18.4 Two Nations Live on the Edge

Chapter 18 Section 4
Race for the H-Bomb
In the years of the 1950’s American’s lived everyday life with one united fear, the
fear of nuclear war.
At the end of WWII the U.S. developed the atom bomb and displayed its
massive destruction on the Japan. However, nuclear scientist suspected that it
would be possible to create another bomb more powerful and a lot more
The “Hydrogen Bomb” or “H-Bomb” would be 67 times more powerful than
the bomb dropped on Heroshima, the deadliest bomb ever created.
The American’s would not be the only country seeking to create an H-Bomb;
the Soviets were trying as well. Because of this the two super powers engaged
into what is called “the arms race.”
In the early 1950s ten years after the creation of atomic bomb, the U.S. won
the arms race and exploded the first hydrogen bomb. The victory would not
last long though however, because less than a year later the Soviets exploded
their first H-Bomb.
Fermi and Rabi wrote, "Since no limit exists to the destructiveness of this
weapon, its existence and knowledge of its construction is a danger to
humanity as a whole."
The H-Bomb
What moral or ethical questions do you think
people had when they thought of this type
of bomb?
Is the development of the hydrogen
bomb a form of “containment?” Why or
why not?
In 1953 Dwight Eisenhower became President of the United States, and in his
term as president both the U.S. and the Soviet Union were capable of fighting
a nuclear war.
Eisenhower’s secretary of state John Foster Dulles proposed that for the U.S.
to contain communism they had to be willing to use all of its military force
which included nuclear weapons.
This willingness of the United States to come to the edge of al out nuclear war
became known as the “brinkmanship” policy.
With this policy the U.S. made some changes to its defenses by cutting some
of its army and navy and increasing its air force. Along with this the U.S.
increased their nuclear arsenal….. So did the Soviets.
Even if only a few bombs reached their targets, millions would die and every
American’s fear of nuclear war would be realized.
It was common for school children to
do air raid drills and practice for a
nuclear blast.
It was also thought that a family could
build a bomb shelter and where they
could take refuge until the nuclear war
was over.
Cold War Around the World
The containment policy the U.S. adopted led to a heavy
reliance on intelligence gathering about other nations.
Therefore, this led to the U.S. relying on the Central
Intelligence Agency and using them as a means to
contain Communism.
The CIA’s first major contribution was secretly funding
supporters of the Shah of Iran. The Shah lost power in
Iran and the Iran state took over ownership of the oil
companies. Afraid that the new Iranian government
would turn to the Soviets for help, the U.S. aided the
Shah’s campaign back to power.
The CIA also secretly took action in Guatemala where their government was
believed to have Communist sympathies.
The CIA trained an army and that army invaded Guatemala. The army of
Guatemala would not defend their president and as a result the Guatemalan
president resigned. The leader of the invading army assumed power and became
dictator of the country.
Warsaw Pact and Geneva
After the death of Joseph Stalin the relationship
between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R thawed out a
However, in 1955 the Soviet Union grew fearful
when West Germany was allowed back into NATO
and rearmed itself. This led to the Soviets
forming their own military alliance with 7 other
nations called the Warsaw Pact.
In 1955 President Eisenhower traveled to Geneva in
Switzerland and proposed an “open skies policy.”
This policy would allow the Soviets and the
Americans to fly in each other’s air space to defend
against nuclear threats.
Even though the soviets rejected this policy the world
saw the meeting between the two nations as a step
forward towards peace.
Suez War
In 1955 the U.S agreed to help fund Egypt’s construction of a dam on the Nile
River. Egypt was not only taking money from the Americans but also the
Soviets. When the U.S. found this out they pulled out their money from Egypt.
This angered Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and led him to nationalize the
British and French owned Suez Canal. The canal was supposed to be open to
all nations and this act provoked Britain and France to send troops in to take
back the canal.
The UN quickly intervened and persuaded the British and French troops to
leave. However, the canal stayed in Egypt’s control.
The Soviet’s influence soon rose in the Middle East because of its
contributions to Egypt. This would lead to President Eisenhower warning
the world, “The U.S. will defend the Middle East from an attack by any
communist country.”
This became known as the Eisenhower Doctrine.
Cold War to the Sky
After the death of Stalin a group of leaders shared power in the Soviet Union.
However, one man ended up rising to power alone and that was Nikita
As the two super powers competed on a world scale they soon took the
competition out of this world and into space. The Soviets had an initial lead in
the race by launching a satellite called “Sputnik.”
American’s had trouble and yet more
fear when they heard the news of a
Soviet satellite in outer space. This
technological display by the Soviets
drove American scientist to launch a
It wasn’t until a year after Sputnik and after a
miserable first launch attempt that the U.S.
launched its first satellite into space.
The U-2 Incident
Even though the Soviets did not agree Eisenhower’s open sky policy the U.S.
began making secret flights over the Soviet Union at high attitudes. These
flights would be intelligence flights that would take infrared pictures of the
Soviets troops and missiles.
This was called the U-2 program named after the planes that were used during the
flights. This program was a worry to Eisenhower because he had another summit
with Khrushchev and did not want to ruin the talks. However he was convinced to
fly one last flight.
This last U-2 flight over the Soviet Union would be
a costly one. The U-2 plane and pilot were shot
down and the pilot was captured and sentenced to
10 years in prison. Because of this incident, the
summit was called off and Khrushchev demanded
an apology from Eisenhower and a halting of the

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