What is the Cold War? It’s hard to believe in this post-9/11 world that something like nuclear war became such a defining mark of the times. Everything from James Bond to the space program spoke to the us about the dangers of Communists. The music reflected it. The 60’s generation became the spokespeople of the times, fighting it. The Cold War began with the end of World War 2 and ended with me, in college, watching the Berlin Wall fall. Amazing and scary.
Cold War Themes and Questions:
- Why did the Cold War not become a hot war? Why was there no World War III? Was it nuclear weapons? Rational leadership? Had war become too expensive and obsolete? Was war fought with something other than military means?
- Was the Cold War principally an ideological confrontation, or just a contest for supremacy between two great powers? How did the rules of confrontation change with each generation? Was this struggle based on politics? Economics? Strategic Interests?
- What role did culture play in the Cold War? Why did a Cold War culture develop, and why does it last in some aspects?
- How do the ‘experiences’ of a country affect its decision-making? How do the experiences of countries shed light on actions and choices they made during the Cold War?
- What role do personalities play during the Cold War?
- How important were individual countries, other than the U.S. and the Soviet Union, in determining the course of the Cold War? Did smaller powers manipulate the larger powers (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba)?
- Was the Cold War a result of two “empires” clashing? How did each power maintain control over its empire? The U.S. empire in Western Europe was established through invitation, whereas the Soviet “empire” in Eastern Europe was established and maintained through coercion and intimidation. In the Third World, the U.S. and the USSR often resorted to coercion and intimidation. Was the Cold War the culmination to an Age of Empire?
- How important was the power of perception during the Cold War? What “weapons” were used to fight the Cold War? (propaganda, surrogates, economics) How did the Cold War affect average people?
CNN’s Cold War Documentary:
- PDF Episode Guide
- Interviews from the National Archive
- Episode 1: Comrades (1917-1945) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 2: Iron Curtain (1945-1947) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 3: Marshall Plan (1947-1952) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 4: Berlin (1948-1949) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 5: Korea (1949-1953) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 6: Reds (1947-1953) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 7: After Stalin (1953-1956) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 8: Sputnik (1949-1961) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 9: The Wall (1958-1963) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 10: Cuba (1959-1962) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 11: Vietnam (1954-1968) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 12: MAD (1960-1972) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 13: Make Love, Not War (1960′s) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 14: Red Spring (1960′s) – Scenario – Video
- Episode 15: China (1949-1972) – Scenario – Video