Containment Policy After Wwii Essay, Research Paper
America s approach to contain the threat of communism
As it became increasingly clear that there would be a competition for power in the new world order, the United States and Russia formulated foreign polices designed to limit the expansion of the other. In the case of the United States the policy was known as containment. Simply put it was the goal of the US to contain the spread of Communism.
Containment of the Soviet Union became American policy in the postwar years. George Kennan, a top embassy official in Moscow, defined the new approach in a long telegram he sent to the State Department in 1946. Pointing to Russia’s traditional sense of insecurity, Kennan argued that the Soviet Union would not soften its stance under any circumstances and Moscow was “committed fanatically to the belief that with the U.S. there can be no permanent modus vivendi.” Moscow’s pressure to expand its power had to be stopped through “firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies….”
Soviet Foreign policy as WWII ends
The Soviet Union and Stalin felt the need to control buffer states in Eastern Europe and controlled most European nations with an iron grip. The Soviet Union feared US domination in the surrounding countries. Stalin wanted to demonstrate the superiority of the Soviet system over capitalism and was looking for new friends abroad to break the containment placed around them. Churchill described the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe as the “Iron Curtain. Stalin relied on the Marxist/Communist philosophy called for worldwide communist revolution to which he created the “Comintern” to facilitate said revolutions.
Many new states were entering the international community in these years, and Russia was eager to wean them away from the west without having much knowledge of the local conditions; which meant that its diplomatic “gains” turned out to be “losses.”
President Truman plans to enforce the Containment Policy
The first significant application of the containment doctrine came in the eastern Mediterranean. Great Britain had been supporting Greece, where communist forces threatened the ruling monarchy in a civil war, and Turkey, where the Soviet Union pressed for territorial concessions and the right to build naval bases on the Bosporus. In 1947 Britain told the United States that it could no longer afford such aid. Quickly, the U.S. State Department devised a plan for U.S. assistance.
Truman in a statement that came to be known as the Truman Doctrine, declared, “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” To that end he asked Congress to provide $400 million for economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey, and the money was appropriated.
Containment also called for extensive economic aid to assist the recovery of war-torn Western Europe. With many of the region’s nations economically and politically unstable, the United States feared that local communist parties, directed by Moscow, would capitalize on their wartime record of resistance to the Nazis and come to power. Something needed to be done. In mid-1947 Secretary of State Marshall asked troubled European nations to draw up a program “directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.” The Soviets participated in the first planning meeting, then departed rather than share economic data on their resources and problems, and submit to Western controls on the expenditure of the aid. The remaining 16 nations hammered out a request that finally came to $17 billion for a four-year period. In early 1948 Congress voted to assist European economic recovery, dubbed the “Marshall Plan,” and generally regarded as one of the most successful U.S. foreign policy initiatives in history. No Communist nation ever accepts a cent.
The First Test of Resolve between the US and the USSR
Postwar Germany was divided into U.S., Soviet, British and French zones of occupation, with the former German capital of Berlin (itself divided into four zones), near the center of the Soviet zone. The United States, Britain and France had discussed converting their zones into a single, self-governing republic. But the Soviet Union opposed plans to unite Germany and discussions on Germany broke down. When the Western powers announced their intention to create a consolidated federal state from their zones, Stalin responded. On June 23, 1948, Soviet forces blockaded Berlin, cutting off all road and rail access from the West.
American leaders feared that losing Berlin was but a prelude to losing Germany and subsequently all of Europe. Therefore, in a successful demonstration of Western resolve known as the Berlin Airlift, Allied air forces took to the sky, flying supplies into Berlin. Stalin lifted the blockade after 231 days.
United States develops a military solution to the spread of Communism
Soviet domination of Eastern Europe alarmed the West. The United States led the effort to create a military alliance to complement economic efforts at containment. In 1949 the United States and 11 other countries established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance based on the principle of collective security. An attack against one was to be considered an attack against all, to be met by appropriate force. There’s a good chance that if the U.S. hadn’t launched the Marshall Plan and then NATO, France, West Germany, Italy and possibly other parts of Europe might have become Soviet satellites — not because the Russians would have invaded, but because the people of these regions might voluntarily have chosen to elect communist parties subservient to Moscow.
After the war, the United States abandoned its policy of isolationism. The country recognized it needed allies to maintain its position in the world. That policy led the United States into forging a series of military alliances around the world. The country also started to provide substantial amounts of foreign aid to friendly nations, and to alert the American public and the world to the dangers of Communism.
The Soviets were afraid the United States would use the threat of nuclear weapons to push their interests on the rest of the world. Although the Soviet Union had greatly suffered during the War, Stalin had gained territories and had lifted the Soviet Union to a super power. He did not want the U.S. to take back what he had gained. He tested the resolve of the NATO alliance in countries like Turkey, Greece, and Iran (where the US forced the Soviets to withdraw their troops from the north of Iran in 1946).
After Stalin acquired an atomic bomb and in conjunction with Truman s policies, the Soviet Union and the United States met in a series of conflicts, including the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1959-1975).