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The Cold War

Glossary and Terms

Arms Race - A competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to manufacture the most nuclear weapons. They also tried to outdo each other in weapons technology and defense.

Capitalism - An economic system based on private ownership (rather than government ownership) and the free market system.

Communism - An economic system based on government ownership and control of resources.

D├ętente - A softening or easing of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. It started around 1971 and included President Nixon's visit to Moscow as well as the SALT talks. It ended when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Eastern Bloc - The Eastern Bloc was a name given to the Soviet Union and its communist controlled states in Eastern Europe such as Poland, East Germany, and Bulgaria.

Eisenhower Doctrine - The Eisenhower Doctrine stated that a country could ask for military support from the United States if it was threatened by another country. It was based on a speech President Eisenhower gave to Congress and was a warning to the Soviet Union.

Glasnost - Glasnost was a policy introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev that allowed for more openness in the Soviet government as well as some level of freedom of speech.

Iron Curtain - The iron curtain was a descriptive term or symbol used to describe the border between the communist and democratic countries of Europe. The idea of the iron curtain was that it kept information and people from crossing from the communist east to the democratic west.

Marxism - Marxism is an economic and political philosophy named after its author German philosopher Karl Marx. It is the basis of many communist governments.

McCarthyism - This is the term given to accusations of treason or disloyalty without having evidence. It comes from a time when Senator McCarthy of the US made several accusations of people being communists and traitors during the Cold War.

NATO - NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is an alliance of democratic and western countries including much of Western Europe, Canada, and the United States.

Nuclear weapon - A nuclear weapon is a device that uses nuclear forces to create a huge explosion capable of destroying an entire city.

Perestroika - A term used by Mikhail Gorbachev to describe a reconstruction of the Soviet economy and industry. It included some private ownership of businesses.

Proxy War - A proxy war is when two sides use third parties to fight rather than fighting each other directly. The United States and the Soviet Union fought proxy wars during the Cold War such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Red Scare - The Red Scare was a time of extreme anti-communism in the United States. People were scared that communists had infiltrated the government.

SALT - SALT stands for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. It was when the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to limit the number of nuclear weapons they made.

Solidarity - Solidarity was a movement in Poland to create a trade union that was not controlled by the communist party. It was led by Lech Walesa who became President of Poland in 1990.

Space Race - The Space Race was a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to explore space. Russia got off to a fast start by putting up the first satellite and the first manned flight into orbit. The United States, however, was the first to put a man on the Moon.

Superpower - A superpower is a country that is significantly stronger, especially in regards to their military, than most other countries. During the Cold War the Soviet Union and the United States were the two world superpowers.

Truman Doctrine - The Truman Doctrine was an effort to stop the spread of communism. It said that the United States would help countries that were threatened by "armed minorities or outside pressures".

Warsaw Pact - The Warsaw Pact was an alliance between the Soviet Union and other Eastern Europe communist nations.

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Overview Major Events Wars People of the Cold War

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