- George F. Kennan
- Winston Churchill
- Nikolai V. Novikov
The Cold War (1945–91), a war of differing systems of government, of mutual fear and distrust, did not begin like conventional wars, with guns blazing. The Cold War began on the heels of World War II (1939–45), and the principal opponents were the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States, with its democratic government and capitalist economy, operated very differently from the communist Soviet Union.
A democratic form of government consists of leaders elected directly by the general population. The candidates for election are supported by various political parties. Capitalism is an economic system based on competition in the marketplace. Prices, production, and distribution of goods are determined by the marketplace. Property and businesses are privately owned. Citizens enjoy many personal liberties, such as the freedom to worship as they choose.
Communism is a system of government in which a single party, the Communist Party, controls all aspects of society. Leaders are selected by the party. The party leaders centrally plan and control the economy. The communist system eliminates all...
(The entire section is 979 words.)
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George F. Kennan
Excerpt from the "Long Telegram"
Reprinted from Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) 1946,
Volume VI Eastern Europe; "The Soviet Union," published in 1969
"In summary, we have here a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure."
On February 3, 1946, U.S. newspaper reports stunned the American people. They revealed that a Soviet spy ring had been sending secrets from the U.S. atomic bomb project, "The Manhattan Project," to Moscow. Furthermore, on February 9, the evening before elections to the Supreme Soviet (the Soviet legislative body), Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) delivered his threatening "Two Camps" speech. The speech reflected traditional Marxist thought that the Soviet Union would inevitably have to wage war on capitalism. Stalin contended that capitalism and communism were incompatible. Alarmed and taken aback, U.S. State Department officials turned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. They wanted clarification of the speech and an explanation of why Stalin would have made it. George F. Kennan (1904–), the Soviet expert in the...
(The entire section is 3250 words.)
Excerpt from the "Iron Curtain Speech" (also known as the "Sinews of Peace speech"), March 5, 1946
Reprinted from 'Iron Curtain' Speech Fifty Years Later,
published in 1999
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.… All these famous cities and the populations around them lie in … the Soviet sphere, and all are subject … to Soviet influence … and … [an] increasing measure of control from Moscow."
On March 5, 1946, wearing his top hat and cape and smoking a cigar, former British prime minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965) traveled with U.S. president Harry S. Truman (1884–1972; served 1945–53) to the American Midwest to Fulton, Missouri. In Fulton, he visited the campus of small Westminster College and delivered his famous "Iron Curtain Speech," also known as the "Sinews of Peace" speech.
Having led Great Britain through its dark days during World War II (1939–45), in July 1945, Churchill was defeated in a general election by British Labor Party candidate Clement Attlee (1883–1967). Attlee had proposed a planned economy and nationalization (in which the government takes ownership) of...
(The entire section is 2742 words.)
Nikolai V. Novikov
Excerpt from the "Novikov Telegram," September 27, 1946
Available at Cold War International History Project (Web site)
"Careful note should be taken of the fact that the preparation by the United States for a future is being conducted with the prospect of war against the Soviet Union, which in the eyes of the American imperialists is the main obstacle in the path of the United States to world domination."
Nikolai V. Novikov, Soviet ambassador to Washington, D.C., wrote and sent the "Novikov Telegram" to Moscow on September 27, 1946. In the telegram, which, like the famous telegram of U.S. advisor George F. Kennan (1904–), was "long," Novikov analyzed U.S. foreign policy in much the same way Kennan analyzed Soviet foreign policy, his "Long Telegram."
Novikov declared that the United States was striving for "world supremacy." He suggested that because Europe was so devastated by World War II (1939–45), the United States would "infiltrate" countries with offers of aid to rebuild. This strategy, according to Novikov, fit with U.S. plans for world domination. More proof was found, he suggested, in the large U.S. peacetime military force and in the establishment of U.S. bases worldwide. Novikov mentioned the "Iron Curtain Speech" of former British prime minister Winston...
(The entire section is 1999 words.)
- Harry S. Truman: Special Message to Congress on Greece and Turkey
- George C. Marshall
- Harry S. Truman: Special Message to Congress on Threat to Freedom of Europe
Aclear announcement of a new U.S. policy toward the Soviets came in early 1947, triggered by events in the eastern Mediterranean. In Greece, civil war raged between communist-backed resistance fighters and forces from Great Britain that were attempting to support British influence in Greece. Turkey had also been under British influence during World War II (1939–45) and in need of the British aid offered. On February 21, 1947, the British, greatly weakened by the expenses of World War II, announced in a message from London to Washington they could no longer send military and economic aid to Greece or Turkey. The British revealed that they would leave Greece and Turkey in six weeks, and they hoped the United States would assume responsibility for aid to the two countries.
U.S. administrative officials, including Secretary of State George C. Marshall (1880–1959) and Under-secretary Dean Acheson (1893–1971), huddled with U.S. congressional leaders. Deciding that the United States must replace the British presence, on March...
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Harry S. Truman: Special Message to Congress on Greece and Turkey
Excerpt from "Special Message to the Congress on Greece and
Turkey: The Truman Doctrine, March 12, 1947"
Published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:
Harry S. Truman, 1947, published in 1963
"The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive."
With the British planning to pull out of Greece by March 31, 1947, both President Harry S. Truman (1884–1972; served 1945–53) and Secretary of State George C. Marshall (1880–1959) recognized the urgent need for the United States to step in and to aid the Greek government. Greece had been left destitute after World War II (1939–45). Its infrastructure (railroads, ports, highways, etc.) and economy were destroyed. The Greek government and small Greek army, without British support, would surely fall to the National Popular Liberation Army (ELAS) fighters. ELAS was dominated by communists promising the people a better life. ELAS had been fighting against the Greek army backed up by British troops since 1944. Although the United States assumed that Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) and the Soviets were supporting ELAS, they were...
(The entire section is 2364 words.)
George C. Marshall
Excerpt from "Remarks by the Honorable George C. Marshall,
Secretary of State, at Harvard University on June 5, 1947"
Published in Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), Volume III,
1947: The British Commonwealth; Europe, published in 1972
"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."
Following the passage of the Truman Doctrine in March 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall (1880–1959) put the staff of the State Department to work planning an overall economic recovery program for Europe. By April 1947, communist parties were gaining strength in France and Italy. Postwar Western European economies were in danger of collapsing with resulting political chaos, ripe for communist intervention. Although George Kennan (1904–), author of the "Long Telegram," was in charge of policy planning at the State Department, it was Under-secretary of State Will Clayton (1880–1966) who stressed to Marshall that France and Italy could be lost within a very short time period—weeks or months. Kennan wanted to direct the recovery planning...
(The entire section is 2585 words.)
Harry S. Truman: Special Message to Congress on Threat to Freedom of Europe
Excerpt from "Special Message to the Congress on the Threat to the Freedom of Europe, March 17, 1948"
Published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:
Harry S. Truman, January 1 to December 31, 1948,
published in 1964
"The Soviet Union and its satellites were invited to cooperate in the European recovery program. They rejected that invitation. More than that, they have declared their violent hostility to the program and are aggressively attempting to wreck it."
In July 1947, sixteen Western European nations that had chosen to participate in the U.S.-proposed European recovery plan known as the Marshall Plan met in Paris. After several months of discussion, on September 22, 1947, the nations had readied their proposal of immediate needs and long-term cooperation goals for Washington's review.
The U.S. Congress began to consider the $17 billion aid request. Using the logic of the Truman Doctrine, a program designed by President Harry S. Truman (1884–1972; served 1945–53) that sent aid to anticommunist forces in Turkey and Greece, the Truman administration argued that the Marshall Plan aid would help countries stop communist influence within their borders. Congress continued to debate, so in December, Truman managed to obtain an...
(The entire section is 2117 words.)
- Isaac Don Levine
- Paul H. Nitze
- Douglas MacArthur
By April 1948, massive rebuilding aid via the Marshall Plan, a massive U.S. plan to promote Europe's economic recovery from the war, was headed to those Western European countries whose economies had been devastated by World War II (1939–45). Officially known as the European Recovery Program for Western Europe, the Marshall Plan was made available to all nations, though the communist regime rejected it. The United States feared that communist agitators, promising a better life, would overthrow the struggling democracies. (Agitators appeal to people's emotions to stir up public feeling over controversial issues.) Western Europe might fall just as Eastern Europe had fallen under the "Iron Curtain" (a term referring to the ruthless Soviet domination) of communism.
The excerpts that follow turn to another part of the world, China and Korea. In the 1930s, China's communist leader, Mao Zedong (1893–1976), and his forces, mostly consisting of peasants, were locked in a civil war with the noncommunist Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975). There was a halt in the civil war as both fought the invading Japanese from 1937 to 1945,...
(The entire section is 647 words.)
Isaac Don Levine
Excerpt from "Our First Line of Defense"
Originally published in Plain Talk magazine, September 1949
"The White Paper is a denial of the existence of a will to save Asia. The White Paper is at best a testimonial to spinelessness and a confession of guilty conduct in the past.…"
The vast Chinese empire existed in the Far East for centuries. By the early 1890s, however, a more modern, European type of world encroached upon ancient China. By 1911, a revolution had ended the empire, but only economic and political instability resulted. As a consequence, civil war broke out in the 1930s. The Kuomintang, or Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) had ruled parts of China since the 1920s. The United States had recognized the Nationalist government since 1928. They were challenged by Mao Zedong (1893–1976) and his communist revolutionary forces. Mao, just like Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (1879–1953), strictly followed the philosophies of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Vladimir I. Lenin (1870–1924) that had contributed to the birth of communism.
Mao's communist forces were largely peasants from China's agricultural areas. The civil war was interrupted in 1937 when the Japanese invaded China. The armies of both Chiang and Mao joined forces to stop Japanese...
(The entire section is 2097 words.)
Paul H. Nitze
Excerpt from "National Security Council Report on Soviet Intentions (NSC-68)"
Originally published in Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS),
1950, Volume I, National Security Affairs, Foreign Economic Policy,
published in 1977
"It is quite clear from Soviet theory and practice that the Kremlin seeks to bring the free world under its dominion by the methods of the cold war. The preferred technique is to subject by infiltration and intimidation.… Those institutions of our society that touch most closely our material and moral strength are obviously the prime targets: labor unions, civic enterprises, schools, churches, and all media for influencing opinion."
By 1950, a Red Scare was rampant in the United States. The Red Scare was a time in the 1950s when Americans were particularly fearful and wary of communists penetrating into U.S. society. World events of 1948 and 1949 caused great alarm and anxiety in America. These events included a communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, a Soviet blockade of Berlin, the communist victory in China, and the successful detonation of an atomic bomb by the Soviets on August 29, 1949.
U.S. president Harry S. Truman (1884–1972; served 1945–53), always a man of action, ordered Paul H. Nitze (1907–), director...
(The entire section is 2344 words.)
Excerpt from "Old Soldiers Never Die; They Just Fade Away" Speech, April 19, 1951
Published in Congressional Record, 1951
"When I joined the Army even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished. But I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that—'Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.'"
Before World War II (1939–45), Korea was a colony of Japan. With Japan's surrender ending World War II in August 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States divided Korea into two parts at the thirty-eighth parallel. The North was under Soviet communist influence; the South under the influence of the democratic United States. The North became the Democratic People's Republic of Korea under communist Kim Il Sung (1912–1994). The South became the Republic of Korea led by Syngman Rhee (1875–1965), who had lived in the United States for thirty years. In June 1949, both Soviet and U.S. forces pulled out of Korea. Military disturbances and skirmishes increased as both Kim and Rhee tried to claim leadership over the entire country.
(The entire section is 2282 words.)
Those Who Strove for Peace
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Chance for Peace" Address
- Dwight D. Eisenhower: U.N. Speech "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy"
By 1952, both the democratic United States and the communist Soviet Union were locked in the Cold War (1945–91). The United States was ready to defend against communism anywhere in the world. With sixty member nations, the United Nations (UN), which formed in 1945 at the end of World War II (1939–45), struggled to become an important worldwide peacekeeping organization. Many critics said the UN was only a propaganda platform from which the communists could speak. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), wife of deceased U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945; served 1933–45) and herself a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN, spoke forcefully on behalf of the UN. The first excerpt here is "Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Address to the  Democratic National Convention on the Importance of the United Nations." It is one of several speeches given in this general time period by Eleanor Roosevelt that were hailed worldwide. Even critics of the UN conceded that she made significant contributions to public thought on the future of the UN.
(The entire section is 333 words.)
Excerpt from "Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Address to the Democratic National Convention on the Importance of the United Nations, Chicago, Illinois, July 23, 1952" Reprinted in A Treasury of Great America Speeches, published in 1970
"In examining what the UN has done, and what it cis striving to do, it must be remembered that peace, like freedom, is elusive, hard to come by, harder to keep. It cannot be put into a purse or a hip pocket and buttoned there to stay."
In Chicago, Illinois, on July 23, 1952, Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), wife of the late U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945; served 1933–45), spoke to the Democratic National Convention concerning the United Nations (UN). Since President Roosevelt's death in 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt had continued to be an influential public figure. In this speech, she spoke to those in the Democratic Party not yet convinced of the worth of the UN. She was also speaking to those outside the party who considered the UN to be only a forum for communists to proclaim their party line.
The UN was born in 1945 when fifty member nations voted to accept a charter, or document establishing the organization. The UN was the second attempt to establish a worldwide peacekeeping organization in the twentieth century. The first attempt, known as the League...
(The entire section is 2582 words.)
Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Chance for Peace" Address
Excerpt from "The Chance for Peace" address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953
Published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Volume 1953
"Now a new leadership has assumed power in the Soviet Union. Its links to the past, however strong, cannot bind it completely. Its future is, in great part, its own to make. This new leadership confronts a free world aroused, as rarely in its history, by the will to stay free. This free world knows, out of the bitter wisdom of experience, that vigilance and sacrifice are the price of liberty."
On April 16, 1953, U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969; served 1953–61) addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He titled his address "The Chance for Peace," in response to statements made by the new premier of the Soviet Union, Georgy Malenkov (1902–1988). Soviet premier Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) had died in March and, with his death, his terror-filled dictatorship at last ended. Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) became the new Soviet Communist Party leader, the secretary general, a very powerful position.
Malenkov hoped to focus on Soviet internal issues and domestic economy and the well-being of the Soviet people. In strong...
(The entire section is 3945 words.)
Dwight D. Eisenhower: U.N. Speech "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy"
Excerpt from "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy" Speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York City, December 8, 1953
Originally published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United
States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Volume 1953
"Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine, and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world. Thus the contributing powers would be dedicating some of their strength to serve the needs rather than the fears of mankind."
The hopes expressed by U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969; served 1953–61) in April 1953 in his "Chance for Peace" speech were all but dashed on August 12,1953. On that day, the Soviets answered the successful U.S. hydrogen bomb test on November 1, 1952, with their own detonation of a thermonuclear, or hydrogen, bomb. Although much smaller than the U.S. bomb, it meant that the Soviets were in the arms race for the deadliest weapons man had yet devised. Even more frightful, the Soviet H-bomb, unlike the enormous U.S. H-bomb, was small enough to be carried by a bomber aircraft.
On December 8, 1953, eight months after his "Chance for Peace" speech,...
(The entire section is 2539 words.)
- J. Edgar Hoover
- Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan
- House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
- Joseph R. McCarthy
Between 1947 and 1953, the United States experienced what was known as a Red Scare. The Red Scare was a period of time in the United States when Americans felt particularly threatened by communism. They feared that communism would gain a power base within the United States, and communists might eventually take over. This time period paralleled the early years of the Cold War, an intense battle of ideologies, or social and political ideas, between the democratic United States and communist Soviet Union. What appalled Americans most was that a few other Americans apparently were embracing the communist philosophy and carrying out subversive activities, or secret attempts from within, to under-mine the U.S. government. Americans became obsessed with the fear and hatred of communism and subversive elements, both real and imagined, within their homeland. Without constant vigilance, the Cold War might be lost right on U.S. soil.
The chief anticommunist warriors were J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972), director of the Federal Bureau...
(The entire section is 553 words.)
J. Edgar Hoover
Excerpt from "How to Fight Communism"
Originally published in Newsweek, June 9, 1947
"Our best defense in the United States against the menace of Communism is our own American way of life. The American Communists cannot hope to reach their objective of destroying our form of government unless they first undermine and corrupt it, causing confusion and disrupting public confidence in the workings of democracy."
Published in Newsweek magazine's June 9, 1947, issue, "How to Fight Communism" by J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972) attempted to educate Americans about communists in the United States and the threat they posed. Hoover was head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Asked by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945; served 1933–45) in the mid-1930s to monitor the activities of communists and other potential subversives within the United States, the focused and energetic Hoover undertook the mission. Hoover and his FBI agents became the chief domestic (within the United States) intelligence-gathering agency. They compiled information on the daily comings and goings of hundreds of individuals, always watching for those who might turn into enemies of democracy. Hoover kept lists of questionable individuals.
At the end of...
(The entire section is 2535 words.)
Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan
Excerpt from "Testimony from House Un-American Activities Hollywood Hearings, October 1947"
Available at CNN Interactive: Cold War (Web site)
"Try to imagine what it is like if you are in constant terror from morning till night and at night you are waiting for the doorbell to ring, where you are afraid of anything and everybody, living in a country where human life is nothing, less than nothing, and you know it. You don't know who or when is going to do what to you because you may have friends who spy on you, where there is no law and any rights of any kind."—Ayn Rand
In October 1947, to root out communist influence or propaganda either real or imagined in U.S. movies, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began investigating the U.S. film industry in Hollywood, California. J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972), director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), had already established a network of confidential informers within the industry. Especially under investigation by the HUAC were ten of Hollywood's producers, directors, and screenplay writers. Aptly known as the Hollywood Ten, they were summoned before the committee to explain their politics and memberships or past memberships in organizations considered communist-leaning. Also called to testify were twenty-four Hollywood witnesses. Two...
(The entire section is 2838 words.)
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
Excerpt from "One Hundred Things You Should Know About Communism in the U.S.A."
Reprinted from Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts From Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938–1968, published in 1971
"[Question:] Why shouldn't I turn Communist? [Answer:] You know what the United States is like today. If you want it exactly the opposite, you should turn Communist. But before you do, remember you will lose your independence, your property, and your freedom of mind. You will gain only a risky membership in a conspiracy which is ruthless, godless, and crushing upon all except a very few at the top."
"One Hundred Things You Should Know About Commu-nism in the U.S.A." was the first in a series of pamphlets put out by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to educate the American public about communism in the United States. In May 1938, U.S. representative Martin Dies (1900–1972) of Texas managed to get his favorite House committee, HUAC, funded. It had been inactive since 1930. The HUAC was charged with investigation of subversive activities that posed a threat to the U.S. government.
With the HUAC revived, Dies claimed to have gathered knowledge that communists were in labor unions, government agencies, and African American groups....
(The entire section is 5465 words.)
Joseph R. Mccarthy
Excerpt from "Speech on Communists in the U.S. State Department Made Before the Women's Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, February 1950"
Available at CNN Interactive: Cold War (Web site)
"Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone here tonight who is so blind as to say that the war is not on? Can there be anyone who fails to realize that the communist world has said,'The time is now'—that this is the time for the showdown between the democratic Christian world and the communist atheistic world? Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long."
U.S. senator Joseph R. McCarthy (1908–1957) of Wisconsin influenced the Cold War (1945–91) as much as or more than any other single American. He took the extreme concerns about communism and homeland security that citizens had and created a national hysteria. His name permanently entered the U.S. vocabulary with the term "McCarthyism," which came to mean "challenging a person's individual character with lies and mean-spirited suggestions." In early 1950, McCarthy was an ineffective Republican senator from Wisconsin. Worried about his chances for reelection in 1952, he decided to grab headlines by warning of disloyalty at the highest ranks of U.S. government in the State Department....
(The entire section is 2058 words.)
The Colorful Khrushchev
- Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From "Crimes of Stalin" Speech
- Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From "Peace and Progress Must Triumph in Our Time"
Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) was twenty-three years of age during the Bolshevik (Communist) Revolution in Russia in 1917. In the 1920s, Khrushchev was able to attend educational institutions established by the Communist Party to instruct young people in basic education and communist doctrine. A bright student and natural leader, Khrushchev began his rise in the Communist Party. By 1935, he held one of the top positions in the party: First Secretary of the Moscow city party. That same year, he was elected to the Soviet Central Committee, the organization that oversaw all the important administrative duties of the Communist Party. By 1939, he became a full member of the Politburo, the policy-making group of the Central Committee.
Khrushchev served in the Soviet army during World War II (1939–45) and rose to the rank of lieutenant general. Following World War II, Khrushchev was back in his native Ukraine in southern Russia, both as leader of the Ukraine Communist Party and as overseer of rebuilding the Ukraine's postwar economy. By the late 1940s, he had returned to Moscow and was one of the inner circle of...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From "Crimes of Stalin" Speech
Excerpt from "Crimes of Stalin Speech"
Published in A Treasury of the World's Great Speeches, published in 1954
"After Stalin's death the Central Committee of the Party began to implement a policy of explaining concisely and consistently that it is impermissible … to elevate one person, to transform him into a superman possessing supernaturalistic characteristics akin to those of a god. Such a man supposedly knows everything, thinks for everyone, can do anything, is infallible in his behavior."
On the night of February 24, 1956, during the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party being held at the Kremlin, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) ordered a select group of delegates to a secret meeting under tight security. The Kremlin was a centuries-old fort in Moscow that was used as the headquarters of the Communist Party. As the delegates approached the doors of the room where the unscheduled night meeting was to occur, they were apprehensive. Some, no doubt remembering the Stalin purges, were quietly terrified. What would befall them in the next hour was completely unknown.
The gathering of the Twentieth Congress had been going on for ten days, since February 14. The last day would be Saturday, February 25. The number of delegates with voting rights in...
(The entire section is 2365 words.)
Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From "Peace and Progress Must Triumph in Our Time"
Excerpt from "Peace and Progress Must Triumph in Our Time"
Originally published in Soviet Booklets
"A great deal would perish in [a nuclear] war. It would be too late to discuss what peaceful co-existence means when such frightful means of destruction as atom and hydrogen bombs, and ballistic rockets which are practically impossible to intercept and are capable of delivering nuclear warheads to any part of the globe, go into action. To disregard this is to shut one's eyes and ears and bury one's head like the ostrich does when in danger."
In September 1959, Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971), accompanied by his wife, Nina Petrovina Khrushchev (1900–1984), visited the United States for the first time at the invitation of U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969; served 1953–61). On his return home, he reported on his trip to the people of Moscow at the packed Sports Palace of Lenin Stadium. His address, delivered on September 28, 1959, cleverly intertwined a call for peaceful coexistence of the world's nations, a travelogue-like accounting of each U.S. city he visited, and a call for disarmament discussions between the superpowers.
At each stop, Khrushchev perceptively related to his Moscovites how he was received. The trip began in Washington, D.C., where...
(The entire section is 2834 words.)
- John F. Kennedy: Berlin Crisis
- Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From Secret Speech on Berlin Crisis
- John F. Kennedy: Excerpt from Remarks in Rudolph Wild Platz, Berlin (Ich bin ein Berliner speech)
By 1947, the Cold War (1945–91) clearly was the most threatening issue dominating international affairs. The Cold War was not fought on battlefields with large armies. Instead, it evolved into a battle of ideologies, or social and political ideas, between the communist Soviet Union and the democratic, capitalistic Western nations led by the United States. Communism is a system of government in which the nation's leaders are selected by a single political party that controls almost all aspects of society. Private ownership of property is eliminated and government directs all economic production. The goods produced and accumulated wealth are, in theory, shared relatively equally by all. At the epicenter of the Cold War were Germany and its capital city, Berlin.
World War II (1939–45) had come to an end in Europe on May 7, 1945, when Germany surrendered to the Allies in Reims, France. The Big Four allies were the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. Immediately, Germany was...
(The entire section is 1108 words.)
John F. Kennedy: Berlin Crisis
Excerpt from "Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Berlin Crisis, July 25, 1961"
Published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961
"It would be a mistake for others to look upon Berlin, because of its location, as a tempting target. The United States is there; the United Kingdom and France are there; the pledge of NATO is there—and the people of Berlin are there. It is as secure, in that sense, as the rest of us—for we cannot separate its safety from our own."
On November 27, 1958, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971), irritated that a German peace treaty had yet to be agreed on, threw Berlin into another crisis when he sent a letter to Western powers. The letter gave them six months to make substantial progress on a German peace treaty. If the Western powers did not accomplish this, Khrushchev would make a separate treaty with East Germany on May 27, 1959. In this treaty, all transportation routes into West Berlin would be turned over to East German control. The East Germans would then presumably do all they could to force out the Western powers and make West Berlin a part of East Germany. Khrushchev also demanded withdrawal of Western troops from Berlin.
The Soviets and East German leader Walter...
(The entire section is 2426 words.)
Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From Secret Speech on Berlin Crisis
Excerpt from "Khrushchev's Secret Speech on the Berlin Crisis, August 1961"
Excerpted from Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive (Web site)
"If [Kennedy] starts a war then he would probably become the last president of the United States of America."
In this excerpt from "Khrushchev's Secret Speech on the Berlin Crisis, August 1961," Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) spoke to his Communist Party leaders. These leaders included Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko (1909–1989); the leaders of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania; and most importantly, Walter Ulbricht (1893–1973) of East Germany. He was responding to the radio and television address of U.S. president John F. Kennedy (1917–1963; served 1961–63) on July 25,1961. Kennedy was speaking to American citizens about Berlin and Khrushchev. Much of Khrushchev's speech revolved around his conversation with U.S. envoy John J. McCloy (1895–1989), a disarmament expert who happened to be in Moscow at the time of Kennedy's speech. First, Khrushchev stressed that the Soviets must continue to push for a German peace treaty that would permanently separate East and West Germany, giving independent country status to both. (The United States would agree only to a reunited Germany.)...
(The entire section is 1713 words.)
John F. Kennedy: Excerpt from Remarks in Rudolph Wild Platz, Berlin (Ich bin ein Berliner speech)
Excerpt from "Remarks in the Rudolph Wild Platz, Berlin, June 26, 1963"
Originally published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963
"All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, 'Ich bin ein Berliner [I am a Berliner].'"
On August 12, 1961, twenty-five hundred East Germans crossed over into West Berlin to work and live under freedom and democracy. Although through the 1950s approximately three million East Germans had crossed into West Berlin with most proceeding to West Germany, that number for one day was unusually high. After U.S. president John F. Kennedy (1917–1963; served 1961–63) gave a speech regarding Berlin on July 25 and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) responded on August 4 (see first and second excerpts in this chapter), it was clear to many East Germans that the days of relatively unrestricted crossover through Berlin might well be coming to an end.
With German peace treaty negotiations stalemated, Walter Ulbricht (1893–1973), leader of East Germany, was screaming for Khrushchev to stop the exodus. Ulbricht's answer to the heavy crossover was a Soviet military action to take over West Berlin and declare it part of East...
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Cuban Missile Crisis
- John F. Kennedy: Soviet Arms Buildup in Cuba
- Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From Communique to Kennedy Accepting End to Missle Crisis
On January 1, 1959, revolutionary Fidel Castro (1926–) established himself as leader of the small island of Cuba, 90 miles (145 kilometers) off the coast of Florida. At the time, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) and other Soviet leaders took no notice. Considered unimportant to Soviet interests, the Cuban Soviet embassy had shut its doors in 1952. There were no Soviet representatives in Cuba in 1959.
The American media at first offered positive reports about Castro. They labeled him a daring, educated soldier interested in improving the lives of Cubans. On the other hand, Soviet intelligence reported to Moscow that Castro was the usual Central American dictator who was most likely closely affiliated with the U.S. government. Castro, however, was determined to choose his own independent path. He angered many wealthy and middle-class Cubans, many of whom had fled to the United States, by breaking up their large properties and giving parcels to common citizens to work. His intention to end America's domination of much of Cuba's economy, such as the sugar industry and oil refineries, was soon apparent....
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John F. Kennedy: Soviet Arms Buildup in Cuba
Excerpt from "Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Soviet Arms Buildup in Cuba, October 22, 1962"
Originally published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, published in 1963
"It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."
President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963; served 1961–63) addressed the American people on the evening of Monday, October 22, 1962, to inform them about the crisis in Cuba. He explained the United States had undeniable evidence that Soviet missiles were in place in Cuba to provide "nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere," consisting of North, Central, and South America. Kennedy announced that a naval "quarantine" of Cuba would begin on Wednesday morning, October 24. That meant that all ships approaching Cuba would be stopped, searched, and could only proceed if no military equipment was onboard. This was essentially the same thing as a blockade, but because blockades were illegal under international law and considered an act of war, the term "quarantine" was used instead.
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Nikita Khrushchev: Excerpt From Communique to Kennedy Accepting End to Missle Crisis
Excerpt from "Communiqué to President Kennedy Accepting an End to the Missile Crisis, October 28, 1962"
Originally published in The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: National Security Archive Documents Reader, 1992
"I very well understand your anxiety and the anxiety of the United States people in connection with the fact that the weapons which you describe as "offensive" are, in fact, grim weapons. Both you and I understand what kind of weapon they are."
On Wednesday, October 24, 1962, the first day of the U.S. naval quarantine, or blockade, designed to prevent Soviet ships carrying military equipment from reaching the island of Cuba, the U.S. military was at alert level DEFCON 2 (DEFense CONdition 2). DEFCON 2 is the last level before DEFCON 1, which means a nuclear war is imminent or has begun. At no other time in U.S. history had the level been at DEFCON 2. Then by midday, the Soviet ships apparently had stopped in the water and not challenged the U.S. ships forming the quarantine ring. On Thursday, October 25, the Soviet vessels carrying military equipment indeed turned around and headed back to the Soviet Union. However, this did not end the crisis. It was only a momentary breather because missiles with nuclear warheads already on site on the island remained.
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Changing Superpower Relations in the 1970s and 1980s
- Richard M. Nixon: Informal Remarks with Newsmen (Nixon Doctrine)
- Richard M. Nixon: Excerpt from Remarks on Returning from China
- Ronald Reagan
Cold War rivalry in the 1960s was marked by dramatic tense events and often bloody hot spots. The Cold War was a prolonged conflict for world dominance from 1945 to 1991 between the two superpowers, the democratic, capitalist United States and the communist Soviet Union. The weapons of conflict were commonly words of propaganda and threats. During the John F. Kennedy (1917–1963; served 1961–63) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973; served 1963–69) presidential years from 1961 to 1969, the U.S. foreign policy of containment, to contain communism from spreading around the globe, suffered two major setbacks.
First, Soviet relations with Cuba cemented and firmly set the island nation as a communist stronghold 90 miles (145 kilometers) from the Florida coast. Second, by 1969, the Vietnam War (1954–75), a major hot spot of the Cold War, had proved unwinnable for the United States. The U.S. government consistently underestimated communist North Vietnam's will to continue fighting and overestimated the U.S. citizens' support of the war. The...
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Richard M. Nixon: Informal Remarks with Newsmen (Nixon Doctrine)
Excerpt from "Informal Remarks in Guam with Newsmen (Nixon Doctrine), July 25, 1969"
Originally published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard M. Nixon, 1969, published in 1971
"As far as our role is concerned, we must avoid that kind of policy that will make countries in Asia so dependent upon us that we are dragged into conflicts such as the one that we have in Vietnam. This is going to be a difficult line to follow. It is one, however, that I think, with proper planning, we can develop."
Despite conflicts in Europe, particularly in Berlin, Germany, Indochina proved to be the region that consumed America's energies, finances, and resources during the midand late 1960s. Indochina is a region of Southeast Asia extending south from the southern border of the People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly referred to as China, along the eastern portion of a large peninsula extending into the South China Sea. Indochina comprises three countries—Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
In 1954, Vietnam was divided into the communist North Vietnam and the democratic, U.S.-influenced South Vietnam. However, there was no peace in Vietnam. Immediately, communist forces began waging guerrilla warfare in the South, and the United States, by lending assistance to the...
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Richard M. Nixon: Excerpt from Remarks on Returning from China
Excerpt from "Remarks at Andrews Air Force Base on Returning from the People's Republic of China, February 28, 1972"
Originally published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard M. Nixon, 1972, published in 1974
"Peace means more than the mere absence of war. In a technical sense, we were at peace with the People's Republic of China before this trip, but a gulf of almost 12,000 miles and 22 years of noncommunication and hostility separated [us].… We have started the long process of building a bridge across that gulf.…"
While U.S. president Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994; served 1969–74) in 1969 and 1970 was trying to remove the United States from the Vietnam War (1954–75), tensions between the People's Republic of China (PRC), or simply China, and the Soviet Union were at an all-time high. Along their 3,000-mile (4,828-kilometer) common border, sporadic fighting broke out between Soviet and Chinese troops. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (1906–1982) had introduced the Brezhnev Doctrine, which proclaimed the right of the Soviet Union to intervene in the internal affairs of any other communist country. The Chinese angrily assumed the Soviets included them under this doctrine. China was also displeased that the Soviets had not shared in any meaningful way industrial...
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Excerpt from "Address to the Nation on the Meetings with Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev in Iceland, October 13, 1986"
Originally published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1986, Book 2, published in 1989
"The implications of these talks are enormous.… We proposed the most sweeping … arms control proposal in history. We offered the complete elimination of all ballistic missiles—Soviet and American—from the face of the Earth by 1996. While we parted company with this American offer still on the table, we are closer than ever before to agreements that could lead to a safer world without nuclear weapons."
With the Watergate scandal–driven resignation of U.S. president Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994; served 1969–74), the erratic foreign policies of President Jimmy Carter (1924–; served 1977–81), and the strong anticommunist stance of President Ronald Reagan (1911–; served 1981–89), U.S.-Soviet relations in the early 1980s were in a deep freeze. Détente, an easing of international tensions, had long stalled. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were spending vast sums on the military arms race.
U.S.-Soviet arms-reduction talks had stalled by the early 1980s. A key reason was a proposed new U.S. missile system...
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End of the Cold War
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev
- George Bush: Excerpt from End of Cold War
Between 1985 and 1988, U.S. president Ronald Reagan (1911–; served 1981–89) and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1931–) brought major changes to relations between the two Cold War rivals. At a second summit meeting between the two leaders held in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986, Gorbachev surprised Reagan and the U.S. delegation with detailed proposals for major reductions in nuclear arms. It was becoming much clearer to the Americans that Gorbachev was indeed pressing for major changes both within the Soviet Union and in its international relations. Although no formal agreements were reached at Reykjavik, the two leaders agreed in principle to pursue certain major goals in arms reduction.
Negotiations through the following year led to the intermediate-range nuclear force treaty (INF) signed by Reagan and Gorbachev on December 8, 1987. It was a historic moment. Not only were the number of some types of nuclear weapons to be reduced, but other types were eliminated altogether.
With their working relationship continuing to grow, in June 1988, Reagan journeyed to...
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Excerpt from "Address to the 43rd United Nations General Assembly Session, December 7, 1988"
Found in United Nations General Assembly, Provisional Verbatim Record of the Seventy-Second Meeting
"We are witnessing the emergence of a new, historic reality: a turning away from the principle of super-armament to the principle of reasonable defense sufficiency."
On December 7, 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1931–) spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) at the UN headquarters in New York City. Gorbachev was general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and president of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). In other words, he was head of both the Soviet Communist Party and the government of the Soviet Union. The speech would mark another major step toward ending the Cold War, a prolonged conflict for world dominance from 1945 to 1991 between the two superpowers, the democratic, capitalist United States and the communist Soviet Union. The occasion of the speech also came several weeks before U.S. president Ronald Reagan (1911–; served 1981–89) ended his term of office and George Bush (1924–; served 1989–93) began his.
Before the entire world, Gorbachev...
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George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev
Excerpt from "At Historic Crossroads: Documents on the December 1989 Malta Summit"
Published in Cold War International History Project Bulletin, Issue 12/13, Fall/Winter 2001
"We have managed to avoid a large-scale war for 45 years. This single fact alone says that not everything was so bad in the past. Nevertheless, one conclusion is obvious—reliance on force, on military superiority, and the associated arms race have not been justified. Our two countries obviously understand this better than others."
Following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and increasing unrest within the Soviet Union, it was clearer to President George Bush (1924–; served 1989–93) and his secretary of state, James A. Baker (1930–), that change was real in the former Soviet empire and a prospect of substantial political instability loomed large. Bush had at first been cool to showing support for Gorbachev. He was coming to decide that it would be best for the United States if Gorbachev's reforms were successful and if some degree of social order was maintained without the hard-line communists taking control once again.
Immediately following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Bush met with Gorbachev on a ship off the island nation of Malta...
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George Bush: Excerpt from End of Cold War
Excerpt from "End of Cold War: Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union, January 28, 1992"
Published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George Bush, 1992–93, Book 1, January 1 to July 31, 1992, published in 1993
"Even as President, with the most fascinating possible vantage point, there were times when I was so busy managing progress and helping to lead change that I didn't always show the joy that was in my heart. But the biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives, is this: By the grace of God, America won the cold war."
By the fall of 1991, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1931–) was finding that political changes in the Soviet Union's republics were increasingly out of his control. On December 31, 1991, the Soviet flag came down over the Kremlin in Moscow for the last time. Only days earlier, Gorbachev had resigned as president of the Soviet Union and turned over control of the Soviet nuclear arsenal to Boris Yeltsin (1931–), president of Russia. All the remaining republics declared independence and were soon admitted to the UN as new nations. Less than a month later, U.S. president George Bush (1924–; served 1989–93) was scheduled to give the annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of...
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