Their Russias and Americas starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe, Alexis de Torqueville, late 19th century. De Torquevilles prophecy came true by the 1940s when the two super powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, had come head to head, swaying the destinies of half the globe and more. (de Torqueville, chapter 18)
The United States had recently participated in the second World War resulting in an Allied and American victory. Europe, however, was devastated, economically, politically, and socially.
The United States stood at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It was a solemn moment for American democracy, former Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated in a speech delivered at Westminster College in 1946. (Churchill, page 1) At that time, American and Russian tensions had evolved into a full-throttle push into the Cold War.
The Cold War refers to the tensions that arose between Russia and America that became a strategic and political struggle that developed after World War II. It lasted for 35 years and it was the battle that determined the fate of democracy and communism.
The never-back down attitudes pushed into a stand-off between the two super powers. (Cold War: The Cause, par 1) To intensify to the hostility, the Soviet Union had taken a policy that shutting out any other nations from the Unions internal affairs metaphorically known as the Iron Curtain.
What emerged was a war that entailed much greater activism and a correspondingly larger commitment of resources to foreign policy than the United States had previously undertaken in peacetime. (Ford, page 1) The United States was asked to form policies in to deal with its doppelganger’s atomic power and communistic government.
The Cold War significantly changed the way foreign policy is administered today. The United States was forced to make strategic plans to help other countries regain economic stability, contain communism, and not end up in a ruinous global nuclear war. The war was what pushed America from the Monroe Doctrines limited jurisdiction to Truman’s National Security Council’s reponse to the endangering communsim and warfare with NSC 68, Containment’s and the Marshall Plans economic intervention in volatile nations, and Dulles’ “brinkmanship.” Three policies and two ideologies formed the backbone to what became the outline for foreign policy in America through the Cold War era and eventually setting a exemplar reflected in present politics. Today, many of the policies shaped in the wake of the Cold War are applicable to Americas attitude toward and intervention in other nations. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (1954), leader of State Departments Foreign Services George Kennan, and other political figures had created a precedent in American history.
The Competing Ideology of America
In the proceedings and height of the Cold War, the American approach to the Soviet Union was an unsteady one. Realism and moralism took center stage in the debates of policy and are present in todays policies.
Realists envisioned the United States to be motivated by consistent and well-defined national interests, whereas moralists wanted the nations values to reside in democracy, human rights, tolerance, and so forth. (Spanier, page 293)
Realists had the upper hand in controlling the United States foreign policy in the Cold War era. However it was the fusion of the two ideas that truly formed the blue print for that troubled era and for today.
The Marshall Plan. Secretary of State George C. Marshall delivered a speech at Harvard University in 1947 that laid the foundations for what was to become the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan was the response to the faltering economies in Western Europe. It provided economic assistance to all European nations that would agree to United States to intervention. This plan was based upon Moralism ideology.
George Kennan was a large proponent of the Marshall Plan. He supported it because he believed that the pressure of poor economies make nations turn to communism as an answer. (Containment through Economics, par10) He was correct. The Marshall Plan was not only effective in maintaining good trade but it also undermined the spread of communism. Within years of the plans establishment communism in the countries that agreed to the intervention had declined and American trade thrived. (Brinkley, page 972)
Containment. President Truman was a proponent of military aid to the satellite nations of the Soviet Union and thus containing the communist threat. The fusion of Kennans proposal, in similarity to the Marshall Plan, and Trumans plan was at the heart of the theory of containment. Containment was a policy which was under the influence of realism, an ideology that Kennan was quick to adopt in his dealings with the Soviet Union.
The goal of containment was simple: prevent the spread of communism. In application it made nations completely dependant on the United States for reconstruction and stability, and called for European economic integration.
According to Kennan, politics and economics were directly related, aiding the death of communism by promoting healthy economies, like the Marshall Plan.
By expanding upon the Marshall Plan, the United States helped economically and militarily to aid in the stabilization of Western Europe and other nations in need. (Containment through Economics, par 1-5)
Dulles Plans. John Foster Dulles responded to the threat of nuclear attacks during the Cold War with a collaboration of proposals known as massive retaliation. He wanted to have military superiority to crush communism.
In January of 1954, Dulles declared that in the future the American response to aggression would be at places and with means of our own choosing. Dulles aggressive attitude toward the Soviet Union so much so that it was interpreted as hostile.
Brinkmanship was one of the most famous of the proposals. He asked for the United States to push the Soviet Union to the brink of war and then eventually it would collapse under pressure.
You have to take chances for peace, just as you must take chances in war… The ability to get the verge with out getting into war is the necessary art… If you try to run away from it, if you get scared to go to the brink, you are lost… We walked to the brink and we looked it in the face. We took strong action, Dulles remarked.
Kennan’s proposals and Dulles’ proposals were directly in opposition to each other.
Surprisingly, Dulles was not a realist. He was a moralist. He was for the protection of democracy and human rights, even though his reactions to communism were hostile. (New York Times, par 4)
NSC 68. In April of 1950, a top secret document was given to Truman by the National Security Council (NSC). It was declassified in 1975. The document was called NSC 68 written under direction of National Security Advisor Paul Nitze and it had was a amalgamation of all three proposals and both competing ideologies.
Before Truman’s presidency, Eisenhower had adopted the idea of a rollback to deal with communism. Roll back was the idea that the Soviet Union would withdraw from communism once it pushed them into inevitable debt. However, once out of under Eisenhower’s shadow, Truman decided to take a more agressive stance. Laissez-faire politics in foreign affairs had ended.
The document was in response of two international events: China recently became communist and Russia exploded an atomic bomb, a technology the United States did not expect from the Soviet Union at the present. (NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, page 1)
It proposed the maintenance of a strong military stance. A strong military stance was important for two reasons: it guaranteed our national security and it served as an indispensable backdrop to the conduct of the containment policy. (NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, page 3)
In summary, the principal features of the policy were the assistance to Europe and other under-developed areas in recovery and the creation of a viable economy (Marshall Plan and Containment) and the purchase and stockpiling of strategic materials (Dulles). (NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, page 4)
Application to Today
The National Briefs of the Charlotte Observer, May 16, 2000, stated: The House (of Representatives) moved Monday to set up a Marshall Plan for AIDS-devastated Africa. Like the Marshall Plan, many other doctrines of policy during the Cold War era are still used today.
The Cold War provided clarity to United States foreign policy. (Spanier, page 308)
In the post-Cold War era, the Gulf War broke out- which is believed to be a direct result of the death of the communist super power. (Spanier, page 283) However in many instances, like the Gulf War, techniques in aiding economically devastated nations with military means has become a trend.
Lessons from the Cold War, and its visible legacies in late 1990s, illuminate issues, problems, and patterns of American Foreign Policy… (Spanier, back cover)
The American Cold War foreign policy set an example for many policy makers to refer to in the future. Foreign aid is still applicable today and military intervention as well.
The Cold War refers to the political and strategic struggle that came to be after World War II between the United States and Western European Allies. (Academic American Encyclopedia, page 98) It is also a monumental frontier that marks the eventual international policies and reactionary documents.
For 35 years, foreign policy was guided by containment and NSC 68. For the rest of the post-Cold War era, the policies in the wake of the Cold War will be looked at as precedents.
Academic American Encyclopedia: Deluxe Library Edition (United States: Grolier Incorporated, 1993)
This encyclopedia provided information on doctrines and other general information dealing with foreign policy.
Britannica.com, key word: strategy database on-line; available from http://www.britannica.com; Internet; accessed 08 February 2001
Britannica.com provided general information on foreign policy and strategy during the Cold War.
Brinkley, Alan. American History: A Survey (Boston: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1999)
Brinkleys book provided an overview and information on the Cold War policy over the 35 years it was enacted. It also gave resulting information where such policies were used.
*Churchill, Winston. Iron Curtain Speech (New York: City News Publishing Company, Inc, 1996)
Winstons speech provided significant information on the relationship between Russia and America in the early part of the Cold War. It also promoted democracy for ideology.
*De Torqueville, Alexis. The Russians and the Americans: Democracy in America vol.1, chapter 18
De Torquevilles document was a prophecy for what the two super powers were to do, almost one hundred years later.
Dulles Formulated and Conducted United States Foreign Policy for more than 35 years: New York Times database on-line; available from http://www.nytimes.com; Internet; accessed 10 February 2001
The New York Times provided information on Dulles importance in Cold War foreign policy.
Ford, Benjamin, Economic Interests, Party, and Ideology in Early Cold War Era United States Foreign Policy: International Organization document on-line; available from http://www.mtholyoke.edu; Internet; accessed 21 January 2001
Fords document provided information on ideology, interpretations, and an overview of the Cold War.
Heritage Foundation, the, Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War document on-line; available from http://www.heritage.org; Internet; accessed 30 January 2001
The Heritage Foundation was useful because it gave enticing quotes from Truman and information on Trumans policy of containment.
MES.net, Containment Through Economics document on-line; available from http://www.mes.net; Internet; accessed 05 February 2001
This document gave sufficient information on the policy of containment during the Cold War.
*National Security Council, NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs of National Security document on-line; available from http://www.fas.org; Internet; accessed 09 February 2001
NSC 68 was a the key factor to the Cold War foreign policy and helped this research paper a lot in understanding what policies were important and ideologies.
Richardson, Jo, Defining the Post-Cold War National Interest document on-line; available from http://www.nationalforum.com; Internet; accessed 09 February 2001
Richardsons document was helpful in the understanding of ideology during the Cold War.
Singh, Robert, American Foreign Policy document on-line; available from http://www.bbk.ac.uk; Internet; accessed 04 February 2001
Singhs document provided information on American ideologies that led up to the foreign policies enacted upon during the Cold War era.
Spanier, John and Steven Hook. American Foreign Policy: Since World War II (Washington, D.C., Congressional Quarterly Inc, 1995)
Spaniers book provided a superfluous amount of information on foreign policy and how it was applied.
Thinkquest team, Cold War: The Cause document on-line; available from http://library.thinkquest.org; Internet; accessed 10 February 2001
This document provided the factors that led up to the Cold War.