The Cold War: A History of Tensions
Hi, I’m John Green; this is Crash Course U.S. history and today we’re gonna talk about the Cold War. The Cold War is called “Cold” because it supposedly never heated up into actual armed conflict, which means, you know, that it wasn’t a war. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, but if the War on Christmas Is a war and the War on Drugs is a war… You’re not going to hear me say this often in your life, Me from the Past, but that was a good point. At least the Cold War was not An attempt to make war on a noun, which almost never works, because nouns are so resilient. And to be fair, the Cold War did involve quite a lot of actual war, from Korea to Afghanistan, as the world’s two superpowers, the United States and the U.S.S.R., sought ideological And strategic influence throughout the world. So perhaps it’s best to think of the Cold War as an era, lasting roughly from 1945 to 1990.
The Marshall plan
The Marshall Plan was a response to economic chaos in Europe brought on by a particularly Harsh winter that strengthened support for communism in France and Italy. The plan sought to use US Aid to combat the economic instability that provided fertile fields for communism. As Marshall said “ our policy is not directed against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.” Basically it Was a New Deal for Europe, and it worked; Western Europe was rebuilt so that by 1950 production levels in industry had eclipsed pre-war levels and Europe was on its way to becoming a U.S. style-capitalist-mass-consumer society. Which it still is, kind of.
Germany and the Berlin Crisis
Meanwhile Germany was experiencing the first Berlin crisis. At the end of the war, Germany was divided into East and West, and even though the capital, Berlin, was entirely in the east, It was also divided into east and west. This meant that West Berlin was dependent on shipments of goods from West Germany through East Germany. And then, in 1948, Stalin cut off the roads to West Berlin. So, the Americans responded with an 11-month-long airlift of supplies That eventually led to Stalin lifting the blockade in 1948 and building the Berlin Wall, which stood until 1991, when Kool Aid Guy–no, wait, wait, wait, wait, that wasn’t when the Berlin Wall was built. That was in 1961.
- Eric Foner, “The speech set a precedent for American assistance to anticommunist regimes throughout the world, no matter how undemocratic, and for the creation of a set of global military alliances directed against the Soviet Union.
- Marshall, G. C. (1950, September 8). “The Marshall Plan.”
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