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Video transcript

hiya dr. Koontz hello David how you doing I'm doing well I'm excited to learn about this thing we call the Cold War what is a cold war and what makes it different than a hot war so a cold war and in this case it's really it might be a term that we could debate is a war where the two major combatants never actually fire bullets at each other or drop bombs on each other so never in the course of the Cold War did the u.s. ever meet ground troops with the USSR but people still died in combat right okay so the Cold War is kind of fought through proxy wars and these are wars that are taking place in other nations developing nations of the world where the u.s. is supporting one side generally the the pro-capitalist side and the Soviet Union is supporting the other side a communist side so this is the case in the Korean War in the 1950s and then definitely the case in the Vietnam War in the 1960s so the US and the USSR aren't fighting directly but they're kind of betting on boxing matches betting on different fighters in the same boxing match yeah but they're not just betting they're also putting money and arms where their mouth is so you know if they're they're two different fighters in the ring you know the u.s. is given the the capitalists fighter is feeding him so you've got the capitalists fighter in one corner and you know he's sweaty and he's beaten but the u.s. is behind him with like a towel and one of those like water bucket splashing water in his face like get in this bug get in there right and if necessary you know you know tying up his boxing glove is given him a new pair of shoes and you know doing whatever they can hang is rent right doing everything that they can him meals probably right that's the Marshall Plan exactly okay so tell me tell me about these two combatants and this in this corner wearing a wearing wearing a suit is Harry Truman and Harry Truman is President of the United States starting in 1945 he was vice president to Franklin Roosevelt who had been the US as president since 1932 and who tragically died in 1945 so so Truman is really in charge of ending World War two for the United States and also kind of setting a post-war plan so he prosecutes the end of the war he makes the decision to drop the atom bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima and he ends the war in both theaters right okay and and in the other corner wearing a very fine mustache is Joseph Stalin and he's the Soviet premier he's been in charge since the 1920s and for him I would say the most important thing that Stalin wanted after World War 2 was security Oh shall we say um so if you're if you remember your history in World War one Germany invaded Russia in World War two Germany invaded Russia I'm seeing a pattern and if there's anything that Stalin wants in the post 1945 era it is not to be invaded by Germany anymore sure so he is very anxious to make sure that the world is safe for communism he thinks that the best way to make sure that Russians can continue the experiment and the revolution of communism is to have a buffer zone shall we say between Russia and the rest of Europe okay and he does that by kind of shoring up some puppet governments and what we now call the Eastern Bloc these these nations that had been taken over by Hitler and then when the Soviet Union joined the war on the side of the Allies then were retaken over by as they fought Hitler back so a lot of a lot of those Central European countries like Hungary and liffe and Lithuania and former Czech Czechoslovakia former Yugoslavia and he has the advantage of having boots on the ground there right because he'd beaten back Hitler's invasion eventually right Russian troops were fighting against Hitler and American troops who were fighting against Hitler you know they meet in Berlin at the fall of Hitler and kind of shake hands in Berlin but the advantage that Russia has is they've got a lot more people here they've got you know most of Europe now at least east of Berlin has Soviet troops on the ground sure so can you had been telling me that the Soviet Union did yeoman's work in containing and basically prosecuting the entire Eastern Front during World War two yeah and you know the Soviet Union actually lost 20 million people during World War two that's I mean in just a load icarus number they lost more than anyone except for China and Germany so I feel like they have the feel like they have a real stake in the outcome of World War two so at the end of this what what is what is the situation in the USSR like they've conquered all of this territory but are they are they strong enough economically to hold all of it and feed everyone no not really in fact most of Europe is in pretty dire straits if you think about it all of World War two was really kind of fought right right you're right in the European breadbasket and so there is serious economic trouble in the aftermath of World War two you know people don't have enough to eat they certainly don't have any cash and they don't have any fuel which is very worrisome in 1946 because that's a terrible winter so people are cold and they are hungry and when people are cold and hungry there is a lot of fuel for a possible revolution sure right you even in the 1930s right in the United States there's a lot of different political ideas that come up during the Great Depression because when your political system isn't working well you consider other kinds of political systems so the United States is worried that because of the cold winter of 1946 and scarcity across Western Europe this blue part of the map is going to turn much redder right so for the United States they're worried that communism is kind of the the child of hunger and poverty okay and they're afraid that because Stalin has so much territory in Europe that he is really well poised to become Hitler part two okay that is a sequel the United States does not want to see no absolutely not and if they really learn anything from World War two it's that appeasement doesn't work okay right um during the 1930s many people in the West the Prime Minister of England Neville Chamberlain kind of felt like they didn't want to go back to war right because World War one is still very much on people's minds in the 1930s and so they figured you know let's let's not confront Hitler head-on because you know we're not up for that right now we're also in the middle of a worldwide depression and that helps nothing because it just meant that Hitler could gain a whole lot of territory and World War two was much worse than it might have been if they hadn't gone after Hitler earlier I stopped the untruth yes if you stopped the Amish loose you stopped the onslaught exactly so so they're really trying to say all right Stalin if he wants to could probably just run his way through the rest of Europe right with very little resistance okay because the only nation in the world that has the military and economic power to stop the Soviet Union is the States because their factories and fields were not bombed to cinders during the European theater right so if they want to stop Hitler part to the Stalin years right then they're going to have to really stand up for capitalism and also for the kind of material comforts and democratic what would call self-determination right this is one of the the most important ideas to come out of the alliance between the United States and Britain which is that the citizens of a region should have the right to decide their own form of government okay and they think of the Soviets as being totalitarians and that's not a wrong assessment because there is a very strong totalitarian control coming out of Moscow in the Soviet Union so they say if we're going to keep Europe from turning all red all communist then we're going to need to kind of shore up Europe okay you know they think of communism as kind of being a little bit like a flood should we say that you've got a you got to put sandbags around the edges of communism otherwise it's going to leak out so is the United States and their allies also interested in creating their own kind of light blue buffer zone also next to the Eastern Bloc were they interested in is this is this when we get into the creation of NATO NATO really comes out of an understanding that World War two has not created peace okay and so the u.s. is going to have to forego their you know more than a century long commitment to being isolationist and take a stronger role in the world so okay so for the folks at home what does NATO stand for I was a treaty roars Atlantic Treaty Organization and this is a it's a defensive alliance between at first twelve nations which say that an attack on one is will be treated as an attack on all gotcha well that sounds like they're maneuvering their boxers into position and like rubbing the shoulders and getting them ready yes very much so and I think one of the tragedies of the the post-war era is that maybe things didn't have to be like this right after the US and the USSR had worked together to defeat Hitler it might have been possible for them to coexist peacefully but I think they both had the idea that the other economic system and we're talking about communism and capitalism which is kind of riddled with internal inconsistencies and that eventually the world would be all capitalist or all communist and they were going to have to really marshal all of their resources behind their chosen boxer or they were going to lose sounds like a fight that's going to take a long time and it did end round one