Introduction “Their [Russia’s and America‘s] starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe,” Alexis de Torqueville, late 19th century. De Torqueville’s prophecy came true by the 1940s when the two super powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, had come head to head, swaying the “destinies of half the globe” and more. (de Torqueville, chapter 18) The United States had recently participated in the second World War resulting in an Allied and American victory. Europe, however, was devastated, economically, politically, and socially. “The United States [stood] at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It [was] a solemn moment for American democracy,” former Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated in a speech delivered at Westminster College in 1946. (Churchill, page 1) At that time, American and Russian tensions had evolved into a full-throttle push into the Cold War. The Cold War refers to the tensions that arose between Russia and America that became a strategic and political struggle that developed after World War II. It lasted for 35 years and it was the battle that determined the fate of democracy and communism. The never-back down attitudes pushed into a stand-off between the two super powers. (Cold War: The Cause, par 1) To intensify to the hostility, the Soviet Union had taken a policy that shutting out any other nations from the Union’s internal affairs metaphorically known as the Iron Curtain. What emerged was a war that “entailed much greater activism and a correspondingly larger commitment of resources to foreign policy than the United States had previously undertaken in peacetime.” (Ford, page 1) The United States was asked to form policies in to deal with its doppelganger's atomic power and communistic government. The Cold War significantly changed the way foreign policy is administered today. The United States was forced to make strategic plans to help other countries regain economic stability, contain communism, and not end up in a ruinous global nuclear war. The war was what pushed America from the Monroe Doctrine’s limited jurisdiction to Truman's National Security Council's reponse to the endangering communsim and warfare with NSC 68, Containment's and the Marshall Plan’s economic intervention in volatile nations, and Dulles' "brinkmanship." Three policies and two ideologies formed the backbone to what became the outline for foreign policy in America through the Cold War era and eventually setting a exemplar reflected in present politics. Today, many of the policies shaped in the wake of the Cold War are applicable to America’s attitude toward and intervention in other nations. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (1954), leader of State Department’s Foreign Services George Kennan, and other political figures had created a precedent in American history.
The Competing Ideology of America In the proceedings and height of the Cold War, the American approach to the Soviet Union was an unsteady one. Realism and moralism took center stage in the debates of policy and are present in today’s policies. Realists envisioned the United States to be motivated by consistent and well-defined national interests, whereas moralists wanted the nation’s values to reside in democracy, human rights, tolerance, and so forth. (Spanier, page 293) Realists had the upper hand in controlling the United States’ foreign policy in the Cold War era. However it was the fusion of the two ideas that truly formed the blue print for that troubled era and for today.
NSC 68 The Marshall Plan. Secretary of State George C. Marshall delivered a speech at Harvard University in 1947 that laid the foundations for what was to become the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was the response to the faltering economies in Western Europe. It provided economic assistance to all European nations that would agree to United States to intervention. This plan was based upon Moralism ideology. George Kennan was a large proponent of the Marshall Plan. He supported it because he believed that the pressure of poor economies make nations turn to communism as an answer. (“Containment through Economics,” par10) He was correct. The Marshall Plan was not only effective in maintaining good trade but it also undermined the spread of communism. Within years of the plan’s establishment communism in the countries that agreed to the intervention had declined and American trade thrived. (Brinkley, page 972) Containment. President Truman was a proponent of military aid to the satellite nations of the Soviet Union and thus containing the communist threat. The fusion of Kennan’s proposal, in similarity to the Marshall Plan, and Truman’s plan was at the heart of the theory of containment. Containment was a policy which was under the influence of realism, an ideology that Kennan was quick to adopt in his dealings with the Soviet Union. The goal of containment was simple: prevent the spread of communism. In application it made nations completely dependant on the United States for reconstruction and stability, and called for European economic integration. According to Kennan, politics and economics were directly related, aiding the death of communism by promoting healthy economies, like the Marshall Plan. By expanding upon the Marshall Plan, the United States helped economically and militarily to aid in the stabilization of Western Europe and other nations in need. (“Containment through Economics,” par 1-5) Dulles’ Plans. John Foster Dulles responded to the threat of nuclear attacks during the Cold War with a collaboration of proposals known as “massive retaliation.” He wanted to have military superiority to crush communism. In January of 1954, Dulles declared that in the future the American response to aggression would be “at places and with means of our own choosing.” Dulles’ aggressive attitude toward the Soviet Union so much so that it was interpreted as hostile. “Brinkmanship” was one of the most famous of the proposals. He asked for the United States to push the Soviet Union to the brink of war and then eventually it would collapse under pressure. “You have to take chances for peace, just as you must take chances in war... The ability to get the verge with out getting into war is the necessary art... If you try to run away from it, if you get scared to go to the brink, you are lost... We walked to the brink and we looked it in the face. We took strong action,” Dulles remarked. Kennan's proposals and Dulles' proposals were directly in opposition to each other. Surprisingly, Dulles was not a realist. He was a moralist. He was for the protection of democracy and human rights, even though his reactions to communism were hostile. (New York Times, par 4) NSC 68. In April of 1950, a top secret document was given to Truman by the National Security Council (NSC). It was declassified in 1975. The document was called NSC 68 written under direction of National Security Advisor Paul Nitze and it had was a amalgamation of all three proposals and both competing ideologies. Before Truman's presidency, Eisenhower had adopted the idea of a rollback to deal with communism. Roll back was the idea that the Soviet Union would withdraw from communism once it pushed them into inevitable debt. However, once out of under Eisenhower's shadow, Truman decided to take a more agressive stance. Laissez-faire politics in foreign affairs had ended. The document was in response of two international events: China recently became communist and Russia exploded an atomic bomb, a technology the United States did not expect from the Soviet Union at the present. (NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, page 1) It proposed the maintenance of a strong military stance. A strong military stance was important for two reasons: it guaranteed our national security and it served as an indispensable backdrop to the conduct of the containment policy. (NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, page 3) In summary, the principal features of the policy were the assistance to Europe and other under-developed areas in recovery and the creation of a viable economy (Marshall Plan and Containment) and the purchase and stockpiling of strategic materials (Dulles). (NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, page 4)