JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - Key Events of the Cold War - JC History SBQ Skills

What were the key events of the Cold War?

Following the assessment of the visual-based sources that cover the Emergence of Bipolarity, we will be examining text-based sources to have a more comprehensive study of this topic. This article will analyze the interactions between the key players, particularly USA and Soviet Union, based on the major events that took place after World War Two. This article will be applicable to students taking either H2 History or H1 History.

Yalta Agreement [24 March 1945]
During World War Two, leaders of the Grand Alliance (USA, Great Britain and Soviet Union) met to discuss plans for a post-war Europe, particularly Germany. Generally, there were three essential areas of consideration in the Yalta Agreement.

First, the ‘Declaration of Liberated Europe’ meant that the leaders were bound to oversee the conduct of free and fair elections. Second, a demilitarized Germany would be divided into four zones occupied by USA, Great Britain, France and Soviet Union. Third, ‘free and unfettered elections’ were to be held in Poland.

Unfortunately, the end of WWII led to the collapse of the Grand Alliance. Roosevelt expressed his concerns to Stalin over the ‘Polish issue’ as the Polish government remained under communist control. Subsequently, pro-Soviet governments were formed in Eastern Europe, with Czechoslovakia being the final country that joined the ‘Eastern Bloc’. Hence, the perceived non-cooperation of Soviet Union fueled the deep-seated distrust of USA and Great Britain.

George Kennan’s Long Telegram [22 Feb 1946]
American diplomat George Kennan delivered a long telegram to US Secretary of State James Byrnes as he was failed to convince US President Harry Truman to abandon the cooperative stance with Soviet Union. More importantly, Kennan outlined the communist threat that should not be left unchecked in Europe. Eventually, his writings have shaped the American foreign policy of ‘containment’ in the subsequent years, particularly Truman Doctrine.

Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech [5 March 1946]
At Westminster College, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a historic speech (also known as the ‘Sinews of Peace’). In view of Kennan’s assessment of the ideological threat in Europe, Churchill stated that ‘an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.‘ Furthermore, he stated that the ‘Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.’ As a result, Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech reflected the growing distrust towards the former wartime ally – Soviet Union.

Afterwards, Stalin responded to the speech during an interview with the Soviet newspaper Pravda. He refuted Churchill’s statements, claiming that the formation of pro-Soviet governments in Eastern Europe was an important security measure against a potential invasion.

Harry Truman’s Address to the US Congress [12 March 1947]
Following George Kennan’s Long Telegram, Truman was certain that the communist threat had to be dealt with. As such, the Truman Doctrine was initiated. During his address, Truman emphasized that American intervention ‘should be primarily through economic and financial aid’. As such, the US provided large sums to aid Greece and Turkey during the Greek Civil War.

Additionally, US Secretary of State George Marshall delivered a speech at Harvard University on 5 June 1947. He highlighted the altruistic intentions of USA as the provision of financial assistance to facilitate the post-war reconstruction in Europe was of great importance to many nations. Marshall stated that USA’s policy was ‘directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos’.

The Berlin Blockade [24 June 1948]
Failure to achieve common consensus over the ‘German Question’ became a sore point for the Grand Alliance. Due to security concerns, the Soviet Union feared the revival of a former wartime enemy – Germany. Yet, the Western nations (USA and Great Britain) focused on post-war economic recovery, which was perceived by the Soviets as a provocative response.

Before the Blockade was imposed, USA and Great Britain combined their occupation zones into the ‘Bizone’. A year later, France joined and a ‘Trizone’ was created. More importantly, Germany was included as a recipient of Marshall Plan, which alarmed Stalin. The Allies were accused of violating the Potsdam Agreement.

On 25 March 1948, the Blockade was formed, in which Soviet military prevented the movement of supplies from West Germany to West Berlin. This prompted the Allies to capitalize on their air superiority, as seen by the Berlin Airlift. The Airlift provided numerous supplies to the Berliners and forced the Soviets to end the Blockade.

The Blockade was a major turning point during the Cold War as marked one of the closest point of military confrontation between the superpowers. Subsequently, Germany was formally divided into East and West Germany.

Are you ready to ace the GCE A Level Examinations?
In view of these historical developments, it is important that you apply your knowledge to practice questions. By doing so, you will develop the capacity to express your ideas in an argumentative format, which is critical due to the time constraints of the examinations. During the JC History Tuition, we teach students to write outlines and engage in class discussions to refine their answering skills.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - Origins of the Cold War Case Studies - JC History SBQ Skills

Origins of the Cold War – Cartoon Analysis

In this article, we will be examining a series of illustrative cartoons that reflect the diverse interpretations of the Cold War. As the GCE A Level History examinations (both Paper 1 and Paper 2) feature visual- and text-based sources, we believe that this article will be useful in prepare students thoroughly.

Today, we will be focusing on the first part: The Emergence of Bipolarity (also known as the Origins of the Cold War).

Analyze Leslie Illingworth's cartoons to understand how the Cold War began. Join our JC History Tuition to get started.
By British cartoonist Leslie Illingworth [June 1947]
It depicts Stalin’s attempts to extend Soviet control beyond Eastern Europe, reflecting the concerns over the growing ideological threat that necessitates an urgent response by USA. Pay attention to the use of ‘question marks (?)’ , which hints at his intentions in Western Europe.
Learn more about the Iron Curtain speech to understand how the Cold War began. Join our JC History Tuition to get a head-start in your revision.
By British cartoonist Leslie Illingworth [6 Feb 1946]
The cartoon was published in the UK Daily Mail after Winston Churchill gave his historic ‘Iron Curtain’ speech. It depicts Churchill attempting to lift the ‘Iron Curtain’ to view what is taking place within the Eastern Europe.

Learn more about the Marshall Plan to comprehend its importance in explaining how the Cold War began. Sign up for our JC History Tuition and start learning effectively.
A cartoon published in Russia during the Cold War
It depicts USA (‘Uncle Sam’) holding a weapon that represents the Marshall Plan (dollar ‘$’ sign) that is pointed at the Greek communists. Following the US Congress’ approval of the Truman Doctrine.
Learn more about the 'rival buses' cartoon to understand how the superpower rivalry gave rise to the outbreak of the Cold War.
By English illustrator E. H. Shepard [18 June 1947]
The cartoon was published in a British magazine, focusing on the competition between the USA and Soviet Union in battle for global supremacy. Notice the gestures of Truman (bespectacled man on the left) and Stalin (a more aggressive man on the right).
Learn more about the cartoon depicting the start of the Cold War with our JC History Tuition.
By Roy Justus [1947]
The cartoon was published in an American journal, depicting Soviet communism (eagle) as a harbinger of chaos (baby). In contrast, the American Congress (doctor) is rushing to Western Europe to provide economic aid (Marshall Plan) to fight chaos (mentioned during George Marshall’s Harvard address in June 1947).
Learn more about the Marshall Aid to understand why this American response to the Soviet actions gave rise to the start of the Cold War.
By British Illustrator E H Shepard [1 October 1947]
Cartoon published in British magazine to portray USA (Uncle Sam) as a generous nation that offers economic aid (Marshall Plan) to the crumbling Western Europe
Find out what happened during the Berlin Blockade to comprehend its significance in causing the division of Europe. Learn more about the emergence of bipolarity or known as the start of the Cold War.
By British cartoonist Leslie Illingworth [9 September 1948]
The cartoon was published in UK Daily Mail during the Berlin Blockade. The key subject clearly is Stalin (cat), who is toying with the Berlin people (mouse in the top part). In contrast, the other three mice on the ground represents the Western Powers, which are in danger as well.

Are you familiar with these sources?
Preparation is vital. After examining these visual-based sources, it is imperative that you refer to practice questions, such as your school materials, to assess your knowledge competency. Reading alone is inadequate in preparing you for the rigours of the examinations as the factual information may lack the argumentative perspectives. During the JC History Tuition, we guide students through the process of source interpretation, comparison and evaluation to raise the quality of answers.

In addition, we conduct other related JC tuition classes, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Your path to achieve excellence begins now. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What caused the end of the Cold War - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the end of the Cold War?

Why did the Cold War come to an end? 
In this three-part series, we have learnt how the Cold War began and how it expanded beyond Europe [as seen in the Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War]. Lastly, we will be looking at how the Cold War ended.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

1. Economic collapse of the Soviet Union 
One of the leading arguments put forth by historians is that the Soviet Union was affected by a sluggish economy that hindered its efforts to keep up with the arms race aspect of the Cold War. From 1964 to 1982, Gorbachev’s predecessors had expended vast amounts of state funds and resources to achieve nuclear parity with USA. Given that military arms accumulation had negligible benefits to the economic prosperity of the country, its people had to bear the consequences, such as the fall in production of consumer goods and decline in living standards.

2. Ineffective economic, social and political reforms 
Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991), the Soviet Union had undergone a drastic reform that affected its political, economic and social developments.

One such policy is Glasnost, which implies ‘openness’. This policy demonstrated Gorbachev’s willingness to accept new (and Western) ideas into the Soviet Union. Also, the people were allowed to state their views towards the government’s policies openly. However, this seemingly-democratic approach gave rise to unintended open criticisms that damaged the government’s credibility. For instance, the disastrous Chernobyl incident (Apr 1986) was exposed.

The second policy is Perestroika, which refers to ‘restructuring’. This approach involved the political and economic reforms that sought to blend both capitalist and central planning concepts into the domestic markets. For example, state enterprises were allowed to decide the level of production to meet consumer demand. At the same time, the government had full control over the means of production for these enterprises, thus restricting the latter’s ability to manage the cost of production. Eventually, the policy backfired. By early 1990s, Gross National Product (GNP) decreased by 2%. Many households suffered from food shortages as the country experienced high inflation rates and a devaluation of the Soviet Ruble against the US Dollar. Therefore, poor policy implementation contributed to the growing anti-government resentments that led up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

3. The Sinatra Doctrine [Oct 1989] 
The aptly-named ‘Sinatra Doctrine‘ was a stark contrast to the Brezhnev Doctrine, as the former hinted at the notion that the Soviet government allowed more political autonomy to be granted to the satellite states (which formed the Warsaw Pact states). Initially, these satellites were ruled with an iron fist, as exemplified by the authoritarian responses to act on potential dissent and challenge to Moscow (e.g. end of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956).

On 7 December 1988, Gorbachev addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He supported the “principle of freedom of choice” by acknowledging it as a “universal principle to which there should be exceptions”. As a result, the satellite states interpreted Gorbachev’s statement as a clear indication that the Soviet Union would not intervene should they choose to form independent governments.

1989 was a significant year as the world witnessed a series of revolutions in Eastern Europe. The disintegration of the satellite states began in Poland, followed by other neighbouring countries, like Hungary, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. This process culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which symbolised the reunification of Germany in 1990.

4. Dissolution of the Soviet Union (Dec 1991)
After observing the disintegration of the satellite states in Eastern Europe, many Soviet hardliners began to doubt Gorbachev’s intentions to address the challenges of the Soviet Union. Following the ineffective political and economic reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika, Gorbachev turned to a last-ditch effort to salvage the situation by proposing the Union Treaty that sought to create a voluntary federation in an increasingly democratised Soviet Union. However, Gorbachev was met with strong rejection by the hardliners. The country experienced a period of political instability.

During the attempted coup in August 1991, Gorbachev was placed under house arrest. Clearly, he had lost political influence. As such, Gorbachev resigned as the General Secretary and requested to dissolve all communist-related groups in the Soviet Union. Hence, Soviet Communism was no more. On 26 December 1991, the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Therefore, the decline of the Soviet Union meant that the Cold War was no longer relevant.

What’s Next?
Now that you have covered the entire spectrum of the Cold War study, it is important to take note of the following considerations to reinforce your learning of this theme:
– How did USA contribute to the end of the Cold War?  
– Did Gorbachev play the most important role in causing the end of the Cold War? [class discussion]

Improve your study of A Level History topics by attending our JC History Tuition programmes that are available for both JC1 and JC2 students. We conduct regular tuition classes for students who are taking either H1 or H2 History. These lessons include content re-teaching and skills-based development for SBQ and essay writing skills. Additionally, engage in class discussions to broaden your understanding of these historical issues, such that you can comprehend the significance of factors and form the arguments more logically and thoroughly.

On the other hand, join our GP Tuition classes to explore different current affairs issues and acquire proficient writing skills to answer A Level Comprehension and Essay questions. Our experienced JC GP Tutors will guide you through the analysis of thematic topics and impart you with the skills to ace the A Level General Paper examinations.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - How did the Vietnam War start - JC History SBQ Skills

How did the Vietnam War start?

What is the Vietnam War?
The Vietnam War is a military conflict between the North Vietnamese and US. Although the confrontation was primarily military in nature, the American involvement in Vietnam can be explained by the growing concerns over an expanding ideological threat (i.e. communism). As such, the Vietnam War can be interpreted as a Cold War proxy war.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

In the following sections, we will examine how the Vietnam War began, intensified and ended.

1. Military Retaliation [Tonkin Gulf incident, Aug 1964]
The shift in US stance for greater involvement in the Vietnam War can be observed by the significant turn of events, such as the Tonkin Gulf incident. In August 1964, the US warships [Maddox] were victims of two torpedo attacks by North Vietnam. The American warships were escorting South Vietnamese marine forces in international waters. In response to the confrontational incident, US President Lyndon Johnson vowed to resort retaliate through military action. Eventually, Johnson obtained a clear mandate from the US Congress, leading to the passing of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

This Resolution granted Johnson the authorization for the use of military force in Vietnam, without having to undertake a formal declaration of war. Therefore, it is clear that US had stepped up its involvement in the Vietnam War, which was intensified by the extensive use of land and air attacks.

2. Mounting domestic pressure for disengagement [Tet Offensive, Jan 1968]
Following persistent efforts by the US to achieve victory in the military confrontation against North Vietnam, such as the Operation Rolling Thunder [Jan 1965], the Vietcong conducted a massive military campaign that took the US by surprise. During the Vietnamese Tet holiday, the Vietcong attacked major cities in South Vietnam and captured the Saigon Embassy. They were close to complete military victory.

Although it appeared as if the Vietcong had won, it was a devastating failure for them, as seen by the loss of 40,000 troops and the unsuccessful push to cause the collapse of the Saigon regime. More importantly, the Tet Offensive dealt a severe blow to US as the media reports revealed to the American public that US was far from winning the war.

Initially, throughout the military campaign, Lyndon had assured the Americans that they were making significant progress and would eventually be victorious. As such, this revelation sparked widespread outrage, resulting in the rise of anti-war protests and demonstrations. As Lyndon’s approval ratings plummeted, he announced a major change in military stance to stop the aerial bombings in North Vietnam and promised to restore peace in Vietnam.

3. Escalation of anti-war protests [My Lai Massacre, Mar 1968]
After Richard Nixon won the presidential elections, he declared a new foreign policy stance, known as ‘Vietnamization’, which involved the withdrawal of American troops and provision of military training and support to South Vietnam in order to gain control of the war. However, his well-intended efforts were marred by a horrific and inhumane incident, known as the My Lai Massacre.

In March 1968, US troops killed more than 500 unarmed civilians in the My Lai village. One of the army commanders, Lieutenant William Calley, commanded his soldiers to fire at the innocent civilians.

Eventually, the brutal massacre was revealed to the American public, fueling greater anti-war sentiment. The negative perceptions towards the American involvement in the Vietnam War manifested in the form of numerous demonstrations on the streets of America. This development culminated in the largest anti-war demonstration in November 1969. Over time, US troops were gradually withdrawn in the subsequent years.

4. Outcome of the Vietnam War [Paris Peace Accords, Jan 1973]
As part of Nixon’s ‘Vietnamization’ foreign policy that sought to end American involvement in the war, he also oversaw the peace-making process, as exemplified by the Paris Peace Accords. In January 1973, a peace treaty was signed by North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the US, to mark the end of the Vietnam War officially.

However, the Paris Peace Accords only provided a temporary ceasefire. On 30 April 1975, the North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon – the capital of South Vietnam, which was later renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The ‘fall of Saigon’ signalled the end of the Vietnam War as the country was unified under communist rule.

What’s Next?
After you have examined the key events that shaped the Vietnam War, it is important to reinforce your comprehension of historical issues by considering the following questions:
– Why was the Vietnam War considered a Cold War conflict?  
– In comparison to the Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis, how did the Vietnam War affect the internationalization of the Cold War? [to be discussed in class]

We invite you to sign up for our JC History Tuition to attend a productive and exam-friendly revision programme that will prepare you for the A Level History examinations. Our classes are structured to match the syllabus requirements for both H1 and H2 History students.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What started the Korean War - JC History SBQ Skills

What started the Korean War?

What is the Korean War?
The Korean War is a militarised conflict between the North Korea and South Korea. It broke out when North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950 by crossing the 38th Parallel. The invasion was met with swift resistance by South Korea, which was assisted by the United States (US) and United Nations (UN). Over time, the conflict was intensified by the influx of Cold War influences that originated from the indirect and direct responses by the two superpowers, US and USSR.

Derive a better understanding of this Cold War conflict by analyzing the contributing factors that will be examined in the following sections.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Korean War (1950-53)

1. The Division of Korea 
After the Second World War, the two superpowers occupied Korea. The US landed on South Korea, while USSR entered North Korea. The occupation lasted for several years until the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution that declared free elections to be held. As a result, South Korea held an election that concluded with Syngman Rhee being declared the first president of the “Republic of Korea” (ROK) in August 1948. As for North Korea, the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (DPRK) announced Kim II-Sung as its Prime Minister a month later. These two historic events signaled a permanent division of the Korean peninsula and set the stage for the Korean War.

2. Political Motivations for the Invasion  
Kim II-Sung bore political ambitions to unify the Korean peninsula under communist rule. He held the perception that an invasion would be met with positive reception by the South Korean citizens. As such, Kim sought the approval of Stalin before commencing with the invasion. Eventually, Stalin agreed under the condition that Soviet troops would not be involved directly if there was a military confrontation with the US. Consequently, the North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel on 25 June 1950, marking the start of the Korean War.

3. Strategic Considerations 
From Stalin’s perspective, a unified communist Korea would prove useful in advancing the Soviet Union’s Cold War agenda. However, Stalin contemplated Kim II-Sung’s proposal to invade South Korea cautiously. Stalin was careful to avoid direct confrontation with US and took evasive steps to ensure that North Korea was the primary instigator for the invasion. As such, Stalin provided military support to North Korea, such as Soviet military advisors and artillery pieces. These military hardware and guidance aided Kim II-Sung for his incursion into South Korean territory.

4. Ideological Motivations 
As for the Americans, the North Korea invasion was unexpected. Although the invasion was led by North Korea, the US interpreted these attacks as an act of ideological expansionism orchestrated by Stalin. As described by former US President, Dwight Eisenhower, the ‘domino theory‘ illustrated how one country falling to communism would cause the surrounding countries to be undermined by this ideological threat as well. Given this understanding, the Korean War confirmed the suspicions of the Americans.

In response, US led the discussions in the UN and formed a military coalition to counter the North Korean invasion. The swift response to the perceived ideological threat was consistent with Truman’s push for the ‘Containment Policy’. As such, US supported South Korea and succeeded in repelling the North Korean forces back to the 38th Parallel.

However, the US revised its aim to cross the 38th Parallel and adopted a policy of rollback to eradicate communist influence in the North. The UN forces then crossed the partition line. Hence, it was evident that these actions revealed the ideological motivations of the US in the globalised Cold War conflict.

4. Outcome of the Korean War 
Following the UN’s crossing of the partition line, China came to the aid of North Korea. After a prolonged period of military confrontation between the North and South, US called for ceasefire and an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953. Notably, the Korean War had intensified the superpower rivalry that was observed in subsequent conflicts, like the Cuban Missile Crisis. In recent years, observers have argued that there are improvements in the diplomatic ties between the two Koreas, as exemplified by the desire to end the war formally.

What’s Next?
Now that you have walked through this journey of what may have caused the Korean War, you should reinforce your revision of this chapter by reflecting on the following questions:
– Was the Korean War a localised or Cold War conflict? 
– How did the superpowers capitalise on the Korean War to advance their Cold War aims? 
– In comparison to the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), identify the similarities and differences of the Korean War in influencing the Cold War developments beyond Europe [to be covered in our lessons].

For both H1 and H2 History students, we believe that these learning resources will be essential in complementing your revision to ace the A Level History examinations. If you are keen to improve your quality of writing, join our JC History Tuition!

We provide in-depth discussions that will broaden your understanding of Cold War topics, like Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis. Learn how to apply your knowledge to form persuasive arguments that answer the essay questions effectively. Our tuition programme is based on the latest syllabus requirements set by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB). We understand that the changes to the syllabus have raised concerns for both H1 and H2 students. As such, our classes will provide a progressive and easy-to-follow learning structure for you to learn.

On the other hand, you can sign up for our GP Tuition and Economics Tuition programmes. These classes will complement your acquisition and refinement of writing techniques, such as question analysis, information extract and paragraph development.

We shape you to become a Reflective Thinker, Persuasive Writer and Problem Solver.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What is the Cuban Missile Crisis - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the Cuban Missile Crisis?

What is the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Following the stalemate in Europe, the two superpowers shifted their gaze towards Asia and other parts of the world. This development led to the spread of Cold War influences to other conflicts and wars, like the Korean War (1950-53), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) and the Vietnam War (1955-75).

The Cuban Missile Crisis refers to a military and political confrontation between USA and USSR due to the Soviet deployment of ballistic missiles on Cuba, which is 90 miles (140 km) from Florida, USA.

To understand the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is important to examine the key incidents and factors that contributed to the historical developments, which will be covered in the following sections.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

1. Economic Aggression 
Before USSR was involved in the shipment of nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba, there was strained diplomatic relations between USA and Cuba. This was attributed to the antagonistic actions of the communist revolutionary, Fidel Castro, who overthrew the former Cuban President, Fulgencio Batista and led the Cuban Revolution. As Cuba’s Prime Minister, Castro nationalized American assets on Cuba, particularly the sugar mills. Consequently, his struggle for economic control in Cuba prompted USA to retaliate with an economic embargo.

Following USA’s response to sever diplomatic ties with Cuba, Castro turned to USSR, which offered both economic and military aid. This development sowed the seeds of destruction that brought the world closer to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. Political Aggression 
Given that both USA and Cuba ended diplomatic relations with one another, the incoming American President, John F. Kennedy, initiated a covert operation to invade Cuba and overthrow Cuba. This plan was known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion (Apr 1961). However, the invasion was a failure and the attackers were captured by Castro.

After the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist publicly (Dec 1961), which antagonized USA further due to ideological differences that shaped the Cold War rivalry against USSR. Therefore, Cuba aligned itself ideologically with the Soviet Union, which bore ulterior motives that led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

3. Military Aggression 
From the Soviet perspective, Nikita Khrushchev held the perception that USA had the military advantage in the arms race aspect of the Cold War. His concerns were supported by the deployment of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Turkey and Italy that posed a clear national security threat to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Soviet ballistic missiles were fewer in numbers and less capable than the American’s. Therefore, to close the ‘missile gap’, Khrushchev placed nuclear missiles in Cuba (Oct 1962), which was 90 miles off Florida coast.

However, USA discovered the Soviet nuclear missiles via aerial surveillance on Cuba, which sparked fears of a possible nuclear threat to national security. Following thorough deliberation, Kennedy announced the imposition of an American ‘naval blockade’ to prevent the shipment of Soviet ballistic missiles to Cuba.

4. Outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis 
This ‘blockade’ could have been interpreted by the Soviets as a threatening military provocation that justified nuclear retaliation. Fortunately, the blockade ended peacefully and both superpowers agreed to stand down. This was seen in terms of the mutual agreement to remove the American missiles in Turkey and Italy and Soviet missiles in Cuba in secret.

What’s Next?
By understanding the key incidents and factors that contributed to the developments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, you can reinforce your study of this topic by answering the following questions:
– How did Castro’s actions lead to the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
– Why was the Cuban Missile Crisis interpreted as a Cold War conflict?
– In comparison to the Korean War (1950-53), identify the similarities and differences of the Cuban Missile Crisis in shaping the Cold War developments beyond Europe [to be discussed in our lessons]

As it can be a daunting challenge for some students to meander through the vast historical content covered in A Level History, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition programme, which is open to JC1 and JC2 students that are studying either H2 or H1 History. Throughout the programme, we will conduct class discussions to broaden and deepen your understanding of different issues in a thematic format. You will receive our very own summary notes that have been refined over the years (and match the latest syllabus as of 2017) to prepare you adequately for the examinations.

Furthermore, you can attend the JC History Essay Writing and Source Based Case Study questions (SBQ) answering skills workshops that are held at our centres in Bishan, Bedok and Tampines. You will learn to analyze questions carefully and form persuasive arguments logically, such that the pursuit of excellence at the A Level History examinations is within your grasp.

On a separate but related note, our centres conduct GP Tuition and Economics Tuition classes for JC1 and JC2 students. These programmes will no doubt be beneficial in your study of A Level subjects. Be inspired by experienced tutors, like JC Economics and GP Tutor Simon Ng, who will guide you through the study of different real world issues. We teach you to think reflectively, write persuasively and analyze critically.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - How did the Cold War start - JC History SBQ Skills

How did the Cold War start?

What is the Cold War?
The Cold War is an ideological conflict between the two superpowers, USA and USSR in the post-WWII period. This conflict was the result of different contributing factors that shaped the perceptions towards each other’s actions, resulting in heightened sense of distrust and suspicion. In this article, we will examine several key factors that contributed to the outbreak of the Cold War.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War

1. Ideological Differences
To understand how the Cold War broke out, it is important to understand why the mutually-incompatible ideologies of the two countries became the root cause of the conflict.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the communists rose to power in the Soviet Union. Communism is socio-political philosophy that advocates the common ownership of the means of production.

On the other hand, the United States embraced the ideology of Capitalism and Democracy. In contrast to communism, capitalism focuses on the private ownership of the means of production and profit is the main motivation for individuals to work and produce goods and services. Also, democracy empowers the citizens with the right to vote and elect representatives that form the government.

In view of these ideological differences, it is clear that there will be stark contrasts in how the US and USSR conducted their foreign policies in Europe after the World War Two, which set the stage for the start of the Cold War.

2. Perceived Ideological Expansionism 
The diametrically opposed ideologies can be better understood by how US and USSR implemented their foreign policies, following the discussions made during the Yalta Conference in February 1945. During the Conference, USA, USSR and UK engaged in discussions on the post-war reorganization of Europe and Germany. Amidst the discussions, the Declaration of Liberated Europe was formed as a promise to allow the European citizens to “create democratic institutions of their own choice”.

However, Stalin held differing interpretations of the agreements made in the Yalta Conference. USA perceived Stalin as being responsible for the establishment of pro-Soviet Communist governments in Europe (e.g. Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary). As such, the fear of Soviet communist expansion prompted USA to introduce the Truman Doctrine in 1947, as a guiding principle to ‘contain Communism’. Subsequently, USA was involved more actively in Europe to stem the tide of Communism.

3. Perceived Economic Imperialism 
Given that the World War Two had ravaged Europe severely, USA embarked on an economic initiative to provide financial assistance to rebuild Western European economies. This 1947 initiative was also known as the ‘Marshall Plan‘, which was named after US Secretary of State George Marshall. Over $13 billion in economic aid was distributed to Western European countries.

However, USSR interpreted these acts with great suspicion as the provision of American aid and assistance would create an anti-Soviet bloc. In response, USSR developed a similar economic initiative, known as the ‘Molotov Plan‘, which provided financial assistance to Eastern European countries, resulting in the creation of a pro-Soviet bloc. More importantly, USSR held the perception that it had to act swiftly to be free from ‘American economic imperialism’.

4. What’s Next? 
Following a series of indirect exchanges between the two superpowers, Europe took centre-stage in marking the start of the Cold War. The outbreak of the Cold War can be observed by the division of Europe ideologically and economically, as explained and illustrated in the above points.

How to study the Cold War and answer the Source-Based Case Study Questions? 
Now that we have examined the key events and considerations that contributed to the start of the Cold War, you can reinforce your learning by attempting practice questions on your own. Pay attention to the sources. Pick out the key words or events that were mentioned in the sources and draw out the implications to answer the questions. Avoid spending too much time on reading notes (and additional readings, if any) as exam-oriented knowledge application skills are developed only through actual writing and thinking.

Here are some questions for you to get you started on your revision for the Cold War topic:
– What were the evidences that fueled USA’s perceived fear of Soviet Communist expansionism?
– What were Stalin’s justifications for the creation of a pro-Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe?
– How did the Berlin Blockade of 1948 contributed to the start of the Cold War? [to be covered in our lessons]

Should you require further advice and assistance in your study of A Level History, you can consider enrolling in our JC History Tuition programme, which is available for both JC1 and JC2 students (H1 and H2 History). We conduct weekly classes to build up content knowledge and refine essay and SBQ answering techniques through numerous class practices. With our comprehensive revision plan that includes summary notes, be assured that we will prepare you for the challenges of the A Level History examination thoroughly.

Besides, you can also consider joining our Economics Tuition and GP Tuition classes that are conducted at Bishan and Bedok. Learn how to read, reflect and write well. Form your arguments logically and coherently. With these essential skills in your arsenal, the pursuit of academic success is within your grasp.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - How to ace the JC History SBQ

How to ace the JC History SBQ?

How to answer Source-Based Case Study Questions?
For A Level History, answering a source-based question (SBQ, in short) requires effective reading and writing skills. Given that the examination is 3-hours long, it is crucial to plan your time well. Therefore, we will examine some key concerns in handling this segment of the A Level History subject.

What is Source-Based Case Study? 
With reference to the syllabus description stated at the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB), the source-based case study features a series of extracts that discuss a common theme (such as Cold War or Inter-state Tensions). Students are expected to have a firm understanding of these sources and their given contexts. There will be a maximum of six sources provided in this Section, in which these sources can be depicted in either text (e.g. statements, interviews, accounts and speeches) or visual (e.g. posters) forms.

Given this understanding, we will now focus our attention on the answering of SBQs through the following considerations.

1. Read and identify the question requirement
Before you start to read the sources, you should look at the page that entails the questions to be answered for the SBQ. By reading the question, you will be more aware of what to look out for as you read every source. Also, try to analyse the keywords stated in the question description to pinpoint the perspective to analyse.

The SBQ contains the two questions: A 10-marks two-source comparison question and a 30-marks source comparison and analysis question. Below, we will illustrate an example question to understand this aspect better:

Sample part (a) question: Compare and contrast the evidence provided in Sources A and B about the attitude of Stalin towards USA in the post-WWII period. [10]

Sample part (b) question: How far do Sources A-F support the view that USSR was responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War? [30]

For the part (a) question, you are expected to compare two sources and identify the ‘attitude of Stalin towards the USA’. Source comparison involves identification of similarities and differences between the two sources. For the part (b) question, you are to analyse all sources to find out whether each source support or challenge the given perspective that ‘USSR was responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War’.

2. Read and annotate each source
After you have read and understood the question requirements, focus your energies on understanding each source. One useful way is to use a pencil to mark out parts of the source that can answer the question. You can also use a highlighter to denote excerpts from each source that can support your SBQ answering. This process of reading and annotation is important as it is a planning stage for you to prepare yourself mentally. In a way, the annotation helps in organising your thoughts before you commence writing.

3. Understand the context and nature of each source
As mentioned earlier, pay attention to the types of sources given in the SBQ. For the text-based sources, they can be illustrated in the form of news article, academic publication, interviews, speeches and official statements etc. For visual-based sources, they are depicted in the form of posters, satirical cartoon etc.

In view of these diverse types of sources, it is important to be familiar with how each type is being described and illustrated, so that you can extract the relevant information and underlying message within each source. For example, personal interviews with an important figure (e.g. Secretary-General of a regional organization) are useful in assuming their standpoint to discuss certain issues, but pay heed to their official position, which may restrict the extent of information provided.

4. Organise your writing
Throughout the course of your writing, it is of utmost importance to develop a well-structured SBQ answer. You can address this concern effectively by employing various means, like signposting and topic sentence writing. For instance, you can include the use of connectors to guide the examiner from one sentence to the next. If you have quoted an excerpt of the source to provide evidence and desire to explain it, you can use phrases like ‘this means that’. This ensures that you are making a clear point in your writing.

5. Practice. Practice. Practice
It takes consistent practice to develop the necessary reading and writing skills to ace the A Level History SBQ component. Fret not, we also conduct JC History Tuition SBQ answering skills workshops to hone your writing techniques. During the lessons, you will have many opportunities to attempt practice questions. As it is unrealistic to pursue the idealistic goal of acquiring all skills in several sessions, we will be focusing on one or two skills during the programme. This ensures that you can pay attention to the intricacies of the skills development process.

6. What’s Next? 
On a related note, you can learn more about the essentials of A Level History essay writing in this featured article. JCHistoryTuition.com.sg features a broad range of articles that cover useful examination tips and issue-based discussion to expand your knowledge as you gear up for the A Level History examination. As the A Level subjects can be challenging for some, we also offer economics tuition and GP tuition programmes for JC1 and JC2 students to develop the knowledge and application skills to become proficient and exam-ready. Persevere and you will eventually achieve your goals!