in the presidential contest of 1952 between Republican
Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Many voters feared Soviet
expansionism, Soviet atomic explosions, and more conflicts like Korea. Eisenhower’s
running mate, former HUAC member Richard M. Nixon, charged that a Democratic
victory would bring “more Alger Hisses, more atomic spies.” Eisenhower’s soaring
popularity led to two terms as president.

McCarthy’s influence continued until the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, when the
Senate investigated McCarthy’s enquiry into the army. The Senate censured him on
December 2, 1954, for abusing his colleagues, and his career collapsed. But fears of
subversion continued. Communities banned books; teachers, academics, civil servants,
and entertainers lost jobs; and unwarranted attacks ruined lives. Communists again
dwindled in number after 1956, when Stalin was revealed to have committed extensive
crimes. Meanwhile, by the end of the decade, new right-wing organizations such as the
John Birch Society condemned “creeping socialism” under Truman and Eisenhower.
McCarthyism left permanent scars.

The Cold War under Eisenhower

When Eisenhower took office in 1953, he moved to end the war in Korea, where peace
talks had been going on since 1951. Eisenhower’s veiled threat to use nuclear weapons
broke the stalemate. An armistice, signed in July 1953, set a boundary between the two
Koreas near the 38th parallel. Eisenhower then reduced the federal budget and cut
defense spending. Still, he pursued the Cold War.
When Stalin died in 1953, the United States and the USSR had an opportunity to ease
tensions. However, the USSR tested a nuclear bomb in 1954, and Eisenhower needed to
appease Republicans who urged more forceful efforts to defeat Communism. He relied
on his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, who called for “liberation” of the captive
peoples of Eastern Europe and the end of Communism in China. Dulles was willing to
bring the world to “the brink of war” to intimidate the USSR. With reduced conventional
forces, Dulles’s diplomacy rested on threats of “massive retaliation” and brinksmanship,
a policy of never backing down in a crisis even at the risk of war.

In 1955 the United States and USSR met in Geneva, Switzerland, to address mounting
fears about radioactive fallout from nuclear tests. Discussions of “peaceful coexistence”
led the two nations to suspend atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. Still, the United
States spent more on nuclear weapons and less on conventional forces.

Dulles, meanwhile, negotiated pacts around the world committing the United States to the
defense of 43 nations. The focus of the Cold War now shifted to the so-called Third
World, where the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) represented U.S. interests.
Established in 1947 to conduct espionage and assess information about foreign nations,
the CIA carried out covert operations against regimes believed to be Communist or
supported by Communist nations. In 1954, for example, the CIA helped bring down a
Guatemalan government that the United States believed was moving towards
Communism.

Finally, to stop the USSR from spreading Communism, the United States became
involved in Indochina and the Middle East. In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist and a
Communist, led a movement for independence from France. The Truman administration
had aided France, but in 1954 the French were defeated. An international peace
conference in Geneva divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel. The United States refused to
sign the Geneva Accords, which it believed conceded too much to the Communists.
Instead the United States sent economic aid and military advisers to South Vietnam from
1954 to 1961. Although Eisenhower feared further involvement in Vietnam, he supported
what was called the domino theory: If Vietnam fell to Communism, all of Southeast Asia
might follow.

In the Middle East, the United States promised a loan to Egypt’s new ruler, Gamal Abdel
Nasser, to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River. But when Nasser bought arms
from Communist Czechoslovakia, the United States canceled the loan. Nasser retaliated
in July 1956 by nationalizing the Anglo-French Suez Canal, an artificial waterway across
the Isthmus of Suez in northeastern Egypt. Britain, France, and Israel (formed in 1948)
responded with force, which the United States condemned. The invaders of Egypt
withdrew, and the Suez crisis was defused.

In reaction to the Suez crisis, the United States announced a new policy, the Eisenhower
Doctrine: The United States would intervene in the Middle East if necessary to protect
the area against Communism. In July 1958 the United States sent 14,000 marines to
Lebanon during a civil war that the United States feared would destabilize the region.
In the USSR, Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, did his part to keep the Cold War
alive. He extended Soviet influence by establishing relations with India and with other
nations that were not aligned with either side in the Cold War. In 1955 Khrushchev
created the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance of seven European Communist nations, to
secure the Soviet position in Europe. In 1956 he used force in Hungary and political
pressure in Poland to ensure continued Soviet control of those countries. He increased
Soviet power by developing a hydrogen bomb, and by launching the first earth satellite in
1957. Finally, he formed an alliance with Cuba after Fidel Castro led a successful
revolution there in 1959.

At the end of Eisenhower’s second term, the Cold War still dominated American foreign
policy. United States efforts around the world to quell Communist-inspired or nationalist
insurgencies sometimes caused anger. In 1958 angry crowds in Peru and Venezuela
stoned Vice President Nixon’s car. On May 1, 1960, the Soviets shot down a U-2 spy
plane, and plans for a second summit collapsed. When Eisenhower left office, he warned
against “unwarranted influence … by the military-industrial complex.” But the nuclear
arms race had intensified, and the Cold War seemed to be widening.

The Cold War brought divisiveness and discord in the United States. Americans of the
1950s clashed on the extent of the threat posed by Communism at home and abroad.
Historians debate this question, too, as well as the origins of the Cold War. Some contend
that Soviet aggression in the postwar era reflected valid concerns for security, and that a
series of hostile acts by the United States provoked the USSR to take countermeasures.
Others argue, variously, that Communism was inherently expansionist; that Soviet
aggression was a natural outgrowth of Communism; that with Stalin in power, the Cold
War was inevitable; that the USSR was bent on establishing Communist regimes in every
region where a power vacuum existed; and that containment was a necessary and
successful policy.

Starting in the early 1990s, scholars have gained access to Soviet evidence that was
previously unavailable. New revelations from Russian archives—as well as
declassification in 1995 and 1996 of U.S. intelligence files on interception of Soviet spy
cables, known as the Venona decryptions—has recently made possible new scholarship
on the Cold War era. For the moment, debates about U.S. Cold War policy are likely to
remain.

A World of Plenty

In the post-World War II decade, the United States was the richest nation in the world.
After a brief period of postwar adjustment, the economy boomed. Consumers demanded
goods and services. Businesses produced more to meet this demand, and increased
production led to new jobs. Federal foreign aid programs, such as the Marshall Plan,
provided overseas markets for U.S. businesses. Finally, the government spent large
amounts of money by providing loans, fighting the Cold War, and funding social
programs. Government spending plus consumer demand led to an era of widespread
prosperity, rising living standards, and social mobility.
Postwar Arrangements

The Soviet Union suffered grievous losses during World War II. Much of its European
territory was devastated by mechanized warfare and the horrors of occupation. Official
Soviet reports at the time stated that 20 million soldiers and civilians perished in the war,
but it was later revealed, during Gorbachev’s time in office in the 1980s, that a more
realistic figure for Soviet losses was between 27 million and 28 million. At this
astronomic price, the Soviet Union subdued its bellicose neighbors, expanded its
frontiers, and moved its troops into Germany, Eastern Europe, and formerly Japanese-
held parts of East Asia. Bargaining over postwar arrangements afforded it recognition as
one of the great powers of the world. Stalin participated with the American and British
leaders at the Tehrān Conference in 1943, the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and
the Potsdam Conference later in 1945 to decide the overall military and political strategy
of the war and a common postwar European policy. The Soviets also played a leading
role in the conferences leading to the establishment of the United Nations (UN) in 1945.

Instead of making a treaty immediately with defeated and disorganized Germany, the
victor nations temporarily designated four occupation zones. The eastern zone was
assigned to the USSR. Berlin, surrounded by the Soviet zone, was divided into four
sectors; its eastern zone was also assigned to the USSR. All were to be administered as
parts of one country, with free trade among them. German territory east of a line formed
by the Odra (Oder) and Neisse rivers was consigned to Polish occupancy pending a final
peace settlement. The northern part of East Prussia was awarded to the USSR. The
Soviets exacted huge reparations in the form of machinery and raw materials from the
Soviet-occupied areas of Eastern Europe. During the postwar reconstruction of the Soviet
economy, which had been devastated in the war, Germany and former Nazi satellites
such as Finland also made reparations to the Soviet Union.

The Cold War Begins

The wartime alliance was based on aversion to a common enemy, not on philosophical
consensus or similarity of social system or way of life. Victory removed the mutual
enemy and opened the coalition up to strains between the totalitarian Soviet Union and
the two leading democracies, the United States and the United Kingdom. Stalin initially
hesitated in his policy, unsure how far he could push Soviet interests and whether it
would be necessary to alienate his wartime partners. At the Potsdam Conference, held on
the heels of the victory in Europe, Stalin offended the United States and the United
Kingdom by making demands they held to be in excess of the needs of Soviet national
security. Despite the acrimony, the Allies reached agreement on the general lines of the
occupation, on reparations policy, and on the German-Polish and Polish-Soviet
demarcation lines.

Within several years, the Soviet Union violated many of these agreements and embarked
on a sustained assault on the political, economic, and social structures of most of the
countries it occupied. In late 1946 the former British prime minister, Sir Winston
Churchill, presciently remarked that an “iron curtain” was descending across the middle
of Europe. The Soviets used force and threats to press their advantage and by 1947 and
1948 gave Communist groups in Eastern Europe the green light to govern in roughly the
same repressive way the USSR itself was ruled. In July 1947 Soviet foreign minister
Molotov served notice that the USSR would not participate in the Marshall Plan, the
American program for reviving the postwar economies of Europe. In a return to the spirit
of an earlier age, the USSR established the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform)
as a successor to the defunct Comintern with the cooperation of eight other Communist
countries. As Moscow shirked cooperation and turned inward, the Western countries
committed themselves to the globe-girdling political, diplomatic, and economic conflict
between blocs—and for the most part between the two superpowers, the United States
and the Soviet Union—known as the Cold War.

Takeover in Eastern Europe

In the European countries where Soviet influence was paramount during and after World
War II—Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and
East Germany—political structures were reorganized in stages. Local Communists first
cooperated in coalition governments in which they controlled the ministries directing the
police, the army, and the economy. This was followed, beginning in 1945, by the
institution of "people's democracies," Soviet-type regimes under Communist control
domestically and subservient to the USSR in foreign policy. Opposing political factions
were isolated and then destroyed, large land holdings were expropriated, and (with the
exception of Poland) farms were collectivized; virtually all industry was nationalized.
Czechoslovakia, the only democracy in Eastern Europe between the two world wars, was
the last to come under Communist control in February 1948, through subversion of a
coalition government. That same year, Yugoslavia, having acquired a Communist regime
led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito, resisted Soviet efforts to dictate to it and was expelled
from Cominform.

Developments in Eastern Europe, and the 11-month Soviet blockade of Berlin in 1948-
1949, alarmed the United States and Western Europe and led to the creation of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April 1949. To coordinate the economies of the
countries under its control, the USSR in 1949 established the Council for Mutual
Economic Assistance (COMECON or CMEA), with all the Communist states of Eastern
Europe except Yugoslavia as members.

Relations with China

In August 1945 the Soviet Union concluded a treaty of friendship and alliance with the
Republic of China’s Kuomintang (KMT) government, granting it economic concessions
and defense facilities, as previously agreed upon by the wartime Allies. Although the
Soviets promised to respect KMT sovereignty in Manchuria, they stripped the region of
nearly all of its industrial machinery, resisted efforts by the Chinese government to
reestablish its authority, and gave arms taken from captured Japanese soldiers to the
Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the KMT’s adversary in a civil war. When Soviet
troops withdrew, all Manchuria fell to the CCP. The subsequent victory of the Chinese
Communists over the KMT in 1949 altered the balance of power in Asia to the
momentary advantage of the Soviet Union.

Struggle for Leadership

Stalin, although increasingly erratic and paranoid as he grew old, remained in control
until his death in March 1953. A collective leadership took power after his death. It was
headed briefly by Georgy Malenkov, who was chosen CPSU first secretary and premier
of the government. Other key figures included Molotov (reinstated as foreign minister),
Beria (minister of internal affairs), Nikita Khrushchev (party secretary), Kaganovich and
Nikolay Bulganin (first deputy premiers), and Kliment Voroshilov (ceremonial head of
state).

The ruling group soon fell out among themselves. Malenkov lasted as chief organizer of
the party for only one week and was eclipsed there by Khrushchev, whose title was
elevated to CPSU first secretary in September 1953. The ambitious Beria was arrested in
June and denounced for “criminal and antiparty activities”; in December 1953 the
Kremlin announced he had been tried for treason, found guilty, and shot. Malenkov was
demoted in February 1955 and replaced as head of government by Bulganin, a
confederate of Khrushchev.

Cold War Aftermath

As the 1990s began, the United States and the USSR continued to negotiate arms-control
accords. In May 1990 Gorbachev and U.S. president George Bush approved a treaty to
end production and reduce stockpiles of chemical weapons. In 1991 the United States and
the USSR signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), requiring both nations
to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals by about 25 percent. Both sides also moved to
reduce conventional weapons and to continue phased withdrawal of their forces from
Europe.

The collapse of the USSR in late 1991 raised complex new problems. The location of
strategic nuclear weapons at multiple sites in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus
raised concerns about the safety and security of these weapons. The U.S. Congress
appropriated $1.5 billion to help these former Soviet states dismantle nuclear weapons
and develop safe storage of weapons-grade nuclear materials. In 1992 these countries and
the United States agreed to abide by the terms of the 1991 START I agreement.

In 1993 President Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed the START II treaty.
This treaty called for the elimination of almost two-thirds of the nuclear warheads and all
the multiple-warhead land-based missiles held by the United States and the former Soviet
republics. In January 1996 the U.S. Senate ratified the START II treaty, but the Russian
parliament never approved the accord. The START II treaty never went into effect, and in
2002 it was replaced by a new strategic arms reduction agreement known as the Treaty of
Moscow.
In September 1996 leaders of the five major nuclear powers—the United States, Russia,
China, France, and Britain—and dozens of other countries signed the landmark
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which banned most types of nuclear weapons testing. In
order to take effect, however, the treaty must be formally approved, or ratified, by all
nations believed to be capable of producing nuclear arms. In 1999 the U.S. Senate
rejected the treaty by a vote of 51 to 48. China, Israel, Pakistan, and India are among
other known nuclear powers that have not ratified the treaty.

The Senate’s failure to ratify the treaty drew criticism from many U.S. allies, including
Britain, Germany, and France. Senate opponents of the treaty argued that it was
unenforceable, and they raised concerns that the treaty left open the possibility that rogue
powers, such as Iraq or North Korea, could stockpile nuclear weapons, while at the same
time it blocked the United States from upgrading its nuclear arsenal.

The Senate’s failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty came on the heels of
another setback. In mid-1998 India conducted a series of underground tests of nuclear
weapons. About two weeks later, India’s archrival, Pakistan, detonated its own nuclear
devices to demonstrate that it also possessed the powerful weapons. Both nations were
internationally condemned for the tests. The United States, the International Monetary
Fund, the European Union, and individual nations imposed economic sanctions on India
and Pakistan in retaliation. Roughly a year later India tested a ballistic missile capable of
delivering a nuclear warhead to any target within Pakistan, and days later Pakistan
responded by testing a missile with similar capabilities. In 2002 tensions between the two
nations over the disputed territory of Kashmīr raised fears of a nuclear war.

Meanwhile, the United States under the administration of President Bill Clinton reached
an important arms control arrangement with North Korea in 1994. Although relations
between the United States and North Korea remained tense, under the arrangement North
Korea agreed to freeze all work on the infrastructure of reactors and reprocessing plants
needed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. In exchange, Japan, South Korea, and
the United States agreed to provide fuel oil and other economic aid to North Korea.

In 2002, however, this arrangement began to unravel. United States intelligence agencies
discovered that while being paid not to produce plutonium, North Korea was at work to
enrich uranium, the other way of obtaining nuclear weapons. That triggered North
Korea's inclusion in the “axis of evil” cited by U.S. president George W. Bush in his
State of the Union speech in January 2002. In October 2002 North Korea openly told
U.S. officials that it had a covert program to develop nuclear weapons with enriched
uranium. The United States responded by halting supplies of fuel oil. In January 2003
North Korea expelled United Nations (UN) monitors and withdrew from the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty.

In April 2003 North Korea told U.S. officials that it possessed nuclear weapons, and in
October 2003 North Korean officials said they were extracting plutonium from spent
nuclear fuel rods to produce nuclear weapons. In November 2003 the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency repeated its belief that North Korea possesses at least one and
possibly two nuclear bombs. However, other former and current U.S. intelligence
officials said they were skeptical that North Korea had the technological know-how to
produce nuclear weapons. In February 2004 North Korea entered talks with China, Japan,
Russia, South Korea, and the United States to discuss an agreement that would end North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program. As of early 2004 the talks were inconclusive.

Outlook for the 21st Century

As the world entered the 21st century, both progress and setbacks occurred in arms
control. In 2001 the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush announced that it
would unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty, laying the groundwork for the
deployment of defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. For the first time the U.S.
government also announced a policy that under extreme circumstances it would consider
using nuclear weapons against a nonnuclear state that employed biological or chemical
weapons. The Bush administration, however, also pursued an arms reduction agreement
with the Russian Federation, and the two nations signed a treaty in 2002 to deactivate
about 75 percent of their strategic nuclear arsenals. Under the 2002 agreement, both
nations were to reduce their active inventories of strategic nuclear warheads from about
6,000 each to about 2,200 warheads each by the year 2012. The agreement, known as the
Treaty of Moscow, required ratification by both the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma
(parliament) before it could go into effect. Once ratified the new treaty was to replace the
previous START II treaty.

Observers noted that the new treaty contained a number of escape clauses. Either side
could withdraw from the treaty with only three months’ notice, and the reductions did not
have to take effect until 2012, the same year the treaty expires. The treaty also enabled
both nations to place the deactivated warheads in storage or to set them aside as
“operational spares” that could be quickly reactivated. Critics of the agreement argued
that the deactivated warheads should be destroyed, rather than stored, because of the
danger that terrorists could obtain access to stored weapons, which are presumably less
well guarded than those in active service.

				
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