The Cold War Through Americans Eyes
The Cold War was a race for power between the United States and the Soviet Union. The two countries had different ideologies: communism versus capitalism. It was a war without military campaigns but billions of dollars were spent and millions of lives were lost either direct or indirectly because of the Cold War (ushistory.org, 2019). Other countries were at war because of the ideologies from the two antagonists: Korea and Vietnam, Cuba and Grenada, Afghanistan and Angola. This paper will share its findings from three separate interviews of three people at a different age: 30’s, 40’s, and 60’s. The purpose of these interviews is to see if the population share the same knowledge of the Cold War.
The interviews were interesting to conduct. Each of the interviewee was asked of the same six questions:
Answers from each question will be compared with each other to see if three interviewees share the same knowledge about the Cold War. Answers were different from one another but the only thing that was shared was the fact that it was a war. According to interviews, it seems that the subject Cold War was did not receive enough attention in school. The Cold War was briefly mentioned in U.S. History class. Both of Long Nguyen and Michael Donohoo stated that they did not spend that much time on the Cold War. Besides Debbie, the oldest one of the three interviewees, the rest did not know that other wars happened because of the Cold War. Debbie was able to list out most of the countries involved during the Cold War. Although the Cold War happened and ended for a long time, the fear was clearly shown. “Nuclear race” was mutually shared between the three interviewees.
- What words or phrases come to mind when you think of the term Cold War?
- Did you ever study the Cold War in school? If so, what are some aspects of the Cold War that you remember?
- Who were the parties involved in the Cold War?
- Can you name any key events that you mainly associate with the Cold War?
- Which war did the Cold War follow?
- How long did the Cold War last?
When the three participants were asked further into the definition of the term “Cold War” besides the fact it was a nuclear race, they all did not know. According to ushistory.com, the Cold War was much more than just a “nuclear race”. Shortly after the two atomic bombs were used on Japan, World War II was coming to an end. The U.S. realized that without its intervention, Communism would spread across Europe and threaten the Western Democracies. The Soviet Union started to sponsoring countries that are being oppressed and turned them into communist countries. China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba were some of the countries that were sponsored by the Soviet Union which resulted in them believing in the communist ideology.
Surprisingly, all three participants knew that the Cold War started after the World War II had ended. However, according to Blakemore, the term Cold War was use in the early 1930’s to describe the tension between European countries (Blakemore, 2019). Blakemore also stated that writer George Orwell used the term in his paper to describe the international relations after the U.S. denotated the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Blakemore, 2019). Though the participants know when the Cold War start, only Debbie remembered the year which it ended. Long and Michael were shocked when they were told 1991 was the year the Cold War ended. It was the fact that the Cold War lasted for 45 years that surprised them the most. In 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart and ended the Cold War with it.
In conclusion, although the Cold War is a widely known war, very few people know the details about the war, its impacts on everyday lives, and the geopolitics it still has to this day. The U.S. is till the remaining power, advancing in weapons technologies, and has military posts around the world. NATO is still there and has strong political influence on many subjects. Even though the 1950’s videos about preparing for a nuclear attack are not being shown on televisions, the U.S. is still a target.