School History Project: specific, debatable topics on the Cold War

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Darren Davis, May 21, 2003.

  1. Darren Davis

    Darren Davis Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi everyone,
    In my school I'm in a special program (haha...not that kind of "special") and one of the requirements is to write an extended essay, which means about 4000 words on a fairly specific topic. Well, I've chosen the Cold War as the broad area and now I need to narrow it down. I thought I would come to you all as this forum has some of the finest intelligence I've seen and I also enjoy the massive user-base. Many times I'll see how topics are attacked from people with all different mindsets and experiences. Anyways, on to the criteria:
    • The topic should be specific enough to go into some pretty deep analysis within the 4000 word limit.
    • The topic should be fairly debatable. Idealy, there are two opposing sides to the argument. In the paper the main format is to identify both schools of thought and to then analyze them. And then to finally come to a conclusion with your analysis.
    • The topic should not be within the last 10 years. I know I already said the Cold War was the subject area but I still just wanted to put this out there as another guideline to follow.

    Anyways, an example of a good topic is the on-going debate over Pope Pius XII, the pope during World War II. Many feel that his silence during the war over the Holocaust helped prolonged it and that he should have used his power to help put a stop to it.

    **WARNING** Please, don't turn this thread into an area for personal debate. I know the fact that I'm asking for "debatable" topics might already be in warm water but I don't want to go any further. I would simply like suggestions on debated topics in Cold War history according to the criteria I've mentioned (a brief explanation might also be nice) and then from there I'll do the research.

    Thank you all very much in advance.
    P.S. I wish I could do an Extended Essay on people who feel the Matrix had no plot versus those who did. Now there would be a fun paper to write! [​IMG]
     
  2. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > Anyways, an example of a good topic is the on-going debate over Pope Pius XII, the pope during World War II.

    I thought you were supposed to write about the Cold War, which started after WWII. [​IMG]

    Here's one people can argue about it: did the US military buildup of the early 1980s cause the fall of the Berlin Wall & breakup of the Soviet Union a few years later, or would those things have happened anyway?
     
  3. Darren Davis

    Darren Davis Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, the paper can be on anything in history, however, my specific subject area is the Cold War, that's something that's not changing. That example was from the topic my friend chose. However, thanks for the suggestion, I'll do some research on it now. [​IMG]
     
  4. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    All the Cold War was about was - my side has more missiles than your side - The US did its best to stop Commies from spreading into other countries, but the missiles ready did it.

    Glenn
     
  5. Jed M

    Jed M Cinematographer

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    How about the race to be the first in space, and then the moon. Surely there are many sides to that. Also, maybe something to do with the CIA and KGB and the growth of intelligence in that period could be interesting research, you know, spies and stuff. If you bend on your last 10 years rule, the fallout of the breakup of the Soviet Union and all the Nuclear weapons that have gone unaccounted for or unattended would be another option. That could possibly end up being the ultimate last word in the Cold War. Cool subject, good luck on your paper.
     
  6. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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    How about -- Deterance, is it worth it, does it work?
     
  7. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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  8. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    The entire point behind the Cold War was that the States forced the SSSR, through a combination of Russian paranoia, irrational fear, and socialistic pride, into an arms race. The point behind this arms race was not to ensure destruction of one side or the other, but to bankrupt the SSSR economy.

    And it worked. Unfortunately, the States wasn't thinking of future consequences, and the East Europe/Russian area is currently a mess.
     
  9. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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  10. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > the East Europe/Russian area is currently a mess.

    Of course, it was a paradise before the arms race. [​IMG]
     
  11. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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  12. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Two specific topics that you could really do an analysis in 4,000 words are:
    ·The Cuban missile crises
    ·The attempted closure of Berlin (building the wall and the ensuing airlift).

    Both happened during the Kennedy era, are of relativity short duration and although limited in scope had wide-ranging implications that lasted for many years.

    If neither of these sort of ‘hot war’ parts of the cold war appeals, you might consider a paper on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This was mostly diplomacy and involved all of the major, opposing countries and most of the minor ones.
     
  14. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Well, we are drifting ionto POST cold war history now. Lets keep it to the Cold War period.

    The first thing you have to consider is that todays' teenagers have not lived with the fear of a world wide nuclear war. Also, the US has always been the sole superpower to them. A nuclear winter is no more familiar to them than a Hacky-sac.

    To them communism is just another interesting social idea, not the oppressive enemy we knew it as. (edit - fixed)

    To get an idea of how people my age feared a world war in the 80s I'd suggest two videos to watch:

    1) The day after
    2) Red Dawn

    Though the cold war went on much longer, that is the decade before the end of the Cold War.

    Also, check out the song '99 red balloons' for a peace-nick view of the arms race.

    Rather than do a report on the cliche' arms race, why not look at it from a different angle. Here's a few:

    1) What would the 80's have been like had Carter won in 1980?

    2) 'The Berlin Wall - The Start, and the End of the Cold War.' The history of the wall including those who attempted to cross it, failed or succeeded.

    3) Spies, Moles and double agents : The footsoldiers of the Cold War. (Don't study this if you are easily scared, The Soviets DOMINATED this field)

    4) Cuba: The Thorn in the side of the Monroe Doctrine.

    5) M.A.D. Not just a magazine.

    6) Who would have won (or least lost) in a nuclear exchange and what would the world be like now? Politically and environmentally. You could actually have fun writeing it in a narrative fasion.

    7) Star Wars Missile Defence and Snake Oil. Did it help win the war and how?

    8) Newspaper Editorials: Which papers called it correct regarding the effectiveness of the Weapons race and which missed the mark. (only those written DURING the build up count.)

    9) Jelly Beans vs Peanuts : The difference in cold war strategy from the Carter administration and the Reagan Administration

    10) Why wasn't it called the 'Star Trek' Missile Defence????? hehehe

    Thanks all I can come up with for now....
     
  15. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Are you wanting something in the last 10 years, or the last 10 years of the cold war? While its difficult to say exactly when something like the cold war ended, I do recall certain key events in 1989 and 1990 that I would think would signify the end of the cold war.

    I think the most recent signicant thing involving the cold war would be what Todd said, did Reagan bring about the end of the USSR or not.

    And I'm with Todd, what is the SSSR? Weren't the initials in Russian for the USSR CCCP? And by SSR do you mean the individual states that made up the former USSR, which were not Republics even though they had that name? Remember, when dealing with a country that has democratic, people's, or republic in the name, that name is almost always a lie.
     
  16. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    those are all good,i'll give you something on a smaller scale.
    what the cold car did to the familys of those fighting the battle.
    my father drowned in a small lake in a middle of flordia while fishing on a friday night when i was about 1 year old.
    my mother hated my father for 'disappearing' for weeks at a time.
    in the 80s i started looking in to his death... and the more i looked the stranger it got. his death certificate is so wrong it is laughable. the news articles were totally wrong...timeline was off. then i found he was never buried.
    then i found that social security said he didnt exist
    and it goes on and on....

    my mother had no clue about anything, even honeymooning in cuba right before the bay of pigs didnt help
    (she told me later he pointed out the unmarked prisons where castro kept political prisoners)

    the cold war will end for me when i find out why i didnt have a father and what happened to him

    if you want more, email me
    grant
    he could be alive but the fbi still claims to know nothing
     
  17. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    What role did prominent scientists play during the Cold War? Specifically, how did Edward Teller contribute to the government policy of nuclear weapons proliferation? And how did Oppenheimer oppose such a policy? (Teller and Oppenheimer were two of the chief scientists behind the Manhattan Project).

    How did the McCarthy era contribute to nuclear arms policy in the US? And do you think the McCarthy hearings sped up China's and USSR's nuclear weapons program development, because US citizens were "encouraged" to defect and give up their technical and scientific knowledge (supposedly, a very important US missile scientist who had emigrated from China was imprisoned and then deported to China...and within a few years China had ICBM capability because of his disillusionment with the US way of life).
     
  18. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    SSSR: Sojus Sowjetskich Sozialistitscheskich Respublik
    SSR: Sowjetskich Sozialistitscheskich Respublik

    In other words, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was made up of the individual Soviet Socalist Republics.

    Again, go read Red Storm Rising, Hunt for Red October, and, umm, Cardinal of the Kremlin. In that order.
     
  19. Tommy Ceez

    Tommy Ceez Second Unit

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    For something that really would get the professors juices flowing try the 'two different opinions within the US on the Cold War' I believe the jelly beans vs. peanuts suggestion from before.

    For a book that will give you one side of the story I would get Mona Charen's Usefull Idiots

    For an opposing view (I have no titles) read up on Ted Kennedy or Jimmy Carter

    Basically came down to
    Carter - blast thier Human Rites record
    Regan - Make em spend too much money to survive

     
  20. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Re themes - Darren, you have an abundance of suggested themes.

    Another - the cold war was tool of social control on both sides - create hysteria about the enemy to justify arms buildups, repression at home, etc, while each society's greatest problems remained unaddressed. (Orwellish)

    As for Shayne's comments, the article in the following links may shed some light :

    http://www.aldaily.com/

    Go to the article : "Russia - 145 million people.." at :

    http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=...3-122505-5470r


    Unfortunately, the present task of building a new society in Iraq seems to be undertaken with as little understanding as represented in the post Cold War assumptions about "democracy" and "capitalism" taking hold in the former USSR.

    As for Plato, my understanding is that his proposition about the need for philosophers to become kings, or kings to become philosophers, was ironic. The philosopher is a lover of wisdom, and such a person would never want to be a king. Plato's realistic prescription for mundane human affairs was in The Laws, which is closer to the more practical "checks and balances" approach to this issue.
     

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