Social Studies - 2017-18

USII.8c - America's Role in the Cold War

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world between the end of World War II and the present by

c)  identifying the role of America’s military and veterans in defending freedom during the Cold War, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, the collapse of communism in Europe, and the rise of new challenges.

Blooms Level: Remember

Adopted: 2008


Big Themes/Concepts: Conflict, Division vs. Unity, Alliance, National Identity, Security, Political Systems

The Cold War had profound implications to United States society, the growth of United States government, and the influence of the United States around the world.

The world divided into two sides during the Cold War.

Conflicts with rivals do not have to result in warfare. 

American involvement in the war in Korea and Vietnam was the result of its Cold War strategy.


The United States and the Soviet Union emerged from World War II as world powers, triggering a rivalry over ideology and national security.

Since World War II, the United States has been directly involved in various conflicts that reflected the divisions created by Cold War tensions and hostilities.

The tension between the free world and the communist world caused divisiveness at home and abroad.

The Cold War was the central organizing principle in foreign affairs for 40 years.

How and why did the Cold War begin?

What have been the major conflicts and confrontations involving America in the post-World War II era?

How did Cold War tensions cause divisiveness at home?

How did communism collapse in Europe?

How were the challenges after the Cold War different from earlier challenges?


Terms to know

·  Cold War: The state of tension without actual fighting between the United States and the Soviet Union, which divided the world into two camps

Origins of the Cold War

·  Differences in goals and ideologies between the United States and the Soviet Union (the two superpowers). The United States was democratic and capitalist; the Soviet Union was dictatorial and communist.

·  The Soviet Union’s domination over Eastern European countries

·  American policy of containment (to stop the spread of communism)

·  North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) versus Warsaw Pact

Major conflicts in the post-World War II era

·  South Korea and the United States resisted Chinese and North Korean aggression. The conflict ended in a stalemate.

·  The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred when the Soviet Union placed missiles in Cuba. The Soviets removed the missiles in response to a U.S. blockade of Cuba.

·  The United States intervened to stop the spread of communism into South Vietnam (Domino Theory). Americans were divided over whether the United States should be involved militarily in Vietnam. The conflict ended in a cease-fire agreement in which U.S. troops withdrew.

Collapse of communism in Europe

·  Breakup of the Soviet Union into independent countries

·  Destruction of the Berlin Wall

New challenges

·  Role of United States military intervention

·  Environmental challenges

Global issues, including trade, jobs, diseases, energy

Analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history. (USII.1a)

Make connections between the past and the present. (USII.1b)

Sequence events in United States history. (USII.1c)

Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (USII.1d)

Analyze and interpret maps that include major physical features. (USII.1f)


Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, communism, capitalism, dictatorial, NATO, Warsaw Pact, Domino Theory, containment, cease-fire. 

Updated: Aug 17, 2017