Objectives & Questions ,
(Later editions do have a different chapter structure.)
01: U.S. Traditions
02: America’s global involvement and the Emergence of the Cold War
03: The Cold War Consensus and Challenges to It
notes for 3/e)
After WWII, there were 3 sets of major factors propelled the United States in the direction of becoming a global power
The international environment after the war was a very different one, from the one that existed before the war.
-The traditional powers of Europe had either been defeated or had been ruined by the ravages of war, the global economy had been weakened, and a relatively new power and ideological opponent had emerged in the Soviet Union.
-These conditions dictated that the U.S. needed to stay involved, despite an Isolationist past.
The Global Vacuum: A challenge to American Isolationism
Europe was devastated. Sizeable portions of the land had either been flooded, scorched, or confiscated. The industrial sectors were extremely run over.
Five million homes had been destroyed, and millions more damaged. The word in Europe was "wasteland".
The colonies of Britain and France were demanding independence, which only added to the turmoil..
Italy had a huge budget deficit and an extraordinary inflation rate. Germany came out owing 9 times more than it did at the beginning of WWII.
In contrast to post war Europe, the U.S. came out healthy and prosperous. The economy was booming, and there was a balance of trade surpluses and huge economic reserves. Whereas, militarily, the U.S. had the largest navy in the world, and was the only country with the Atomic Bomb capability.
American Leadership and Global involvement
Roosevelt thought that America’s response to global affairs was ill advised, and shouldn’t govern future foreign policy
Roosevelt’s plan first involved the total defeat and disarming of our enemies. Second, there must be a renewed effort on the U.S.’s part to prevent another global depression. Third, there must the establishment of a global, collective security organization with active American involvement
Roosevelt, unlike some of his advisors, believed that the U.S. could have good relations with the Soviet Union, To ensure this, Roosevelt had gone out of his way to maintain good relations with Joseph Stalin during the war, and immediately after.
Strategy: a role in postwar international politics
Roosevelt, Stalin, and Winston Churchill agreed to zones of occupation in Germany. Then they provided some territorial concessions to the Soviets at the expense of Poland. Third, the wartime leaders allowed an expansion of the Lublin committee, which was governing Poland, as a way of dealing with the Poland question after the war.
Fourth, the proclaimed the Declaration of Liberated Europe specified free elections and constitutional safeguards of individual freedom in the liberated nations.
Finally, the Yalta Conference signified the beginning of an American commitment to global involvement, beyond the wartime period.
The Rise of the Soviet Challenge
Truman was just as committed to involvement as Roosevelt was. Three sets of factors shaped his commitment to involvement.
Stalin attacked capitalism by saying basically that "war was inevitable as long as capitalism existed," and, "that future wars were inevitable until the world economic system was reformed, that is, until communism supplanted capitalism. . ."
Churchill responded against this speech, and American ambassador George Kennan sent the message back from Moscow, that Stalin intends to work vigorously to advance Soviet interests in the world, and to undermine Western powers.
The Truman Doctrine and Beyond
The Truman doctrine responded to the threat of the spread of Communism, it was to, "help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national identity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes." It also outlined the Containment Theory.
Elements of Containment: Regional Security Pacts
There were 5 main initiatives set up during this period of containment.
McCormick, Chapter 2, Part II
America’s Global Involvement and the Emergence of the Cold War
by Walker Garrett (2005)
Elements of Containment: The Domestic Cold War
· National Security
Council completed NSC-68 in April 1950 summarizing the goals of containment
effort and providing a good guide to the subsequent domestic and international changes that occurred to
meet the perceived Communist threat.
· NSC-68: Defense
o Begins by outlining the nature of the current international crisis between the Soviet Union and the
United States and then goes on to contrast the foreign policy goals of Washington and Moscow.
o Analyzed 4 different policy options for U.S. response to Soviets
§ Continue current policies
§ Return to isolationism
§ War against Soviet Union
§ Rapid build-up of political, economic and military strength in the Free World.
o The rapid build up of American and Allied strength was the only feasible option for progress
toward achieving the fundamental purpose of containment.
o Domestic response from NSC-68
§ Called for building up America’s military capacity and eliciting greater support against
the Soviet challenges at home. Found American forces to be inferior to Soviets in being
and total manpower.
§ Soviets spent 13+ % of GNP on defense, US only 6-7%
§ NSC-68 called for defense to be the number one spending priority even at the expense
of tax increases or cutting federal expenditures in other areas.
§ Called for the United States to “produce and stockpile thermonuclear weapons in the
event they prove feasible and would add significantly to our net capability.”
· NSC-68: Internal Security
o Where will Communism strike internally?
§ Those that touch most closely our material and moral strength are obviously the prime
targets, labor unions, civic enterprises, schools, churches, and all media for influencing
opinion. The effort is not so much to make them serve obvious Soviet ends as to prevent
them from serving our ends, and thus to make them sources of confusion in our
economy, our culture and our body politic.
o Development of internal security necessary to prevent sabotage, subversion, and espionage.
o Defense budget escalated in 1950s to over 10% of GNP, Defense spending was over 50% of
federal budget. Armed forces increased to 22 per 1,000 persons.
o House Un-American Activities Committee, FBI, and CIA tracked the domestic population for
signs of disloyalty.
The Korean War: The First Major Test of Containment
· American Involvement in Korea
o 1950, Two Koreas, North and South, each claim legitimacy
o North invaded South, US viewed attack as Soviet-inspired and Soviet directed, possibly aimed
at testing the resolve of the allied nations, US
o Truman dispatched naval and air support and gained support of UN Security Council for
condemnation and security force to be sent.
o General MacArthur pushed invaders to border of China, and China sent forces to push allies to
38th parallel, stalemate ensued.
o July 1951, truce talks and after another year and half, Armistice formed with an uneasy peace
formed with demilitarized zone.
· Korea and Implications for the Cold War
o Korean War resolved incoherence of US foreign and defense efforts from 1946-1950 and
established important new lines of policy.
o Caused the sharp increases in defense spending, militarization of NATO called for in NSC-68,
and established an integrated military structure of NATO which led to the effort to rearm West
o Brought home to American policy makers, the need to maintain large armies and to take action
against aggression wherever it appeared.
o Solidified the American view that a Sino-Soviet bloc promoting communist expansion was a
reality and there was need to combat.
o The actions in Korea gave further credence to the global portrait outlined in NSC-68, need to
make rapid changes in security
· “The real commitment to contain communism everywhere originated in the events surrounding the
While US abandoned Isolationism, it took globalism on a largely unilateralist approach, leading other nations
in the world. Moral principle was readily evident in the Cold War period and the Containment policy.
Ch. 3: The Cold War Consensus and Challenges
By Ryan Rice, spring 2005
The 1960s brought the first challenges to the Cold
War consensus. They arose from the changing world environment.
Increasingly multipolar rather than bipolar.
New communist power centers among the western allies between the developed
world and the third world