E. pd 17.1 Two Superpowers Face Off

17.1 Two Superpowers Face Off


U.S. and Soviet Union allied together to fight the Germans during World War II.

Allies become unfriendly

U.S. and the Soviet Union started to get unfriendly to each other even before WWI. Because the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact with the Germans, the U.S. was not happy with the betrayal. The Soviet Union blamed the U.S. for being late in attacking Germany in WW2. Because of so many conflicts, the two powerful countries started to have opposite goals.

Plan for After the War

Although the war(WW2) was not over, the three Allied nations (United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union) met in the Soviet Black Sea resort in Yalta to discuss on how to carve or split up Germany between the Allied Powers, just like the colonized countries. They also agreed that Germany would pay the Soviet Union for the losses in war. Now, Stalin (from Soviet Union) said a very promising favor that Europeans would have free elections. Well, as we have saw many aspects of Stalin’s totalitarianism, Winston Churchill also thought that this was almost impossible or this would be done in Stalin’s way.

The United Nations

June of 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union stopped their quarrel (for a while) and joined the United Nations which had 50 delegate from 50 different countries in total. The United Nations is a peaceful organization that helps a nation that was invaded. Having the headquarters in New York, the nations wanted to assure nothing like WW1 and WW2 would happen again.

These nations had a huge meeting called the General Assembly. Each nation could take a vote in any matter. However, the big 11, called the Security Council, were responsible for finishing the arguments. The five permanent members were Britain, China, France, the U.S., and the Soviet Union. Each permanent member could reject any decisions. This arrangement was made to forbid any "teaming-up."
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( The United Nations)
left: video of the beginning of UN source

Difference of the United States and the Soviet Union

Even though U.S. and the Soviet Union looked like they were getting along, they just turned against each other after World War II. As situations differed from both nations, their goals were also very different. About 400 thousand American soldiers died in WW2, and because the war happened mainly in Europe, the factories in U.S. were unharmed. The Soviet Union suffered a lot more. About 20 million people were killed, and this would be one person out of four people in the Soviet Union being a casualty! Moreover, their cities were left in ruins. Let’s see how the aspects of these two nations were different in the chart below.

United States
Soviet Union
Encourage Democracy
Encourage Communism
Rich (raw materials, markets)
Rebuild damaged things
Rebuild European governments, create new markets
Control Eastern Europe
Germany reunited
Keep Germany divided

The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

Now that the war ended, the Soviet Union had to be cautious about their western border. As history told them (the Poles, the Swedes, Napoleon, and the Germans attacked Russia), the Soviets should never let their guards down in the west because there weren’t many natural barriers such as mountains.

Soviet Gains Countries

The Soviet Union conquered throughout Eastern Europe after WW2. The places Soviets occupied became Communist countries and also became a buffer, a wall of protection, to the Soviets. Like Stalin as usual, he never allowed free elections in Eastern Europe breaking his promise made in Yalta. The countries conquered in Eastern Europe were Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, and Yugoslavia.

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Harry Truman (33rd President of the United States)

Unfortunately, the American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, died on April 12, 1945. Followed by Roosevelt was Harry S Truman. He strongly went against the misdeed done in Eastern Europe. Truman, Stalin, and Churchill had a conference in Potsdam on July of 1945, discussing the misdeeds of Eastern Europe. However, you could see what Stalin had in mind through his quote in 1946. “Communism and Capitalism cannot exist in the same world,” he said, “and the war between the United States and the Soviet Union is certain.”

The Iron Curtain

Europe was divided into West and East. It was due to the solution the the three leaders came up with at Yalta. The Eastern Germany was controlled by the Soviets, naming it the German Democratic Republic, and the west became a capitalist country named the Federal Republic of Germany. This division was called the “iron curtain.” The Iron Curtain was a metaphor from Winston Churchill in one of his speeches. This, however, was acknowledged as a threat to Stalin.

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( The green line is the "iron curtain")

The Counter Attack of the United States

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- Soviet Union (Stalin) spreading communism across Europe

The tension between U.S. and the Soviet Union became worse in 1946 and 1947. The Soviet's threat was growing, so Truman confirmed a foreign policy called containment. This policy tried to stop the growth of communism by making alliances and helping weak countries.

The Truman Doctrine

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- Sending military aid to countries was proposed by the Truman Doctrine.

Truman started this containment by giving aid to Turkey and Greece, which had people rejecting communism. This support to the countries rejecting communism was called the Truman Doctrine. Many people argued of this. They said Americans shouldn’t interfere with other countries’ problems. The United States also didn’t have that many resources to help all the nations. This aid could go to dictators, they say. However, the congress eventually decided to give about $400 million to Turkey and Greece.

The Marshall Plan

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"Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist."
— George Marshall

The Marshall Plan, although may look similiar was very different from the Truman Doctrine. It was different in that it gave aid to any countries suffering from all the misfortunes (cold and snow, unemployment, lack of food, and economic turmoil). U.S. used $12.5 billion. This actually succeeded in Western Europe and in Yugoslavia.

The Berlin Airlift

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- Kids waving at the planes that gave them food during the time when Berlin was kept as hostage.

Back to Germany, things were being solved. As France, Britain, and United States withdrew from West Germany to let them form one nation, the Soviet Union held Berlin as a hostage. The Soviet Union started out by not giving food supplies to Berlin in order to force them to surrender Western Germany or give up trying to unify.
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C-47s during Berlin Airlift -

United States and Britain instead gave supports to them. Planes were landing every 3 minutes in Western Berlin. There were 277,000 flights, and 2.3 million tons of supplies were landed, including Christmas presents! The Soviet Union finally gave up Germany and flew.

The Cold War and the Competition

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Cummings of the Daily Express, 24 August 1953, "Back to Where it all Started"
"On no account to be used - because the enemy might retaliate."
1. Arrows, Nuclear Bomb tied up - Afraid to use Nuclear Bombs because of their devastating power
2. Y, Z, H, Bomb - Don't use until the enemy attacks
3. Arrows, Vacant space in between - Tense atmosphere

This developing conflict was the start of the Cold War. The Cold War was between capitalism and communism. They both used spying, propaganda, diplomacy, and secret operations. Most of the countries were allied to either group.

The Two Big Rivals

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- Alliances during Cold War (NATO, Warsaw Pact)

During the time Berlin was being held as hostage, Western European nations were in fears and joined with the U.S. and Canada to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).This defensive military alliance was to defend any NATO member from being attacked. This alliance was also the first peace making in military for the U.S.

As a response, the Soviets made the Warsaw Pact for their own containment policy. There were the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.

Later on, in 1950’s, the United States created another alliance SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) to secure Korea and Indochina after warfares.

"Nuclear Launch Detected"

- Thermonuclear bomb (A-bomb). This was the largest A-bomb ever tested, named Castle Bravo.

Cold War was almost at the edge of exploding. Both the U.S. and Soviet Union had atomic bombs. Furthermore, Truman decided to create an atomic bomb far more powerful. This was the thermonuclear weapon. It was actually completed in January 1950. By fusing the atoms not separating, this (the H-bomb) was thousands of times more powerful than the previous one, the A-bomb. Fast enough, the Soviet Union caught up in the following year.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower became president, he nominated John Foster Dulles as his Secretary of State. This man stated very strongly of the outcome of an attack on the U.S. U.S. would “retaliate instantly,” he said, "and this extremity of tense is brinkmanship."

To win over this terribly intense competition, both nations needed strong nuclear weapons and airplanes. This rivalry would continue for four more decades.

Beware in the Skies

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- Sputnik 1, the first satellite -

This competition led to races in science and education. In 1957, the Soviets declared they made a intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). They used this and launched a satellite into the air. This was the first man-made satellite, called Sputnik I, and it successfully launched into space. Shocked by this, the United States poured billions of dollars into the study of science (also mathematics and foreign language). Finally in 1958, U.S. was able to launch its own satellite.

In 1955, Eisenhower proposed an “open skies” policy. This was to prevent both countries from surprise nuclear attacks. However, the Soviets refused, so U.S. made the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in U.S. CIA were spies who were in U-2 planes. Unfortunately, in May 1960, the Soviets shot a U-2 plane down. Francis Gary Powers, the pilot of the plane, was sentenced ten years but released only after 1 and a half year. This U-2 incident surely boosted up the tension and mistrust into a new dimension.

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- U-2 Plane -

Meanwhile, China was fighting to become a communist country.