The United States and the Soviet Union confronted each other more than once. In 1948 the West mounted an airlift in response to the Soviet blockade of Berlin. In 1962, following the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy declared an embargo on further shipments, which led the two countries to the brink of nuclear war.
On a number of occasions the Cold War turned hot. U.S. and Allied troops engaged in full-scale warfare in Korea from 1950 to 1953 and in Vietnam from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.
U.S. diplomats led UN opposition to the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. They also encouraged Allied support and eventually negotiated the settlement.
Officers from all foreign affairs agencies were assigned to Vietnam, both to Saigon and to the provinces to help the government of South Vietnam resist the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.
U.S. diplomats and military personnel played advisory and supporting roles in smaller conflicts in many countries, including Greece, the Philippines, Guatemala, Cuba, Zaire, Bolivia, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Grenada.
Despite the confrontations and tensions of this period, one president after another directed U.S. diplomats to press for arms control, making possible major advances that included the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, SALT I in 1972, and the Ford-Brezhnev agreement in 1974, leading to SALT II and a series of nuclear nonproliferation agreements.


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