The Iron Curtain is the name for the “barrier” that separated the communist and non-communist territories. It was “set” by the Soviet Union after World War II to separate itself and its dependent Eastern and Central European allies from any contact in the west and any other non-communist areas. The “barrier” was recognized as the Iron Curtain by Winston Churchill in a speech at Fulton, Missouri on March 5th 1946.
Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Churchill meant that the Soviet Union had separated the eastern European countries from the west so that no one knew what was going on behind the “curtain.” He used the word “iron” to signify that it was impenetrable. Nazi German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels had already used the term in reference to the Soviet Union.
Churchill’s speech is considered one of the opening volleys announcing the beginning of the Cold War.
Truman doctrine, policy of containment, arms race
With the Truman Doctrine, President Harry S. Truman established on March 12th 1947, that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces.
Policy of containment
Containment was a foreign policy strategy followed by the United States during the Cold War. First laid out by George F. Kennan in 1947, the policy stated that communism needed to be contained and isolated, or else it would spread to neighbouring countries. American foreign policy advisors believed that once one country fell to communism, each surrounding country would fall as well, like a row of dominoes. This view was known as the domino theory.
The destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American atomic weapons in August 1945 began an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. This lasted until the signing of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty of November 1990.
The McCarthy Era was marked by dramatic accusations that communists had infiltrated the highest levels of American society as part of a global conspiracy. The period took its name from a Wisconsin senator, Joseph McCarthy, who created a frenzy in the press in February 1950 with his claim that hundreds of communists were spread throughout the State Department and other sectors of the Truman administration.McCarthy did not create a widespread fear of communism in America at the time. But he was responsible for creating a pervasive atmosphere of suspicion which had dangerous consequences. Anyone’s loyalty could be questioned, and many Americans were unfairly placed in the position of having to prove they were not communist sympathizers.
After a heyday of four years in the early 1950s, McCarthy was discredited. His thundering accusations turned out to be unfounded.
Universities, left-wing organizations were mostly under the look-out.
At the end of the Second World War, Korea – which had formerly been occupied by the Japanese – was divided along the 38th Parallel. This was an internal border between North and South Korea based on a circle of latitude.
The North soon fell under the influence of the Soviet Union whilst the South relied on the support of the Americans. The Korean People’s Army (KPA) was established in North Korea in February 1948, from Korean communist guerrillas who had previously served with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, but were ‘advised’ by Soviet personnel. On 25 June 1950, the KPA invaded South Korea and rapidly advanced southwards trapping South Korean and American troops in a small perimeter around the port of Pusan.
The United Nations, with the United States (us, GB, Australia, Canada, India, NZ, South Africa) as the principal participant, joined the war on the side of the South Koreans, and the People’s Republic of China came to North Korea’s aid. After more than a million combat casualties had been suffered on both sides, the fighting ended in July 1953 with Korea still divided into two hostile states. Negotiations in 1954 produced no further agreement, and the front line has been accepted ever since as the de facto boundary between North and South Korea.
Role of J. F. Kennedy
As president (35th), Kennedy confronted mounting Cold War tensions in Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere. He also led a renewed drive for public service and eventually provided federal support for the growing civil rights movement. Navy and marine corps medal for his service during ww2.
Bay of Pigs and the Cuban crisis
In early 1961 President John F. Kennedy concluded that Fidel Castro was a Soviet client working to subvert Latin America. After much debate in his administration, Kennedy authorized a clandestine invasion of Cuba by a brigade of Cuban exiles. The origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis lie in the failed Bay of Pigs on the 17th April 1961 invasion, during which US-supported Cuban exiles hoping to foment an uprising against Castro were overpowered by the Cuban armed forces. After the invasion, Castro turned to the Soviets for protection against future US aggression.
In October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba. President Kennedy did not want the Soviet Union and Cuba to know that he had discovered the missiles. He met in secret with his advisors for several days to discuss the problem. After many long and difficult meetings, Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba. The aim of this “quarantine,” as he called it, was to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.
Soon after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a global conflict pitting democracy against communism. Space became a critical theatre in this Cold War, as each side competed to best the other’s achievements in what became known as the Space Race.
Sputnik – (1st artificial satellite) sometimes called Sputnik 1 – went into space on Oct. 4, 1957. The achievement sent a shockwave through the American public, who had felt a sense of technological superiority amid a post-war economic boom.
Sputnik 2- Laika- muttnik
Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences)
Vietnam had been under French rule since the 19th century. During ww2 Japanise forces invaded Vietnam. To fight off both Japanese and the French, political leader Ho Chi Minh formed the Viet Minh, League for the Vietnam Independence. After World War Two Ho Chi Minh captured Hanoi in 1945 and declared Vietnam independent. The French tried to take control again, but this was unpopular with the people. They were defeated by the Vietminh at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
The Domino Theory
This was the belief that if one country fell to communism, it was likely that the neighbouring one would also fall – similar to a row of dominoes falling over. This had happened in Eastern Europe after 1945. China had become communist in 1949 and communists were in control of North Vietnam.
Objectively, North Vietnam – the communists – who achieved their goals of reuniting and gaining independence for the whole Vietnam won the war whereas South Vietnam under the U.S. support lost the war.
It led Congress to replace the military draft with an all-volunteer force and the country to reduce the voting age to 18. It also inspired Congress to attack the “imperial” presidency through the War Powers Act, restricting a president’s ability to send American forces into combat without explicit Congressional approval. The Vietnam War severely damaged the U.S. economy. Unwilling to raise taxes to pay for the war, President Johnson unleashed a cycle of inflation. The war also weakened U.S. military morale and undermined, for a time, the U.S. commitment to internationalism. Poisoned their crops and life.
Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair
Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.
The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such “dirty tricks” as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious.
The role of Henry Kissinger
Henry Alfred Kissinger was the 56th Secretary of State of the United States. After leaving government service, he founded Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm, of which he is chairman.
On January 27, 1973, Kissinger and his North Vietnamese negotiating partner, Le Duc Tho, finally signed a ceasefire agreement to end direct American involvement in the conflict. Both men were honoured with the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, although Duc declined, leaving Kissinger the sole recipient of the award.
Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock
Counterculture A counterculture developed in the United States in the late 1960s, lasting from approximately 1964 to 1972, and coinciding with America’s involvement in Vietnam. Counterculture youth rejected the cultural standards of their parents, especially with respect to racial segregation, the Vietnam War, sexual mores, women’s rights, and materialism, poverty.
Summer of Love In the summer of 1967, tens of thousands of young supporters of the counterculture flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Virtually taking over the neighbourhood, these so-called ‘hippies’ brought vibrant colours and personalities to the city, filling it with music, drugs and free love in what would go down in history as the Summer of Love.
Woodstock was a music festival held between August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York, 70 km southwest of Woodstock.
Just a disclaimer- the video contains some very graphic content
For my last visual I managed to find the time to watch this extremely alluring documentary about the children of Agent Orange. I had no previous knowledge of this topic so the documentary was very eye-opening. Agent Orange was a mixture of plant-killing chemicals used during the Vietnam War by US troops. It was used as a defoliant to remove tree cover, destroy crops, and clear vegetation. The video focuses on the children whose parents or grandparents were somehow exposed to the chemical. As seen from the short film, the exposure can cause liver problems, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, range of afflictions, miscarriages, psychological symptoms birth defects in children and cancers. It was shocking for me to acknowledge how much suffering had the US caused to the humanity just because they wanted to eliminate forest cover and crops. The children seen from the documentary were all angry, but not just with the US but with the whole sufferings caused by the Vietnam war. It was a bit comforting for me to find out that America does clean up work there. But the lives of the disabled children can never fully compensated.
It took me by a surprise to find that the “Full metal jacket” is not meant to be historically accurate. It is based on a novel “The Short Timers”, which is supposedly on personal experiences. Plus Kubrick (film’s director) ingested countless films, videotapes and books for background.
The first training part in the boot camp was historically form a Marine boot camp in 1967. A review (1) concludes the training part as: “They’ve become the killers that they were trained to be. Now, all they care about is living longer than the guy trying to kill them.” The idea the review was trying to forward is clear- the main focus of the camp was to create indentical products for war. Just like in a factory. But still, I’m not 100% on board with the idea. As we see from the war scenes, Joker was not a programmed killer, unlike Animal Mother. Joker was still humane person, which was seen when giving mercy for the sniper. He was not a killing machine and even seemed to be glad when the bloodwork finally ended. Saying that, I actually found Joker’s character a bit disjointed. As a result of my research I found that I’m clearly not the only one. Many critics stated that the whole film was not very coherent. Tom Volk said something very relatable for me in his review (2): “Every time the movie starts to gain momentum, it is shattered by useless scenes that do nothing to drive the storyline along.” Like the moment we find out something about Joker (ex. About his journalism, peace sign), he’s off making some tacky jokes, going out with a hooker, provoking his boss or doing something x what doesn’t enhance our understanding of the character. In conclusion leaving some unfilled caps in the story.
“Sometimes the characters come alive, other times they seem like so many props for Kubrick’s smoldering landscapes and tracking camera movements.“ (3)
This brings me to the camerawork I found absolutely magnificent. The quality Kubrick has put into “Full metal jacket” just can’t be left out of the review. The camerawork, the soundtracks, the background, everything was in its perfect place. When soldiers were hit by sniper fire, their agony was caught in slow-motion, which made it so much more painful to watch as to be surreal. This scene left me chills and a dazzling emotion.
“One of the greatest war movies” or “seminal depictions of the Vietnam War in cinema,” these and many more titles have been given to the film “Full metal jacket.” Even though the film was not my cup of tea, I find Kubrick to be a master filmmaker after watching FMJ.
- J.Morehead, ‘Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick (Review),’ Opus, available at:
https://opuszine.us/reviews/full-metal-jacket-stanley-kubrick-1987, accessed: 05.06.19
- T.Volk, ‘Criminally Overrated: Full Metal Jacket,’ Spectrum Culture, available at:
https://spectrumculture.com/2011/11/02/criminally-overrated-full-metal-jacket/, accessed: 05.06.19
- D.Howe, ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ The Washington Post, available at:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/fullmetaljacketrhowe_a0b0d0.htm??noredirect=on, accessed: 05.06.19