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American reaction to the outcomes of World War II and the Vietnam War had a fundamental impact on the direction of US foreign policy in the decades that followed each war. Compare and contrast the differences in the way in which U.S. Foreign policy approached the Cold War in 1945-1968, and 1973-1993.
In what ways do you think our current post-September 11 approach to foreign policy reflect these legacies?
The consequences of the Second World War, affected in varying degrees all countries in the world. In order to minimize the adverse effects for the U.S. related to the loss of traditional economic partners, weakened military devastation, the basis for action plan Marshall Plan was adopted to support the European economies – participating in the Second World War, and has also aimed at strengthening of the U.S. position on the European continent and the establishment of world domination.
The Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine were the main programs of the USA in order to prepare the establishment of the NATO bloc. At the suggestion of England and France the main provisions of the Marshall Plan were discussed in 1947 at the Paris meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the United States, England and France.
In historiographies of many countries a great attention is paid to the problem of Cold War. A special attention is usually paid to the foreign policy of the USA and the USSR in post-war period. Many researches are dedicated to this issue. Nevertheless many aspects of this problem deserve further researching. One of these aspects is accounting for the rise and fall of Détente.
Is should be noticed that the relationship between the USA and the USSR appeared at the centre of international policy in post-war period. The close cooperation of the USSR and the USA was changed into the hard confrontation that got the name ‘Cold War’. This term was firstly used in 1947 by the American economist B. Baruch. His speech determined the ideological and political ground of historical works, left an imprint at the methods of analysis and comparative methods, touched different aspects of American foreign policy in post-war period. The Cold War was a huge mistake, which caused a huge strain giant material and human losses during the period 1945-1991.
As for the reasons of Cold War rise the Soviet scientists were unanimous. They saw the anticommunism character of Cold War.
In the post-war period the USA turned into the most powerful country in the spheres of economy, army and policy. This gave a good base for global American hegemony.
With the end of the war polarity of the world has changed dramatically – the old colonial countries in Europe and Japan lay in ruins, but moved forward the Soviet Union and the United States, only marginally involved in the global balance of power until then is now a unique and fill the vacuum after the collapse of the axis. And from that moment the interests of the two superpowers entered the contradiction – the USSR and the United States sought as far as possible to expand the limits of its influence, started the fight on all fronts – in ideology, to win the hearts and minds of people, in an effort to break ahead in the arms race to talk to the opposite side from a position of strength in economic indicators – to demonstrate the superiority of its social order, even in sport – as John Kennedy said, “international prestige is measured by two countries things: nuclear missiles and Olympic gold medals.” (Breen)
Another conflict has become the largest in the second half of the XX-th century; it captured the territory of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
The instability, corruption and unpopularity of the Southern Vietnamese government supported Vietcong with the significant military success. To prevent victory of Vietcong, the direct intervention of the United States was required. The direct U.S. intervention into the Vietnam War caused an immediate reaction from the socialist bloc, and even reconciled the USSR and China.
The active phase of the war lasted until the spring of 1973. On the one hand, the U.S. did not lose a single battle, on the other – lost 58 thousand people dead and more than three hundred – wounded, not achieved any success. Guerrilla war lasted, seizing all new areas and territories.
The war was becoming less popular in the U.S. and, eventually, President Richard Nixon replaced Johnson and had decided to withdraw the American troops from the territory of Vietnam.
Through the parallels with Iraq, one can conclude that the escalation of the conflict and increase the intensity of the fighting are not the way to victory – for the victory in Vietnam there was not enough half a contingent. Victory in this war can only be achieved while reasonable combination of political, economic and military methods, as necessary (though not sufficient) condition for success is the presence of conscious and understandable for the local population development model. The USA did not have such a novel 30 years ago. The do not have this model in Iraq also. It is unlikely that the outcome of these wars for the United States will differ by the data on human losses (Sheehan).
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The massacre of the 11-th of September has not made the world “constructional” and did not call the new “architects” for its destructing. These dramatic events have stepped up no new trend “expansion” of NATO to the East (Afghanistan, Central Asia, Persian Gulf) and have also shown: the infiltration of the North Atlantic Union deep into Eurasia – not only geopolitical absurdity, but also undermine of the chances of international agreement on the actual tasks of terrorism.
September 11 put the U.S. and the entire West before the need to make a difficult step: to part with stereotypes of “humanitarian intervention”, to recognize that in Chechnya and Kashmir, in northern Macedonia continue to act not “freedom fightings” or “fighters for belief “, while those same international terrorist organizations, which once had their nest in Afghanistan. In this sense, really the fighting against terrorism, beginning with Afghanistan, can not end in Afghanistan.
Sheehan Neil, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition, 1989.
Breen T. H., The Power of Words, Volume II: Documents in American History (Power of Words Vol. 2): Longman, 1997.