James LivingstoneCritical analysis of Americas policy of Containment
Americas Policy of Containment was introduced by George Kennan in 1947. This policy had a few good points but many more bad points.Kennan’s depiction of communism as a “malignant parasite” that had to be contained by all possible measures became the basis of the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, and National Security Act in 1947. In his Inaugural Address of January 20, 1949, Truman made four points about his “program for peace and freedom”: to support the UN, the European Recovery Program, the collective defence of the North Atlantic, and a bold new program for technical aid to poor nations. Because of his programs, “the future of mankind will be assured in a world of justice, harmony and peace.” Containment was not just a policy. It was a way of life.
In 1945 the United States saw the Soviet Union as its principal ally. By 1947, it saw the Soviet Union as its principal opponent. The United States misunderstood the Soviet regime. .Despite much pretence, national security had not been a major concern of US planners and elected officials. historical records reveal this clearly. Few serious analysts took issue with George Kennan’s position that “it is not Russian military power which is threatening us, it is Russian political power” ; or with President Eisenhower’s consistent view that the Russians intended no military conquest of Western Europe and that the major role of NATO was to “convey a feeling of confidence to exposed populations, which was suposed to make them sturdier, politically, in their opposition to Communist inroads.”
the US dismissed possibilities for peaceful resolution of the Cold War conflict, which would have left the”political threat” intact. In his history of nuclear weapons, McGeorge Bundy writes that he is “aware of no serious contemporary proposal…that ballistic missiles should somehow be banned by agreement before they were ever deployed,”
even though these were the only potential military threat to the US. It was always the “political” threat of so-called Communism” that was the primary concern. Of course, both the US and USSR would have preferred that the other simply disappear. But since this would obviously have involved mutual annihilation, the Cold War was established.
According to the conventional Western view, the Cold War was a conflict between two superpowers, caused by Soviet aggression, in which the U.S. tried to contain the Soviet Union and protect the world from it. If this view is a doctrine of theology, there’s no need to discuss it. If it is intended to shed some light on history, we can easily put it to the test, bearing in mind a very simple point: if you want to understand the Cold War, you should look at the events . If you do so, a very different picture emerges.
On the Soviet side, the events of the Cold War were repeated interventions in Eastern Europe: tanks in East Berlin and Budapest and Prague. These interventions took place along the route that was used to attack and virtually destroy Russia three times in this century alone. On the US side, intervention was worldwide, reflecting the status attained by the US as the first truly global power in history.
On the domestic front, the Cold War helped the Soviet Union entrench its military-bureaucratic ruling class in power, and it gave the US a way to compel its population to subsidise high-tech industry. It isn’t easy to sell all that to the domestic populations. The technique used was the old stand-by-fear of a great enemy.
The Cold War provided that too. No matter how outlandish the idea that the Soviet Union and its tentacles were strangling the West, the “Evil Empire” was in fact evil, was an empire and was brutal. Each superpower controlled its primary enemy its own population by terrifying it with the crimes of the other.
In crucial respects, then, the Cold War was a kind of tacit arrangement between the Soviet Union and the United States under which the US conducted its wars against the Third World and controlled its allies in Europe, while the Soviet rulers kept an
iron grip on their own internal empire and their satellites in Eastern Europe — each side using the other to justify repression
The space race was the direct result of the Policy of Containment . The Americans simply had to beat the Russians to the moon. The Russians had beaten the Americans into space with Sputnik and put the first man, Yuri Gregarian . The Americans increased funding for research, education in science programs. Mr. Kennedy announced that they would put a man on the moon within ten years; they did it in eight years. Technology grew by leaps and bounds because of the Cold War.
Because of the Arms Race and the Space Race, the States amassed a huge debt. They had to pump lots of money into science and research.
The Cold War also almost brought about the destruction of the world several times. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy was prepared to take the world into World War III so he could get another term in office. The Russians claimed that they were attempting to install purely defensive missiles . A defensive missile was, in fact, a nuclear missile which would be used when the Russian felt that Cuban independence was threatened. It should be noted that the Americans had missiles bases in Turkey, Britain, and Italy ; all aimed at the Soviet Union.
In 1950, McArthyism swept the country. McCarthy was a senator who frequently went to the senate drunk. One day, he stood up and claimed that he had a list of one hundred and fifty names of known communists operating in the United States. Although,when he was asked ,he was never able to produce the list. He had his own House formed, the House of Unamerican Activities, in which he tried suspected communists. The whole country went Communist crazy. People were paranoid and many peoples lives were destroyed. This lasted until McCarthy died in the late fifties.
The Containment Policy won out in the end and caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was not a good thing because that left only one superpower in the world with nothing to keep it in check.
Despite its many flaws, the Containment Policy eventually achieved its goal – the destruction of communism.