Friday, June 23, 2006

The Cold War

Megan W.
Response #9

1.) Why are these important speeches and events in the origins and course of what came to be called the “Cold War?”

Truman Doctrine, 12 March 1947
The Truman Doctrine authorized US support to (anti-communist nations) Germany and Greece. The Truman Doctrine gave precedent to justify support to any country the American government considered to be threatened by communist (USSR) expansionism. This policy was called the Containment Policy.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 4 April 1949
According to this article in the Dallas Morning News published the day before NATO was official, NATO was a “grande alliance between the non-Communist Western World…. to pool their defenses against Russia.” This event is significant in the climate of the Cold War because it further advances the playing ground between the US and USSR. In response, the USSR and Western Germany formed a similar agreement called the Warsaw Pact.

Marshall Plan, 3 April 1948
The mission of the Marshall Plan was to help rebuild the Allied nations in Europe. This included Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Demark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The US hoped that their support would result in repelling communist expansion. It worked.

The “Iron Curtain” is a phrase that Churchill spoke in his significant 1946 speech in the heartland that refers to as the boundary line which separated Europe into two divided areas of political power. It was heard loud and clear. His words resonate in the minds of Americans, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” There is now a concrete ‘wrong side of the tracks’ to Americans and the Allies. The significance of this is that the tensions and divisions with the Soviet Union were clearly articulated by the President of the United States. The speech led to a rallied the opposition (throughout America and Europe) to USSR expansion worldwide. This really unified anti-communist countries together and resulted in a powerful force to be reckoned with.

"The Domino Theory"
The significance of Eisenhower’s own words (1954) describing what he thought would happen if Communism expanded stirred the American psyche. This alarmist response, in line with similar responses that led to the Red Scare, rallied support for this foreign policy theory – that if one country came under Communist power then more would naturally follow in sequence like dominos. Later on, this same idea was applied to the United States role in Vietnam. The image of dominos falling one after another was frightening to any Democracy-loving citizen of the world and fostered mass support for the ideas of containment (i.e. Truman Doctrine).

2-3.) Why was it called a “cold” war? Where were the battlefields of the Cold War, and how was it fought between about 1946 and 1963? Provide specific examples.

Walter Lippmann coined the term cold war in 1947 in his book that outlined how the USSR and the allies’ post-WW2 years had led to a climate of war without actual military warfare. Instead of direct military action, the was between the US and USSR was more of an arms (including nuclear) race that climaxed with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 which was as direct a confrontation that the war produced. Although there were no military battles, the governments of US and USSR were clearly in a wartime mode – alliances developed, propaganda spread, and espionage flourished. It was more of a psychological war than one of brute physical force like those in the past (WWI, Spanish-American, et.) involving military battle.

The Cold War was a power-battle between America and the USSR and was fought in a variety of ways. Since the combat never came to physical blows, the most important battles are not as obvious as those in WWI and WWII seen in mass bloodshed and revolution.

Unlike most races, there is an intended goal in an arms race other than be in front of the competition – no matter what. The arms race began as a struggle for military domination between the US and USSR. In order to out-do the other nation, the nations would constantly try to surpass the other in military strength, strategic colonization, technology and weaponry.

Struggle over military dominance is clear in the crisis in Berlin, Germany in 1948-1949 when the USSR blocked West Berlin, later dividing into East and West Berlin.

The Korean War (1950-1953) displayed how the Cold War played out in global conflicts. The USA saw the war in Korea as evidence for their reasons to take action against communism. It was the domino theory in action. The American involvement is regarded by the US as a police action (Roosevelt Corollary) rather than war. With the Korean War came increased technology in fighter jets, radar and infa-red driven by the race between Americans and Soviets.

The nuclear arms race that escaladed between the two nations caused the most impact to everyday American life. People dealt with the threats of the Cold War in daily life – safety procedures and bomb shelters were common. The threat of nuclear war was a historical first that the Cold War presented. When the Russians announced they had nuclear weapons, Americans – frightened and panicked, rallied stronger than ever to win the battle between the US and USSR.

And to win battle, the constant one-upmanship between the two nations applied to everything – colonization, education, military, space exploration, economy, to name a few. The Russians launched Sputnik, the first satellite, and Americans were really angry that they had won the “Space Race.” NASA was pushed as well as strong math and science education.

4. How did this war abroad affect domestic events and policies, and vice versa? Provide specific examples.

The Cold War dictated how the US and USSR operated – especially their foreign affairs. The policy of containment remained the foreign policy of the US against Soviet expansion after Churchill declared that “an iron curtain has descended across the [European] continent.” The Truman Doctrine (1947) pledged the United States to the containment of communism. The Marshall Plan (1947) helped support the Allies in Europe to re-build after WWII. The help was not for good will but in the interest of suppressing Soviet imperialism.

The policy of containment led to the development of military alliances: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1950). In response to NATO, the USSR collaborated within months to form the Warsaw Pact, which included East Germany.

Domestically, the Psychological Strategy Board was created for the purpose of creating anti-Communist propaganda campaigns in 1951. The next year, the Immigration and Nationality Act tightened immigration and barred homosexuals from the United States. This is an example of the anti-communist paranoia spreading to other avenues of dissent.


At 2:26 PM, Blogger H. McLure said...

Congrats on the first post this week, Megan! This is a very good entry -- I'll have more detailed comments for you after everyone else has posted their entries.

At 10:44 PM, Blogger lucas said...

Always in the past I had thought of the cold war as a time when people were in a constant state of needless worry. Being removed from this era, it is easy for me to question how legitimate this really was for them to be. You said in your blog "The threat of nuclear war was a historical first that the Cold War presented." This is very true. I find it comparable to the attacks of September 11th. We, as Americans, saw the damage and devastation caused by the attacks and were fearful of a repeat attack. In the case of the cold war, Americans saw the devastation caused by the nuclear bombs dropped in Hiroshima. They deduced the damage that it would cause in their own country and how it most likely would end life as they knew it.


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