It's difficult to choose just four events from this time frame, as the Cold War intensified and spread during that decade. In addition to the events stated in the above posts, which are all great, we also saw some other very important developments at that time in the ongoing competition between the US and the Soviet Union. Four I would emphasize are:
1) The beginning of the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik and the passage of the National Defense Education Act
2) The CIA-aided overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala as the US expanded efforts to stop the spread of communism into the Western Hemisphere (though Arbenz was more interested in simple land reforms as opposed to being a full-fledged communist
3) The uprising in Hungary in 1956, ignored by the West because it did not fit with the policy of containment. It was crushed by Soviet tanks.
4) The Cuban Revolution - Castro's rise to power, first supported by the US, until he announced his alliance with the Soviets, marked the first country in the Western Hemisphere to go communist, and gave the USSR a foothold for rebellion in Latin America. This would cause a series of events into the next decade and administration, from assassination attempts to the Bay of Pigs planning, to the future Cuban Missile Crisis.
The previous posts were very strong. I would suggest that the belief in the "domino theory" helped to increase intervention in different parts of the world and helped to continue the Cold War after the 1950s. The US involvement in Vietnam was a part of this, as well as the basic idea that the Cold War was something that was not really fought out between the two nations, but actually in different nations all over the world with the antagonism between the primary two nations as an underscoring subtext. The fluid nature of this conflict that allowed it to be transported to different parts of the world allowed the Cold War to continue past the 1950s. Its acceleration into the subsequent decades was due in part to this global presence.
I will identify four events from the 1950s that can be seen as continuations of the Cold War during that decade.
First, there is the Korean War. This was the first real "hot" war of this era. It represented a major conflict between the communists and the US-led allies and hardened positions on both sides of the Cold War.
Second, there was the start of US involvement in Vietnam. The defeat of the French got the US directly involved there.
Third, there was a general arms race that began before this decade but continued during it.
Finally, I would point to the creation of NATO on the one side and the Warsaw Pact on the other. This represented the creation of the major blocs that would oppose one another during the rest of the Cold War in Europe.
The period of 1950's is marked more by initial development of the cold war rather than by its continuation beyond the period of its full development. Cold war represents to the intense rivalry that developed between communist and non communist country, particularly between The USSR and the USA following the World WAR II. This conflict included perceived threats of war and measures and counter measures for armed conflict. However it did nor result in actual war. This is the reason for the adjective cold to differentiate it from an actual war which is conceived as being hot.
The origin of the cold war can be traced back to the mutual mistrust and conflict of interest that existed between the allied nations during the world war. The main issue, in the cold war was the declared aim and efforts of communist countries to spread the communist philosophy and system of government across the world. Towards this end USSR had clearly shown no restraint in using force in other countries. Also it did not follow strictly the understanding and agreements reached between the allied countries during the war. Countries like the USA, UK and France were strongly opposed to the communistic form of government, and feared spread of communism in their countries also. As a result both the group of countries tried to increase their influence in the world and restrict that of the opposing group.
After the war USSR cut off nearly all contacts between the West and the territories it controlled in Eastern Europe, and exerted its influence to install communist governments in many countries. Thus by 1948, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, and Yugoslavia all had Communist governments.
The the non-communist block led by the USA tried to hold back Communist expansion. USA declared in March 1947 that it would help any free nation resist Communist attack. In 1948, the Western initiated actions to unify their occupation zones in Germany and establish the German Federal Republic (West Germany). The Soviet Union tried to scuttle this move by blockading the German city of Berlin.
In 1949, the Allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance to defend West Germany and to prevent Soviet expansion. On the other side, 1949, the USSR set up the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) to unite the Communist-ruled states of Europe under Soviet leadership.
The perception of threat by both side was closely related to the development of nuclear war heads and other sophisticated war technology. The USA had already demonstrated its nuclear capability by bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. August 1949, the USSR also tested its first atomic bomb.
The main developments of the cold war in 1950's include:
- The Korean War (1950-53) which extended the West's policy of containment of Communism to the Far East.
- The testing of first hydrogen bomb by the USA in 1952. This was followed by the U.S.S.R. testing in November 1955.
- Military alliances were strengthened. West Germany joined NATO in 1955. In retaliation, the USSR and its allies entered in the Warsaw Mutual Defence Pact.
- In 1954, the United States and seven other nations signed the Southeast Asia Collective Defence Treaty.
- Tensions of cold war were further increased by the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
- Beginning of Vietnam War in 1957.