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U 2 Incident

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U-2 Incident

On May 1, 1960, two weeks prior to the United

States-Soviet Summit in Paris, a U-2 high altitude

reconnaissance airplane was shot down while flying a

spy mission over the Soviet Union. The Eisenhower

administration was forced to own up to the mission,

and Khrushchev canceled the Paris Summit. As a

result, The Cold War between the United States and

the Soviet Union continued for over 30 years.

Shortly after the end of World War II, United States

and the Soviet Union emerged as the two superpowers.

These two former wartime allies found themselves

locked in a struggle that came to be known as the Cold

War. Eisenhower saw the Cold War in stark moral

terms: "This is a war of light against darkness,

freedom against slavery, Godliness against atheism."

But the President refused to undertake an effort to

"roll back" Soviet gains in the years after WW II.

Early in his administration he embraced a policy of

containment as the cornerstone of his administration's

Soviet policy. Eisenhower rejected the notion of a

"fortress America" isolated from the rest of the

world, safe behind its nuclear shield. He believed

that active US engagement in world affairs was the

best means of presenting the promise of democracy to

nations susceptible to the encroachment of

Soviet-sponsored communism. Additionally, Eisenhower

maintained that dialogue between the US and the Soviet

Union was crucial to the security of the entire globe,

even if, in the process, each side was adding to its

pile of nuclear weapons.

The death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, two months

into the Eisenhower presidency, gave rise to hopes of

a more flexible, accommodating Soviet leadership. In

1953, Eisenhower delivered a speech underscoring the

potential human cost of the Cold War to both sides.

Hoping to strike a more compatible tone with Georgi

Malenkov, Stalin's successor, Eisenhower suggested the

Soviets cease their brazen expansion of territory and

influence in exchange for American cooperation and

goodwill. The Soviets responded coolly to the speech,

especially to the US's insistence on free elections

for German unification, self-determination for Eastern

Europe, and a Korean armistice. The two sides would

not meet face-to-face until the Geneva Summit of 1955.

At the Summit, Eisenhower asserted, "I came to Geneva

because I believe mankind longs for freedom from war

and the rumors of war. I came here because my lasting

faith in the decent instincts and good sense of the

people who populate this world of ours." In this

spirit of ...

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