Development of containment after World War l

U.S. history and foreign policy. The writer explores the five questions and devotes two pages to each answer. There were fours sources used to complete this paper.

Explain the development of containment after World War’ll and the reasons for conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union.

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The development of containment after World War II had an impact on relations between the Soviet Union and the United States that cannot be denied. While the use of the word containment was not new during 1946, it was new with regards to the Soviet Union and the United States at that time and it strained the relations between the two super-powers (CONTAINMENT of SOVIET UNION (

It was a little more than a year after World War II had ended. United States military troops were still being demobilized as were the troops from the Soviet Union.

Russia had suffered from more than 25 million casualties of war and their economic sources were quite depleted.

With the situation the Soviet Union was in they were considered at the time an ideological threat to the world and to the United States, meaning that the ideology by which the Soviet Union was formed and operated under was a direct threat to the freedom of the U.S. If it ever regained its former strength.

Until then the U.S. had been complacent in allowing military aid to the Soviet Union even as the Soviet Union was running over the rest of Europe. In addition the Soviet Union refused to allow the U.S. To look at Germany.

The United States defined its defense aims clearly. The National Security Council (NSC) undertook a full-fledged review of American foreign and defense policy (an Outline of American History (1994) ( resulting document, known as NSC-68, signaled a new direction in American security policy. Based on the assumption that “the Soviet Union was engaged in a fanatical effort to seize control of all governments wherever possible,” the document committed America to assist allied nations anywhere in the world which seemed threatened by Soviet aggression (an Outline of American History (1994) ( United States proceeded to increase defense spending dramatically in response to Soviet threats against Europe and the American, British and French presence in West Berlin (an Outline of American History (1994) (”

Part of the United States decision to do this was based in the fact that the Soviet Union refused to produce certain economic and military data that had been requested at a joint meeting between 16 nations that were trying to hammer out agreements to help them rebuild and regain their former standard of living. The Soviet Union’s refusal to take part in this after the first meeting raised a red flag to United States leaders who wondered what the Soviet Union was trying to hide.

This move strained relations between the Soviet Union and the United States and the cold war began.

2. What happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis and why is it an important case of Cold War confrontation?

The Cuban missile crisis was perhaps one of the scariest events in American history to date, with the exclusion of the events of 9-11. When it occurred it was during an era in which Americans were extremely cautious of things such as bombs and possible air raids. It was a time where elementary and high school students were taught to get under their desks and cover their heads during air raid and bomb drills that became a routine part of their week. It was a time when Americans were being taught to fear the Soviet Union and all things communist and wee convinced through various propaganda that communists were raised to hate and kill Americans on sight.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. Luckily, thanks to the bravery of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, war was averted (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (”

It was 1962 and during that year it was well-known that the Soviet Union was extremely far behind the United States in the race to arms. To illustrate the differences in power one only has to realize that the United States had developed and built missiles that were able to reach the soil of the Soviet Union while the Soviet Union’s missiles were only strong enough to reach certain areas of Europe but in no way were they capable of reaching United States land. This created a very uneven balance of power within the two nations and their relations became strained.

In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (”

Cuban leader Fidel Castro had concerns about a future United States attack. Since the failing of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 Castro made no secret that he had concerns the United States would launch a second attack on his homeland. Because of this fear he didn’t hesitate to agree to the request of the Soviet Union to have their missiles planted on his land thereby making the threat to the United States by a Soviet attack extremely real (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (

All of this was done in secrecy without the knowledge o the United States or its leaders. The first the United States realized what was happening was when aerial photographs showed pictures of the Cubans constructing Soviet Union missiles on Cuban land.

It was October 15, 1962. The president at the time, John F. Kennedy was informed of this new and very serious development on the morning of October 16 and it began what is now referred to as the Cuban missile crisis (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (

The first thing Kennedy did was organize the EX-COMM. This was a group of his 12 most important and trusted advisors. He and they argued, talked, and debated for an entire week about this situation and what the best way to handle it would be.

At the end of that week Kennedy made the decision to place a naval quarantine around Cuba. He could see no other feasible way to stop the progression of the plan that the Soviets had without blocking any additional entry of soldiers or materials to build the Soviet Missiles with (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (

One of the hardest decisions the president had to make during this time was whether or not to inform the public of the developing events. After much deliberation he decided it was the right thing to do and on October 22 the president announced in a state of the union address the fact that the Soviet Union was building missiles in Cuba which would have the power to reach the United States.

He explained his decision to isolate Cuba with a quarantine to the public and explained he would demand the Soviets remove any and all of their offensive weapons from Cuba immediately (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (

During the public phase of the Crisis, tensions began to build on both sides. Kennedy eventually ordered low-level reconnaissance missions once every two hours. On the 25th Kennedy pulled the quarantine line back and raised military readiness to DEFCON 2. Then on the 26th EX-COMM heard from Khrushchev in an impassioned letter. He proposed removing Soviet missiles and personnel if the U.S. would guarantee not to invade Cuba (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (”

October 17 was a very difficult day during the crisis as a U-2 was shot down over Cuba. The Soviet president then sent a letter demanding the U.S. remove all of its missiles from Turkey.

That letter was ignored and not responded to. “Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba, and specifying the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba (CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (”

From that point forward the United States has kept its agreement not to invade Cuba and Cuba has kept its agreement not to let the Soviet Union place weapons of mass destruction on its soil that could potentially destroy the United States.

3. Explain how the United States got into conflict in Vietnam and how did the U.S. end is role in Indochina?

Most people in America are familiar with the fact that the country got into a conflict with Vietnam but as time moves forward it may become fuzzy on exactly how that conflict occurred. The events leading to the Vietnam conflict were determined by the administration in place at that time (VIETNAM CONFLICT (

Initially it was decided that Vietnam would be occupied by Chinese and British troops and that they would supervise the surrender of Japan.

In 1960 Hanoi instructed the southern communists to establish an organization called the national liberation front. The purpose of this organization was to overthrow the government of the south. The organization was made up of two groups. The intellectuals of the South and who opposed the foundation of the government of South Viet Nam and the communists who had remained in the south after the partition.

The Di-m government was initially able to cope with the insurgency with the aid of U.S. advisers, and by 1962 seemed to be winning. Senior U.S. military leaders were receiving positive reports from the U.S. commander, Gen. Paul D. Harkins of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. U.S. President John F. Kennedy had increased the number of American “advisers” in the belief that he could duplicate the success of British counterinsurgency warfare in Malaya (VIETNAM CONFLICT ( competing countries in the Cold War — the United States on South Vietnam’s side, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China on North Vietnam’s side — became increasingly involved, and what had begun as a domestic insurgency began to become internationalized. In 1963, a communist offensive that began with the Battle of Ap Bac inflicted major losses on South Vietnamese army units. This was the first large-scale battle since Dien Bien Phu, a major departure from the assassinations and guerrilla activities that had preceded it (VIETNAM CONFLICT (”

In 1963 the state department of the U.S. began to encourage a coup. At this time Diem was increasingly and significantly unpopular with his own people because of his administration’s nepotism and corruption.

Washington legislators began to doubt that Diem would ever be able to defeat the communists because of the anger his own people were directing toward him in light of the corruption that was being seen in his administration.

It was not long before the Washington administrators began to fear that Diem would in fact make a deal with the communist faction and then the control of the entire nation would be communist.

This was during a time in American history when the mention of communism struck fear in the hearts of everyone who resided here.

In November, 1963, the U.S. embassy in Saigon indicated to coup plotters that they would not oppose the removal of Diem from power. The South Vietnamese President was overthrown by a military coup and was later executed along with Nhu. Another brother was subsequently assassinated by the new government. After the coup President Kennedy appeared to be genuinely shocked and dismayed by the assassinations, however top CIA officials were surprised that Kennedy didn’t appear to have understood that this was a possible outcome (VIETNAM CONFLICT (”

The Kennedy administration continued to become frustrated with Diem. He was eventually assassinated however. Three weeks after his assassination United States president Kennedy was also assassinated.

President Johnson took over and immediately sent William Westmoreland to succeed Paul Harkins as commander of the United States Army in Vietnam. He did this in June of 1964. Under Westmoreland’s eye the troops increased from 16,000 in 1964 to more than half a million four years later.

There were also more than 5,000 military advisors ordered to Vietnam. This significant increase in power and troops concerned the public but was justified on the basis of the Gulf Tonkin Incident of 1964.

It was during this incident that the president claimed that the United States Navy ships had been attacked by North Vietnamese troops. This was a claim that is debated even today.

On the basis of the alleged attack the U.S. Senate approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on 7 August 1964, giving broad support to President Johnson to escalate U.S. involvement “as the President shall determine” without actually declaring war. The resolution passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and was opposed in the Senate only by Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska. In a televised speech, Morse declared that history would show that he and Gruening were serving “the best interests of the American people.” In a separate televised address, President Johnson argued that “the challenge that we face in Southeast Asia today is the same challenge that we have faced with courage and that we have met with strength in Greece and Turkey, in Berlin and Korea, in Lebanon and in Cuba (VIETNAM CONFLICT (” National Security Council members, including Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, and Maxwell Taylor, agreed on November 28, 1964, to recommend that Johnson adopt a plan for a two-stage escalation of bombing in North Vietnam (VIETNAM CONFLICT (”

When the United States decided to increase its involvement in the conflict other nations began to draw lines in the sand and take sides ether for or against that decision.

It was a conflict that would last 13 years and one that is still debated in classrooms and living rooms with a vengeance.

4. Samantha Power discusses several issues of human rights since the 1970s. Select one of these issues on-Cambodia, Rwanda, or Bosnia and explain what policies the United States pursued and the limitations of American and other outside actions.

According to Samantha Power there are many issues of human rights that have been escalated since the 1970s. One of the more pressing issues for her has been Bosnia.

Power has spent a good portion of her career exploring Bosnia an the troubles that it has to deal with. She is extremely bothered by what she perceived to be a refusal on the part of the United States to step in and handle the issues there.

The biggest issue that is in need of addressing according to Power is the genocide that is occurring. She writes in her books and articles about the fact that many Bosnian’s Cambodians and others are being routinely killed for nothing more than their heritage or their nationality.

According to her Power there is a pattern of political ignorance. Powers believes after being there for years that the United States could have done a lot to help stop the genocide that occurs, however, instead the United States choose to ignore it and not say anything against its occurrence.

While she concludes that the United States would not be able to single-handedly stop genocide in Bosnia she believes that with an effort the U.S. could have made a difference and gotten other nations to join forces and get it halted all together.

5. What were the major issues of American foreign policy in the 1950s? Justify your response by addressing the significance of each.

During the 1950’s the United States Foreign Policy focused on two issues, helping nations rebuild after World War II and containment of anything that smacked of communism.

It was during this time that the United States approached the idea of containment where the Soviet Union was concerned. Though the Soviet Union was weakened by the war the United States had concerns that it would begin to take over more of Europe and become a strong superpower to be dealt with. The U.S. decided that containment was the answer. Containment of the Soviet Union did not please the Soviet Union.

The U.S. decided that anything that could be construed of communism must be contained at that time.

In addition to trying to contain any nation or government that refused to give up its communist roots or tendencies the United States foreign policy also focused on helping other nations rebuild.

Something else that fell under the wing of foreign policy for the United States during the 1950’s was the policy about arms. Following World War II the United States came to believe it was important to develop and construct arms that would be able to overpower any other nation on earth. The arms race had been in gear but it was kicked into high gear as the nation watched the Soviet Union and other nations work to try and catch up. The dedication to arms building in that time frame has not been matched since then but during that decade it was an important part of the nation’s foreign policy.

The United States believed as long as it had more destructive weapons than the foreign countries did then it would always hold its place as the strongest most powerful nation on earth.

The events of 9-11 removed that confidence for good.



An Outline of American History (1994)



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