Containment as U.S. Policy During Cold War Era

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Containment as U.S. policy during Cold War Era

From after World War II and up until 1991 the foreign policy of the United States was based on Cold War ideology and the policy of containment; to prevent nations from leaning towards Soviet Union-based communism, as first laid out by George Kennan and later used as one of the key principles in the Truman Doctrine (LeCain). As this essay will argue, because of this policy the United States made a commitment to fight communism everywhere in the world and got them involved in conflicts more because of self interest, self protection and determination to beat communism than the cause itself.

The fear of communism first emerged after the Soviet Revolution in 1917 during the First Red Scare in the 1920s. The fear of extreme ideologies that emerged in Europe during the Great Depression was present in the United States and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Second New Deal was established to guarantee a modest level of economic safety and security thus avoiding communism and fascism which used fear to gain popularity (LeCain). The New Deal programs to conservatives were un-American and began criticism towards liberals for being weak on communisms, rooted in the fear of big government, but establishment of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the ratification of the 1940 Smith Act undermined the conservative argument (LeCain). After World War II the criticism against liberals came back and again the conservatives accused the democrats for being too weak on communism. In 1950, Senator McCarthy, arriving late on the Red menace arena (Fried 121), began his communist-sympathizer which-hunt and became the symbol of anti-communism. But events such as the Truman Doctrine, the Berlin Airlift, the build-up of the military and the Korean war was evidence that the Democrats and President Truman was everything but weak on communism (LeCain).

Together with the containment policy, the criticism against the liberals from the conservatives made the Democrats and the Truman administration obsessed with fighting the Soviets and communism. The Truman Doctrine and the policy of containment painted a black-white picture of the world; "a victory for communism anywhere was a defeat for non-communism everywhere (Brands 31). During spring of 1950, Truman's National Security Council had developed a blueprint for American policy in the Cold War; NSC 68 (Brands 32). The document, possibly inspired by George Kennan, portrayed the Soviet Union in an aggressive light stating that "The Soviet Union is seeking to create overwhelming military force" and called for a massive buildup of the Unites States military (Brands 33), but the realpolitik George Kennan believed in did not advocate for a military containment (LeCain); his views are ultimately ignored by NSC 68 and President Truman accepts NSC 68 in April 1950. With the rusting up of the permanent war-machinery together with the establishment of NATO in 1949, containment had now become military containment (LeCain). The United States had entered an evil circle that would ultimately lead them into two wars in Asia, a face-off with the Soviet Union in Cuba and be an important part of American foreign policy the next 40 years.

Only months after President Truman's acceptance of NSC 68 the Korean War begins. President Truman believes Stalin has ordered the invasion and orders in American troops (LeCain); the first war the United States is directly involved in due to the policy of containment was a fact. For the advocators of military buildup the North Korean invasion played directly into their hands and subsequently the defense budget tripled during the Korean conflict (Brands 34). The war went well until November 1950 when China began pouring troops into North Korea. General MacArthur believed the United States military was superior to any communist enemy (Maier 813), advocated waging a war against China causing President Truman to remove him from...
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