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The Cold War From 1950 1980 Essay

2610 words - 10 pages

The Cold War from 1950-1980
The period of 1950 to 1980 saw the Cold War spread from the
traditional playing field of Europe to other parts of the world.
However it is quite clear that the USA and the Soviet Union played
only a marginal role in originating these conflicts-at the most
setting up the basic framework for it to occur. Furthermore, when they
did get involved they each did so to varying degrees. The USA seemed
to be much more motivated and interested in involving themselves,
while the Soviet Union was more apprehensive. Therefore, to say that
both superpowers “were reluctantly drawn into them (the conflicts)” is
not completely true. To illustrate my point I will analyse the Korean
and Vietnam wars.

There is strong evidence to suggest that US entered the Korean War
fairly voluntarily. Firstly, the US was motivated by strong security
interests. They misperceived the North’s invasion to be Soviet
instigated and an attempt to spread communist ideology into Asia. Thus
they felt they had to do something to prevent this spread of communism
from materialising. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, US
feared that if Korea fell to the communist it would be, as then
Secretary of State put it, “a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan”.
Japan was very important to the USA as it was their bastion of
capitalism and democracy in Asia. To lose it, would be a major blow to
the USA and thus they did not wish to risk endangering it. To quote
Mark. S Byrnes:

“The United States saw the move (North Korean invasion) as potentially
damaging to Japan’s security, and the former enemy had become the
centre of American policy in Asia once the communists triumphed in
China.”[1]

Secondly, the US were also under the impression that the Soviet Union
was winning the war. This was due to mainly two reasons-the fact that
by 1939, the Soviet Union had tested their first atomic bomb thus
breaking the USA’s nuclear monopoly and the loss of China to the
communist. As the Cold War was commonly described as a zero-sum game,
the way US saw it, they could not afford to lose anymore territories -
such as Korea. Truman was also under much fire back at home for not
intervening significantly in China and thus he saw the Korean War as a
perfect opportunity to redeem himself. As Geir Lunstead noted:

“The domestic political situation in the United States further
undermined the original stance of the Truman administration. Verbal
assaults for having ‘lost China’ to the communists became steadily
harsher. In February, Senator Joseph McCarthy had begun his attacks on
communist influence within the administration. If South Korea fell,
too, that would undoubtedly sharpen the tone even further, just a few
months before Congressional elections.”[2]

Thus the fact that US had much to gain from...

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