The many people that shape American foreign policy today accept the fact that the United States is a member of a world community that cannot afford to ignore the importance of getting along. Report broken link. American Government 1. What Is a Democracy?
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Democratic Values — Liberty, Equality, Justice 2. The Bill of Rights 3. What Factors Shape Political Attitudes? Voting: A Forgotten Privilege? The Internet in Politics 6. Congress: The People's Branch? Who Is in Congress? How a Bill Becomes a Law 7. The Presidency: The Leadership Branch?
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Although it backed the government of Syngman Rhee, the United States had begun withdrawing its troops from South Korea in As late as January of , Secretary of State Dean Acheson had implied that the Korea Peninsula lay outside the all-important "defense perimeter" of the United States, a statement that some took to mean that the United States would not defend the ROK from communist attack.
The decision to intervene in Korea grew out of the tense atmosphere that characterized Cold War politics. On the eve of the North Korean invasion, a number of events had made Truman anxious. The Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb in , ending the United States' monopoly on the weapon. In Europe, Soviet intervention in Greece and Turkey had given rise to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, which funneled aid to war-torn Europe in the hopes of warding off communist political victories.
In its report, known as "NSC 68," the Council recommended heavy increases in military funding to help contain the Soviets. Events in Asia also contributed to an increased sense of insecurity.
American Foreign Policy, Europe and Asia
In China underwent a revolution that brought Mao Zedong and his Communist party into power. The nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, had retreated to the island of Formosa Taiwan while they continued their war with mainland China. Mao quickly moved to ally himself with the Soviet Union, and signed a treaty with the Soviets in The Truman administration faced criticism from Republicans who claimed he had "lost" China. They criticized him for not providing enough aid to the Chinese nationalists. The suggestion by Secretary of State Dean Acheson that the administration recognize the communist government of China only gave them more ammunition for their attacks.
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The Truman administration also faced internal criticism regarding its commitment to anticommunism at home. Although McCarthy was just warming up, the recent trials of Alger Hiss and others for espionage left the Truman administration apprehensive about its anticommunist credentials. Truman and his advisors found themselves under increased domestic pressure not to appear "soft" on communism abroad. Thus, when North Korean troops invaded the South, the Truman administration seized upon the opportunity to defend a noncommunist government from invasion by communist troops.
Determined not to "lose" another country to communism, and interested in shoring up its anticommunist credentials, the Truman administration found itself defending a nation a world away from U. Yet Truman's response was not merely a response to internal pressure. The invasion of South Korea made Truman genuinely fearful that the Soviet Union and China intended to expand the sphere of communism throughout Asia. President Harry S. As a description of U.
Defense Secretary James Forrestal in , which was later used in a magazine article. There were major historical precedents familiar to Americans and Europeans. In the s, anti-slavery forces in the United States developed a free soil strategy of containment to stop the expansion of slavery until it later collapsed. Historian James Oakes explains the strategy:. The Federal government would surround the south with free states, free territories, and free waters, building what they called a 'cordon of freedom' around slavery, hemming it in until the system's own internal weaknesses forced the slave states one by one to abandon slavery.
Between and , Germany repeatedly intervened in the internal affairs of France's neighbors. In Belgium, Spain, and Italy, Bismarck exerted strong and sustained political pressure to support the election or appointment of liberal, anticlerical governments. This was part of an integrated strategy to promote republicanism in France by strategically and ideologically isolating the clerical-monarchist regime of President Patrice de Mac-Mahon.
It was hoped that by ringing France with a number of liberal states, French republicans could defeat MacMahon and his reactionary supporters. The modern concept of containment provides a useful model for understanding the dynamics of this policy.
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Following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, there were calls by Western leaders to isolate the Bolshevik government, which seemed intent on promoting worldwide revolution. In March , French Premier Georges Clemenceau called for a cordon sanitaire , a ring of non-communist states, to isolate the Soviet Union. Translating that phrase, U. President Woodrow Wilson called for a "quarantine.
Defining U.S. Foreign Policy in a Post-Post-Cold War World
In reality, the policy was anti-Bolshevik as well, and its economic warfare took a major toll on all of Russia. By , the intervention was entirely anti-communist, although the unpopularity of the assault led it to be gradually withdrawn. The US simultaneously engaged in covert action against the new Soviet government, involving the work of a young Allen Dulles. While the campaigns were officially pro-democracy, they often supported the White Terror of former Tsarist generals like GM Semenov and Alexander Kolchak. The U. Roosevelt reversed the policy in in the hope to expand American export markets.
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The Munich Agreement of was a failed attempt to contain Nazi expansion in Europe. Key State Department personnel grew increasingly frustrated with and suspicious of the Soviets as the war drew to a close. Averell Harriman , U. Ambassador in Moscow, once a "confirmed optimist" regarding U. In February , the U. State Department asked George F. Kennan , then at the U. He responded with a wide-ranging analysis of Russian policy now called the Long Telegram : .
Soviet power, unlike that of Hitlerite Germany, is neither schematic nor adventuristic. It does not work by fixed plans. It does not take unnecessary risks. Impervious to logic of reason, and it is highly sensitive to logic of force. For this reason it can easily withdraw—and usually does when strong resistance is encountered at any point. Kennan's cable was hailed in the State Department as "the appreciation of the situation that had long been needed.
Six months later, it would probably have sounded redundant. This report, which recommended "restraining and confining" Soviet influence, was presented to Truman on September 24, Forrestal gave permission for the report to be published in the journal Foreign Affairs under the pseudonym "X. Kennan later turned against the containment policy and noted several deficiencies in his X Article. He later said that by containment he meant not the containment of Soviet Power "by military means of a military threat, but the political containment of a political threat.
After Republicans gained control of Congress in the elections, President Truman, a Democrat, made a dramatic speech that is often considered to mark the beginning of the Cold War. Portraying the issue as a mighty clash between "totalitarian regimes" and "free peoples," the speech marks the adoption of containment as official U. Congress appropriated the money. Truman's motives on that occasion have been the subject of considerable scholarship and several schools of interpretation. In the orthodox explanation of Herbert Feis , a series of aggressive Soviet actions in —47 in Poland, Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere awakened the American public to the new danger to freedom to which Truman responded.
Davis , Truman was a naive idealist who unnecessarily provoked the Soviets by couching disputes in terms like democracy and freedom that were alien to the Communist vision. According to psychological analysis by Deborah Larson, Truman felt a need to prove his decisiveness and feared that aides would make unfavorable comparisons between him and his predecessor, Roosevelt.
The drama surrounding the announcement of the Truman Doctrine catered to president's self-image of a strong and decisive leader, but his real decision-making process was more complex and gradual. The timing of the speech was not a response to any particular Soviet action but to the fact that the Republican Party had just gained control of Congress.
The British, with their own position weakened by economic distress, urgently called on the U.