Term Paper: American History Role

Pages: 15 (4599 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The Truman Doctrine

As early as 1945, the United States began to recognize a threat coming from Moscow. The United States felt the threat was enough to cut reconstruction funding for Russia immediately after World War II. The Truman Doctrine essentially declared that communism and any other philosophies posed by the Soviet Union were serious threats to not only Europe but the United States and eventually the entire world. The Truman Doctrine stated that communism could no longer go unchecked. The United States took on a responsibility of helping the world either obtain or maintain democratic freedoms.

The true effect of the Truman Doctrine back in the United States, however, was one that systematically altered the American way of life in an almost subliminal way. American's either took it upon them selves or they may have even have read it somewhere that they were no longer trust anyone because, one never knows for sure, a person over there could be a 'Red.' Fear infiltrated our society as the Federal government waged an all out war on Communism. Those fears started to again influence the nation's approach to foreign policy. All of a sudden, the Truman Doctrine indirectly made the Soviet Union the ultimate American enemy.

Thus, by 1947, the idea to contain communism was converted into a national philosophy that originated through the idea supported in the notions of the Truman Doctrine. Both the Soviet Union and the United States felt they had to protect themselves as the paranoia intensified and an all out clandestine war was brewing. In Europe the clandestine war between the philosophies of democracy and communism led to the eventual division between the Eastern European Communist Bloc States and the Western European democratic nations that would eventually become the NATO nations. The division was made into a physical divide when the Russians and East Germans began to isolate the city of Berlin through a fence that eventually became the foundation of the Berlin Wall. This division and the opposition of the two philosophies came full circle and the Cold War was on.

The Marshall Plan

Although the Secretary of State's speech was highly regarded, the Marshall plan did not instantly receive the blessings of the nation's leaders or the average citizens. Unlike today's one world global alignment philosophy, the United States in the late 1940's Post World War II Europe initially as someone else's problem, not ours. Opponents of the Marshall plan concluded that the overall cost of such a massive recovery initiative would completely wipe out the United State's domestic economy or possibly even pull the nation into the same economic woes being felt in Europe. The idea that the Marshall plan was also proposing to offer financial aid to the Soviet Union and the new Eastern Block nation's was a poor selling point for the newly Truman Doctrine-ized United States.

Eventually the plan was approved by Congress and signed by Harry S. Truman into law because the effects of the Post World War II economy were beginning to show them self in economic trade conditions. The supporters of the Marshall Plan had always felt that delaying financial support to Europe would only escalate the communist expansion and hurt the United States more economically. Ironically when the Truman Doctrine proved to be accurate by the media's coverage of a Soviet-backed coup in Czechoslovakia and the many other expansionist related stories, the nation and law makers saw it fit to concur with the Marshall Plan supporters and the Plan became law in April of 1948.

Allies and NATO

The Post World War II observations by the allied nations regarding the Soviet Union's then supposed intentions to spread the communist philosophy on a global scale worried the allied nations including the United States enough to warrant new binding negotiations and alliances. In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was drafted and then formalized to discourage potential attacks by the Soviet Union on the non-Communist nations of Western Europe. The communist threat from the Soviet Union eventually led to the Cold War with the United States. The reasoning behind NATO was to establish a deterrent for Communist aggression and also to help maintain the peace amongst the former enemies of Western Europe. Countries like Italy and Germany had made many enemies throughout the war and memories were short. The concept of NATO was that each member nation was bound to treat an attack on any other member of NATO as an assault on itself. Of course, both economically and militarily, the United States was the most powerful member due to its vast financial resources and its nuclear weapons.

Not to be out done, the later in the 1950's, the Soviet Union amassed its own allies from the Communist nations of Eastern Europe to form their own military alliance called the Warsaw Pact with the sole mission of opposing the NATO nations.

The NATO nations seem to have successfully gambled that the Soviet Union would not attack Western Europe because of the perceived threat that any advancement would trigger a counter strike from the United States. NATO's deterrence policy survived all the way thorough the Cold War but there was a number of occasions where full nuclear strikes were barely averted.

The Cold War

It is strange to think that at the end of World War II, the United States and Soviet Union were strong allies fighting side by sides against Hitler's German armies. So when did things turn as bad as all that so quickly? Both the United States and the Soviet Union blamed the other side for the Cold War. The Russian spin on the situation suggested that the clandestine information and psychological positioning war occurred because of the actions of then President Truman. The Russian's felt that the Truman administration slighted them when they administratively halted the Lend-Lease economic aid package that the Soviets desperately needed for their own post war reconstruction. It was said that then dictator Joseph Stalin took personal offense to the United States' stating that Russia was no longer at war and therefore no longer was no longer entitled to receive fiscal aid from America.

But in the United States, the spin of what started the Cold War was the steady and unrelenting Communist expansionism which began first Germany and eventually progressed over the entire European continent. The Americans observed that the Soviet Communist state had no intention of stopping the spread of the communist way of life in Europe. The true reasons for the Cold War were most likely a combination of both nations' truths and fears. Neither nation can be considered guiltier than the other nor should they be seen as more innocent.

The Cold War can be looked at from many angels. First, both the Soviets and the United States used blatant manipulation of foreign sovereign states to further their own needs under the guise of either democracy or communism. At the time the Cold War was in full swing, third world nations leaders fought and scrapped to get on the right team so as to receive the socio economic equality of the superpowers. Communism promoted the idea that yes, Cuba, you are an equal with our mother Russia. Democracy could promote the idea that if you sell us your natural resources you to can be as rich as the United States. Both systems passed these myths.

The Soviets in a sense had an unfair advantage of the United States because communism as a system is far less complicated explain and teach then democracy and capitalism. Yet, both systems during the Cold War were guilty of manipulating the countries throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa in the battle to control the world. And, Cold War was and continues affect areas that seem as though they should never have been affected by the Cold War. But nations like India, Pakistan, China, Latin America, Cuba, Korea, and Angola to name a few have all been victims of the superpower's clandestine war.

Luckily for the world, the official end to the Cold War came on November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall was physically demolished. Technically, the United States, through the Reagan administration, outlasted the Soviet Union and therefore can be considered to have won the Cold War. "For it was President Reagan who on June 12, 1987, cried out for all the oppressed peoples of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." And down it came." (Beichman) Ronald Reagan's accomplishment is nothing less than one of the greatest milestones in our civilization's history yet it may never be appreciated for what it truly was. Like Abraham Lincoln who supported a civil conflict that he was actually against, Ronald Reagan took down the know antagonist and removed those glory days where both the Soviet Union and the United States were on constant alert in fear of the eventual first strike warfare where either nation could… [END OF PREVIEW]

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