The Cold War and its Aftermath

Origins, Events, and After Effects

Origins: The Treaty of Brest Litovsk, the 1st Red Scare and Yalta

Historians, and APUSH students have differing opinions on the most direct and most important causes of the beginning of the Cold War.

The Treat of Brest-Litovsk was negotiated in secret between Germany and the newly formed USSR (signed in March, 1918). The treaty allowed the Soviets to leave the war "early", while their allies were still fighting. It also allowed Germany to take troops off of the eastern front, where they had been fighting Russia, and concentrate troops on the western front.

The German re-positioning of troops hurt Great Britain, France, and the United States. Brest-Litovsk taught young western politicians (e.g., Churchill and FDR) to distrust and hate Communists.

The 1st Red Scare (1918-1920) was a paranoia that gripped the nation believing that a Communist (Bolshevik) attempt to overthrow the government of the United States was imminent. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer ordered a series of raids (Palmer Raids) to root out Communist agents in the Untied States. Although there were bombings and other serious terrorist acts no Communist plot was discovered.

At Yalta (1945) the big three decided to allow the Soviets to liberate Eastern Europe, promising free and fair post war elections, which never happened. Thus, many site Yalta as the creation of what Churchill would later call the "Iron Curtain".

Characteristics of the Cold War

1. Communist v. Non Communist nations and alliances, NATO v. Warsaw Pact.

2. Proliferation of ever more powerful and effective atomic weapons (e.g. hydrogen bombs, MIRVs)

3. Escalation of military spending

4. Client wars (e.g. Korea and Vietnam)

Immediate Post World War II

Domestic Issues and Communism

Client Wars (Proxy Wars)

The Costs and Consequences of Taking Sides

The End of the Cold War