Bruce Morrison » Restructuring the Postwar World, 1945–Present

Restructuring the Postwar World, 1945–Present

Restructuring the Postwar World, 1945–Present

The United States and the Soviet Union vie for superiority, and both countries extend their control over other nations.


Section 1: Cold War: Superpowers Face Off

Section 2: Communists Take Power in China

Section 3: Wars in Korea and Vietnam

Section 4: The Cold War Divides the World

Section 5: The Cold War Thaws


Section 1: Cold War: Superpowers Face Off

The opposing economic and political philosophies of the United States and the Soviet Union lead to global competition.


Allies Become Enemies


Yalta Conference: A Postwar Plan

• In February 1945, British, American, Soviet leaders meet at Yalta

• They agree to divide Germany into zones of occupation when WWII ends

• Soviet leader Stalin agrees to allow free elections in Eastern Europe


Creation of the United Nations

• June 1945, 50 nations form United Nations—international organization

• All members represented in General Assembly; 11 on Security Council

• Five permanent members have Security Council veto power


Differing U.S. and Soviet Goals

• U.S. and Soviets split sharply after WWII ends

• U.S. is world’s richest and most powerful country after WWII

• Soviets recovering from high war casualties, many destroyed cities


Eastern Europe’s Iron Curtain


Soviets Build a Buffer

• Soviets control Eastern European countries after World War II

• Stalin installs Communist governments in several countries

• Truman urges free elections; Stalin refuses

• In 1946, Stalin says capitalism and communism cannot co-exist


An Iron Curtain Divides East and West

• Germany divided; East Germany Communist, West Germany democratic

• Iron Curtain—Winston Churchill’s name for the division of Europe


United States Tries to Contain Soviets



• Containment—U.S. plan to stop the spread of communism




The Truman Doctrine

• Truman Doctrine—U.S. supports countries that reject communism

• Congress approves Truman’s request for aid to Greece, Turkey


The Marshall Plan

• Much of Western Europe lay in ruins after World War II

• Marshall Plan—U.S. program of assisting Western European countries

• Congress approves plan after Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia


The Berlin Airlift

• In 1948, U.S., Britain, France withdraw forces from West Germany

• Their former occupation zones form one country

• Soviets oppose this, stop land and water traffic into West Berlin

• West Berlin, located in Soviet occupation zone, faces starvation

• U.S., Britain fly in supplies for 11 months until the blockade ends


The Cold War Divides the World


The Cold War

• Cold War—struggle of U.S., Soviet Union using means short of war


Superpowers Form Rival Alliances

• In 1949, U.S., Canada, West European countries form NATO

• NATO—North Atlantic Treaty Organization, defensive military alliance

• In 1955, Soviets, Eastern European nations sign Warsaw Pact alliance

• In 1961, Soviets build Berlin Wall to separate East and West Berlin


The Threat of Nuclear War

• Soviet Union explodes its first atomic bomb in 1949

• U.S. and Soviet Union both develop more powerful hydrogen bomb

• Brinkmanship—policy of willingness to go to the edge of war

• Increasing tensions lead to military buildup by U.S. and Soviets


The Cold War in the Skies

• In 1957, Soviets launch Sputnik, first unmanned satellite

• In 1960, Soviets shoot down American spy plane, increasing tensions


Section 2: Communists Take Power in China

After World War II, Chinese Communists defeat Nationalist forces and two separate Chinas emerge.


Communists vs. Nationalists


World War II in China

• Mao Zedong—leads Chinese Communists against Japanese invaders

• Jiang Jieshi—leader of Chinese Nationalists in World War II

• Nationalist and Communist Chinese resume civil war after WW II ends





Civil War Resumes

• Economic problems cause Nationalist soldiers to desert to Communists

• Mao’s troops take control of China’s major cities

• In 1949, People’s Republic of China created; Nationalists to Taiwan


The Two Chinas Affect the Cold War


The Superpowers React

• U.S. supports Nationalist state in Taiwan, called Republic of China

• Soviets and China agree to help each other in event of attack

• U.S. tries to stop Soviet expansion and spread of communism in Asia


China Expands under the Communists

• China takes control of Tibet and southern Mongolia

• India welcomes Tibetan refugees fleeing revolt against Chinese

• China, India clash over border; fighting stops but tensions remain


The Communists Transform China


Communists Claim a New “Mandate of Heaven”

• Chinese Communists organize national government and Communist Party


Mao’s Brand of Marxist Socialism

• Mao takes property from landowners and divides it among peasants

• Government seizes private companies and plans production increase


“The Great Leap Forward”

• Communes—large collective farms often supporting over 25,000 people

• Program is ended after inefficiency leads to crop failures and famines


New Policies and Mao’s Response

• China, Soviet Union clash over leadership of Communist movement

• Strict socialist ideas are moderated, Mao reduces his role in government

• Red Guards—militia units formed to enforce strict communism in China


The Cultural Revolution

• Cultural Revolution—movement to build society of peasants, workers

• Red Guards close schools and execute or imprison many intellectuals

• In 1968, Chinese army imprisons, executes, or exiles most Red Guards


Section 3: Wars in Korea and Vietnam

In Asia, the Cold War flares into actual wars supported mainly by the superpowers.


War in Korea


A Divided Land

• 38th parallel—line dividing Korea into North Korea and South Korea




Standoff at the 38th Parallel

• In 1950, North Koreans invade South Korea with Soviet support

• South Korea requests UN assistance; 15 nations send troops

• Douglas MacArthur—leads UN forces against North Koreans

• North Koreans control most of peninsula when MacArthur attacks

• Half of the North’s army surrenders, the rest retreat


The Fighting Continues

• UN troops push North Koreans almost to Chinese border

• Chinese send 300,000 troops against UN forces and capture Seoul

• MacArthur calls for nuclear attack and is removed from command

• In 1953, cease fire signed and border established at 38th parallel


Aftermath of the War

• North Korea builds collective farms, heavy industry, nuclear weapons

• South Korea establishes democracy, growing economy with U.S. aid


War Breaks Out in Vietnam


The Road to War

• Ho Chi Minh—Vietnamese nationalist, later Communist leader


The Fighting Begins

• In 1954, French surrender to Vietnamese after major defeat

• Domino theory—U.S. theory of Communist expansion in Southeast Asia


Vietnam—A Divided Country

• International peace conference agrees on a divided Vietnam

• Ngo Dinh Diem—leads anti-Communist government in South Vietnam

• Vietcong—South Vietnamese Communist guerillas fighting against Diem


The United States Gets Involved


U.S. Troops Enter the Fight

• In 1964, U.S. sends troops to fight Viet Cong, North Vietnamese

• U.S. fights guerilla war defending increasingly unpopular government

• Vietcong gains support from Ho Chi Minh, China, Soviet Union

The United States Withdraws

• War grows unpopular in U.S.; in 1969, Nixon starts withdrawing troops

• Vietnamization—Nixon’s plan to withdraw U.S. from war gradually

• Last U.S. troops leave in 1973; South Vietnam overrun in 1975


Postwar Southeast Asia


Cambodia in Turmoil

• Khmer Rouge—Communist rebels who take control of Cambodia in 1975

• They slaughter 2 million people; overthrown by Vietnamese invaders

• In 1993, Cambodia adopts democracy, holds elections with UN help



Vietnam After the War

• Saigon renamed Ho Chi Minh City; Vietnam united as Communist nation

• About 1.5 million people flee Vietnam, some settling in U.S., Canada

• In 1995, United States normalizes relations with Vietnam


Section 4: The Cold War Divides the World

The superpowers support opposing sides in Latin American and Middle Eastern conflicts.


Fighting for the Third World


More Than One “World”

• Third World—developing nations; often newly independent, nonaligned


Cold War Strategies

• U. S., Soviet Union, China compete for influence over Third World

• Back revolutions and give economic, military, technical aid


Association of Nonaligned Nations

• Many countries, like India, want to avoid involvement in Cold War

• In 1955, Indonesia hosts Asian, African leaders who want neutrality

• Nonaligned nations—independent countries not involved in Cold War


Confrontations in Latin America


Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

• Fidel Castro—leads revolt in Cuba against dictator supported by U.S.

• By 1959, Castro in power, nationalizes economy, takes U.S. property

• In 1961, Castro defeats U.S.-trained Cuban exiles at Bay of Pigs


Nuclear Face-off: the Cuban Missile Crisis

• In 1962, U.S. demands removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba

• Soviets withdraw missiles; U.S. promises not to invade Cuba

• Cuban economy is left dependent on Soviet support


Civil War in Nicaragua

• Anastasio Somoza—Nicaraguan dictator supported by U.S.

• Daniel Ortega—leads Sandinista rebels who take power in Nicaragua

• U.S. and Soviet Union both initially support Sandinistas

• Sandinistas aid Communist rebels in El Salvador

• U.S. helps anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua to assist El Salvador

• In 1990, Nicaragua holds first free elections; Sandinistas lose


Confrontations in the Middle East


Religious and Secular Values Clash in Iran

• Shah Reza Pahlavi embraces Western governments, oil companies

• Iranian nationalists overthrow shah, seize British oil company

• U.S. restores shah to power, fearing Soviet encroachment



The United States Supports Secular Rule

• Shah Reza Pahlavi westernizes Iran with U.S. support

• Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini—Iranian Muslim leader; lives in exile

• In 1978, Khomeini sparks riots in Iran; shah flees


Khomeini’s Anti-U.S. Policies

• Islamic revolutionaries hold American hostages in Tehran (1979–1980)

• Muslim radicals take control in Iran, increasing tensions with Iraq

• Iran, Iraq fight 8-year war; U.S. aids both sides, Soviets help Iraq


The Superpowers Face Off in Afghanistan

• Soviets invade Afghanistan, help Communist government against rebels

• Muslim rebels fight guerilla war against Soviets with U.S. weapons

• U.S. stops grain shipments to Soviet Union; Soviets withdraw (1989)


Section 5: The Cold War Thaws

The Cold War begins to thaw as the superpowers enter an era of uneasy diplomacy.


Soviet Policy in Eastern Europe and China


Destalinization and Rumblings of Protest

• Nikita Khrushchev—leader of Soviet Union after Stalin dies (1953)

• Khrushchev condemns Stalin; Soviets, West can peacefully compete

• Citizens of Soviet-controlled governments begin protesting communism

• Khrushchev sends Soviet military to put down Hungarian protesters


The Revolt in Czechoslovakia

• Leonid Brezhnev—Soviet leader after Khrushchev—represses dissent

• In 1968, Warsaw Pact troops block reforms in Czechoslovakia


The Soviet-Chinese Split

• In 1950, Mao and Stalin sign friendship treaty, but tensions grow

• Chinese and Soviets each want to lead world communism

• Khrushchev ends economic aid and refuses to share nuclear secrets

• Soviets and Chinese fight small skirmishes across the border

From Brinkmanship to Détente


Brinkmanship Breaks Down

• Brinkmanship cause repeated crises; nuclear war a constant threat

• John F. Kennedy—U.S. president during the Cuban Missile Crisis

• Lyndon Johnson—president who increases U.S. involvement in Vietnam


The United States Turns to Détente

• Vietnam-era turmoil fuels desire for less confrontational policy

• Détente—policy of reducing Cold War tensions to avoid conflict

• Richard M. Nixon—U.S. president who launches détente

• Détente grows out of philosophy known as realpolitik

• “realistic politics”—recognizes need to be practical, flexible



Nixon Visits Communist Powers

• Nixon visits Communist China and Soviet Union, signs SALT I Treaty

• SALT—Strategic Arms Limitation Talks—limit nuclear weapons


The Collapse of Détente


Policy Changes

• Nixon and Gerald Ford improve relations with Soviets and China

• Jimmy Carter has concerns about Soviet policies but signs SALT II

• Congress will not ratify SALT II due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan


Reagan Takes an Anti-Communist Stance

• Ronald Reagan—anti-Communist U.S. president takes office in 1981

• Increases military spending, proposes a missile defense program

• In 1985, new Soviet leadership allows easing of Cold War tensions