In response to a number of requests, here are some principles for sound US play.
1. Hold on to your own High Ops Value events. Most powerful Soviet events are discarded after use in the Early War. You want to hold your high value events like NATO and potentially even MARSHALL PLAN (depending on the disposition of EUROPEAN SCORING), so that on the reshuffle between rounds 2/3 both players are holding a hand full of blue starred cards.
2. Consider Playing High Value Soviet Events. Remember, you can chose whether the event happens BEFORE or AFTER you take your operations. Frequently, you can minimize/eliminate the damage done by a Soviet event by using the cards operations to cover it up. You won't have this same luxury if the USSR plays the event, as you will frequently be short of the necessary operations points to counter.
3. Minimize Soviet Infiltration. Two cards are deadly in the Early War for midwar position. DECOLONIZATION and FIDEL. If you can hold or bury these cards do so. If the Soviets play them, counter coup or realign immediately, particularly FIDEL. South and Central American can be VERY tough for the Soviets to break into without him. You might be able to keep them a US lake without him, and grab domination in both regions during the MidWar. Its harder to keep the Soviets out of Africa, but without DECOLONIZATION, they will need to make a concerted effort to bust in.
4. Use turn 3 to drop valuable Soviet events on Space Race. If you wait until turn 3 to drop big events into the space race (like Fidel or DECOLONIZATION) they are going to be out until the Midwar reshuffle. That's all but dead.
5. Keep Note of Event Impacts on Influence. You want to secure Israel from the ARAB ISRAELI war event, but keep in mind, that's dangerous until NASSER has been played. Stay out of ROMANIA until ROMANIAN ABDICATION. Stay out of Eastern Europe until the disposition of WARSAW PACT (etc. etc.)
6. Watch the Middle East. The Middle East is like Central and South America for the Soviets, if you get tossed out it can be very hard to get back in. Furthermore, the Middle East has the OPEC event (also applies to Venezuela) which makes it a very lucrative area for VPs. Ananda recommended Israel as a base. That works post-Camp David accords, if Israel is surrounded by friends or if ARAB ISRAELI war is buried. Otherwise, its risky. In my first play in the region, I try to use a 3 OP, and grab Iran (gotta have a battleground), Lebanon (some protection against ARAB ISRAELI WAR and a cheap non-battleground country), and drop 1 in Iraq. Now, control of Iraq alone will cost the Soviets a 3 Op, and the US player can use that one influence to get into places like Saudi Arabia.
7. Play Scoring Cards Early when you are behind. ALWAYS secure presence in a region if possible. This will greatly mitigate any disaster, but barring that, if you are behind in a region consider playing the scoring card early and concentrating your efforts elsewhere. Ordinarily, if you are playing catch-up, your opponent will notice, and you will probably fall further behind in the region -- or worse, play a lot of ops for the same result you could have gotten without lifting a finger.
8. Play spare ops to set up for MidWar. Know that a US Early War autovictory is unlikely, so get ready for the mid war. If you can get breathing room of even 1 ops point, use if in Africa, South or Central America. It will definitely reap rewards later.
9. Eschew VP Events Early. DUCK AND COVER will make you feel better about the score board, but three influence played during the Early War will likely earn you more VPs over the game than the 2/3 VPs from the event. Furthermore, you want to preserve these events for when you are in a position to go for the kill in the Midwar.
10. BOARD POSITION, BOARD POSITION, BOARD POSITION. The key to victory for either player is forcing your opponent to waste his operations reacting. This is most common with Scoring Cards. If you have laid the ground work in the Early War for a midwar victory by containing the Soviets and spreading a little influence in places you know will be coming up for scoring rounds 4-7, you will be alright.
11. Never Give Up. I took a US player to -18, only to have him battle me back to a draw in 2 turns. How? Well, I went for cheap points over board position. When I wasn't able to put him away, things swung wildly in his favor in the Late War. Early War was designed to be tough on the US player, you've got to have your eye prize for your mid to late war win.
I hope this helps.