The Cold War

Cold War

A state of diplomatic hostility that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1991, involving spying, propaganda, diplomacy and secret operations with their dealings with each other but no actual combat between the two nations


The tactic of seeming to approach the verge of war in order to persuade one's opposition to retreat


A political and economic system where the government has total control of the economy and all people are seen as equals and is based largely on the words of the revolutionary Karl Marx


An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state


A policy developed by Truman in the late 1940's involved in keeping Soviet communism from the spreading or expanding into other nations

Domino Theory

President Eisenhower's theory that if one nation comes under Communist control, then neighboring nations will also come under Communist control.

Massive Retailiation

A military doctrine and nuclear strategy coined by Eisenhower in which in the event of an attack from an aggressor, a state would massively retaliate by using a force disproportionate to the size of the attack

Korean War

The conflict between Communist North Korea and Non-Communist South Korea starting during Truman's presidency lasting from 1950- 1953 and ending in stalemate

Demilitarization Zone (DMZ)

The region on the Korean peninsula that demarcates North Korea from South Korea on the 38th parallel

Vietnam War

A war starting during Eisenhower's presidency in 1954 and ending 1975 between the communist armies of North Vietnam and the non-communist armies of South Vietnam eventually in the US withdrawing their troops

Vietnamese Protests

The movement against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began small-among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses

Vietnamese Veterans

Upon returning from the war, they were shamed for their involvement and treated as criminals as they attempted to return to their normal lives

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

A resolution put before Congress by Johnson in 1964 in reaction to two allegedly unprovoked attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on the destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy and allowed for the president to take all necessary measures to repel any arme


Nixon's policy that involved withdrawing 540,000 troops from South Vietnam over an extended period of time

Pentagon Papers

A top-secret study, published by The New York Times in 1971, that showed the mistakes and deceptions that led the United States into the Vietnam War

Bay of Pigs Invasion

CIA plot in 1961 to overthrow Fidel Castro by training Cuban exiles to invade and supporting them with American air power which failed and became a public relations disaster early in John F. Kennedy's presidency.

Cuban Missile Crisis

Standoff between John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in October 1962 over Soviet plans to install nuclear weapons in Cuba

Yalta Conference

Meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin in February 1945 to lay down the foundations for the postwar division of power in Europe, including a divided Germany and territorial concessions to the Soviet Union.

Division of Germany

The Allies divided Germany into East Germany, which was controlled by the Soviet Union, and West Germany, which was shared by Britain, France, and the United States, and the capital of Germany, Berlin, was also divided into East and West

Berlin Wall

The fortified and guarded barrier between East and West Berlin erected on orders from Nikita Khrushchev in 1961 to stop the flow of people to the West until its destruction in 1989

Berlin Blockade

An attempt in 1948 by the Soviet Union to limit the ability of France, Great Britain and the United States to travel to their sectors of Berlin, which lay within Russian-occupied East Germany

Berlin Airlift

In 1948, NATO sent planes many times a day for almost a year into west Berlin when the Russians closed off land access to Berlin, in order to supplied food and fuel to citizens there

Iron Curtain

The political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union to seal off itself and its dependent eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other non-communist areas

Satellite States

Strip of nations along the Soviet Union's Western border in which Stalin believed would be a buffer or protection from future attacks

United Nations (UN)

An intergovernmental organization created in 1945 to promote international cooperation consisting of a General Assembly and a Security Council

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Military alliance developed in 1949 of Western European powers and the United States and Canada established to defend against the common threat from the Soviet Union

Warsaw Pact

A military alliance developed in 1955 by the Soviet Union with the satellite countries of Eastern Europe in response to Western military alliances

Alliance for Progress

A program in which the United States tried to help Latin American countries. JFK's "ten-year plan for americans" promised Latin American leaders that U.S. would reverse the cycle of poverty and stimulate exonomic growth at the cost of $20 billion.

Eisenhower Doctrine

A commitment to defend the Middle East against attack by any communist country, announced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957

Marshall Plan

Program proposed by Secretary of State George Marshall in 1947, under which the United States supplied economic aid to European nations to help them rebuild after World War II

Truman Doctrine

President Truman's policy announced in 1947 of providing economic and military aid to any country threatened by communism or totalitarian ideology, especially towards Turkey, Greece and Western Europe


The practice of publicly accusing someone of trying to overthrow or undermine the government without evidence to back up the charges in the early 1950's

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

A congressional committee that investigated Communist influence inside and outside the United States government in the years following World War II

Red Scare

A campaign to arrest suspected communists who encouraged the overthrow of the United States government

Joseph Stalin

Russian leader who created a totalitarian state and became head of the Soviet Communists after 1924, and dictator of the Soviet Union from 1928 to 1953 and led the Soviet Union with an iron fist, using Five-Year Plans to increase industrial production and

Mikhail Gorbachev

Soviet leader whose foreign policy brought an end to the Cold War and whose domestic policy introduced major reforms but resulted in the downfall of the Soviet Union

Fidel Castro

Cuban revolutionary who overthrew the dictator Batista in 1959 and established a Communist state; the U.S. disliked him because he took control of the Cuban sugar industry away from American companies and his relations with the Soviet Union caused more di

Harry S. Truman

President of the United States who led the country through the last few months of World War II and known for making the controversial decision to use two atomic bombs against Japan in and after the war, Truman was crucial in the implementation of the Mars

Dwight D. Eisenhower

President of the United States who supported a doctrine of massive retaliation and ended American involvement in Korea and trained Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro, but it was Kennedy who eventually authorized the attack

John F. Kennedy

President of the United States who launched New Frontier programs and urged legislation to improve civil rights but assumed the blame for the Bay of Pigs invasion and was credited as well for the superb handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and it was duri

Lyndon B. Jonson

President of the United States who was told by Congress to take "all necessary measures" to repel any armed attack against the United States, this became known as the Gulf of Tonkin resolution

Richard M. Nixon

President of the United States who started the process of Vietnamization and encouraged both the Soviet Union and China, competing communist nations, to vie for American attention which led to a period of reduced tensions, called d�tente

Ronald Reagan

President of the United States who proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, "Star Wars," a system that would make the U.S. invulnerable to nuclear missile attacks and challenged the morals of the Soviet Union by commanding that they tear down the wall

Joseph McCarthy

Republican Senator from Wisconsin who made unsubstantiated accusations on suspected Communists
A US senator who gained fame and power by launching a one-man crusade against communist sympathizers in government agencies

John Foster Dulles

Dwight D. Eisenhower's secretary of state, an anti-Communist who supported full-on military retaliation against Communist nations and head of the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency

Alger Hiss

In 1948, he was accused by a former Communist spy and convicted of perjury due to this connection

Douglas MacArthur

An American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army who was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930's and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II but got fired from his position ffrom his actions in the

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Minor activists in the American Communist Party who were accused of giving the Soviet Union information about America's atomic bomb who were executed by the Federal government

U-2 Incident

In 1960, the Soviets shot down an American spy plane and captured the American pilot, causing mistrust and tensions between the two superpowers


A political movement started by Gorbochev for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s


Gorbachev's policy that called for increased openness and transparency in government institutions and activities in the Soviet Union.

Space Race

Competition in the skies between the United States and the Soviet Union to develop more advanced rockets and to explore and control space

Apollo 11

The first spaceflight that landed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon that was launched by the United States in 1969


The first artificial Earth satellite which was launched by the Soviet Union into a low elliptical orbit in 1957

Arms Race

Competition between the United States and Soviet Union to build up their armed forces and weapons

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

A long-range ballistic missile designed for nuclear weapons delivery of one or more nuclear warheads

Hydrogen Bomb (H-bomb)

A type of nuclear weapon at least one thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb

Agent Orange

An herbicide used as a chemical weapon during the Vietnam war to kill vegetation and expose the enemy's hiding places

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)

An understood rule that if two opposing sides used nuclear weapons to fight each other, they would both be destroyed


State that benefited the most from the Cold War as a result of defense contracts, military, and intelligence agencies