The Enemy of My Enemy: The Cold War Proxy Wars Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

During the Cold War, fear of the catastrophic outcome of a nuclear war prevented the U.S. and the USSR from openly going to war against each other. Instead, they waged proxy wars. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of these conflicts.

After the end of World War II, the Soviets supplied the Chinese Communists in the Chinese Civil War with weapons they had captured from what nation?

The Soviets' victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War left them with a surplus of Japanese weapons and a large area of Chinese territory, which they also gave to the Communist Party of China to help it defeat Chiang Kai-shek.


In 1947, the U.S. replaced England as the primary backer of what European nation, fighting a civil war against Communist forces backed by Albania, Yugoslavia and, to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union?

The Greek Civil War ended in defeat for the Communists, but the schism damaged the economic and political health of Greece for decades.


True or false: In late 1947, 3,000 U.S. troops were sent to Greece to protect Larissa from Communist attack.

No U.S. troops fought in the Greek Civil War — support for the Greek government was in the form of advisers, materiel and money.


When the U.S. announced it would provide aid to Greece, the speech that asserted such aid would be provided to "the free people of the world" came to be known as …

President Harry Truman gave the speech, and the doctrine of containing Communist expansion throughout the world was named for him.


The Truman Doctrine was based on a lengthy report from diplomat George F. Kennan, who described the Soviet attitude as one of constant war against capitalism and theorized that the U.S. could defeat Communism without direct military conflict. What is the historic name of Kennan's report?

Kennan began the Long Telegram by proclaiming that the topic of Soviet Communism "involves questions so intricate, so delicate, so strange to our form of thought and so important to analysis of our international environment that I cannot compress answers into single brief message."


What country controlled Korea prior to the end of World War II?

Korea had been under Japanese control for more than 30 years.


When the U.S. took control of the southern part of Korea, and the USSR the northern part, what was the dividing line between the two parts of Korea?

North and South Korea were originally divided along the 38th parallel.


The Soviets refused to commit troops to the Korean War. What nation sent more than 100,000 soldiers to fight on behalf of the North Koreans?

The use of Chinese troops in the Korean War was planned and approved by the Soviets and the Communist Chinese government.


The U.S. never declared war in Korea. What did President Truman refer to the conflict as?

The U.S. was in Korea as part of a multinational force under the United Nations. The conflict was a "police action," not a war, according to Truman.


Where did U.S. Gen. MacArthur land his troops and launch the effort to recapture Korea?

The Incheon landing was a success. U.S. troops moved deep into North Korea before China joined the war and drove them back.


Where was the dividing line between North and South Korea when the war finally ended?

While the U.S. successfully defended South Korea from being taken over by North Korean communists, the border remained more or less unchanged.


What is the area around the border between North and South Korea called?

Military units from both countries and the U.S. patrol their respective sides of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).


True or false: The U.S. seriously considered using atomic weapons in Korea.

While high-level U.S. politicians were cautious about using atomic bombs, military officials seriously considered them and even did test bombing runs in North Korea.


When Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese communists first began fighting, who were they fighting against?

In the 1941 uprising, the Viet Minh battled Japan, who had taken control of Vietnam during Word War II. Vietnam had been part of French Indochina previously, and the Viet Minh went to war against French control after they overthrew Japan.


While the Viet Minh were fighting Japan, they were funded by China and what other country?

U.S. funding the Viet Minh isn’t the only case of the U.S. supporting a faction that later became an enemy of the U.S.


The communist rebels who fought using guerrilla warfare in South Vietnam were called the …

The Viet Cong were an insurgency supported by the northern communists, who generally fought a more conventional war against the U.S.


Which president increased the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam from a few hundred advisers to 16,000 soldiers?

Kennedy greatly increased the U.S. presence in Vietnam.


What major North Vietnamese offensive, though militarily unsuccessful, devastated U.S. morale and created pressure for the U.S. to eventually withdraw from Vietnam?

After the initial surprise, U.S. and ARVN troops were able to repulse the Tet Offensive, inflicting serious losses on North Vietnamese troops. However, it created the impression that the U.S. was losing the war.


What was the name of the incident (likely exaggerated or completely fabricated) that led Congress to authorize higher spending and troop levels in Vietnam?

U.S. Navy ships were harassed and possibly fired on by North Vietnamese boats in the Gulf of Tonkin.


What was the term for the process of withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam while training and bolstering the South Vietnamese military so they could fight against the North on their own?

Vietnamization was intended to return full control of Vietnam to the Vietnamese.


What Communist nation provided the most troops, money and equipment to North Vietnam during the war?

The Soviet contribution to North Vietnam was significant, but China supplied tens of thousands of troops and billions of dollars in aid and equipment.


During the Soviet-Afghan War, which side did the U.S. provide supplies and money to?

During the 1980s, the U.S. was firmly on the side of the Muslim insurgents, known as the mujahadeen — another of those geopolitical ironies.


How did the Soviet Union become involved in Afghanistan?

Staging a coup and assassinating the president after you're invited in to help defend against a rebellion seems like a pretty dirty deal.


What U.S. agency was most active in the Soviet-Afghan War?

The CIA funneled weapons to the mujahedeen through Pakistan — billions of dollars in arms overall.


Why was Afghanistan strategically important to both the U.S. and the Soviets?

Soviet action in Afghanistan appeared to be a prelude to a grab for territory in the Middle East, threatening world oil supplies.


What was the name of the CIA-planned and backed invasion of Cuba by forces opposed to Communist leader Fidel Castro?

The dismal failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion was a major tarnish on John F. Kennedy's presidential record (although he inherited the operation from Dwight D. Eisenhower).


Although the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis denied the Soviets the use of Cuba as a missile base, what did they place there successfully?

In the battle of ideologies, Cuba was a key location for the Soviets both for propaganda reasons and for the ability to listen in on U.S. satellites.


The Soviet Union supplied significant arms to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Which side did the U.S. support?

The U.S. provided technology and weapons to both sides, largely illegally, in hopes of suppressing Soviet influence in the region and ensuring that neither side outright won the war.


In 1977, Somalia invaded what country against the recommendations of their Soviet allies?

Somalia was seeking to reclaim an area known as the Ogaden in Ethiopia, which had been lost when European nations divided and doled out African territory following World War II.


Which Cold War nation backed which side in the Ethio-Somali War?

The Soviets changed their backing from Somalia to Ethiopia because they disapproved of the invasion. The U.S. did the opposite purely because they would oppose Soviet intentions no matter who they had to back to do it.


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