From the end of World War II until 1989, a silent war raged between the great countries
of the United States and the Soviet Union. When the United States dropped the first atomic
bombs on Japan, it not only ended the second World War but began the Cold War (Gaddis 23).
In 1946, the Russians in the United Nations proposed a ban of all atomic weapons, the
destruction of all stockpiles, and the reduction of all armed forces to one-third. Harry Truman
and his administration flatly rejected this, saying that it was simply insincere propaganda
(Gaddis 94). Congress even went so far as to assume that the Soviet Union would never be able
to produce an atomic bomb (Kirk 29).
Henry Wallace, then the Secretary of Commerce, warned Truman not to act tough against
the Soviet Union (Beschloss 35). However, on February 28, 1946, Secretary of State James
Byrnes hinted in a speech to Congress about the beginning of a new harder policy towards the
Soviet Union (Gaddis 71).
Truman even supported Winston Churchill, who had just been voted
out of office by the British Labor Party for making his famous 'iron curtain' speech where he
accused Stalin of enslaving the countries of Eastern Europe behind an iron curtain of
communism (Gaddis 77). This chain of events led to the eventual rise of the Cold War.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched the satellite 'Sputnik' into
orbit. This seemed to have the potential for a major shift in the strategic balance of power
between the two superpowers (Gaddis 153). In 1955, the Soviet Union actually tested the first
hydrogen bomb successfully (Kirk 32). Sometime after World War II, Stalin decided not to try
to catch up to the United States in building massive amounts of bombers,