Communism is an economic system in which wealth is shared among all workers. In communism the government has strict control over the economy and owns all property.
In capitalism, the free market determines who gets wealthy. The government has some economic controls, but businesses and property are privately owned. Businesses are motivated by profit.
Cold War Powers
On one side of the cold war were the capitalist countries of NATO, which included North America and Western Europe. On the other side were the communist countries of The Warsaw Pact of the USSR and Eastern Europe. It was called The Cold War because although the two main powers of The US and USSR gathered many weapons, they never fought directly.
Division of Germany
Germany was divided after World War II. The western countries controlled West Germany and made it an independent capitalist country, while the USSR controlled East Germany and made it a communist country. The city of Berlin was also divided between east and west, though it was surrounded by East Germany. The US airlifted food and supplies into West Berlin.
President Harry Truman proposed a policy called “containment” for communism. The US would give aid to stop the spread of communism anywhere in The World. The US gave aid to Greece and Turkey and became involved in wars in Korea and Vietnam.
The Marshall Plan was the plan for the US to give aid to European countries after World War II. The intent was to stop the spread of communism.
The Great Society was president Lyndon Johnson’s plan to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. It included funding for medical care, education and transportation. Eventually the Vietnam War prevented funding of many programs.
Nixon and Watergate
Richard Nixon was the president after Lyndon Johnson and he continued the Vietnam War. His administration was responsible for the Watergate Scandal in which Republican operatives broke into the Democratic headquarters. Nixon became the first president to resign from office.
Collapse of The USSR
After a 1991 coup, the Soviet leader handed over power to the new Russian president. The Soviet Union dissolved into 12 separate nations. Other communist nations in Europe dissolved and most are now democratic.
On September 11, 2001, members of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and crashed them into buildings in the US. This attack led to a global war on terror. The US began wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased attention has also been given to cyber threats.
Berlin Wall Photos: Bundesarchiv