August - This Month in the Cold War

August 7, 1964 - Following an attack on two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam, the U.S. Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, granting President Lyndon B. Johnson authority "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."

August 13, 1961 - The Berlin Wall came into existence after the East German government closed the border between east and west sectors of Berlin with barbed wire to discourage emigration to the West. The barbed wire was replaced by a 12-foot-high concrete wall eventually extending 103 miles (166 km) around the perimeter of West Berlin. 

August 19, 1991 - Soviet hard-line Communists staged a coup, temporarily removing Mikhail Gorbachev from power. The coup failed within 72 hours when Boris Yeltsin rallied the Russian people and became the leading power in the country. The Communist Party was banned and by December the Soviet Union disintegrated.

08/23/56 US Navy P4M Martin Mercator was shot down by Chinese fighters, 160 miles north of Taiwan and 32 miles from the Chinese coast. The crew radioed that they were under attack by an aircraft. The Chinese claimed they fired on it believing it to be a Chinese Nationalist aircraft.

August 29, 1991 - Following the unsuccessful coup of August 19-21, the Soviet Communist Party was suspended, thus ending the institution that ruled Soviet Russia for nearly 75 years.

August 31, 1980 - Solidarity, the Polish trade union, was formed at Gdansk, Poland. Led by Lech Walesa, Solidarity opposed Communist rule and was outlawed in 1981. Seven years later, following partially free parliamentary elections. Solidarity candidates scored victories in the elections and gained power, paving the way for the downfall of Communism in Poland.