United States Containment Policy During The Cold War

1017 words - 5 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

The success of the Soviet attempt to spread communism and socialism to developing countries would be the direct opposite of the goals of containment, by giving the Soviet Union allies outside of Europe, and a large amount of natural resources to use. Thus, the United States was forced to respond by modifying foreign policy to include financial and economic assistance to developing countries. While the effect of this assistance did not in fact increase the living conditions of the general populace in the majority of these nations, its did, with a few notable exceptions, prevent them from becoming communist or socialist nations.
Despite efforts to contrary by the United States, some developing nations did adopt communism, most notably North Vietnam and Cuba. In Cuba, America attempted to overthrow the communist government via a covert invasion, and when this failed, the USSR, sensing weakness and indecisiveness in the American leadership, attempted to place nuclear warheads on Cuba. The United States responded by blockading Cuba, and the USSR relented. Both the covert invasion and the later blockade were major diversions from the initial policy of non-military containment of the expansion of socialism. The creation of a communist state so physically close to the United States was of major concern to the leaders of the United States, and foreign policy was altered accordingly.
One of the other nations that became communist, and the most notable, was North Vietnam. After the French government, supported financially by the United States, ended its war in Vietnam, the nation was divided into two, and led by interim governments – a communist regime in the north, and a noncommunist one in the south. According to the terms of the ceasefire negotiated between the French, a free election would be held in 1956, and the temporary demarcation line would be abandoned once the countries reunited following the election. However, it became clear that the communist leader of the north, Ho Chi Minh, would win the election, and the United States provided economic support and weapons to...

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