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Essay/Term paper: U.s. post ww2 containment policey

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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Directly after World War II the US effectively "shut the door" on all communist nations. A red scare descended on the US as the iron curtain enclosed around Eastern Europe. Mistrust and misunderstanding led to decades of arms races and close calls with a people that helped us to defeat Hitler and Japan. Meanwhile, the "open door" in China was slammed in our faces by our own ignorance and suspicion.

Though the confrontationist policy of the US may have been an effective tool to use in wartime while dealing with a dictator, it was not correct to use in peacetime. By misconstruing Stalin"s actions after World War II the US lost any chance of amiable relations. The US first misunderstood Stalin"s annexation of the Baltic republics. Moreover, a desire to have a buffer zone between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was mistaken by the West as aggressive Communist imperialism along the lines of Hitler"s pre-war expansion. Granted, Stalin did harbor desires to spread his ideology, as did we. However, his desire to defend the vulnerability that had been exploited so many times was the rationale behind the occupation of Poland. Moreover, the United States" history of ideological imperialism is much longer and more "colorful" than that of the Soviets. Anti-Communist sentiments in the US government as well as the population fueled by misinformation cost the US any type of association with the Soviets. The post-war was the perfect time to become friendly with the Soviets. The Russians were decimated by the war and needed all the help they could get. Stalin"s possible acceptance of accommodation, though only out of necessity, could have been used by the US to gain ground in Asia. However, like always, our own paranoia catalyzed by confrontationist propaganda cost us any hopes of a relationship.

A history of anti-Communist feelings compounded by this type of ignorance also led the US to lose all relations with China. By making the assumption that Mao ZeTung"s brand of communism was the same as that of the Bolsheviks, the US lost a potentially powerful ally. If the US had been more careful, if we had trusted those whose job it was to know, the division between the communism in Be-jing and the communism in Moscow would have been clear. Even if mistrust towards the Soviets remained the US still could have had some type of relationship with Mao"s China. From hindsight"s perspective it is clear that Mao"s form of communism was more conducive to capitalist influences. A strictly communist-Leninist state has slowly but surely turned towards capitalist-fascism. If this had been recognized earlier (if we had stopped to look) an economic relationship could have been extremely advantageous for both nations. Moreover, an amiable relationship with the Chinese would have been extremely helpful to the US during the Cold War. It could have ended The Korean conflict before it even happened. Mao"s willingness to talk was clear; directly after the CCP"s victory in China Mao asked to meet with US dignitaries, though any real alliance was improbable at the time, any kind of relations would have been better than none. A simple act of recognition towards the new Chinese government could have eased tensions and relieved some of the immense stress the US was under at the time. Furthermore, It is well known that during the Cold War the Soviets feared the Chinese much more than the US. Border skirmishes between the two may have turned to all out war if the US chose the side of China, a war that may have completely eliminated communism all together which was our primary goal in the first place.

However, if one adopts a functionalist view it is evident that the Cold War was a catalyst for domestic advancement. Preceding the Second World War the US was plunged into a depression that could only be remedied by the industrial build up during to the war. Likewise after World War II the US benefited economically from the military industrial build up of the Cold War. Moreover, the technological advancements made during the arms race soon filtered down to civilian applications. For example, during the Cold War the US military developed a system for all nuclear weapons facilities to communicate in the event of a nuclear war. Today this system is called the Internet. Likewise, advancements in satellite and other communications technologies were a result of the Cold War, and led to the information age we live in today. Also the Cold War led the US to seek out both political and military allies we may not have if it were not for the red scare. And it is likely that US involvement in the reconstruction of the German economy would not have been so great or so effective if there was no fear of Soviet communism. Though the argument is made that civilian investments of the tremendous amount of Cold War money would have benefited our economy much more than military expenditures; the technology that arose during the Cold War due purely to necessity could not have been matched.

In conclusion, it is clear to see that an acomadationist approach with regards to the Soviets would have advanced international politics greatly. A working relationship with the Soviets would not only have benefited the US but also the Russian people who are now suffering immensely due to the post Cold War collapse of the communist government. Though a relationship with the Soviets may have prevented one with communist China and vice-versa. However, an overall acomadationist approach to both countries may have solved those problems. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how the confrontationist approach and the resulting years of distention benefited the US domestically, though it is obvious it was not intended for that purpose.


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