Cold War Influences on American Culture, Politics, and Economics

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Following World War II, Europe was in ruins. Between bomb damage, economic downturn, and natural disasters such as droughts and blizzards it seemed nearly impossible to restore Europe to its prior greatness. America facilitated the recovery of Europe with military and financial aid and helped prevent the spread of communism. This aid crushed the Soviet dream of a communist Europe and started the Cold War. Over the next 45 years, the United States and the Soviet Union would resemble two angry women, avoiding each other at all costs and exploding into a furious rage at the first sight of the other. Many events contributed to and were derived from the Cold War such as the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, the Civil Rights movement, the Space Race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Assassination, and the hippie movement. Some of the most important questions that could be asked of these events are these: of what significance were they to the Cold War and where would the world be today if they had never happened? Lessons learned from the past affect everything about the future, and without these events, America, and even the world, would not be where it is today.
The Cold War was largely characterized by how the United States treated the struggling European nations. Addressing a joint session of Congress, Harry S Truman requested $400 million in military and economic aid for Greece and Turkey in the name of democracy. Truman believed the countries were facing the threat of communism if no aid was given. He proclaimed, “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” (Merrill). In the article “The Truman Doctrine: containing communism and modernity” in Presidential Studies Quarterly, Dennis Merrill determined:
…the Truman presidency was the first to construct, win public support, and successfully implement a modern foreign policy. Unlike the Monroe Doctrine and its Roosevelt Corollary, which focused on the Western Hemisphere, Truman’s policy was global in scope. Beyond Greece and Turkey, it underpinned an array of Cold War initiatives: the $12 billion Marshall Plan for European reconstruction, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and an unprecedented military buildup in the wake of the Korean War. Indeed it guided America’s Cold War policies for four decades – from Berlin and Cuba to Vietnam and Afghanistan.
Earlier in the article, Merrill defines modernity as “a worldwide cultural revolution, a state of consciousness that elevates science, mastery over nature, mass production, mass consumption, and social engineering.” Though the Truman Doctrine lacked a strategic vision, it gave the world purpose and identity with each other in areas that were already similar to the culture of the United States. Most of these countries were in Western Europe, but Japan was included also because its economic and technological life...

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