After World War II, a struggle between the Communist nations and the democratic nations occurred which is known as the Cold War. The United States had a policy set up that clearly stated that any nation invaded by a communist country would have the assistance of the United States Government in controlling Communism expansion. This theory was known as containment. Containment was used throughout the Cold War, and the policy appeared to be a success by stopping communist Russia. Was the United States wise in implementing their philosophy of containment? Since the Communist nations were held back and did not expand their beliefs, the goal of the United States was reached and containment served its purpose. In my opinion, enforcing containment was an excellent decision.
During World War II, the Communist and democratic nations fought as allies against Japan, Germany, and Italy. We were indeed the most powerful nation but we did not wish to receive the burden of world leadership. Thus resulting in the reduction of armed forces for the United States. Then, as we entered the Cold War, the United States and Russia were on separate sides wishing to defeat the other. What caused this change? During World War II we both had a common goal, to counter the Nazi threat. After Hitler was defeated, the United States and Russia remembered their longstanding disagreements.
Before the Cold War began, the United States reduced their arms, but Russia only kept expanding. After the U.S. discovered Russia’s plan of expanding, they began to increase their military weapons. In order to stop Russia, a plan to counter their expansion must have been made. In the March of 1947, Harry Truman declared in the Truman Doctrine, that the United States would help any free nation resist a Communist attack. The theory used to contain the expansion of Communism throughout the world was known as the Containment Policy. Some believed that his new theory would not force Russia to “soften their stance.”
A few months later in June of 1947, the Marshall Plan was proposed by United States Secretary of State, George Marshall. He proposed giving assistance from the United States to all European countries because the ministers of the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union could not agree on a German peace treaty. In 1948, the Marshall Plan was put into effect. By having a strong and reliable Western Europe, it would assist us in the block and containment of Communism. Later in the year, West Germany established their independence and became part of the Marshall plan.
Military strength became very important in the later 1940’s. During the Berlin blockade (a block of the railroad, highway, and other forms of transportation by Russian troops to force the United States our of Berlin), the United States started the Berlin airlift. United States and its allies flew planes of food and supplies into Berlin, which eventually stopped the blockade. This proved the United States loyalty to the countries of Western Europe.
During the Berlin blockade, a group of non-Communist nations came together to form NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). This was much like containment in the sense that it was being used in the assistance to stop the spread of Communism.
The Cold War continued through the 1960’s and 70’s. Many events gave the Cold War more fuel to be strung out through a longer period of time. Events such as, the Cuban Missile Crisis as a result of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Although there was no official ending date of the Cold War, it came to a slow halt as the United States and the Soviet Union neared nuclear war and complications of the military. The United States claimed their victory and proved containment a success.
My belief of what containment has down for the United States is brought together the non-Communist countries to fight against the “evil”, or Communism. In the end process, several of the Communist and democratic nations began to develop friendlier relations, which helped to ease the tension caused by war. Also, the West Berlin problem (which was major in the Cold War) was solved and it was pronounced West Berlin and not part of West Germany.
If Russia had succeeded in expanding during the Cold War, many countries would have become communist. This is the exact opposite of what the United States wanted. Communism appears to be the biggest problem the United States fights against. The biggest policy that the United States fights Communism with, is containment. They were very wise in implementing this policy because of the subtle but semi-forceful tactic.
History proves that when the United States has been aggressive, not much has come out of it and our goals were lost. One example is the Korean War. In this war, the United States pushed communist North Korea to China, which then backfired as China came back to humiliatingly defeat us. We were beat in our own game of taking aggression. Unlike the Korean War, the United States sat back and waited for Russia to take the first move. Following each plan was a counter purposed by the United States and its Containment Policy.
This is why containment was such a good theory for us. It was a non-aggressive way to fight Communism. Since we used containment, the Soviet Union was less tempted to bring out nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The Cold War would have become a “hot war” real quick if they forced the issue of containment. The policy was set up to serve the purposes of stopping Communism, not starting a massive war. Which kind of war is better: a massive attack resulting in thousands of dead soldiers or a long, drawn out war? The most logical answer is the long, drawn out war; which is exactly what the Cold War was. It was not a war to “fight to the death.” It was a war of “Do as you please but keep it within your own Communist nation, or come through us and our Containment Policy.”
In conclusion, I agree with the decision of the Government in taking the non-aggressive path to containing Communism. The Containment Policy has been a success so far, as history will prove, in containing Communist expansion. If the Cold War was a success, then obviously their philosophy of containment was also a success. Thus, making it a very intelligent solution to build allies and fight Communism. In my opinion, the free world was saved by Truman’s policy of containment.
Word Count: 1095
Related Essays on Communism