United States Containment Policy During the Cold War

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During the Cold War, America's basic policy was that of "containment" of the Soviet Union. The policy of containment was based upon several principles. First, the Soviet Union wanted to spread socialism to all areas of the world. However, it was felt that the leadership of the Soviet Union felt no particular rush to accomplish their goal. "The Kremlin is under no ideological compulsion to accomplish its purposes in a hurry. Like the Church, it is dealing in ideological concepts which are of a long-term validity, and it can afford to be patient. (Hook and Spanier, 42)." In other words, the Soviet leadership believed that, since their ideas were the correct ones, they would eventually prevail, and thus, no direct confrontation would be necessary. The second idea behind the containment policy was that there existed 5 major industrial centers within the world, namely the United States, Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Since four of these five were capitalist nations, and allies, containment meant "confining the Soviet Union to that single one (Hook and Spanier, 42)". Simply, the basic policy of the United States during the Cold War was not to defeat the Soviet Union through force, but to simply prevent it from expanding.

The main force that changed the American policy of containment was the fear of Soviet expansion into developing countries. During the 1950s and 1960s, many countries in Africa and Southeast Asia that were previously controlled by European powers were liberated, and became independent nations. The Soviets saw this as "proof that the international capitalist order was disintegrating (Hook and Spanier, 82)." The Soviets were then given an opportunity to attempt to spread their political, economic, and social values into these regions. The diplomatic efforts put forth by the Soviet regime were somewhat successful, at least partially due to the animosity these nations were feeling to the capitalist powers that had...
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