The Cold War Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

How did the CIA participate in the Cold War?  

Expert Answers info

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) participated in the Cold War in two main ways.  First, since it was a spy agency, it engaged in espionage.  Second, it undertook other covert operations around the world to try to undermine governments that sympathized with the Soviet Union.

The CIA was and is an intelligence agency.  That means that it is supposed to gather information about foreign countries that the US can use to its own advantage.  The CIA did this in the Cold War.  It tried through various methods to learn about other countries.  For example, the CIA operated spy planes that flew over places such as the USSR and Cuba, trying to gather information about military installations in those countries.  In this and many other ways, the CIA worked to give the US government more information about other countries during the Cold War.

However, the CIA did not limit itself to gathering intelligence.  Instead, it also tried to change things in some countries.  In other words, it engaged in secret activities that were meant to weaken pro-Soviet governments.  One example of this was in Iran in 1953.  There, the CIA helped to bring about a coup that overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh, who was the leader of the country.  The US felt that Mossadegh was a communist and wanted a more pro-Western government in place.  The CIA was also in charge of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in which the US tried to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro.  In these ways and others, the CIA actively tried to change conditions in other countries rather than just gathering information about those conditions.

 Thus, the CIA participated in the Cold War both by spying/gathering information and by engaging in covert actions to change conditions in foreign countries.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial