After World War II, new political and economic situation in the world encouraged the establishment of a different foreign political course for the USA from that during the war. The main foreign policy of the U.S. during the Cold War was containment policy aimed to prevent communism spread in the world after World War II. As the main ideological background of the U.S. during the Cold War, the policy was established in response to the political move of the Soviet Union, which targeted in spreading its influence on China, Eastern Europe, Africa, Korea, and Vietnam. Therefore, this paper seeks to discuss foreign political course of the USA between 1945 and 1989 in order to estimate its successes and fails. This paper also proves the fact that despite mistakes in the foreign political course, the containment policy was successful and resulted in the disintegration of the USSR.
American Foreign Policy
The main ideas of the containment policy were established in 1946 by George F. Kennan, a U.S. diplomat. As a matter of fact, this political course became the basis of Truman’s foreign political course. Moreover, the containment policy is strongly associated with Harry Truman’s (1945-1953) foreign political course as well as with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) establishment (Gaddis 45).
During the Cold War, the main objectives of the U.S. foreign policy were: to limit the spread of communism in the world, involve in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War and the Six Day War, overthrow the Iranian government, and to aid the U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The containment policy had been rather successful in the initial stages. Politically, it was to provide weapons, funding, and supplies to counties which were fighting against communism (Truman Doctrine). Consequently, it successfully helped Turkey and Greece in resisting communism. Economically, it influenced the idea of the Marshall Plan as it was perceived that poverty in Europe would result in more communism supporters. It assisted European countries in fighting economic crises after World War II. In fact, the Marshall Plan was successful as in the end Western Europe regained its economic prosperity, and communism did not spread to that region. The NATO formation was also influenced by the containment policy as it created a form of deterrence against the possible Soviet aggression. Consequently, the Berlin Airlift and the destruction of the Berlin Wall also proved the success of the containment policy. Moreover, the extensive military spending led by President Reagan and his diplomatic overtures during the 1980s were rather successful, which later resulted in the USSR disintegration (U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian).
Unfortunately, this foreign policy course had some limitations. In fact, it was successful only in Europe. The policy was not extended to Asia, which resulted in communization of China and Vietnam. Moreover, no assistance in the Marshall Plan was suggested to any country outside Europe. Moreover, foreign policy course of the U.S. intervention in Vietnam was not successful, considering large financial and human losses the country faced during the war. Moreover, there were the U.S. failures in their foreign policy during the Cuban Crisis in 1962.
In conclusion, despite all the criticism and different policy defeats that Kennan faced in the early 1950’s, foreign political course of the USA in its sense of blocking the Soviet expansion and influence remained the main strategy of the USA during all the period of the Cold War, and therefore, was successful in Europe and some other countries. One can say that each succeeding of the U.S. administrations after Truman’s one adopted a variation of the essential containment policy presented by Kennan until the collapse of communism.