The Cold War Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

Kennedy would not only use military buildup as a defense to the Soviet Union, but would also use peaceful means to discredit communism itself. Kennedy would create the Peace Corps, which would take on volunteers to help people around the world by building schools or teaching English to third world children. The main objective was to show the developing world that communism was not the answer (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 813). Kennedy would also increase funding to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after the Soviets achieved having the first cosmonaut in space in 1961 (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 813). This would start the space race as Kennedy declared that NASA would ...view middle of the document...

S. forces. This would be known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave Johnson the power to oversee operations in Vietnam. Johnson would end up escalating American presence in Vietnam by sending more troops and initiating massive bombing campaigns in North Vietnam. By 1968 there would be 536,000 American soldiers in South Vietnam, and the war was in a stalemate since the U.S. could not invade North Vietnam because China might enter the war (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 894). Richard Nixon would be elected president in 1968 and would inherit Johnson's commitment to Vietnam, but would only want peace by South Vietnam remaining independent.
Nixon would launch the policy of "Vietnamization" which would leave the fighting to the South Vietnamese Army while dropping troop levels from 543,000 in 1968 to 24,000 in 1973 (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 906). Nixon would also seek alternative strategies to achieve peace, one by seeking détente (a lessening of tensions) with the Soviet Union, and opening talks with China (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 908). From 1970-1972 after a series of meetings with Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev, Nixon would sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) that resolved tensions in Cuba and Berlin while reducing arms buildup. Nixon would also be the first sitting president to visit China, and promise better relations while stating that capitalist and communist nations can coexist in peace. This led to peace talks over Vietnam in Paris and would have North and South Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 ending U.S. military involvement in Vietnam (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 909). Nixon thought that with U.S. aid the South Vietnamese republic might survive, but the North would launch a final offensive in 1975 that would finally reunite the country. The Vietnam war would finally end without the surrounding countries in the region falling to communism, but would be a useless war since it did not achieve the objective of stopping the South from falling to the communist North. Nixon would, however, achieve great strides in the Cold War by signing SALT I and opening talks with China.
Jimmy Carter would be elected president in 1976 believing in détente, and also did not like the irrational fear that Americans had of communism. But Carter would antagonize Brezhnev by criticizing the Soviet Union's abuse of human rights, which would lead to SALT II being stalled and finally withdrawn when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 (Edwards, Henretta, and Self 953). Carter would take a tougher stance and end up supporting resistance fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan, put an embargo on wheat shipments to the Soviet Union, and boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Ronald Reagan would replace Carter in 1981, and did not believe in détente or containment; Reagan wanted to actually defeat the Soviet Union. To this end he started rearming the United States in order to exhaust the Soviet economy, and supported CIA...

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