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Cold War P Residents Essay

2285 words - 10 pages

The 1950s in America are remembered as a sort of golden age in our history, not just because the economy was thriving, people could move out of the busy city to the quiet suburbs, and Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra was still alive, but because things were simple. True, we entered into an arms race that would hang like a sword over the heads of the American people for the next thirty years, but other than that, people were comforted with the fact that they knew that America was the indisputable hero out to beat the malevolent villain. We were a country of Spaghetti Westerns and Superman, and were too comfortable portraying ourselves as the lawful good. However, by the time we get involved with Vietnam, more and more Americans began to become skeptical of the administration, and many began to suspect their own government was an enemy as well. With the wave of the civil rights movement and the Women’s movement, the government attempted to reprimand the flaws in the system, but there was nothing they could do fast enough to satisfy the people. As the Cold War era heated up, Presidents began to become more and more nervous in the hot seat, and this is where we see the trend of seemingly bungling, clandestine presidencies with leaders who didn’t know how to spread themselves effectually across the issues at home and overseas.
Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all had fairly similar policies aimed to promote racial integration, expand Social Security, contain the Soviet threat to the Eastern Bloc, and rebuild postwar Europe under an American democratic influence.1 Truman’s actions are more so admirable than anything when one considers the immense stress and disapproval he was under for the majority of his two terms; none the less, he still proved to be very adept leader, and did not merely wish to carry out things correctly, but to do what was correct.2 Having to pick up from where FDR’s unanticipated death left the nation, Truman was immediately faced with the difficult decision of whether to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, and his ultimate, and highly controversial, decision to use the bomb led to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese and the official end of WWII for America. Unfortunately for Truman, the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war far earlier than almost anyone had predicted, and propelled the nation into a process of reconversion. The lack of planning was soon compounded by a growing popular impatience for a return to normal economic conditions. The problem that Truman’s administration made was attempting to hasten that return, despite warnings from economists. While his approval ratings quickly declined, Truman put into effect FDR’s GI Bill of Rights from 1944 which provided economic assistance for veterans, and while this addition to the already present flood of consumer demand ensured that there would be no new depression, it did contribute to more than two years of serious inflation. Truman also had to deal...

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