After WWII, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union began to increase. This period of time is referred to as the Cold War which “begins in 1945 with the Yalta conference and ends in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.” The United States and the Soviet Union both greatly distrusted the other and feared the nuclear power that they both had during this time. One incident that illustrates this distrust is commonly referred to as the U-2 incident of May 1, 19960, in which an American U-2 spy plane was shot down in Soviet controlled airspace and captured by the Soviets. This single incident is said to have been a “disastrous setback to the reduction of international tension.”
In the year 1953 the United States did not have the use of the incredible spy satellites we have today. In an attempt to gather information on the military strength of the Soviet Union, “President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized thirty-five million dollars to build thirteen U-2 high-altitude spy planes.” Eisenhower personally authorized each top secret flight. The plane, designed by Lockheed, was different from any other planes of the time. With a wingspan of 80 feet the U-2 was able to fly for long distances at great altitudes “of about 15 miles and carried cameras and other equipment designed to photograph and locate aircraft systems, airbases, radar stations, missile silos, and the like.” The pilots that were chosen to fly these planes were highly skilled and dedicated civilians with high security clearance employed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The planes were based in Turkey and Pakistan and routinely flew over the Soviet Union.
On May 1, 1960 the entire U-2 program came ...
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...shed America’s reputation for telling the truth in official statements.” “A.J. Liebling wrote in the New Yorker: ‘After denying we did it, admitting we did it, denying Ike knew we did it, admitting Ike knew we did it, saying we had a right to do it, and denying we were still doing it, we dropped the subject.’” The incident “was rich in public symbolism, reminding the world of the precarious balance of terror in 1960.” From the time that nuclear weapons were invented, the fear of living on the brink of a nuclear holocaust caused leaders like Eisenhower and Khrushchev to do everything in their power to protect their nations including some activities that were looked upon at the time as being immoral. The U-2 incident was only one of the many incidents throughout the Cold War that caused increased tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
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