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Harry S Truman

Signed the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II; provided economic and military aid to any country threatened by communism or totalitarian ideology (i.e.; the Korean War)

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Former Allied Supreme Commander in World War II; stated that the United States would defend the Middle East against an attack by any communist country.

John F. Kennedy

Was President when the Soviet Union oversaw the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961; guided the nation through the Cuban Missile Crisis; called on the United States to be the first nation to land on the moon, igniting the Space Race.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Advocated a "flexible response" policy toward Communism as evidence by American expansion in South Vietnam.

Richard Nixon

First U.S. President to visit communist China; promoted the policy of détente with communist countries; signed the first SALT treaty with the Soviet Union in 1972.

Ronald Reagan

Initially labeled the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire;" advocated for a missile defense system called "Star Wars;" negotiated with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to improve American-Soviet relations.

Joseph Stalin

Soviet Premier during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War; after the war, Stalin established pro-Soviet Communist governments throughout Eastern Europe.

Nikita Khrushchev

Soviet Premier who oversaw the building of the Berlin Wall; ordered Soviet tanks into Hungary to put down pro-democracy movement; sent nuclear weapons to Cuba resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis and ultimately his fall from power.

Leonid Brezhnev

Signed the historic SALT I Treaty with the United States, limiting each nations' nuclear weapons; supported intervention if communism was threatened; sent Soviet troops into Afghanistan in 1979, increasing the hostility between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Mikhail Gorbachev

The last premier of the Soviet Union; initiated the Soviet policies of glasnost and perestroika; negotiated with American President Ronald Reagan to improve American-Soviet relations.

Fidel Castro

Communist leader of Cuba.

Mao Zedong

Communist leader of China.

Ho Chi Minh

Communist leader of Vietnam.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

A military alliance formed in 1949 by ten Western European countries, the United States, and Canada.

Warsaw Pact

A military alliance formed in 1955 by the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites.

United Nations

An international peacekeeping organization founded in 1945 to promote world peace, security, and economic development.

Marshall Plan

Government program under which the United States supplied economic aid to European nations to help them rebuild after World War II.


The attacks, often unsubstantiated, by Senator Joe McCarthy and others on people suspected of being Communists in the early 1950s.

Satellite Nation

A country that is dominated politically and economically by another nation.

Mutually Assured Destruction

A doctrine of military strategy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides would effectively result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender.


Containment: The American policy of the 1940s and 1950s that called for blocking the spread of Soviet influence around the world.

Flexible Response

A conventional notion of limited warfare to contain the spread of communism through conventional military forces—troops, ships, artillery—rather than through the use of nuclear weapons.

Iron Curtain

A phrase coined by Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe an imaginary line that separated Communist countries in the Soviet bloc of Eastern Europe from countries in Western Europe.


Policy adopted by President Nixon that called for a willingness to negotiate and ease tensions between the United States and communist countries.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The 1962 confrontation between US and the Soviet Union over Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Treaty signed in 1972 between the United States and the Soviet Union that limited the nations' number of nuclear weapons.


The Russian word for "openness," this was a policy that allowed for the open discussion of social problems within the Soviet Union in the 1980s.


Economic and government reform in the Soviet Union during the 1980s which reduced government control of the economy and created steps towards establishing a democratic government.

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