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This essay broadly narrates the incidents post World War 2 leading up to the Cold War, how United States of America responded to the events of Cold War and the domestic developments in the United States of America during Cold War years.
Post the Second World War; the cold war in the following decades can be summarized as the fight between democratic forces of the United States of America and the communist forces of Russia to establish Global supremacy in all spheres of life including governance, military and technology.
On the February 4th, 1945 with the aim of reorganizing severely war affected Europe, the heads of Government of United States represented by President Franklin D Roosevelt, United Kingdom represented by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Russia represented by Premier Joseph Stalin met at Yalta.
According to the Historian Michael Beschloss, Roosevelt and Stalin had exactly opposite views. Roosevelt wanted democratic nations in Europe whereas Stalin was looking for a buffer zone in Europe. This laid the seeds of the battle between democracy and communism.
The Potsdam Conference in July 1945 cemented the beginning of the cold war. The allies of the World War 2 decided to divide Europe into zones of East and West influence.
The uncertainty of Russian intentions led to Winston Churchill declaring in 1946 that an iron curtain had fallen across Europe.
The ally of World War 2, Russia, had now become an enemy of the United States of America.
The Truman Doctrine, which paved the way for NATO in 1949, advanced the foreign policy of containment of communism by pledging support to nations for resisting Russian imposition of communism. The Soviets retaliated to NATO by forming its equivalent, the Warsaw Pact.
Although the location and circumstances may have been different during the periods of various Presidents of the United States of America, from Truman to Johnson, the foreign policy of America throughout was pivoted around containing the expansion of Russia and Communism.
The “Domino Theory” was the cornerstone of all decisions in that respect. President Johnson’s message to congress (1964) conveys the strong belief in “Domino Theory” when he says “The issue is the future of southeast Asia as a whole. A threat to any nation in that region is a threat to all, and a threat to us.”
Truman had to deal with the survival of West Berlin in 1948, Eisenhower with the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 (began during Truman’s tenure) and with Russia becoming a Nuclear Power, Kennedy with Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 , Johnson with Vietnam War of the 1960s.
Although throughout the Cold War years, there was no confrontation between the United States of America and Russia, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the situation came very close to direct confrontation. President Kennedy, in his address to the nation on Cuban Crisis, went on to say that “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
The Cold War period was characterized by voluntary decision of Truman and Johnson not to seek further term, the massive arms race, unprecedented space programs and fear, paranoia amongst Americans of a possible Nuclear War.
Eisenhower in “Farewell Address to the Nation” (1961) brings out the impact of Cold War on the arms race when he says “we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.”
Closer home aspirations of Americans, led by government policies, G.I.Bill etc., were soaring, bringing in the era of consumerism, suburban housing and desegregation.
Income and career stability fuelled the need for family and kids represented by the Baby Boomers.
Cold War years were marked by attempts of the democratic forces of the United States of America to contain the expansion of the communist forces of Russia. The fight for Global supremacy covered the areas of Governance, Arms and Space to name a few. Financial and Military support was extended by the United States of America to the nations embracing Democracy and also to the nations resisting the advances of Communist Russia. Within America, Cold War years brought out fear of Nuclear War and Paranoia against Communists. America during this phase went through Baby Boomers era, massive housing expansion, consumerism, desegregation and a host of new government policies.
Eisenhower, Dwight, D. (Jan17th, 1961). "Farewell Address to the Nation"(Military-Industrial Complex Speech). Retrieved from http://www.vlib.us/amdocs/texts/ddefarew.html
Johnson.(1964). The Tonkin Gulf Incident; 1964.Retreived from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/tonkin-g.asp#message
Los Angeles, CA.Porchlight Entertainment. (1999). Superpowers Collide. Inside the Cold War with Sir David Frost. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=8397&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=
Kennedy, John,F.(1962). Address on the Cuban Crisis October 22, 1962.Retreived from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1962kennedy-cuba.html