After World War II, the United States had effectively become the most powerful and influential country in the world both militarily and politically. During America’s rise to power, however, hostilities mounted between America and the Soviet Union, resulting in a fierce rivalry. The Cold War, which never involved direct military confrontations between the two nations, involved of the struggle to contain the spread of communism, extreme anti-communist attitudes in America, and a reemergence of the civil rights issue.
During the war against Germany, America tended to neglect the military desires of the Soviet Union. Roosevelt hesitated to open a second front against the Nazis and this hesitation saved many American lives at the expense of even more Russian lives. In addition to other strategic differences, the two nations ended up racing each other to “liberate” as much of Western Europe as possible; Soviet Russia eager to expand communism and the United States committed to preventing a potential enemy from gaining a footing in international affairs.
The Cold War really began as soon as America gained intelligence that the Soviet Union had detonated a hydrogen bomb. Soon after, the National Security Council issued a report advocating the construction of an American hydrogen bomb as well as an increase in taxes to fund a massive defense budget. To prevent Soviet expansion, President Truman adopted a doctrine of containment—that is, if Communism threatened the governments of allied nations, the United States had the authority to intervene with military action.
Furthermore, America maintained economic dominance by establishing the Marshal Plan, which meant that the United States would give financial aid to European countries so that they could buy American products. Although the Soviet Union forbade its satellite states from participating in this arrangement, the Marshal Plan was successful in putting America in the center of...