America’s role in the Cold War After World War II, the United States had effectively become the most powerful and influential country in the world both militarily and politically. During America’s rise to power, however, hostilities mounted between America and the Soviet Union, resulting in a fierce rivalry. The Cold War, which never involved direct military confrontations between the two nations, involved of the struggle to contain the spread of communism, extreme anti-communist attitudes in America, and a reemergence of the civil rights issue.
During the war against Germany, America tended to neglect the military desires of the Soviet Union. Roosevelt hesitated to open a second front against the Nazis and this hesitation saved many American lives at the expense of even more Russian lives. In addition to other strategic differences, the two nations ended up racing each other to “liberate” as much of Western Europe as possible; Soviet Russia eager to expand communism and the United States committed to preventing a potential enemy from gaining a footing in international affairs.
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The Cold War really began as soon as America gained intelligence that the Soviet Union had detonated a hydrogen bomb. Soon after, the National Security Council issued a report advocating the construction of an American hydrogen bomb as well as an increase in taxes to fund a massive defense budget. To prevent Soviet expansion, President Truman adopted a doctrine of containment???that is, if Communism threatened the governments of allied nations, the United States had the authority to intervene with military action.
Furthermore, America maintained economic dominance by establishing the Marshal Plan, which meant that the United States would give financial aid to European countries so that they could buy American products. Although the Soviet Union forbade its satellite states from participating in this arrangement, the Marshal Plan was successful in putting America in the center of international economics. Meanwhile, in Asia, Communists won control of China and North Korea. When North Korea invaded South Korea, the United States pushed them back and began a counteroffensive.
Chinese involvement in the war, which lasted another two years, resulted in a stalemate. After Truman, President Eisenhower devised his own foreign policy. His “New Look” involved using massive nuclear arsenal for military leverage, manipulating Third World countries with CIA, and doing everything possible to contain the spread of communism. After World War II, President Truman lifted the controls on prices, causing drastic inflation and prompting workers to demand higher wages.
He put several mining and railroad companies under federal control, sparking hostility from the Democratic Party. To jumpstart economic growth, Truman began enacting what he called the Fair Deal. This expansion of the New Deal addressed civil rights in addition to economic concerns. Due to opposition from Congress, only some parts of Truman’s Fair Deal were passed: an increase in the minimum wage, an increase in the scope of social security, and the enactment of the National Housing Act of 1949, which called for the construction of hundreds of thousands of low-budget housing units.
In the midst of the political and economic discord, tensions were rising in America over the spread of communism at home. This sparked the creation of the House of Un-American Activities Committee, whose duty was to investigate communist influence in labor unions and New Deal organizations. During the “Great Fear,” all different types of people???especially those on the payroll of the government???were investigated for communist activity and put at risk of having their lives destroyed.
Once the war was over, people began focusing once again on civil rights. After the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, President Truman was the first president to use National Guard troops to enforce black civil rights when they escorted a black student to school. This case overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson case that had upheld the doctrine of “separate but equal. ” Inspired by this victory, black activists organized protests such as the Montgomery Bus boycott and Martin Luther King Jr. ecame a powerful figure of the movement. The Cold War impacted many aspects of American life, from expanding the power of the executive branch to leading to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. During the arms race, the United States extended and improved its nuclear arsenal; doing this required extensive testing on American land. This testing and the overall emphasis on nuclear arms caused many Americans to suffer from radiation poisoning and created a general fear that at any given point in time, nuclear bomb could be dropped on their homes.
Throughout this time, millions of bomb shelters were built and public service announcements detailing safety measures during an attack were broadcasted. No other war in the history of the world has ever been quite like the Cold War. While there were never any direct confrontations between the two parties, the United States and the Soviet Union, both would be changed irreversibly. This era was characterized by military and political measures against the spread of communism, anti-communist anxiety in America, and new attention paid to civil rights.
Afterwards, America had become unrivaled as the greatest power in the world. Now you can see just how much America participated in during the Cold War. WORKS CITED Ball, S. J. The Cold War: An International History, 1947???1991 Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy Kunz, Diane B. Butter and Guns: America’s Cold War Economic Diplomacy