The Cold War on the Periphery: 1953–1989

Authored by: Michael J. Sullivan

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888479
eBook ISBN: 9781135070991
Adobe ISBN: 9781135071028


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While the Korean and Vietnam Wars were the hot conflicts of the Cold War, on the periphery, a more low-level proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union played out in several other developing nations during the years 1953–1989. During six presidencies—those of Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan (Jimmy Carter was an exception)—an average of about four American military interventions, or lesser forms of forceful attempted regime changes, occurred. 1 This part of the book presents case studies of five of them—Guatemala 1954, Cuba 1961, Chile 1970–1973, Dominican Republic 1965, and Grenada 1983—but these should be seen in the context of coercive U.S. action in at least fifteen other sites in countries where the U.S. or the USSR sparred for influence. 2

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