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#207: The Cold War

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President John Kennedy, right, meeting with Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko, second from right, and other Soviet officials in Washington in 1962
President John Kennedy, right, meeting with Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko, second from right, and other Soviet officials in Washington in 1962

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

(MUSIC)

Today, we tell about the period known as the Cold War.

The Cold War began after World War Two. The main enemies were the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Cold War got its name because both sides were afraid of fighting each other directly. In a "hot war," nuclear weapons might destroy everything. So, instead, both sides fought each other indirectly. They supported opposing sides in conflicts in different parts of the world. They also used words as weapons. They threatened and denounced each other. Or they tried to make each other look foolish.

Over the years, leaders on both sides changed. Yet the Cold War continued. It was the major force in world politics for most of the second half of the twentieth century.

President Harry Truman
President Harry Truman

The Cold War world was separated into three groups. The United States led the West. This group included countries with democratic political systems. The Soviet Union led the East. This group included countries with communist political systems. The non-aligned group included countries that did not want to be tied to either the West or the East.

(MUSIC)

Harry Truman was the first American president to fight the Cold War. He used several policies. One was the Truman Doctrine. This was a plan to give money and military aid to countries threatened by communism. The Truman Doctrine effectively stopped communists from taking control of Greece and Turkey.

Another policy was the Marshall Plan. This strengthened the economies and governments of countries in western Europe.

A major event in the Cold War was the Berlin Airlift. After World War Two, the United States and its allies divided Germany. Berlin was a part of communist East Germany. The city was divided into east and west.

In June nineteen forty-eight, Soviet-led forces blocked all roads and railways leading to the western part of Berlin. President Truman quickly ordered military airplanes to fly coal, food, and medicine to the city.

(SOUND)

The planes kept coming, sometimes landing every few minutes, for more than a year. The United States received help from Britain and France. Together, they provided almost two and one-half million tons of supplies on about two hundred-eighty thousand flights.

C-47s unloading at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin
C-47s unloading at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin

The United States also led the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in nineteen forty-nine. NATO was a joint military group. Its purpose was to defend against Soviet forces in Europe.

The Soviet Union and its east European allies formed their own joint military group -- the Warsaw Pact -- six years later.

In nineteen fifty-three, Soviet leader Josef Stalin died. His death gave the new American president, Dwight Eisenhower, a chance to deal with new Soviet leaders.

(MUSIC)

In July nineteen-fifty-five, Eisenhower and Nikolai Bulganin met in Geneva, Switzerland. The leaders of Britain and France also attended.

Eisenhower proposed that the Americans and Soviets agree to let their military bases be inspected by air by the other side. The Soviets later rejected the proposal. Yet the meeting in Geneva was not considered a failure. After all, the leaders of the world's most powerful nations had shaken hands.

Cold War tensions increased, then eased, then increased again over the years. The changes came as both sides attempted to influence political and economic developments around the world.

For example, the Soviet Union provided military, economic, and technical aid to communist governments in Asia. The United States then helped eight Asian nations fight communism by establishing the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, known as SEATO.

In the nineteen fifties, the United States began sending military advisers to help South Vietnam defend itself against communist North Vietnam. That aid would later expand into a long and bloody period of American involvement in Vietnam.

The Cold War also affected the Middle East. In the nineteen fifties, both East and West offered aid to Egypt to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River. The West cancelled its offer, however, after Egypt bought weapons from the communist government in Czechoslovakia.

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser then seized control of the company that operated the Suez Canal.

(SOUND)

A few months later, Israel invaded Egypt. France and Britain joined the invasion.

For once, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on a major issue. Both supported a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

The Suez crisis was a political victory for the Soviets. When the Soviet Union supported Egypt, it gained new friends in the Arab world.

In nineteen fifty-nine, cold war tensions eased a little. The new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, visited Dwight Eisenhower in the United States. The meeting was very friendly. But the next year, relations got worse again.

(MUSIC)

An American U-2 reconnaissance airplane was shot down over the Soviet Union. The plane and its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, were captured. Eisenhower admitted that such planes had been spying on the Soviets for four years. In a speech at the United Nations, Khrushchev got so angry that he took off his shoe and beat it on a table.

John Kennedy followed Eisenhower as president in nineteen sixty-one. During his early days in office, Cuban exiles invaded Cuba. It came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. The forces wanted to oust the communist government of Fidel Castro.

America's Central Intelligence Agency had provided training for the exiles. But the United States failed to send military planes to protect them during the invasion. As a result, almost all were killed or taken prisoner by Cuban forces trained and supported by the Soviet Union and its allies.

At the same time in Europe, tens of thousands of East Germans had fled to the West. East Germany's government decided to stop them. It built a wall separating the eastern and western parts of the city of Berlin. Guards shot at anyone who tried to flee by climbing over.

During Kennedy's second year in office, American intelligence reports discovered Soviet missiles in Cuba.

JOHN F. KENNEDY: "This government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the western hemisphere."

The Soviet Union denied the missiles were there. Yet American photographs, taken from high in the air, proved they were.

America's ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson:

ADLAI STEVENSON: "Let me ask you one simple question: Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR [Soviet Union] has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missile and sites in Cuba. Yes or no? Don't wait for the translation. Yes or no?"

SOVIET AMBASSADOR VALERIAN ZORIN: "Mr. Stevenson, would you continue your statement, please? You will receive the answer in due course, do not worry."

ADLAI STEVENSON: "I'm prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that's your decision. And I'm also prepared to present the evidence in this room."

(MUSIC)

The Cuban missile crisis easily could have resulted in a nuclear war. Americans felt especially threatened, with those missiles just one hundred fifty kilometers from the Florida coast. But the crisis ended after a week. Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles if the United States agreed not to interfere in Cuba.

Some progress was made in easing Cold War tensions when Kennedy was president. In nineteen sixty-three, the two sides reached a major arms control agreement. They agreed to ban tests of nuclear weapons above ground, under water, and in space. They also established a direct telephone link between the White House and the Kremlin.

Relations between East and West also improved when Richard Nixon was president. He and Leonid Brezhnev met several times. They reached several arms control agreements. One reduced the number of missiles used to shoot down enemy nuclear weapons. It also banned the testing and deployment of long-distance missiles for five years.

A major change in the Cold War would take place in nineteen eighty-five, when Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union. He met four times with President Ronald Reagan. Gorbachev withdrew Soviet forces from Afghanistan. And he signed an agreement with the United States to destroy all middle-distance and short-distance nuclear missiles.

Barbed wire bars passage through the Brandenburg Gate at the East-West border in Berlin in 1961
Barbed wire bars passage through the Brandenburg Gate at the East-West border in Berlin in 1961

By nineteen-eighty-nine, there was widespread unrest in eastern Europe. Gorbachev did not intervene as one eastern European country after another cut its ties with the Soviet Union.

The Berlin Wall, the major symbol of communist oppression, was torn down in November of that year. In less than a year, East and West Germany became one nation again. A few months after that, Warsaw Pact countries officially ended the alliance. The Cold War was over.

The Cold War years were also the time of the "space race" - when the United States and the Soviet Union competed in space exploration. That will be our story next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

___

This was program #207.

二战结束,冷战开始。冷战的主要对手是美国和苏联,这场战争之所以被称为"冷战",主要是因为敌对双方都害怕直接冲突,因为如果发生直接冲突,打一场"热战"的话,核武器将摧毁一切。

出于这种顾虑,双方展开了间接角力。不论世界上什么地方发生冲突,他们都会站在对立的位置,支持其中一方。他们还相互谩骂,彼此威胁指责,让对方出丑。

随着时间的推移,双方领导人在换,而冷战却在继续,成为20世纪下半叶国际政治的主导因素。冷战将整个世界分为三大板块,第一是美国领导的西方民主政体,第二是苏联领导的东方共产政体,剩下的是不愿意跟东、西方国家结盟的国家。

杜鲁门是冷战期间美国的第一位总统,他采取了几大政策,其中之一是杜鲁门主义。杜鲁门主义要求向受共产主义威胁的国家提供经济和军事援助,正是因为杜鲁门主义,希腊和土耳其才没被共产主义所侵蚀。杜鲁门任内另一项重要政策是马歇尔计划,该计划加强了西欧国家的政府力量和经济实力。

冷战期间的一起重要事件是柏林空运行动。二战结束后,美国及其盟国将德国一分为二,柏林位于共产主义控制的东德境内,柏林市被分为东、西两个部分。

1948年6月,苏联领导的部队封锁了进入西柏林的所有公路和铁路。美国总统杜鲁门迅速下令,由军用飞机向西柏林空运煤炭、食物和医药用品。

柏林空运行动整整持续了一年多,有时每隔几分钟就会有一架飞机降落。美国得到了英国和法国的支持。美、英、法三国的战机总共执行了约28万次飞行行动,空运物资近250万吨。

美国还带头于1949年成立了北大西洋公约组织。北约是一个联合军事集团,防范苏联在欧洲的势力扩张。北约成立六年后,苏联及其东欧盟友也成立了它们自己的军事集团--华沙条约组织。

1953年,苏联领导人斯大林去世,让美国新总统艾森豪威尔有机会跟新一代苏联领导人打交道。1955年7月,艾森豪威尔和尼古拉.布尔加宁在瑞士日内瓦会面,英国和法国领导人也出席了会议。

艾森豪威尔提议,美国和苏联让各自的军事基地接受对方的空中检查,遭到苏联拒绝。然而,这次日内瓦会议并未被看做是一次失败。不管怎么说,世界上最强大的国家的领导人握手了。

冷战期间,紧张局势加剧,减轻,再加剧,随着冷战双方试图对全球政治和经济发展施加影响,紧张关系也不断发生变化。举例说,苏联向亚洲地区的共产政权提供了军事、经济和技术领域内的援助。美国为此成立了东南亚条约组织,帮助八个国家抵抗共产力量的渗透。

20世纪50年代,美国派军事顾问到南越去,帮助南越抵抗共产党北越,这一援助最终发展并引发了越战。

冷战也对中东地区产生了影响。20世纪50年代,东方共产阵营和西方民主阵营都提出,愿意帮助埃及在尼罗河上修建阿斯旺大坝,后来,埃及向共产政权捷克斯洛伐克购买武器,西方才收回了援助提案。埃及总统纳赛尔随后夺取了管理苏伊士运河的公司的控制权。

几个月后,以色列进攻埃及,法国和英国也参加战斗。美国和苏联第一次站在一起,共同要求联合国通过决议,要求冲突双方立即停火。苏伊士危机是苏联人获得的一场政治胜利。苏联通过支持埃及,在阿拉伯世界争取到了一些新朋友。

1959年,冷战出现缓和,苏联新领导人赫鲁晓夫访美,会见艾森豪威尔总统。会面气氛很友好,但两国关系次年再度恶化。美国一架U-2侦察机在苏联上空被击落。

飞机和飞机驾驶员鲍尔斯都被苏联捕获。艾森豪威尔承认,美国四年来,一直用U-2侦察机对苏联进行侦察。赫鲁晓夫在联合国的一次讲话中,气急败坏,脱下鞋来,用鞋敲桌子。

约翰.肯尼迪1961年当选总统,入主白宫不久,就发生了古巴的流亡人士进攻古巴的事件,也就是著名的猪湾入侵事件,目的是推翻卡斯特罗领导的共产政权。

美国中央情报局向古巴流亡人士提供培训,但是进攻行动过程中,美国没有出动战斗机保护他们,结果古巴流亡者不是被打死,就是被古巴政府军俘虏,古巴政府军接受了苏联及其盟友的军事训练。

与此同时,成千上万的东德人逃往西德,东德政府为制止他们,在柏林城里修筑了一堵墙,将柏林分为东、西两个部分,由卫兵把守,发现有人翻墙就开枪射杀。

肯尼迪担任总统第二年,美国情报发现,古巴境内布署了苏联导弹。肯尼迪发表讲话说:"正像我们保证的,政府对苏联在古巴军力的增加严密关注,过去一周里,绝对可靠的证据显示,古巴岛上出现了一系列进攻性导弹基地,这些基地的唯一目的是建立对西方进行核打击的能力。"

苏联矢口否认,但是美国从空中拍摄的照片证明了这些导弹的存在,美国常驻联合国大使史蒂文森说:" 请允许我问你们一个简单的问题:佐林大使,你是否否认苏联已经,而且继续在古巴部署中程导弹和导弹基地吗?是还是否?不要等翻译,有还是没有?"

苏联驻联合国大使佐林回答说:"史蒂文森先生,请继续你的声明,到时候,你自然会得到我的答复,不用着急。"史蒂文森又说:"等多久我都愿意,但我也随时准备在这个房间里拿出我的证据来。"

古巴导弹危机本来很容易就会引发一场核战争,古巴的导弹距离美国佛罗里达海岸线只有150公里,让美国人受到了极大的威胁。然而,这场危机一个星期就过去了,赫鲁晓夫同意撤走导弹,条件是,美国必须同意,不干预古巴事务。

肯尼迪任总统期间,双方在缓和冷战紧张局势方面取得了一些成果。1963年,双方达成一项重要的武器控制协议,禁止在地面、水下和太空试验核武器,同时在白宫和克里姆林宫之间建立了一条电话专线。

尼克松就任总统期间,东、西方关系也出现了改善。尼克松和勃列日涅夫见了好几次面,达成多项武器控制协议,其中一项协议同意,减少用于击落敌方核武器用的导弹数量,同时规定,五年内禁止测试和部署远程导弹。

1985年冷战发生重大变化,戈尔巴乔夫出任苏联领导人。他四次会见美国总统里根,从阿富汗撤军,并跟美国签署协议,销毁所有中距离和短距离核导弹。

1989年,东欧出现大规模动荡,一个接一个国家切断了跟苏联的关系,戈尔巴乔夫没有出面干预。1989年11月,象征共产主义压制的柏林墙倒塌,不到一年,东、西德统一。几个月后,华沙条约成员国正式解除华沙条约,冷战宣告结束。

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