Containment and the Cold War

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Containment and the Cold War

In February 1946, George F. Kennan, an American diplomat in Moscow, proposed a policy of containment. Containment is the blocking of another nation's attempts to spread its influence. During the late 1940s and early 1950s the United States used this policy against the Soviets. The United States wanted to take measures to prevent any extension of communist rule to other countries. The conflicting U.S. and Soviet aims in Eastern Europe led to the Cold War. The Berlin airlift, formation of NATO, and the Truman Doctrine all relate to this policy of containment.

At the end of WWII, the United States, Great Britain, and France occupied the western zone of Germany while the Soviet Union occupied the east. In 1948, Britain, France, and the U.S. combined their territories to make one nation. Stalin then discovered a loophole. He closed all highway and rail routes into West Berlin. This meant no food or fuel could reach that part of the city. In an attempt to break the blockade, American and British officials started the Berlin airlift. For 327 days, planes carrying food and supplies into West Berlin took off and landed every few minutes. West Berlin might not have made it if it wasn't for the airlift. By May 1949, the Soviet Union realized it was beaten and lifted the blockade. By using the policy of containment, the Americans and the British were able to defeat the Soviets.

After the Soviets blockade, fear in Western European nations against the Soviets dramatically increased. There western nations—Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal—joined with the United States and Canada. On April 4, 1949 a defense military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed. These 12 nations not only formed an alliance, but pledged to support each other by military in case of an attack. This was the first time the U.S. had entered an...
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