The Cold War began after the Second World War which ended in 1945 and it was a response to conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States of America (Olson, 2000). The Soviet Union represented communist nations while the US represented the democratic nations. According to Olson, (2000), the Cold War was not a military war; it was fought through other means like: diplomacy; economic battles; and propaganda. Historians agree that this war was propagated by President Truman in the time that he took office in 1947, as he was openly distrustful of the promises made by the Communist regime (Digital History, 2011). As a response or strategy the US developed the Containment Policy to limit the spread and success of communism.
The Containment Policy
The rationale behind the Containment Policy was that to avoid the spread of communism, the United States would have to aid various struggling countries in Europe and other nations so that they would not submit to communist policies (Digital History, 2011). To do this, the Marshall Plan was proposed in 1947 where financial aid would be by America to European countries. The Marshall Plan committed approximately $ 12.5 billion to assist in the restoration of the economic health of Western Europe which had been destroyed as result of the Second World War and thus reduce the rate of expansion of communism in this region. The United States therefore made every effort to aid countries like Turkey and Greece with military and economic aid to prevent communist expansion.
In 1950, North Korea, which was communist, invaded South Korea and initiated a war which ended three years later (Olson, 2011). The US came to the military aid of South Korea despite the fact that the US had not included regions like Korea in its national interests. This proved that the US was committed to stopping communism because it proved that communism had turned into a global affair. America also became involved in the resolution of conflicts (guerrilla and civil wars) within developing societies in Latin-America, Asia and Africa. America was involved in the fight against communism in Guatemala. The United States in 1959 also instituted a trade embargo against Cuba when it received $100 million from the Soviet Union.
In 1960s the proponents of the containment, threats were presented by liberation wars in developing societies and China. The US became involved in the Vietnam War in 1961 aiming to stop the expansion of communism; this was however a war where victory was not possible (Digital History, 2011). This war caused the confidence in the policy and rationale of the Cold War to be questioned by its opponents and put the competence of policy leaders in the US on trial.
The Cold War was designed to limit and subsequently, the adoption of communist policies by nations globally. The US viewed communism as a breach of open market and democracy and was committed to preserving each individual’s rights (Olson, 2000). To achieve this, the United States decided to adopt the Containment Policy which used various tools to achieve its objectives. The US rationalized that to avoid communist expansion, it would be necessary to aid struggling communities by providing military and economic aid so that the nations are able to resist plans to force them into or convince them to adopt communism. The US interests in the 1950s and 1960s were therefore motivated nearly solely by the desire to crush communism.
Digital History, (2011). Postwar America 1945-1960. Available at http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=498
Olson J. (2000). Historical Dictionary of the 1950s. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group.