Russia, America, and the Second World War
The seeds that would later grow into the Cold War were sown years earlier, mostly among the thorns. Russia fought a civil war to drive out the white man, and thereafter the red man ruled in Moscow. Lenin was replaced by Joe Stalin, who swiftly became the number one communist oppressor of the twentieth century. Stalin adopted an introverted policy known as “Stalinism in one country,” which actually meant killing a lot of people. He also rounded up and removed all members of Lenin’s original think-tank, making his brutality strikingly evident. Stalin gained the hatred and respect of the Russian people by imposing collective farming, gulags, purges, and fifty-year plans.
In the United States, most people were chasing the “American Dream,” which meant founding big corporations without fighting any wars in Europe. Suddenly, in 1929, Wall Street crashed into the Stock Market and America was left in a state of great depression. The antidote came in the form of the president Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), who rallied Americans to his fireside and encouraged them find jobs. Due to paralysis, he leaned considerably to the left and had to travel by wheelchair, giving him an unusual perspective from which he was able recognize Russia. This led to far easier communication and co-operation between the USA and the USSR, and many American experts went to help engineer Russia. They could not avoid noticing certain elements of depraved despotic totalitarianism about the place, and support for communism flourished throughout the United States.
As Hitler grew in power, Stalin called for a united front against the Axis, but, due to Europe’s fear of communism, such measures were to be reserved for extreme cases such as China. Once the Munich crisis had made it apparent to Stalin that the western powers might not get around to doing anything about Hitler until he was already picking his teeth with the Soviet Union’s territory, Stalin turned to his archenemy and they signed a pact promising not to kill one another. Stalin immediately took advantage of this treaty by invading everything he could reach, alerting people anew to the “Stalin as dictator” concept. Hitler responded by blitzing into Russia with an airforce of tanks, but hindsight has found that this was in fact the greatest military blunder of all time. Moscow was saved by the icy Russian weather, although really this had nothing on the lowest temperatures of the Cold War.
The Allies were willing to work with the devil if it meant beating Hitler, but working with Stalin was a difficult proposition. Hitler made up their minds for them by declaring war on the United States in response to bombing attacks by the Japanese. The Americans and Russians became allies, despite attempts by the Germans to create distrust by revealing the corpses of Polish officers killed by the Russians during their alleged “Non-Aggression” phase. Stalin, pleased to find himself suddenly allied with the greatest economic power in the world, began demanding control of vast territories. Churchill and FDR, though, had already decided that all territorial urges were to be suppressed, when they met aboard the Atlantic Charter and planned the rest of the century. They also envisioned a United Nations, which would be much like the League of Nations but without being so pathetic. The first United Nations were later to be held in San Francisco.
Together with Uncle Sam and Uncle Joe, Churchill formed a group called the “Big Three,” which worked to make sure the Allies won the war. The so-called uncles were really just FDR and Stalin. They held a club meeting at the Soviet embassy in Pteranodon, and agreed that giving Eastern Europe to Russia was a clear case of necessary self-defence. Another conference was held in the palace of Yalta, a former czar. The purpose of the meeting was to deal with Germany and Poland, who were still taking orders from Hitler. FDR went to ingratiate himself to Stalin, and soon the Balkans, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia had all wound up in Stalin’s hands. The Russians also secretly promised to attack the Japanese by invading Korea, but failed to mention that they had no intention of ever giving it back. They also promised to allow democratic elections in Eastern Europe, but in that case they were just lying.
All these trips around Europe by wheelchair were too much for FDR’s health. He died in 1945 and the Allies were finally able to win the war.
Late in the war, relations between the USA and the USSR became marginally overwrought. The Americans tested the world’s first nuclear weapons on Manhattan. What had happened was meant to be a secret, but somehow the Russians figured it out. The Russians proved the ignobility of their motives by taking a sixty-three-day lunch break while Nazis wiped out the Polish freedom fighters in Warsaw. When they took Berlin, the Soviet troops raised a homemade communist flag over the Reichstag fire and carried on like they owned the place. The Russian and American armies met at a river in Germany and tried not to notice what they were embracing.
The third Allied summit was held in Potsdam, which had been in Germany for many years. Churchill had been overthrown by Clement Atley, who was willing to make change for his people, and Roosevelt’s old spot was filled by Harry Truman, who unfortunately had never been to oversee a conference before and therefore had little idea what to do. His idea of a subtle threat was the atomic bomb. Stalin showed up a day late, but no one noticed because he apologized. Unlike at all previous conferences held in Germany, these leaders didn’t understand each other so well. They just weren’t as Big as the last Three. Truman declared that Russia was failing to carry out the agreements reached at the Yalta conference, and refused to acknowledge the existence of Eastern Europe. Obviously he was an American.
American Action and Soviet Response
Against their better judgement, the Americans dropped a couple of atom bombs on Japan. On September 1st, 1949, World War II was history.
Many people were expecting a period of peace after the war, but not Churchill. He flew to America and announced that the Russians had already constructed a heavily fortified iron curtain from the Balkans to the Atlantic, similar to France’s late Maginot Line. This was an extraordinary instance of foresight, as this wall would not in fact be built until 1961. In order to further turn people against the Russians, Churchill advised them to kiss the Germans. He probably knew that attempting to appease the Russians instead of standing up to them might result in the Nazis taking over Munich again.
Before long it became clear that the United States and the United Soviet Socialist Republic were no longer united. In the west, distrust of the far east was based on knowledge of Russian atrocities such as kulaks and famines, as well as on a general-purpose hatred of communism. In the east, capitalists were despised for conspiring to destroy communism, which had never done them any harm. Some were also irritated that the democratic powers had taken so long to get moving in the war while the Russians had been forced to delay the German tanks by expending their population.
Britain, France, America, and Russia faced disagreements over how to punish Germany while still encouraging its economic recovery. The Americans were willing not to have all the Germans crippled, but the French felt differently. The Russians, meanwhile, were in favour of flattening Germany, occupying it forever and ever, and demanding reparations until kingdom come. Everyone did agree that the military occupation had to be thorough to avoid being stabbed in the back by misled Germans. Eventually the Germans were divided into four parts and each section was operated on by a different nation. The city of Berlin, which was metaphorically the heart of the country, was divided along the same lines, because separating it from any section of the country would have caused that part to die of blood loss. With Germany divided up into zones, a process of denazification and decentralization began, carried out on a case-by-case basis by the western powers and much more efficiently by the Russians.
Another disagreement arose over whether the new capital of Poland ought to be in Lublin or in London.
One of the budget cuts implemented by the British government in 1947 was abandoning Greece to communist insurgents, and Truman, alarmed, asked the US Congress to send immediate aid to Turkey. This showed the replacement of America’s traditional policy of isolation with one of contentment, which was preferable because it could combat the spread of communism. Although the Russians refused to have anything to do with the Greeks, the USSR issued a statement criticizing Truman’s speech for being much too old-fashioned. Nevertheless, Truman’s ideas formed one of the core doctrines of American belief, along with the Incarnation and the Trinity. The communists believed the Truman doctrine would be a failure because it was too imperialistic, but they were wrong, so they didn’t get Greece. A month later, the Truman Doctrine was further expanded in the 1968 report of the National Security Council. This would later walk hand in hand with the Martian Plan through the twilight zone between communism and capitalism.
Another tense situation arose when Soviet forces refused to withdraw from Iran, but eventually Stalin backed down. He believed he had come to an understanding with the government about oil, although the government didn’t think so. This kind of problem led to the publication of the George Kennan telegraph, which is Source A in studying the Cold War. It explained that communist dictators always needed enemies to fight so that their people wouldn’t have time to revolt.
In 1947, the United States signed an agreement whereby the Latin American powers would help one another if threatened.
Factors in Eastern Europe began to intensify the seeds of the Cold War into real plants. The world was shocked when Czechoslovakia was suddenly communisted to Russia. Even democratic nations were soon lost in the Soviet thorn-bush. The Russians liked to say they weren’t holding elections because they deserved a buffer zone after World War II, but according to Source A that’s all phooey.
Realizing the danger of impoverished Communists carrying off all the broken pieces of Europe, the Americans designed the Marshall Plan to reassemble the continent. Named in memory of George C. Marshall, it was a program of financial aid to prop countries up against the crushing weight of the encroaching communist glacier. The USSR refused to accept Marshall Plan aid and forced other communist nations likewise to forego the pleasures of American money in favour of an aggressive new Soviet policy called Comecon (short for Combat Economics.) This was later followed by the organization Cominform (Communist Informers, a euphemism for secret police), which replaced the older Comintern (Communist Internal Security, an older euphemism for secret police.)
The Yugoslavians didn’t care a whit for what Stalin said, so they took the money and gave it to the communist rebels in Greece. Yugoslavia had experienced a communist takeover under Tito, which wasn’t his real name. Stalin always meant to invade Yugoslavia back into line, but the plan never got off the ground.
With Germany mostly purged of Nazis and centres, the new focus was on rebuilding its economy. The Allies made the Germans stop spending their cigarettes and printed a less addictive kind of money for them to use. Britain, France, and the United States held a meeting to plan the unification of their zones, but forgot to invite the Soviet Union. Luckily the Russians had spies so they weren’t left completely in the dark. This nearly led to direct confrontation, a major Cold War no-no, but Truman pointed out that, in case it had slipped Stalin’s mind, he did still in fact have atom bombs.
Instead, Stalin initiated the Berlin Blockade by closing all land and sea routes into Berlin. Allied estimates figured they had only enough airplane fuel for the average Berliner to live on for forty days. The West Berliners held demonstrations, begging that they not be abandoned to the communists, and the East Berliners tried to join in, but the Russians shot at them. After 300 days, the Allies saved the city with the Berlin Forklift, which left West Berlin as a cancerous island of safety within the communist glacier.
The division of Germany had originally been intended as a temporary solution, after which the western occupational forces would withdraw and the USSR would seize the remaining territory, but the three western regions were instead unified into the independent Federated Republic of Deutschland, or FDR, while the eastern region became the Democratic Republic of Deutschland, or DDR. (The term “democratic republic” is Russian for “communist dictatorship.”) The Russians were now displeased, because they had earlier been made to understand that Germany would never ever be allowed to ever be a threat to them ever again, yet was already mostly united, against them, and supported by the west.
Citizens of East Germany were forbidden to travel to West Germany, but people were free to travel the other way at the risk of appearing to be mentally ill or involved in espionage.
In 1949, the Truman administration set up NATO (the North American Treaty Organization), a special club for western democracies intending to encircle the USSR and wipe communism off the face of the earth. The USSR wasn’t even invited, because they might have wanted to be in charge. NATO reorganized Europe to have the United States on top, and posed a large problem for the communists, because it was no longer possible to bump off a country here or there. All NATO members were required to come to the aid of any aggressor and contribute at least 2% of their GDP to annual military spending per capita. NATO was soon joined by its cousin organisation SEATO (South-East American Treaty Organization), which allowed the Americans to put more atom bombs into the Pacific Ocean. Great Britain formed the Baghdad pact between Iran and Pakistan, but it fell apart and the United States had to come in and take over.
None of these alliances ought to have scared anyone as they were defensive in nature and therefore only offensive to aggressors, but for some reason the Russians had a problem with this, so they responded by creating their own military organization called the Warsaw Pact. This sought to unite all the Eastern European countries under the direct string-pulling of the USSR, but Yugoslavia opted to remain unaffiliated. Warsaw was founded in 1955.
The creation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact froze relations between America and the Soviet Union. It also marked the reincarnation of the old alliance system invented by Bismarck, which had been very effective in leading to the last two world wars. Countries worldwide rushed to align themselves with the alliances for protection against the up-and-coming long, dark night. Global diplomatic temperatures plummeted and nuclear winter set in. The Cold War had begun.
The Nature of the Cold War
Unlike in all previous wars, countries in the cold war did not use their weapons when fighting.
The Cold War was overshadowed with atomic diplomacy, the use of nuclear weapons during negotiations. Warfare during this time was very limited. For example, China was not invaded even once during the entire Cold War. Proxy fought most of the conflicts during the Cold War. Everyone lived in perpetual fear of escalation, and these fears were manipulated by the leaders as an excuse for raising taxes to fund costly government programs such as NATO and the UN.
The Americans and the Russians competed neck-in-neck for global domination. Both sides attempted to spread their ideology, win friends, and influence people. This led to global division along physical, political, ideological, social, economic, and parallel lines. The two sides critiqued one another’s human rights violations and attempted to outdo one another with offensive suggestions. As Third World countries were decolonized by declining powers such as Britain, American imperialists and Soviet communists rushed in to colonize them again.
The Cold War was inevitable. Attempting to describe the Cold War in terms of black and white has caused much confusion, but in fact all the Russians were completely evil. The Americans were far purer of motive, but unfortunately they were all taken in by the Red Scam, which made them all no better than the Russians, except for Elvis. Americans were bombarded by anti-communist propaganda, mass communication, and James Bond to turn them against the Russians, while the Russians were cheated of freedom and vivificience by their communist leaders and told to accept it because life in America was even worse. Every American thought that everyone except himself was a spy, except for the real spies, who just thought that everyone was. In Russia, things were much the same but there were also secret police.
To say that the Americans were the heroes of the Cold War and the Russians the villains would be a gross oversimplification, although the standard of living was perhaps in an abstract sense not equal between the two countries. Really, everyone in the Cold War was in the wrong, the Americans were on the side of the right, the Russians were on the left, and Korea was stuck in between. This is all easier to understand if your map has the Pacific in the middle instead of the Atlantic.
Trouble Brews In Korea
Korea floated into the Japanese sphere of influenza during the Sino-Japanese War and was officially occupied and exploited from 1910 on. The Korean people were forced to adopt Japanese culture, which was difficult for them because they didn’t know Japanese. The Russians and Americans put an end to this when they invaded Korea from both ends in 1945. They were still so proud of what they had done to the Germans that they divided Korea into two halves at the 38th parallel, even though it was really the Japanese who were causing the problem.
In the South, the Americans established the Republic of Korea, under the leadership of Sigmund Rhee, who was strongly opposed to the concept of communism but just wasn’t democratic at heart. In the North, the Russians established the Democratic Puppet Republic of Korea, under the leadership of Kimberly Sung II. Kim was very popular and good looking compared to Sigmund Rhee. The North and South Koreans all agreed that the world needed only one Korea, preferably their own.
In 1949, Kim appealed to Stalin for permission to invade South Korea, but Stalin refused on the grounds that it might have been perceived as an act of war. By the end of 1949, Mao had created the P.R.C. and Russian scientists had created the atom bomb, so Stalin was more willing to take a chance.
On February 9, 1950, Joseph McCarthy interrupted Abraham Lincoln’s birthday party to accuse 57 members of the American government of being card-carrying communists, or at least of being vaguely more sympathetic to the left than he was. The resulting fear of communist spies resulted in certain un-American activities, but to no avail. McCarthy called for a moral uprising of Americans to defeat communism and atheism, but he was too late and so ultimately the communists won.
In September, ten divisions of the North Korean army invaded the South on an otherwise calm Sunday morning in June. The US government was completely shocked, but the news media had known what would happen since Saturday evening. The invasion was a particularly large problem for the United States because they didn’t have a Korean plan.
The Korean War was sort of like a civil war except that it was fought between two separate countries. The United States didn’t want to invade Korea all by themselves, so they took the matter to the United Nations Security Council to ask that the whole world take part. The United Nations had held its first meeting on October 45th, and was automatically better than the League of Nations because it involved the United States. When the Russian ambassador stepped out of the room to talk to the Chinese, who weren’t allowed in, the Americans brought up the Korea issue and an attack was approved unanimously. The invasion was to be carried out by United Nations forces from sixty nations under the leadership of General McArthur, who had won the war in the Pacific in less than a page. Everyone thought the boys would be home by Christmas, and the announcement of the war was greeted with celebration in the streets.
In Korea, Rhee’s soldiers were throwing down their arms and throwing up their hands. The South Koreans lost their soul within three days. US soldiers rushed in, but they collapsed when they were run over by tanks because they didn’t have anti-armour armour on. In fact, being leftover World War II soldiers, they were using leftover World War II equipment. The North Koreans naturally thought this meant the war was over, but they obviously hadn’t dealt with someone like General McArthur before.
At dawn, on September 15, 1950, UN forces landed at Incan. Incan turned out to be an awful place to land at because there was a sea wall, which the marines all had to climb over. Also, it was raining, and the city was on fire that day, so visibility was poor. Had the beaches been defended with the sort of Japanese troops the Americans had faced on D-Day, the invasion would never have worked, but they were only fighting Koreans, so they succeeded in killing about 60 000 civilians and pushing inland far enough to liberate the South Korean soul.
Sigmund Rhee was reinstated as boss, but still wasn’t such a great leader. The US probably never would have supported him if they hadn’t been the ones who put him in power. The first thing he did when he resumed leadership was to send his young army to invade the North, and the UN forces followed with high hopes. They soon had taken the capital of North Korea, which became the only communist capital to ever fall to the west when invaded from the south. The South Koreans naturally thought that this meant the war was over, but they obviously hadn’t dealt with someone like General McArthur before either. He assured everyone that China wouldn’t become involved in a war in Korea, and ordered the UN and South Korean armies to continue advancing north, closer and closer and closer to the border.
China and America Win the Korean War
China, which was still on the other side of the Yalu river, had spent the last fifty years suffering from the results of the hundred before that. Now that Mao was on top, however, he was determined to show that the so-called “lame duck of Asia” had grown a new leg, and Korea seemed to be the right shape. Having received a telegram from Stalin requesting an immediate war, Mao ordered his army of Chinese “volunteers” across the river to catch the Americans by surprise. The Americans were taking a break from fighting to celebrate Thanksgiving. This was the last nice day in the Cold War.
The next morning, 200 000 000 Chinese soldiers attacked with bugles a-blowing. Mao believed that justice, bravery, and strategy were more important than military force, but he was wrong and so the Americans fell into retreat. Temperatures plummeted to –25 K and American losses were further worsened by a sudden outbreak of bug-out fever, for which a vaccination had yet to be developed. Telegrams arrived at American homes, telling families that they had been captured or killed in the war.
In America, journalists kept asking Truman if he would (please) use the atom bomb, but eventually Atley came over from Britain and that settled the matter. On the whole, public interest in the war was scant, although the New York Times ran a small column from time to time.
In 1951, the South Koreans once again lost their soul. In response, the Americans appointed field commanders, which helped slow the communist advance. The personnel of the M*A*S*H 4077 worked overtime to get wounded soldiers ready to be wounded again.
The Americans also held an air of superiority, which allowed them to use panthers against the North Koreans. The Americans bombed North Korea from airplanes, much as they had treated Germany in World War II, but this was strategically ineffective because the armies they were fighting were from China. Some Soviet pilots who had come to Korea on training exercises also took part in the war, but did so in secret because if the Americans had found out that they were fighting Russians they might have gotten suspicious. Russian and Chinese airplanes, however, were no match for American pilots armed with sabres.
General McArthur decided to invade China and get World War III started already, but luckily Truman was still actually in charge and so relieved him of command. After all, this was supposed to be the Korean War. McArthur was replaced by a good officer but mere mortal named Matthew Ridgeway.
The North Koreans treated negotiations as a military tactic, which made heartfelt diplomacy difficult. Another issue was the treatment of POWs (casualties who weren’t dead yet). A third of the Americans captured by the North Koreans had died by the time they marched into the prison camps, and the Chinese set up special sessions to teach the Americans lessons that had been omitted from their brainwashing at home. Meanwhile, the Americans polled POWs and discovered that more than 50% of them would rather be slaves to western imperialists than go back to communist countries.
Finally, in March 1953, Stalin gave up his ghost. Armistice was now unavoidable.
Ike Eisenhower, who had served as SRC (Supreme Allied Commander) during World War II, won US presidential elections with the slogan “I Shall Go To Korea,” but he never actually engaged in combat.
In 1953, China, North Korea, and the United Nations signed a ceasefire agreement, but that just wasn’t good enough for Sigmund Rhee. The Chinese were willing to go home victorious because they had proven they could defend themselves and preserved North Korea, and the Americans were willing to go home victories because they had held communism at the parallel line and preserved South Korea. China had shown itself to be a real country not an imperialist tea-party, and the Americans had bombed to their hearts’ content, but Rhee couldn’t help but see that there were still two Koreas and one of them wasn’t his. Hostility ended in 1954, but the war has continued to this day.
POWs were returned by both sides, but about 54 000 Americans would never go home, showing the effectiveness of Chinese educational methods. More than 3 000 000 civilians had been killed in North Korea by the war, about 5 000 000 of them homeless.
The Coming of Khrushchev
After a fierce leadership race, Khrushchev materialized as the new leader of Russia and Molotov retired into the cocktail business. When Khrushchev came to power in 1956, the USSR’s policy of Denazification was replaced by one of Desalinization. He criticized Stalin for his reign of terror, during which he had killed many supposedly good communists.
Another way in which Khrushchev pruned the Soviet thornbush was by abolishing the “cult of the individual.” Many dictators such as Mussolini, Stalin, and Attila the Hun had owned personal cults, but Khrushchev felt that cults should be the joint property of everyone in a communist society.
Khrushchev decentralized Russia’s economy a little bit, introduced some small degree of incentive to increase production, and allowed a very, very tiny little bit of freedom to the arts, though he was not of course opening the floodgates to waves of criticism and change. That was Gorbachev. Khrushchev also steered away from military aggression and towards domestic development, because it was less expensive. People were finally allowed to express their opinions freely, as long as they were against Stalin. This was a great leap forward as criticizing Stalin had previously been strictly prohibited. It would, however, be incorrect to imagine Khrushchev was some great reformer who worked to free the Russian people from oppression. That was Czar Alex II, and look what happened to him. Khrushchev still held purges and secret police, and expected Eastern Europe to remain where it was.
Eastern Europe under Stalin’s puppeteering had suffered from shortages of goods, food, supplies, housing, and freedom. Stalin had crushed Eastern Europe in his tight iron grip, cracking down hard on protest, speech, and labour. Even the shortages were taken away and sent to Russia. Each nation was required to conform to different expectations, and people were unwillingly subjected to five-year plans. Now that Stalin was dead, many people made the mistake of presuming that they were to be set free. Demonstrations and protests broke out throughout Eastern Europe against the death of Stalin. But the two biggest monkey-houses were Poland and Hungary.
Unrest in Poland led to riots which led to dissatisfaction with Soviet control over politics and economics. Dissatisfaction led to complaints which led to the beating of a new path which led to Wladyslaw Gomulka. He remained a communist but was much more independent. Khrushchev felt no need to interfere, as he was still working out his image.
In Hungary, Matthias Rakosi was a hard-line Stalinist puppet. The people longed for free elections, individual and economic freedom, and an end to surveillance by sensor-ship. Their leader, Imre Nada, started to land some reforms, took over the government, and declared quittance of the Warsaw Pact. He had vast popular support and figured that Khrushchev just wasn’t the man that Stalin had been. He also hoped fervently that the Americans would come and save him, little realizing the president was on holiday in Suez. Also, Hungary was without the American sphere of influence.
The Russian army invaded Hungary to save Warsaw and their other dominos. Nada was executed two years later and replaced with Janos Kedar, who was a tighter-grip communist. America had missed its chance to roll back the red carpet of socialism.
The Arms Race
Military budgets were outrageously high throughout the Cold War, and the funds were used to invent new ways to destroy the world. Many weapons were built that were just a waste of money because no one ever needed them.
The world’s first hydrogen bomb was tested in the United States in 1952, and a similar hydrogen bomb was set off in Russia within a matter of months. At first, nuclear weapons were dropped from large airplanes, but soon it was realized that bombs could be delivered using leftover V2 rockets from the war, which Hitler had probably intended for the same purpose.
Most countries (i.e. the US and the USSR) moved away from traditional military strategies and instead towards the use of nuclear policy. The main strategy in nuclear war was that of nuclear deterrence, which meant that any toe out of line would be instantly blown into submission. Nations had to prove they really meant it by fighting wars with Proxy and making a lot of vague threats. The world experienced a period of nuclear proliferation, when the abortion of nuclear weapons programs was illegal. The CND (Canadians for Nuclear Dismemberment), however, favoured nuclear prochoiceration.
Stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were built up for intimidational purposes. They worked and everyone was scared. The US government produced videos advising schoolchildren to duck if their home was hit by a nuclear bomb. People were terrified that nuclear war could cause another Holocaust, or a Russian winter like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. The world also indulged in nuclear overkill. Each person in the world was given fifteen tonnes of TNT and 690 planets were destroyed. Weapons such as Anthrax were developed using chemicals and biologicals, but none of these could make a mushroom cloud.
The First Strike principle meant that nuclear war was a lot less forgiving than baseball. The United States under Eisenhower followed a policy of Massive Retaliation: atomic revenge that went far beyond an eye for an eye. Later, the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction made people realize that a nuke for a nuke makes the whole world dead. Anti-Ballistic Missile systems were banned so that nobody could escape their fair share of the apocalypse.
In 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the first of their satellite nations. Although all it did was beep, it sure looked frightening. (While everyone was distracted, a secret Russian force attempted to use extraterrestrial technology to take over the minds of Americans, but they were stopped by Indiana Jones.) Not long later, the military implications of space technology became suddenly clear when the USSR was able to put a dog into space. The US responded to these events by pouring money into the wishing-well of scientific development. NASA was founded to discover space. The Soviet Union and the United States agreed to settle their differences by a big race in space rather than a war, but when the Americans won the Russians wouldn’t surrender and so the Cold War started up again.
The Intercontinental Ballistic Missile was a nuclear bomb that could be shot into space with a ballista. ICBMs were first employed in 1958. The Multiple Independently-targeted Re-entry Vehicle meant that each nuclear missile could be used more than once. Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles could be launched by Poseidon. Davy Crockett, who had fought at the Alamo, came back to join the US forces with tactical nuclear weapons.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected as President of the United States when he drew the Sword in the Stone. Excalibur would have been useless in a situation of nuclear war, but Kennedy promised to hold an uncompromising nuclear stance against the Soviet Union. He advised Americans not to ask what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country. He also advised people to build bomb shelters in case his policies went wrong.
The Berlin Wall
Many in the USSR felt that Khrushchev had been just a little too soft on the US, so he resolved to take a tougher stance in the future. Berlin soon returned as a problem, not that it had ever gone away. Despite earlier attempts at decentralization, it was once again the centre of dispute.
In 1961, the USSR tested a hydrogen bomb more devastating than everything in World War II put together, including the Holocaust. East Germany’s population fell by over 2 000 000. All the young, skilled, professional labourers in East Germany fled to West Germany via West Berlin via East Berlin. This became a problem for the East German economy.
Khrushchev said he would like to pull out of Germany and have the western powers do the same, allowing Germany to be re-united, completely neutral, and ideally communisted as well. The Americans, however, refused to surrender their right to have Berlin. Empty threats of war were made.
Khrushchev stumbled upon a new idea, and ordered it built at once. The resurrection of the Berlin Wall cut the city of Beijing in two, trapping the capitalists on one side and the would-be capitalists on the other. Kennedy let this happen with relative calm. It wasn’t as though communists were invading Berlin. Kennedy also recognized how much pressure Khrushchev was facing in his workplace, and didn’t want to escalate anything.
The Berliners, however, weren’t all that happy. They longed for a unified country, and the West Berliners could all see that this was a step in the wrong direction. For the East Berliners, the Wall prevented a few choice steps in the right direction. Kennedy flew to Berlin and tried to make people see things his way by explaining that the Berlin Wall would have valuable uses as a propaganda tool. (The communists needed a wall to keep their people in while the capitalists could get by with just Wall Street!) He also made a false claim of German citizenship and would never be able to clear up a misunderstanding about donuts.
The Berlin Wall was the most visible symbol of the tension between East and West. Postwar settlements were supposed to have tidied up Germany, but, as after World War I, they hadn’t. The Berlin Wall did help rub in the message that the Treaty of Versailles had failed to impress upon the Germans.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
All the hatred, tension, fear, distrust, disgust, anger, and nuclear capabilities between the two countries finally culminated at an island named Cuba, which was out in the ocean somewhere.
In the early ’50s, a corrupt dictator named Batista ran Cuba, mostly because the Americans were too busy worrying about communist dictators to deal with any other kind. It also helped that he allowed US business to prosper. Fidel Castro overthrew the dictatorship in 1953, 1956, and 1959. The Americans were very pleased at first, because Batista had often embarrassed them by his lack of medicine and education. Then Castro revealed his true nature by implementing reform and nationalizing previously profitable corporations. The US responded to his left-handedness with underhandedness. At first they merely ran economic sanctions and failed assassinations, but when these failed to put things right they resorted to more serious measures.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was planned by a group of Cubist exiles, in collaboration with the CIA (Cuba Invasion Association.) The plan depended on the exiles slipping ashore and arousing popular revolution by other Cubists on the island. Eisenhower realized how nut-headed the whole project was and put it on hold so he wouldn’t be blamed. When Kennedy came to power he authorized it to proceed, and it was a massive failure because all the people in Cuba supported Castro.
The Kennedy administration was greatly shamed by the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Anyone could have seen that an undertaking of that sort ought to have involved the military. Khrushchev took it for proof that Kennedy was a wimp. Kennedy meanwhile decided to become even harder-lined, and the CIA became the Chilean Insurgence Agency.
Castro was fearful the United States would attempt a real invasion, and the Americans intimidated him further by invading a nearby communist island run by Castro’s fellow dictator Ortsac. Castro asked the Russians to protect him. Due to the failure of the Cuban economy after the implementation of communism, Cuban real estate was far more reasonably priced than Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, so Khrushchev jumped at the opportunity. He shipped nuclear weapons to Cuba, planning to build lunch sites with which to threaten the United States. Khrushchev also wanted to lever the Americans out of Berlin and Turkey, where they had weapons. The Americans in Turkey were horribly obsolete, but the Russians didn’t know that.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was discovered by a You Too spyplane making routine flyovers of the island. The US Navy immediately blockaded Cuba to stop the Russians from sending in supplies, which would have been an act of war and caused the end of the world. Fortunately, the Russian ships swerved aside at the last minute, averting a direct collision.
The Cubist Missile Crisis became an incredibly tense situation of nuclear helmsmanship (initiating nuclear war to show you’re serious). Kennedy refused to remove his missiles from Turkey because that would have been politically incorrect. Cubists on the sidelines urged the Russians to toast America with ICBMs. Americans held their breaths and schoolchildren got ready to duck. However, no one actually wanted a nuclear war; this was a common misconception. Eventually, Khrushchev and the Kennedies conspired to co-operate against the rest of the world, Khrushchev publicly withdrawing from Cuba and Kennedy sneaking out of Turkey in a few months time. Kennedy also agreed that the Americans wouldn't invade Cuba after all.
In order to prevent future disaster, Kennedy and Khrushchev introduced the Nuclear War Hotline and a direct communications channel from Camelot to the Kremlin. Such friendliness between communists and capitalists meant the end of both leaders’ political careers. JFK was assassinated in 1963 and Khrushchev was overthrown in ’64.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was the climax of the Cold War. Afterwards, America and the Soviet Union entered a period of détente. “Détente” is a French word referring to the kind of tent used for day-long negotiations in the Middle Ages. Here it meant a cooling down of the arms race and general hatred. Actually, relations were becoming less cold, but saying that the Cold War was warming up would have made everyone head for their bomb shelters. Thus, metaphors must be reversed, and, rather than saying that the dark winter was beginning to recede, we say that the fires of fear and hatred that blazed around the world were beginning to cool. For the record, Billy Joel denies having been the arsonist of the Cold War.