Contemporary World Issues

The Cold War: A Battle Of Ideals


The Cold War. What an interesting time in Global History.  Some people say the conflict ended in 1991, but many other conflicts in recent history have also been classified within the realm of the Cold War. Did the Cold War end? Or is Phase II just beginning?  This page will be focused on the Cuban missile crisis, the time when the world came the closest it has ever been to Nuclear Holocaust, as well as the space race, which greatly advanced global technology. 
So What is the Cold War?

The Cold War is a period of heightened tensions between The United States, and others who believed in capitalism, and the ideals of The Soviet Union and communism. (1) The two super powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, began a technological "race". Each country tried to become more advanced in weaponry and space technology. Space was widely recognized as "the last frontier" so it was considered a great accomplishment to develop space technology.

Why was there conflict?

The Cold War was a battle of IDEALS. The United States beleives in the Capitalist economic system, while Russia (Formerly U.S.S.R.) believed that communism was the superior system.  (1)

The Economic Systems

Even though they are no longer "officially" Communist, Russia still has a centralized  economic system. However, this system isn't as rigid as the system in the former Soviet Union. The United States Government remains essentially unchanged in its' ideals. The United States economy consist of many companies which are subject to government regulation. Both countries set to expand their respective spheres of influcence, by attracting third world countries to their prefered economic system.  



1) "cold war." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 11 Sep. 2008.

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The Space Race

From 1957 until 1969, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked tight into a technological (space) race. This technological race had many aspects, but the two principles arenas include nuclear technology and space technology. As you can see in the previous article, the Cuban missile crisis was a pivotal nuclear showdown that changed the course of history.  The Space race is equally significant.

The First "Shot" is fired: Sputnik

Even before the Space Race began, leaders in both the United States and the Soviet Union agreed unilaterally that influence in space was of extreme importance. Both countries saw it as a way of proving that their respective system of government was superior then the alternatives. The space race began when the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) launched the satellite, Sputnik in 1957. (1) Sputnik had two radio transmitters, which transmitted tones on seperate frequencies. These tones were received by radio enthusiast around the world, verifying the success of the satellite.

Explorer I

The United States' responses to Sputnik was Explorer I. Explorer I was a satellite launched by the United States in 1958.  The satellite was built by the California Institute for Technology Jet Propulsion lab.  The satelitte sent a clear message: The United States was intent on being competitive in space. This was the United States' "Entry" into the space race. Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of Explorer I Was the discovery of the Van-Allen radiation belts, named after Dr. Van Allen, who was the principle investigator of the phenomenon. Also of note, the North Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) was formed in the United States in 1958. This agency oversees the space related projects of the United States of America.

Luna II

In 1959, The Soviet Union launched Luna II, the first man made object to hit the moon.


Man Orbits The Earth

In 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to orbit the earth. During the same year, Alan Shepard becomes the first American to reach space.

In 1962, the United States achieves the accomplishment, when John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth.

First Woman in Space

In 1963, the Soviet Union launched the first woman into space, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

First man to Orbit Moon

In 1968, The United States launches Apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon.

Man on the Moon

In 1969, leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union knew that reaching the moon would be a highly visible accomplishment. However, it was the United States that  would  accomplish this first, and remain the only country to complete this heroic feet. On July 21st, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong  became the first man to walk on the surface of the moon. By completing this heroic task, the United States won the space race.

(3)"Explorer Information." Smithsonian Space National Air and Space Museum (Via NASA). 28 Sep 2008 <>. 

(1) "Space Race." Newseum. 26 Sep 2008

 (2) Sputnik 1- Milestones of Flight. Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. 28 Sep 2008

(4) "BBC ON THIS DAY." BBC News. 28 Sep 2008 <>. 

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

Project Anadyr

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the event that brought the globe near Nuclear Holocaust. Politicians in Russia were desperate. They needed a method to compensate for the growing majority that beleived that the United States possessed superior nuclear capability. Their response was the Anadyr Project.  In Cuba, the Soviet Union launched project Anadyr, a top secret project aimed at deploying missiles in Cuba(3). 

Confirmation of Missiles and Determining the Response

The first confirmation by the United States that there were indeed missiles in Cuba came on October 15th, 1962. On this day, A U-2 reconnasissance plane discovered Russian SS-4 Nuclear missiles positioned in Cuba. The next day, on October 16th, President John F. Kennedy of the United States was briefed on the situation, and formed an organization called EX-COMM to consider options in Response to the Soviet agression. Later that week, John F. Kennedy lets Soviet foreign minister Andrie Gromyko know that the United States will not tolerate Soviet missiles stationed in Cuba. Mr. Gromyko denied the existance of the missiles. (2) On October 18th, 1962 Andrie Gromyko, the Soviet foreign minister, acknoleged the missiles, but stated they were solely positioned for defensive purposes.  Then, on October 20th, president Kennedy meets with EXCOMM again to evaulate the options availible regarding Cuba. Once he learns that an air strike on the missile sites could cause 10,000-20,000 casualties, he decides a blockade is the best option availible. October 22nd may have very well been the beginning of the most tense days of the cold war.  The United States systems for indicating it's defensive status, DEFenseCONdition was lowered to DEFCON 3, indicative of an escalating situation.  Cuban forces were mobilized.  On October 23rd, reconissance photos indicated that Soviet nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba were poised for launch.  At this time, all naval vessels were in place that would take place in the blockade of Cuba.  On October 24th, Soviet ships reached the blockade line of Cuba.  Radio reports received indicated that Moscow had ordered the ships to hold their positions.  As President Kennedy evaluated the option of invading Cuba, he concludes that the Soviets will launch at least a portion of the missiles towards U.S. targets in the event of an invasion. He considers evacuating major U.S. targets in range of the Soviet missiles in advance of the invasion.  He concludes that the citizens would be best protected in the cities. On October 25th, U.S. Amabassador Adlai Stenvenson confronts the Soviets at the U.N., but they refuse to answer. DEFenseCON is is lowered to level 2, indicative of the most intense situation that the system had ever witnessed.  The Soviet Aircraft carrier Essex, towing a Soviet Tanker Bucharest, is allowed through the blockade, because its' hatches are too small to carry missiles.

Beginning of Negotiations

On October 26th, The Negotiations begin. The EX-COMM receives a letter from Soviet leader Khrushchev,  stating that Russia was willing to remove the missiles if the United States would publically state that it would not invade Cuba.

The Situation Remains Tense

After discussions with the Soviet Union, CIA intelligence continued to indicate the build up of Soviet missiles in Cuba, and construction was even accelerating.  President John F. Kennedy orders the state department to begin making plans for a government in Cuba following an invasion.  Strategic planning continues on massive bombings of Soviet military assets in Cuba.  On the same day(10/26/61),  Khrushchev issued a new public letter outlining a way to end the crisis.  President Kennedy secretly meets with the Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin, and Mr. Kennedy mentions that U.S. missiles located in Turkey could be negotiated as part of a way to end the Cuban missile crisis. At the same time, Cuba feared an invasion by the United States, and requested Russia to strike first (nuclearly) if the United States invaded Cuba.    

The Resolution and End of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Starting On October 29th, John F. Kennedy forms a commitee seeking to end the Cuban missile crisis. This new commitee was in charge of overseeing the removal of offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba. At 10:00 A.M. EST on the 29th, the latest intelligence regarding the Cuban missile crisis is being reviewed by the new comitee. Between October 29th, and November 21st, numerous policies were enacted to contain the crisis. Just over a month after the conflict began (November 21st) Khrushkev agrees to remove the Soviet missiles from Cuba, ending the conflict.  Three decades later, Russia would reveal that it had nearly 40,000 troops and mobile tactical nuclear weapons positioned in Cuba. 

 2) Goldman, Jerry. "The Cuban Missile Crisis." HPOL.ORG/JFK. 08OCT1997. HPOL. 11 Sep 2008 <>.  
3) Encyclopedia: Operation Anadyr. Nation Master. 28 Sep 2008 <>.

4) UNIMAPS. 28 Sep 2008 <>.

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