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An image of communist China is shown. Three Chinese citizens are standing with their left fists raised in the air. One man is holding a gun and the other appears to hold another weapon of some sort. Behind the people are images of the Chinese flag. Chinese characters at the bottom of the image are translated to read, "Give everything for your country!"

What: The Cold War was a period of tense international relations between the systems of communism in the Soviet Union and capitalism in the West. The term refers to a state of tension between two powers that fell short of actual warfare, but one in which the powers tried to defeat one another.

Who: Soviet Union with communist satellite nations and the West (United States, Great Britain, etc.)

When: Historians mark 1946 as the beginning of the Cold War. It ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

Significance: The United States is a democracy in which people elect their leaders. The Soviets embraced a totalitarian government with no free elections. The American economy was largely based on free-market principles with some government oversight. The Soviet economy was controlled entirely by the government. During the Cold War, both sides developed nuclear bombs and engaged in a nuclear arms race, using government finances to build a stockpile of nuclear weapons. The differences between the countries would lead to a series of conflicts in which the two sides wouldn't directly engage in warfare, although the threat was very real.
A newspaper image of the New York Times is shown. One of the main headlines reads, "Final Vote Condemns McCarthy, 67-22, For Abusing Senate and Committee; Zwicker Count Eliminated in Debate."

What: Congress investigated communist influence in the United States through the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The widespread suspicion and accusations against Americans of communistic activities became known as McCarthyism.

Who: Senator Joseph McCarthy

When: 1945-1954

Significance: Stalin's refusal to allow free elections caused many Americans to believe that the Soviet Union was intent on world domination. One of the first areas HUAC investigated was the entertainment industry. Some accused entertainers were blacklisted, permanently blocked from working in Hollywood. Non-government groups also began to issue their own blacklists of people they suspected held communist beliefs. In this era, a simple suggestion could ruin people's careers and lives. Despite his lack of facts, many Americans supported Senator McCarthy in his search for communists. His sensationalist approach encouraged other Americans to charge people based on suspicion rather than evidence. Then, in 1954, McCarthy accused officials in the U.S. Army of communist sympathies. The hearings on the case were nationally televised, and many Americans around the nation realized that McCarthy had gone too far. His popularity began to diminish. McCarthy was later censured, or publicly reprimanded, by the U.S. Senate for his actions.