Standard 5-5 The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic and political events that influenced the United States during the Cold War era. The Cold War

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Standard 5-5 The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic and political events that influenced the United States during the Cold War era.
The Cold War
5-5.1 Explain the causes and the course of the Cold War between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States, including McCarthyism, the spread of communism, the Korean Conflict, Sputnik, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.
1. Communism – political and economic system in which all property and wealth is owned by all the members of that society. The belief is that all members of the society equal.

2. Free Enterprise – economic system in which all businesses are free to compete with each other. The belief is that the best businesses will succeed.

3. McCarthyism – time period during the Cold War in which Senator McCarthy accused members of the U.S. government of being communist spies.

4. United Nations – a replacement organization for the League of Nations.

5. Blockade – the act of creating a barrier to keep people or goods from entering or exiting a location.

  1. A rivalry developed between the Soviet Union and the United States following World War II.

  1. The Soviet Union’s goal was to spread communism, their political and economic system in which the government owns and controls businesses and property.

  1. The goal of the United States was to contain the spread of communism, therefore, the policy of the United States throughout the Cold War period was known as the “containment policy.”

  1. The United States and other western European nations wanted to encourage democratic governments throughout the world that were based on personal freedoms and a free enterprise economic system.


  1. How did Senator Joseph McCarthy spread the fear of communism?

He announced that hundreds of communists were working in the U.S. government and trying to turn it to communism.

  1. This Red Scare came to be called McCarthyism.

  1. The McCarthy era is known for the fear and sensationalism promoted by Senator McCarthy and the mass media.

  1. ZERO secret agents were ever uncovered by McCarthy’s accusations and investigations.


  1. In 1950, the Korean Conflict started when North Korea’s communist government invaded South Korea with the intention of reuniting the peninsula under one communist government.

  1. The United States, with the support of the United Nations, responded by sending American soldiers to defend South Korea and contain the spread of communism.

The TWO Main Goals of the U.S. in the Korean War was to:

*Defend South Korea

*Contain the spread of communism

  1. However, the war ended in a stalemate and the peninsula remains divided.

  1. South Korea remains a democratic nation, while North Korea remains a communist nation.


  1. The competition between the Soviet Union and the United States continued into a quest to reach outer space.

  1. The space race was started when the Soviet Union successfully launched an unmanned satellite, known as Sputnik.

  1. This event showed the need for an excellent education system and was a unifying force for American industry.

  1. It also promoted the development of computer technologies that would soon affect other parts of American life.

  1. President Kennedy established the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

  1. Although the Soviet Union was first to put a man into outer space, the United States was first to put a man on the moon.

  1. Who was the first man on the moon?

Neil Armstrong.


  1. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War rivalry came close to nuclear war as the Soviet Union began shipping nuclear missiles to Cuba, a communist country 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

From this location, the Soviet Union could easily launch nuclear weapons toward targets in the United States.

  1. President Kennedy responded by setting up a naval blockade of Cuba preventing the Soviet Union from bringing weapons to the island.

For several days, it appeared that the two nations would soon be at war.
At the last moment, the ships carrying the nuclear missiles turned back.

Most historians agree that this was the closest the United States and the Soviet Union ever came to war

  1. Because of how close this brought the world to Nuclear War, efforts were made to avoid such a crisis in the future including the installation of a telephone hot line and the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.


The Vietnam War shares many similarities with the Korean Conflict.

  1. Just like the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War was meant to contain the spread of communism.

  1. The Soviet Union supported the communist government of the North and the United States supported the democratic government of the South.

  1. However, unlike in Korea, the war in Vietnam started because the government of South Vietnam refused to comply with a peace agreement that had been signed calling for elections to reunite the country.

The government of South Vietnam feared that they would lose the election because the leader of North Vietnam was very popular.

  1. Fighting continued for many years and ended in U.S. withdrawal rather than stalemate.

  1. Why was fighting in Vietnam so tough for the U.S.?

The U.S. soldiers were not used to fighting in the dense, hot jungles.

  1. Mass Media caused public opinion to grow against Americans fighting in Vietnam.

  1. After several rounds of peace talks, a cease-fire agreement was signed and American soldiers evacuated Vietnam.

  1. South Vietnam continued to fight the communists but soon surrendered and united with North Vietnam as a communist nation.


  1. The Berlin Wall was built by the Soviets to separate the communist and democratic portions of Berlin, which had been divided between the allies at the end of World War II.

  1. People who lived in East Berlin were forbidden to cross to the western side of the wall.

The Berlin Wall became a symbol of the differences between the Soviet Union and the western democracies.

  1. It was finally torn down in 1989, signifying the collapse of the communist control of Eastern Europe and an end of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.

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