The Cold War Divides the World

By Eric, Sydney, Jacob, and Hannah

Fighting for the Third World

  • Third World Nations were located in Latin America, Asia, and Africa
  • The third world consisted of newly independent developing nations
  • Suffered from ethnic conflicts, lack of technology, and education
  • The two main choices of government were democracy
  • The US and Soviets backed wars of revolution, liberation, or counterrevolution as techniques to influence the third world
  • CIA and KGB sent spies and tried assassination attempts
  • The US set up military aid, built schools, set up programs to combat poverty, and sent volunteer workers to developing nations
  • Soviets mainly offered assistance to India and Egypt
  • Eventually the developing nations became important to competing Soviet Union, United States, and China
  • Not all Third World nations wanted a part
  • India vowed to remain neutral
  • Indonesia struggled to stay out of the Cold War
  • Asian and African leaders met at the Bandung Conference in 1955 to form a “third force” of independent countries (nonaligned countries)
  • Nations like India and Indonesia were able to remain neutral,but others took sides with superpowers or compete against each other

Confrontation in Latin America

  • Rapid industrialization, population growth, and a lingering gap were all reasons Latin American sought aid from both superpowers.

  • The US provided military and economic help to anti-Communist dictators

Fidel Castro and Cuban Revolution


  • In 1950 Cuba was ruled by dictator, Fulgencio Batista (had U.S. Support), but later to be overthrown in January 1959 because of a revolution.

  • This revolution was led by Fidel Castro.

  • About Castro:

    • At first praised by the people for improving the economy by bringing social reforms, Castro then became a harsh dictator.

    • Suspended elections, jailed or executed his opponents, and tightly controlled his press.

  • When Castro nationalized the economy he took over the U.S.-owned sugar mills and refineries causing Eisenhower to order an embargo on all trade with Cuba.

  • Castro the turned to the Soviets for military/economic aid.

  • The CIA then began to train anti-Castro Cuban Exiles and in 1961 invaded Cuba, then to get defeated because they did not receive the air support they needed.

  • Castro defeated the U.S. easily leaving them humiliated.
Nuclear Face-off: The Cuban Missile Crisis



  • The Failed Bay of Pigs invasion convinced the Soviet leader that the U.S. would not resist expansion in Latin American countries

  • This led to the Soviets building 42 missile sites in Cuba

  • The U.S. demanded that the Soviets remove missiles from Cuba; the Soviets reluctantly agreed
Civil War in Nicaragua



  • Communist rebels toppled Anastasio Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator

  • The United States supported the anti-communist Contras

  • The civil war lasted more than a decade and the country held its first free elections, in which a reform candidate defeated the Sandinista

Confrontations in the Middle East

Religious and Secular Values Clash in Iran

The oil industry started an altercation between traditional Islamic values and modern Western materialism.

Iran’s leader, Shah Mohammed Rez Pahlavi, approved of Western governments and wealthy Western oil companies.

The nationalists in Iran did not agree with this, so they sided with Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadeq.In turn, they nationalized a British-owned oil company, and forced the Shah to flee. The United States put shah back to power.


The United States Supports Secular Rule

The shah westernized Iran, however millions of Iranians still lived in absolute destitution. Iranians opposed the westernization and rioted, forcing Shah to flee. Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeiini made Iran an Islamic state and exported Iran’s militant form of Islam.


Khomeini’s Anti-U.S. Policies

Khomeini had a strong dislike of the U.S., because of their support to shah. Islamic revolutionaries took more than 60 Americans from the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held them hostage demanding the shah to face trial. Iraq was governed as a secular state and Khomeini encouraged overthrowing of secular governments. This caused war between Iraq and Iran in 1980. The United States secretly aided both sides. The Soviet Union supported Iraq. The war resulted in many deaths for both sides, until the UN established a ceasefire in 1988.


The Superpowers Face Off in Afghanistan

In the years following World War 2, Afghanistan was independent from the Soviet Union and the U.S. Soviet Influence became more prominent. A Muslim revolt endangered the Afghanistan’s Communist regime. In turn, there was a 1979 Soviet invasion. The Soviets were stuck, and rebel forces proved to have a powerful military. The Afghan rebels continued to fight with American weapons. The U.S. considered the Soviet Union invasion an issue with the Middle Eastern oil supplies. President Jimmy Carter advised the Soviets against trying to gain control of the Persian Gulf. Carter ended grain shipments to the Soviet Union and boycotted the U.S. from 1980 Moscow Olympics. The new Soviet Union president saw the damaging costs, and he took the Soviet troops and brought them home, but civil unrest and economic problems had already torn the Soviet Union apart.
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Cuban Missile Crisis in 5 Minutes

About us

Eric is 16 and was born in Charleston. Sydney is 15 and was born in Columbia. Hannah is 16 and was born in Columbia. We do not know about Jacob.):