Term Paper on Cold War History

Free example term paper on Cold War:
Communist power and influence became world threatening by 1950. The Russians exploded their first atomic weapon in August 1949. In China, a bitter civil war was brought to an end with the Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong driving the Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-Shek off the mainland to set up a U.S. backed government on the island of Taiwan. More than 500 million people came under communist rule as a result of the defeat. A Cold War hallmark was a U.S. foreign policy to support and defend the Republic of China (Nationalist) government against any attack by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), by basically stationing the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Strait of Taiwan.

Korean War
The Korean War was the first “hot” confrontation of the Cold War. Korea had been invaded and occupied by Imperial Japan for 30 years. When American and Soviet troops accepted the Japanese surrender, an¬†arbitrary dividing line for occupation zones was set at the 38th parallel. The Soviets set up a communist government under Kim II Sung in the North while the U.S. backed the government of Syngman Rhee in the South. In a bid to reunite the country under the communist banner, the North, equipped with Soviet weapons, invaded the South in June 1950.

In response, the U.S. led a United Nations sanctioned military force under the command of famed World War II American hero General Douglas MacArthur to counter the North Korean advance. The mainly American UN forces could not stop the invasion. UN forces were pushed all the way down the Korean peninsula where they held a perimeter around Pusan. The perceived readiness of U.S. ground forces was called into question. In September 1950 MacArthur executed an amphibious landing behind enemy lines at Inchon, on the Korean west coast. Simultaneously, the UN forces were able to break out of Pusan. Steadily the North Koreans were pushed back up the peninsula. By October 1950 UN troops had advanced as far north as portions of the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China. Feeling obviously threatened by a United States presence on their border, Communist China counterattacked in November 1950 throwing over half a million soldiers across the river causing a United Nations forces rout. But by the Spring of 1951 UN troops had rallied from the retreat and fought their way back north to a position slightly above the 38th parallel.

By this time General MacArthur was publicly advocating invading China. President Truman had no intensions of widening the war and possibly bringing in the Soviets. It would have led to World War III. Truman had no choice but to reel MacArthur in. MacArthur was relieved of his Command in April 1951. Although peace negotiations began in June 1951, the war dragged on for another two years, virtually at a stalemate. Public support for the war vanished in the U.S. Dwight Eisenhower was elected President in 1952, and Stalin died in 1953. With this backdrop a truce was finally signed between UN forces and North Korea (South Korea’s Rhee did not sign) in July 1953 leaving the border as it was before the invasion. There were more than 34,000 U.S. deaths. (Visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial) South Korean dead were 415,000 and 3000 United Nations allied dead. Communist dead were estimated at 2 million.

Out of the Korean War came the first jet to jet aircraft combat and the introduction of the first series of modern jet fighters like the U.S. F-86 Sabre and Russian MiG 15. “MiG”, the abbreviation for one of many Russian aircraft design bureaus became synonymous with Russian jet fighter.

Today North and South Korea are still technically at war with each other and stare each other down across one of the most heavily defended borders in the world. U.S. Forces are still deployed here. This represents one of the few remnants of the Cold War still looking for a place to boil over.

Arms Race Begins
The 1950s was characterized by the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Atomic weapons, of increasingly destructive power, were developed by both sides to be delivered by air and artillery. By 1953, hydrogen bombs of potentially unlimited destructive power, had been successfully detonated by the U.S. and Russia. Nuclear weapons become practical instruments of warfare since new jet-powered bomber aircraft, such as the U.S. B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, B-58 Hustler and Russian Mya-4 Bison and Tu-95 Bear , were capable of delivering the bombs anywhere in the world. There was no immunity to the possibility of total destruction.

The spectre of total destruction formed the basis of American nuclear defense strategy. The U.S. would develop such overwhelming superiority in nuclear weapons that if the Soviet Union dared attack, the U.S. would retaliate swiftly and decisively. This policy of massive retaliation assured the U.S. could knock the Soviets back to the stone age. The U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC), headed by General Curtis LeMay , was entrusted with maintaining and delivering the nuclear weapons. LeMay had bombers standing ground and air alert 24 hours a day. SAC reconnaissance and intelligence gathering aircraft routinely flew border missions and overflew the Soviet Union.

The U.S. and Canada formed NORAD , the North American Air Defence Command consisting of a network of DEW Line radars (distant early warning), surface to air missile (SAM) sites, and fighter-interceptor bases intended to provide a protective umbrella over North America against the