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IB History Cold War Essay Revision Notes

Updated on April 16, 2014

The World then!



- Origins 1945-1949

  • Orthodox View – Stalin & Communism are seen as responsible. Example: Eastern Europe policies, Iron Curtain.
  • Revisionist View – US superiority, Truman Doctrine, Marshall aid plan
  • Post-Revisionist View – Result of mutual misunderstandings and an overreaction due to fear. Security Dilemma. Shared Responsibility.
  • Realpolitik View – not a question of ideology. Stalin & Hitler pact in 1939, Stalin not getting involved in Greece in 1947, US/USSR cooperation in China and Russia in the 1970s.

- As a result of opposing ideologies

  • US
    • Multi-party system
    • Capitalism, market economy
    • Strong religion
    • Civil rights movements
    • Free trade
  • USSR
    • Single-party system
    • Planned economy
    • Officially atheist
    • State-controlled
    • “Liberation of the Masses”

- As a result of WWII

  • Victorious superpowers with opposing ideologies
  • US nuclear monopoly until 1949
  • Huge losses in the USSR – 20 million dead, 70% of industry destroyed.
  • US economic boom, 90% increased industry.
  • European power vacuum
  • USSR controlled eastern Europe
  • Tensions in Asia – Korea, China, Indochina

- Distrust & Misunderstanding

  • Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939
  • Second Front question
  • Munich agreement made without USSR in 1938
  • Chinese Civil war since 1929
  • Russian Civil war in 1917
  • US atomic bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki
  • Yalta Feb. 1945 – Seen as a success
    • UN
    • USSR promised free election in Europe
    • Poland moved west
    • USSR promised assistance on the pacific front
    • 4 occupational zones
  • Potsdam July 1945 – Seen as a failure
    • No reparation agreement
    • No free election
    • Division of Korea & Vietnam

A Timeline


Major Events

- Timeline

  • 1946
    • Tension in Eastern Europe – rigged election, single party states in communism – Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary.
    • Chinese Civil War
    • Vietnamese French war
  • 1947
    • Truman Doctrine – containment of communism
    • Marshall plan- financial aid for Europe
  • 1949
    • Berlin Blockade - Split
    • NATO
    • China = Communism = Mao
    • USSR 1st Atomic test = Nuclear race
  • 1950 - 53
    • Korean War
    • North Korean Invasion of South after US troops leave until “Pusan”
    • US-led UN force retake all until Chinese border
    • Chinese intervention
    • Cease-fire 1953 along 38th parallel.
  • 1955
    • Warsaw pact
    • Eisenhower coins Domino Theory
  • 1957
    • First USSR Satellite
  • 1961
    • First man in space – Gagarin
    • Cuban Missile crisis until 1962
      • Castro Revolution 1956-59
      • Bay of Pigs failure, 1500 men attempt to retake Cuba
      • USSR missile bases in Cuba
      • US bases in Turkey
      • US blockade & USSR withdrawal
      • Hot-line established
  • 1964 – 77 – Vietnam War
    • Vietcong & Ho Chi Minh victorious against France split.
    • US support of South – Advisors & Aid during Kennedy
    • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – USS ships attacked – War during Lyndon B. Johnson
    • Tet offensive 1968 – US win yet high casualties and loss of moral during Nixon
    • 1973 Paris Peace Accords, US withdraw, Vietnamisation

Vietcong conquer South in 1977

The Two Leaders

The first leader of Russia
The first leader of Russia | Source
The last leader of the USSR
The last leader of the USSR | Source

The Fall Of the USSR

- The Fall of Communism in the USSR

  • Soviet problems in the 1980s
    • Slowing economic growth
    • Polish situation – “Solidarity” trade union
    • War in Afghanistan
    • Military Spending 40% of GDP
    • Chinese Tensions
  • Gorbachov
    • 1986 – Chernobyl
    • 1987 “Perestroika” & “Glasnost” – Economic, Political & Social reconstruction
    • 1988 Death of Brezhnev Doctrine
    • 1989 “Solidarity” in Poland take control, Hungary-Austrian border opens, mass escapes.
    • 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall
    • 1990 Free elections in Hungary
    • 1990 Reunified Germany
    • 1991 Yeltsin = 1st President of Russia, Fall of USSR
  • External Pressure
    • Closing of Missile Gap expenses
    • War in Afghanistan
    • Nationalism in satellite states
    • Oil prices
  • Internal Prices
    • Failure of planned economy
    • Economic changes
    • Political changes
    • To many swift reforms

The Reason

Who was to blame for the Cold War

See results


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    • Mathewson profile imageAUTHOR

      Andro Mathewson 

      5 years ago from Germany

      Thx. I wouldn't oversimplify it, but many individuals on both sides tried to gain global power, but for different reasons - Some good, some Bad.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting and realistic compares you have done, thank you Andro. Do you think that two poles of politics were one from one source, community engineer who wants to keep control all the world? Good lucks Andro


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