Cold War Foreign Policy

Historical content: 
The Cold War
Historical skills: 
Background knowledge, Contextualization, Periodization



The two documents below were produced about eight years apart. Read the documents and determine the order in which the documents were most likely written. Then explain your answers using evidence from the documents and your knowledge of history.


Document A: The opening words of a joint declaration by nations at war.

Document B: Part of a story in a Chicago newspaper.

Source text: 

Document A:

“The governments of the United States of America, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China; United in their determination . . . to continue hostilities against those Axis powers with which they respectively are at war until such powers have laid down their arms on the basis of unconditional surrender; Conscious of their responsibility to secure the liberation of themselves and the peoples allied with them from the menace of aggression; Recognizing the necessity of insuring a rapid and orderly transition from war to peace and of establishing and maintaining international peace and security with the least diversion of the world's human and economic resources for armaments; Jointly declare. . . .”

Document B:

“World Communism is one solid pattern – you can break it off here or chop it off there,” he declared. “You’re never going to end it in sections."

“It’s ridiculous to expect an end to Red imperialism by ending things in Korea.”

Document _____ was likely written first because ___________________________



Document _____  was likely written later because __________________________



About the Assessment

Like Civil Rights Movement in Context, this assessment gauges students’ ability to contextualize two historical documents and place them in the correct chronological order. Document A is an excerpt from the joint resolution by the Allies at the Moscow Conference in 1943.  Document B is from an article published in the Chicago Daily News on February 14, 1951. This assessment draws on students' knowledge about American foreign policy but in a way that goes beyond the simple recall of facts and dates. In this assessment, students must show that they have a broad understanding of how American foreign policy changed over time and demonstrate the ability to use knowledge about the past to place the two documents in context.

In this assessment, students who correctly contextualize the documents will see that Document A, which describes an alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China against Germany, was a product of World War II foreign policy and therefore likely written before Document B, which refers to American Cold War containment policy in Korea.