U.S. - Soviet Relations
The beginning of the Cold War between U.S. and Russia caused a major polarization across the World. Countries like Korea, Vietnam and Germany were split in half-one half would be democratic and the other communist. The fight for the sphere of influence became mmore of a territorial fight, often times a small war. The Korean War (1950-1953) was one of the confrontations which infuenced the relation between the 2 superpowers. All the fights had their echos at home. The Red Scare became bigger than ever during this period and people like Joseph McCarthy spoke out loud the fears of all Americans and transformed the political scene in U.S. . But McCarthyism did not influence the relations between the two countries as much as it influenced the view and attitude toward communism of the Americans.
Afer Japan was defeated in 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel. North of the political border would be Soviet territory (People's Democratic Republic) and South would be U.S. territory(Republic of Korea). In 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea. Truman considered it a Soviet-directed attack more than an internal Korean matter; he never doubted that Stalin saw Korea as a test of the containment policy and U.S. will, despite conflicting evidence. Truman declared that not intervening in Korea would be a big mistake because it could spread through Europe and Asia. He also wanted to prove in the area of politics that the Democrats would fight communism. Truman sent General MacArthur as a commander of American forces in Korea. After futile battles MacArthur proposed to use the A-Bomb an even to help rebels in China to overthrow the communist government. But Truman answered that they were trying to prevent a war, not to start one. He was afraid that the Soviet union would take advantage of American involvement in Asia and attack Western strongholds in Europe. An armistice was set in 1953 to cease fire. This conflict speeded up the implementation of the NSC-68(call for massive military build-up in U.S.) and the transformation of the containment policy into a general global policy. Defense expenditures rose to 13% of the GNP. U.S. also acquired new bases around the world, began rearming West Germany, joined a mutual defense pact with Australia and New-Zealand. It also involved in Indochina and helped the French fight Ho Chi Minh's Vietminh. Truman;s intervention in Korea preserved the balance of power in one area of the globe. The Korean War also increased the hatred for communism in U.S.
The Republican senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisonsin was looking for an issue to reassure is election in the 1952 elections. He observed the sweet spot of the Democrats: attacks at their indecisive actions toward communism. So he started coming up with names of supposed communist Democrats from the government. He had no evidence, but for him being a senator, talking was enough. A committee investigated his accusations and called them fraud, but he did not give up, being encouraged by fellow Republicans as r. Taft and J. Bricker. At the same time the Korean war was happening so the American public was vulnerable to any kind of communist related subjects. McCarhy's attacks appealed to those midwestern Republicans, workers and conservatives who found anticommunism a method to fight liberalism and manifest their dislike of the Democrats. McCarthy was strongly supported by the Republican establishement and on Democrats fear of opposing him. He created a general scare of communism. As a result, federal lawmakers over Truman's veto passed the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950. This act took different security measures against communists and communism: no communists in defense factories or in the country, membership lists and financial statements of organizations suspected of communism, authorized the arrest of any potential spy. McCarthy's actions were exaggerated, but increased the fear of communism and thus the protection against it.
The Korean War and McCarthyism were two important factors in the development of U.S. - Soviet relations, although the latter only affected these relations indirectly. During this period the tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. grew high enough, that if it had not been for decisions like Truman's-not to attack China- the Third World War would have been a reality.