After the end of World War II, no single foreign policy issue mattered more to the United States for the next 50 years as much as the Cold War. President Truman set the direction for the next eight presidents with the announcement of the containment policy. Crises in Berlin, China, and Korea forced Truman to back his words with actions. The Cold War kept defense industries humming and ultimately proved the limits of American power in Vietnam. Democracy was tested with outbreaks of Communist witch hunts.
Communism was on the march. A mid-level diplomat in the State Department named George Kennan proposed the policy of containment. Since the American people were weary from war and had no desire to send United States troops into Eastern Europe, rolling back the gains of the Red Army would have been impossible. But in places where communism threatened to expand, American aid might prevent a takeover. By vigorously pursuing this policy, the United States might be able to contain communism within its current borders.
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
Explain how and why the Cold War emerged in the wake of World War II
Describe the steps taken by the U.S. government to oppose Communist expansion in Europe and Asia
Discuss the government’s efforts to root out Communist influences in the United States