United States Foreign Policy Following World War II

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Though the United States was the military power of the world prior to World War II, its foreign policy was one of detachment. The government was determined not to get involved in other countries affairs barring unusual circumstances. A World War provided big enough means to become involved, as many Americans became enraged with the military ambitions of Japan and Germany.

Following World War II, Soviet leader Stalin initially agreed to a democratic government in Poland and to free elections in other Soviet-occupied countries, but he ignored his own promises. This caused the United States and Britain to ignore Stalin’s wish of taking a hard line with Germany in settlement talks. The Soviets formed the Socialist Unity party in East Berlin and effectively gained control of East Germany. Though this had a lot to do with the fact that the European people were increasingly tired and lacked the energy to fight a growing Socialist party line, another major factor was that there were enough citizens in this area and in “other Soviet-dominated countries who believed communism was a better social system and that it could breed a new kind of humanity” (Stranges, 193).

The apparent spread of communism caused many to question the government’s policy of non-intervention in foreign affairs. A counselor in the United States Embassy in Moscow, George Kennan, introduced the policy of containment which said that America needed to stop the spread of communism and that it would eventually die out so long as it did not broaden. Not only were the American people scared of the spread of communism, but the United States government believed that communist nations would spread like falling dominoes if even one country in a region began enacting socialist policies.

The United States implemented this new policy with the passage of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan of June5, 1947. In the Truman Doctrine, then President Truman pledged $400 million in aid to Turkey and Greece in an effort to avert communist takeovers. This served as an open ended offer to nations “to choose between freedom and democracy or terror and oppression” (Stranges, 194). The Marshall Plan was an effort to rebuild 16 nations in Europe. $13.326 billion was pledged to Britain, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, an...

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...n claims that they it was winning the war seemed inaccurate as the North Vietnamese were able to launch the Tet Offensive in January of 1968. As the American public rapidly began to oppose the war, Nixon began to remove American troops from Vietnam while increasing the bombing at the same time. Nixon claimed he was ending the war, but the United States forces invaded Cambodia in april of 1970. The United States had removed all troops from the area by March of 1973, much later than most Americans believed this should have happened.

Following the war with Vietnam, America foreign policy saw a new shift. This shift is marked by the decline of containment to a policy of a ‘here and now’ approach. That is, the United States’ new policy was to deal with each situation on a case by case basis rather than treating every threat of communism as a threat to containment. This reclaimed part of the old policy of objectivity in international affairs. As the past shows, controversies and wars alike have the power to dramatically shift a countries foreign policy. One can only wonder what will cause the next change.

Works Cited:

Stranges, George. The Cold War. New York: Random House, 1997
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