2017-2018 Academic Catalog 
    Oct 27, 2021  
2017-2018 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

HIST 1580 - A History of the Cold War: World War II to the fall of the Soviet Union

The Cold War emerged as a problem in World history in the 1940’s following the defeat of the Axis in the Second World War. By the late 1940’s, two rival super powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, and their alliances began a prolonged conflict, which lasted nearly fifty years. Unlike previous conflicts, there were no direct military confrontations between the super powers. Instead it was a prolonged struggle that pitted the ideologies, economies, societies and cultures of the two blocs in contest over which political/economic system would prevail–the single party socialist system of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc or the pluralistic capitalist (mixed) system of the United States and Western bloc. The development of nuclear weapons and the arms race made direct confrontation virtually unthinkable. Instead the conflict was fought with diplomacy, propaganda, espionage, and irregular warfare in the former colonial world. There were, however, diplomatic crises that came close to world war (Berlin blockade crisis of 1948-1949, the Cuban Missile Crises of 1962, etc.), as well as bloody indirect conflicts in Asia (Korea, Vietnam Afghanistan), Africa (Angola, Ethiopia, and Somalia) and the Americas (Nicaragua, San Salvador). The Cold War directly or indirectly affected all of humankind until its end with the breakup of the Soviet Union and its bloc in the early 1990’s. The after effects are still being gauged and assessed. This course will intensely investigate how and why the Cold War began and look at the first diplomatic and political confrontations in Europe during World War II to the emergence of Michael Gorbachev, his policies of perestroika and glasnost and the demise of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Russian Federation in 1993.. Among the topics we will study are: the causes of the Cold War, the struggle for post-World War II Europe, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the division of Europe and the formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact; the Korean Conflict; the death of Stalin, emergence of Nikita Khrushchev; doctrine of “peaceful coexistence; the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall; invasion of Hungary in 1956; the Cuban Missile Crisis; mutually assured destruction (MAD); Czechoslovakia and the “velvet revolution”; the Afghanistan invasion, the rise of Gorbachev; détente; the “springtime of nations”; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union.


Anticipated Terms Offered: Varies