Superpower in the Cold War

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After the war, the United States was a co-founder of the United Nations (UN) in San Francisco. In the important Security Council of the United Nations, the United States has a permanent seat next to Russia (former Soviet Union), France and Great Britain.

The tensions to the Soviet Union intensified in the following years and finally culminated in the Berlin Blockade 1948 – 1949, in which the United States launched the Berlin Airlift with the British with raisin bombers to supply the population. With the Marshall Plan, the USA supports the Western European countries (including West Germany) with loans, food and materials.

In 1949, NATO was founded together with the Western Allies. In 1955 the Federal Republic of Germany (founded in 1949 from the American, British and French occupation zones) was included in this alliance.

The Cold War between the United States as the leading power of the West and the Soviet Union (USSR) as the governing body of the Eastern bloc should determine American foreign policy as a struggle between capitalism and communism over the next few decades. As a counterpart to NATO, the Soviet Union founded the Warsaw Pact with the other states in the Eastern Bloc. Both blocs launched an arms race and had atomic weapons that threatened the entire world.

It came to the Korean War in 1950-1953, in which South Korea (supported by the United Nations and in particular the United States) and North Korea (supported by the PRC and arms shipments of the Soviet Union) faced each other. During the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), the stationing of Soviet medium-range missiles in Cuba would have resulted in a Third World War. The crisis lasted 13 days and Democratic President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushche finally came to an agreement.

US History: President John F. Kennedy during the Cuba Crisis
President John F. Kennedy during the Cuba Crisis
The crisis also led to an initial détente between the blocs and the relocation to proxy wars, such as the Vietnam War (1955-1975), in which the US intervened in 1964 and withdrew troops in 1973. Domestically and internationally, the Vietnam War has become a burden on the nation, especially morally.

Like John F. Kennedy (murdered in 1963), Martin Luther King, who campaigned for the civil rights of African Americans, was assassinated in 1968. However, the Supreme Court had already banned racial segregation in US public institutions back in 1954, but there was still discrimination in some southern states. It took until 1968 before the Civil Rights Act was passed, the discrimination and others. prohibited from then on due to race or skin color in public life.

Other movements gained more rights for their clientele in the second half of the 20th century (such as the women’s rights movement, gay and lesbian movement). In 1974, Republican President Richard Nixon was forced to resign after the Watergate affair.

President Ronald Reagan became the 40th US President. His policies were geared to a liberal economy, characterized by a reduction in the welfare state and numerous administrative cuts. The armaments expenditure was however increased. Morally, he represented Christian values ​​and a harsh anti-communist attitude.

Despite this attitude, he met regularly with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Under the eyes of the world public, he also met at an American-Soviet summit in 1986 in Reykjavik (Iceland). At that time, the Iran-Contra affair, which announced that weapons were being delivered to Iran, and the resulting profits were passed on to the Contras (opponents of the ruling Sandinista) in Nicaragua, hit the headlines.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Eastern bloc not only surprised the world but also America. The US under President George Bush sen. supported German reunification, which became reality in 1990. The Cold War was over and the US was the only remaining superpower on Earth.

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