Containment: The American Way Essay

1577 words - 7 pages

The United States made a commitment to fight communism after World War II everywhere it could in the world and got involved in conflicts more because of self-interest and determination to beat communism than the cause. This first appears with the Truman Doctrine, which set the precedent for America to assist anti-communist regimes around the world. After World War II and up until the early 1990’s the foreign policy of the United States was based on the policy of the containment of Cold War ideology and to prevent nations from turning towards Soviet-based communism.

The fear of communism first emerged after the First Red Scare in the 1920s. The fear of extreme ideologies that ...view middle of the document...

In 1950, Truman's National Security Council had developed the ground works for American foreign policy in the Cold War; NSC 68. This document portrayed the Soviet Union as an aggressive occupation stating that "The Kremlin regards the United States as the only major threat to the achievement of its fundamental design," and called for an acceleration of growth in the Unites States military. President Truman accepts NSC 68 in April 1950, and now the idea of containment had now taken on a military presence. The United States had entered a realm of power that would ultimately lead them into two wars in Asia, a nuclear face-off with the Soviet Union in Cuba.
Only months after President Truman's acceptance of NSC 68 the Korean War began. President Truman believed Stalin had ordered North Korea to invade South Korea and ordered in American troops. This was the first war the United States was directly involved in due to the policy of containment. For the lawmakers in support of military buildup, the North Korean invasion was the catalyst they needed to boost the defense budget, which tripled during the Korean conflict. The war was being won by the United States , until November 1950 when Chinese troops entered the war in support of North Korea. General MacArthur believed the United States military was superior to any communist army in Asia, and advocated waging a war and using nuclear weapons against China. This frightened President Truman and removed General Macarthur from his command in Korea. General MacArthur would have involved the United States in a "all-out war on the Asian mainland," and because President Truman intervened the war came to a stalemate. In 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president. Offering the same terms as President Truman did, Eisenhower was able to make the Chinese and North Koreans sign an armistice agreement. This essentially restored the prewar status quo, but failed to ease international tensions between the United States and Russia.
Six weeks after Eisenhower entered office, Stalin died. This offered a possibility in reductions in defense spending, thus reducing the budget. The change of leadership in both Washington and Moscow made Winston Churchill advocate a summit between the superpowers, but Eisenhower did not want to go back on his promises of being hard on the communist threat during his campaign, and rejected Churchill's request; distrust towards the Soviet Union was still present even though Stalin was gone. Eisenhower ordered a review of American foreign policy in 1954 and an updated version of the doctrine of containment. “Massive retaliation,” as it was called, declared that any Soviet attack on an American ally would be answered with a nuclear assault on Russia itself. This distinguished Eisenhower from Truman’s use of force. The health of the American economy led to a cut in conventional military forces and greater reliance on a stockpile of nuclear weapons. During Eisenhower’s presidency, the...

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