Chapter 25 Summary

After the end of WWII there existed vacuumsof power in Western Europe and the Pacific. The international sovereignty of the Europeans was shattered due to the extent of war damage and the once powerful Japanese Empire was reduced to little more than a U.S. occupational zone. The two new world Superpowers, Soviet Russia and the U.S., had free reign to exert their influence on these vacuums. Quickly mistrust developed between the two powers which became official with Stalin’s declaration of the West as the enemy of the Soviets in February 1946. A month later Winston Churchill would deliver his famous Iron Curtain speech foreshadowing the great divide that would take place with central Europe at its epicenter.

http://www.pbs.org/behindcloseddoors/maps/soviet_influence_in_europe.png

The next two decades would see several proxy wars and indirect conflicts between the West and the Soviets with a correlated escalation in the Arms and Space Races. It was not until the 1970’s that tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Russia began to subside. Subsequent bans on nuclear testing and weapons reduction treaties were signed by both nations who in turn exerted their influence over their allies to follow suit. This state of detente would last up until the end of the Cold War with the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.

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