Containment Essay, Research Paper


During the Truman administration, a containment policy was developed. The policy eventually became the central concept defining U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War. To contain Soviet Communism, President Harry Truman used American military and financial resources to help rebuild Western Europe after World War II. Under the Truman Doctrine, President Truman requested Congress for funds to build up Turkey and Greece, two countries that came under pressure from the Soviet Union. Truman stated that, ” It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities by outside pressures”. By developing the Truman Doctrine, he created a major, mutual defense treaty to restrain Soviet aggression. This doctrine was also designed to help European nations withstand Soviet Communism after the World War II. The plan was to share American skills such as knowledge, capital, and equipment with most countries in Western Europe. Included in this plan was the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This organization main purpose was to defend Western Europe against Soviet Bloc. After President Truman s administration, Presidents such as Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson have also tried to maintain this policy in many ways. Dwight Eisenhower did many things to maintain the policy of containment of Communism developed during the Truman administration. In fact, his foreign policy was built around it. The two main goals were to have a tough stance in the Cold War against communism and the maintenance of peace. He and his Secretary of State, John Dulles, were aggressive anti-Communists and advocates of the liberation of Soviet-dominated nations. In September 1954, Eisenhower and Dulles succeeded in creating the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Its main purpose was to prevent further Communist expansion in Southeast Asia. In a message to Congress on January 5, 1957, Eisenhower laid out a proposal that came to be known as the Eisenhower doctrine. He proposed that the U.S. should use armed force to aid any nation in the Middle East that requests its assistance against Communist aggression. In the last year of the Eisenhower presidency, the Central Intelligence Agency had equipped and trained a brigade of anti-Communist Cuban exiles for an invasion of their homeland. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously advised the new president that this force, once ashore, would spark a general uprising against the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. However, the Bay of Pigs invasion was a fiasco; every man on the beach was either killed or captured. Furthermore, after the failure at Bay of Pigs, Soviet leader Nikita Kruschchev started arming Cuba more heavily with missile. This lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Forced to prove himself, Kennedy demanded that the missile sites be dismantled and removed from Cuba. To back up his ultimatum, he ordered a naval blockade to Cuba. On October 28, Radio Moscow announced that the arms would be removed and returned to Moscow. During John F. Kennedy years as President, he did many things to maintain the policy of containment of Communism. The Cuban Missile Crisis was one example. During his administration, a country in Southeast Asia encountered a problem with Communism. The struggle was between North Vietnam, a communists region, and South Vietnam, an anti-Communist region. Kennedy then sent U.S. military advisers to the area to assist the South Vietnamese in fighting the North Vietnamese. Among the advisers was a former Republican senator and vice-presidential candidate, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Thus advocating the containment policy created by Harry Truman administration. In July 1963, Russia, the United States, and Great Britain signed a treaty banning atomic testing in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water. The treaty avoided the issue of internal inspections, which had made previous peace negotiations unresolved. President Lyndon Johnson did not initiate American involvement in Vietnam. Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy laid the groundwork for US intervention. However, the Vietnam War would come to be seen as Johnson’s war. It would dominate not only his entire foreign policy, but overshadow his ambitious domestic programs. Since the close of the 1954 Geneva Convention, when Vietnam was split in two, the Vietnamese Communists had been conducting what they termed a battle for liberation. Their stated goal was a Vietnam unified under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. Military strategists in the US, however, saw a creeping Red menace, poised to envelop all of Southeast Asia. China had already been “lost” to the Communists. Visions of falling dominoes haunted the Pentagon and the Johnson s administration. Early in 1964, Johnson had his staff draw up a congressional resolution that would allow him to expand the war as he deemed necessary. On August, the U.S.S. Maddox, an American destroyer patrolling the Tonkin Gulf in Vietnam, reported that it had been the target of a torpedo attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats. Two days later, a highly disputed second attack was alleged to have taken place. Such supposed provocation on the part of the North Vietnamese was all Johnson needed to present his resolution to a compliant Congress. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution sailed through Congress in forty minutes. It passed unanimously in the House and encountered only two dissenters in the Senate. American policy makers concluded that the United States must play the lead role in containing China, as it had in containing the Soviet Union. The new containment policy focused on South Vietnam, where, beginning in the late 1950s, the revolutionary Vietcong had been trying to overthrow a government that had American support. The Vietcong had support from Communist North Vietnam, a nation with ties to China. Johnson came to office convinced that the United States had to honor its commitments to South Vietnam and resist the revolution, but he was convinced also that success depended chiefly on the South Vietnamese. Throughout the Cold War Era, the main focus was about containment of Communism. First developed in the Truman administration, it continued to the Johnson administration where it dealt with Vietnam. From Truman to Johnson, the idea of containment of Communism was evident. Such organizations as NATO and SEATO, are evident accomplishments that demonstrate the effort of trying to maintain the policy of containment of Communism throughout the Cold War.

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