The Cold War Divides the World

Why Did the Cold War Begin?

Fighting For the Third World

The Third World nations were located in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. They were poor and politically unstable. These nations suffered from ethnic conflicts, lack of technology, and lack of education. Each nation needed a political and economic system, so they chose Soviet-style communism and U.S.-style free-market democracy.
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Cold War Strategies


      • The U.S, the Soviet Union, and sometimes China used a variety of techniques to gain influence in the Third World. They backed wars or revolution, liberation, or counterrevolution.

      • The U.S and Soviet agencies CIA and KGB engaged in various covert, or secret activities ranging from spying to assassination attempts.

      • The US gave military aid, built schools, set up programs to combat poverty, and sent volunteer workers to many developing nations.
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Association of Nonaligned Nations

      • Not all Third World countries wanted to participate in the Cold War. For example, India and Indonesia.

      • In 1955, there was a meeting between leaders from Asia and Africa, called the Bandung Conference. This meeting allowed nations to form a “third force” of independent countries, or nonaligned nations.

      • Some of these nations were able to maintain their neutrality, but others either took sides with the superpowers or played competing sides against each other.

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Confrontations in Latin America

Rapid industrialization, population growth, and a lingering gap between the rich and the poor led Latin American Nations to seek aid from both superpowers. Most countries in Latin America altered between democratic and militaristic governments. Many countries after WW2 had communist and nationalist ideas and therefore were backed by the Soviet Union. In response, the US backed anti-Communist dictators.

Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

      • In the 1950’s Cuba was ruled by an unpopular dictator Fulgencio Batista

      • When the Cuban revolution a young lawyer named Fidel Castro led the revolution.

      • He brought social reforms and improved the economy.

      • Castro was also a harsh dictator, he suspended elections, jailed or executed his opponents, and tightly controlled the press.

      • When the US stopped trade with Cuba, Castro turned towards the Soviets for help.

      • In 1960, the US invaded at the Bay of Pigs, and were defeated and humiliated.
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Nuclear Face-off: the Cuban Missile Crisis

      • Since the Bay of Pigs invasion failed, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev secretly began to build 42 missile sites in Cuba.

      • An American spy plane discovered the sites. President John F. Kennedy declared that missiles so close to the US were a threat, and demanded their removal. He then announced a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent the Soviets from installing more missiles.

      • Kennedy’s demand of the missiles removal led to the United States and Soviet Union being on a collision course. People feared a nuclear war. Khrushchev finally agreed to remove the missiles as long as the US promised to not invade Cuba.

      • The resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis left Castro dependent on Soviet support. In exchange for this support, Castro backed Communist revolutions in Latin America and Africa.

      • The Soviet Union broke up in 1991 due to the Soviet’s aid to Cuba.
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Civil War in Nicaragua

      • The US had funded the Nicaraguan dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza since 1933. In 1979, Communist Sandinista toppled Somoza’s son.

      • Both the us and the soviets initially gave aid to the The Sandinistas. However, the civil war in the Nicaragua lasted more than a decade and weakened the country’s economy. The Sandinistas were defeated in elections in 1996 and 2001.

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Confrontations in the Middle East

Religious and Secular Values Clash in Iran

      • Oil industry wealth fueled a growing clash between traditional Islamic values and modern Western materialism.

      • Iran held the worst of this conflict.

      • Iran’s leader Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi embraced the big oil companies, causing nationalists to force him to leave. (1953)
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The United States Supports Secular Rule

      • The U.S’s support of the shah, Iran became to show skyscrapers, foreign banks, and modern factories, although some still lived in extreme poverty. (1956-1959)

      • Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, a conservative Muslim leader lived in exile, until his recorded messages spurred riots in every major Iranian city,causing the shah to flee. (1978)

      • Khomeini then came to power. (1979)
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Khomeini's Anti-U.S. Policies

      • Khomeini’’s hatred for the U.S caused revolutionists to seize the U.S embassy. (1979)

      • Khomeini encouraged Muslims everywhere to overthrow their secular governments.

      • War then broke out between Iraq and Iran. (1980)
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The Superpowers Face Off in Afghanistan

      • A Muslim revolt threatened to topple the Afghan government.

      • The Soviets tried to prop up their Communist government, but were stuck.

      • Rebel forces(mujahideen), supported by the U.S, outmaneuvered the military superpower.

      • The U.S considered the Soviets as a threat to Middle Eastern oil supplies.

      • The U.S warned the Soviets of gaining control in the Persian gulf.

      • Soviet Union’s new president,Mikhail Gorbachev, withdrew all Soviet troops from war, when he acknowledged the devastating cost. (1980’s)
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