The Cold War Outside Europe


Two foreign policies affected the Cold War outside Europe:

1. The Communist East

The Soviets wanted to spread Marxism around the world, and Southeast Asia was a likely area for conflict, because the USSR and China (led by Maotsetung after 1949) bordered onto this area.

2. The West

John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State spoke of the ‘domino theory’ which said that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to Communism, the others would follow.

Korean War (1950-1953)

Refer to the map showing the main events of the Korean War (1950-1953).


At the start of the 20th Century, Korea was under Chinese influence, but Russia and Japan wanted to control it. Japan wanted it as a base to attack China from, and Russia wanted it to protect its naval base at Vladivostok.

1904-5: Russo Japanese War resulted in the Treaty of Portsmouth, which gave Japan the right to annex Korea. This lasted until 1945.

1945: At Potsdam (July) it was decided to divide Korea at the 38th parallel, with the intention of re-uniting it, after free elections. The USSR opposed the elections so the North of Korea became Communist under Kim IL Sung, and the South was America’s ally under Dr. Syngman Rhee. North Korea was slightly stronger, because it had some industry.

1949: USA and USSR pulled out of Korea and left two inchoate (under-developed) governments. The North invaded the South.

The War

25th June 1950: North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea. They occupied Seoul and threatened Pusan. The Americans sent a force from their naval base on Japan to defend Pusan. Meanwhile the UNO Security Council met and used its military sanction (This was achieved unanimously because the USSR did not attend, as the UNO would not recognise Communist China).

September 1950: A UNO force of 16 nations led by General MacArthur made an amphibious attack at Inchon. From here they relieved Seoul and caused the North Koreans to fight a war on two fronts. The North Koreans were pushed back to the 38th parallel. The UNO leader, Trygve Lie, allowed MacArthur to go into North Korea to hold free elections.

MacArthur advanced just south of the Yalu river border, capturing Pyong Yang and killing thousands. At this point, China feared a none-Marxist neighbour in North Korea, and its fourth and fifth armies invaded without declaring war. By early 1951, MacArthur’s forces were south of the 38th Parallel, and Seoul had fallen again, but the Chinese had stretched their supply line, and were driven back to the 38th parallel. MacArthur was not allowed to go into North Korea because the UNO said that China was not technically at war. President Truman sacked MacArthur, and this shows that the USA, and not the UNO, was dominating the war.

Peacemaking (June 1951 to July 1953)

For two years, fighting continued along the Armistice Line, near the 38th Parallel, while peace talks were held at Kaesong. The North Koreans and South Koreans argued over petty matters (e.g. seating arrangements) trying to make time for one side to clinch a victory.

27th July, 1953: Peace was made at Panmunjon, which said that Korea should be divided at the 38th parallel, the South friendly to the USA, and the North friendly to the USSR.


  1. There was no improvement on the 1945 position, except Korean agriculture and society was wrecked. 3.5 million people had been killed (futile war).
  2. Since 1953 there have been no signs of unity.
  3. September, 1945: SEATO (South East Asian Treaty Organisation) was set up as a Pacific version of NATO, which gave America the right to base their troops in:

(BUPPFANT) – Britain, USA, Philippines, Pakistan, France, Australia, new Zealand, Thailand.

In 1975, SEATO was disbanded, because some members left), e.g. France.

Cuban Missile Base Crisis

Note: The following is what was being taught at the time these notes were put together. The suggestion that there were no missiles on Cuba is controversial.

Wikipedia has more information.

Key Dates


Map of Cuba

Long Term Causes

In 1898, Cuba gained independence from Spain, and thereafter, until 1934, it was controlled by the USA, who invested in its economy (mainly sugar and tobacco). FDR granted its independence in 1934, and in 1952, Batista came to power. He was right wing, and so acceptable to the USA, but he was idle, inefficient and cruel. Profits dropped and the US people with business interests complained. From 1957, the US supported the rise of a young (30) Cuban lawyer, Fidel Castro (born, 1927), who led a band of 300 fighters called the 26th of July Movement. They helped him gain power in January 1959.

He began to nationalise industry, collectivise farms and censor the press. The USA realised too late that they had sponsored a Marxist with their investments and profits on Cuba at risk. American aid to Cuba ended in January 1961. Cuban capitalists fled to the USA. It was not until December 1961, that Castro admitted his government was Marxist. Before this he had been trying to get aid from both the USA and the USSR.

Short Term Cause (The Bay of Pigs)

Eisenhower (Ike) accepted the plan by a group of ex-Cuban nationalists to invade Cuba. They were led by Jose Cardona and supported by the CIA. The Americans feared the spread of Communism into America. On the 17th April 1961, the groups landed in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, but they were rounded up by Castro’s forces. The whole affair had been a debacle for the CIA. Kennedy, the new president, was embarrassed, and denied his involvement. This caused Castro to make firmer links with the USSR.


The Cuban Missile Base Crisis is a good example of brinkmanship, because the USA and the USSR pushed each other to the brink of war, then backed down before war was declared.

The 1962 Crisis

In the summer of 1962 Russian advisers visited Cuba, and agreed to build missile bases facing Florida. The plan was for the missiles to be delivered to Cuba later.

It is now believed that there were never any missiles on Cuba.

October 1962 - a U2 spy plane photographed the bases, but when asked, Castro denied they existed.

22nd October – JFK, with his photographic evidence, broadcast to the American nation that the bases were a threat to national security, and he followed this by a naval blockade of the island. This was siege warfare and to prevent the USSR making deliveries. Nikita Krushchev, the USSR’s leader, offered a compromise that if the Americans removed their missile bases from Turkey (on the USSR border), he would dismantle the bases on Cuba. Kennedy refused and gave the ultimatum that he would invade Cuba on the 29th October, if the missiles were not dismantled. Krushchev gave in on the 29th, and said he would remove the bases under UNO supervision.


  1. USA and USSR’s relations improved:
    1. A hotline (direct telephone link) between Washington and Moscow was linked up
    2. 1963 – The Test ban Treaty to stop the testing of nuclear devices in the air
  2. The USA claimed a victory, with Kennedy as a hero. Others were concerned that he could have taken the world into a nuclear war.
  3. Krushchev never recovered from his humiliation, and was deposed in October 1964.
  4. Cuba remained isolated until the 1970s when it befriended China.
  5. Marxism did not spread into America, apart from a short-lived regime in Chile (until 1973).
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