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Containing Communism Abroad Assignment


Europe before US Intervention

Before the Truman Doctrine and later the Marshall Plan were used in Europe, most of Eastern Europe was communist. After World War 2, many Eastern European countries were in extremely poor condition, due to war debt, lack of proper leadership, and lives lost with the brutal war. These European nations, such as Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Eastern Germany, did not have many other options on what to do after the war. Joseph Stalin was able to use this to his advantage. He established friendly relationships with these countries and had them turn to communism. These countries, given their situation, they were desperate and saw this as an opportunity for a greater future and decided to accept this idea. This greatly benefited Stalin because he needed a buffer zone to protect the mainland from other Western nations and threats of democracy. He was able to use these European nations as satellites, as they were autonomous, but they were under central control under Moscow.

Policy of Containment

Containment is a military and economic procedure developed to desist from the development of any kind of foe, or to "contain" them. It is best known as the Cold War strategy of the United States and its associated allies to keep away the spread of communism abroad. 

The July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine featured an interesting and unprecedented article signed off as X. It recommended that the West receive an approach of "control" of the Soviet Union. George Kennan (political scientist, and American diplomat highly regarded by Truman), later revealed, was the author who had previously set up the U.S. consulate in Moscow in 1943, and approached the United States to find a way to forestall Soviet extension and the spread of the "deathly" ideology of communism. He was persuaded that if the Soviet Union neglected to grow, its social framework would in the long run crumble. 

The Containment Policy would receive two methodologies: a humanitarian game of monetary funding, and a grappling struggle with military command. This was in time in 1947 when U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed a project to pipe American financial tactics to Europe. Confronted with a fast development in the measure of Communist gatherings, particularly in France and Italy, the U.S. proposed a system of direct financial guide.

Precursor: Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was a foreign policy that was used to combat and contain Russian communist hegemony over Turkey and Greece. This plan was called the Truman Doctrine because it was introduced to Congress by Harry S. Truman. During this time period, the monarchs of Greece and the government of were threatened by communist guerrillas, as they were left weak after World War II. The only thing that was able to support Greece and Turkey from not falling to these communist fighters and therefore turning to communism was British financial aid. However, due to their own economic problems, Britain later announced that they would no longer be able to provide aid to Greece and Turkey. This was alarming to the US because they knew that if the British were not able to provide aid to Turkey and Greece, then these two vulnerable countries would have no choice and accept communism. From there, these communist guerrillas would be able to spread communism through a domino effect throughout all of Eastern Europe. What was especially alarming to the United States was the fact that if action was not taken soon, then Communism would soon spread to the Eastern Mediterranean, and if they came under communist control, the amount of oil imported from the Middle East would significantly drop.

This is when Harry Truman proposed the Truman Doctrine. Military assistance to Greece and Turkey was being given. $400 Million in financial and military assistance. As a result, communism in Greece and Turkey were effectively contained, and the domino effect of communism was averted. This was one of the key parts that played into the fuel of the Cold War. This Doctrine set a clear distinction and set the stage for the stand off between the USSR and the USA. It showed what the US was willing to do to oppose the USSR. The Soviet Union saw this not as an action of economic rebuilding of Turkey and Greece, but as the US trying to hurt economy of the Soviet Union.

Truman Doctrine Explained-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AVhDK1mqh4

The Marshall Plan

After the creation of the Truman Doctrine, which just effected Turkey and greece, the Secretary of State at the time George Marshall proposed the Marshall plan in 1947 in a speech at Harvard University. The Marshall Plan was very similar to the Truman Doctrine, except not only did it aid Turkey and Greece, but it also aided the rest of Europe as well. The goal of this initiative was similar to that of the Truman Doctrine. The goal of this was to build up European economies, infrastructure, build international trade with these nations, rebuild their currency, and rebuild free trade between The US and these nations. However, the most important outcome of this project was to contain and prevent the rest of the European nations from accepting communism and to suppress a national threat of communism from ever coming to the US. The Marshall plan offered the same aid to the Soviet Union and its allies, which were the Eastern Bloc nations, if they would make political reforms and accept certain outside controls, but the Soviet Union rejected this proposal and did not receive assistance. George Marshall even went so far as to meet with Joseph STalin to negotiate for the plan, but he readily declined it and forced the rest of the Eastern Bloc nations from accepting it as well. The Soviet Union saw this as the US taunting them and and saw this as a threat to their way of life. Throughout the duration of this plan, approximately $13 billion of economic and technical assistance was given to help the recovery of these European countries that had joined in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Marshall Plan nations were assisted greatly in their economic recovery. From 1948 through 1952 European economies grew at an rapid rate that had not been seen before. Trade relations led to the formation of the North Atlantic alliance and economic prosperity led by steel and coal industries helped to create what is now the European Union. The Marshall Plan also set up the creation of NATO which was created later in 1949.

The USSR later created a counterpart for the Eastern Bloc nations called the Molotov plan. The creation of the Molotov plan was proposed by Vyacheslav Molotov from the Soviet Union.

This plan was very similar to the Marshall Plan. It provided much of what the Marshall Plan provided and the Eastern Bloc nations accepted this so that they would receive aid and still be economically and politically aligned with the USSR. The Eastern Bloc nations of Europe would not be able to accept the Marshall Plan in the first place because it would force them out of the USSR’s sphere of influence, which would decrease the power of the USSR and ultimately decrease the influence of Communism. The creation of the Molotov plan was as another symbolic expansion of the fissure created between the US and the USSR; between Democracy and Communism. It showed the fact that there was only two sides and no in between, either a country was with Capitalism or Communism. Like the Marshall plan, the Molotov plan set up the Warsaw Pact which was established by the USSR in 1955 and used between the Soviets and its satellite countries.

The ultimate result of this plan was that none of the countries that accepted the Marshall Plan turned to communism, and thus communism was effectively contained once again. Not only was communism averted in these countries, but the same countries also witnessed a 35% increase in GDP in comparison to 1938, before World War II, and 1952, after the war had ended. However, the US heavily benefited from the plan because not only were they able to contain communism, but they were able to open up and heavily increase trade in Europe, and gave the US access to various goods. In addition to that,because of the increased trade with all of these nations, the European nations spent a large portion of that money on American consumer goods, which lead to large amounts of money being given to the United States. Ultimately, the USA was able to rebuild the Western Bloc nations of Europe and contain communism from spreading to these nations by rebuilding their infrastructure, their currency, and trade, and in the process receive huge amounts of money in return in the form of Europeans buying consumer American goods.

Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan- 



March 12, 1947- Truman Doctrine announced by President Harry Truman.

June 5, 1947- Secretary of State George Marshall outlines what would be known as Marshall Plan.

February 25, 1948- Communists take over Czechoslovakia.

April 3, 1948- President Truman signs Marshall Plan into effect.

June 24, 1948- Stalin sets up blockade around West Berlin, Western powers respond with Berlin Airlift.

April 4, 1949- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is founded.

August 29, 1949- USSR tests its first atomic bomb.

February 18, 1952- Greece and Turkey join NATO.

June 30, 1952- Marshall Plan ends.

January 20, 1953- Dwight D, Eisenhower becomes president.

March 5, 1953- Joseph Stalin dies.

September 7, 1953- Nikita Khrushchev becomes leader of Soviet Communist Party.

May 14, 1955- Warsaw Pact is founded.


Marshall's Speech

After more than six weeks of failed discussions with the Soviets regarding German resurgence and reconstruction, the United States urged that a solution was needed now more than ever. To lucidify the United States’ position, Secretary of State George Marshall’s historical address to the honorable graduating class of Harvard University on June 5th, 1947 was organized.

Marshall's speech at Harvard still won the attention of many young American scholars and BBC found the idea of "containment" proposed by Kennan a life-changing concept for Europe.

Charles E. Bohlen, a Soviet expert and United States diplomat wrote the speech and made sure not to include specifics because this was more of a proposal rather than a plan- it was to gain attention of citizens and dip the feet of America into waters that never precedently were swimmed in. The speech was targeted towards a European audience because government administrators and Truman thought that the idea of containment would be highly unpopular with Americans. This was in stark comparison with the British who broadcasted the speech on BBC as Truman called press conferences in order to purge headlines and papers.

Marshall was convinced that economic stability would provide political stability in Europe. He offered aid, but the European countries had to organize the program themselves. Marshall stood erect on the wide steps of Memorial Church in Harvard Yard as he emphasized American aid to promote the reconstruction of fellow nations, in upholding an international responsibility as a global hegemon, and to this very day, the fruits of his speech lie ripe.

Marshall Plan- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEb5k1klLFA

Implementation in Foreign Policy

Greece and Turkey were granted the first substantial amounts of aid in January of 1947, which were seen as the front line of the battle against communist expansion, and were already receiving aid under the Truman Doctrine.

To administer the Marshall plan, the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), a United States government agency was set up in 1948. The ECA's authentic statement of purpose was to help to the European economy: to advance European creation, to support European money, and to encourage global exchange, particularly with the United States, whose financial premium obliged Europe to wind up sufficiently affluent to import U.S. products. Another informal objective of ECA (and of the Marshall Plan) was the control of developing Soviet impact in Europe, apparent particularly in the strengthening of communist influences in Czechoslovakia and Italy. The Marshall Plan funding money was exchanged to the administrations of the European countries. The assets were mutually regulated by local governments and the ECA. The helpful assignment of assets was energized, and boards of government, business, and work pioneers were gathered to look at the economy and see where help was required. 

The aid was usually used for the purchase of United States goods. The European countries had depleted their remote trade holds amid the war, and the Marshall Plan was practically their only method in importing goods from overseas. Toward the beginning of the arrangement these imports were only principally abundantly required staples; for example, sustenance and fuel, yet later the buys turned towards recreation needs. Of the some $13 billion allocated by mid-1951, $3.4 billion had been spent on imports of crude materials and semi-made items; $3.2 billion on nourishment, food, and manure; $1.9 billion on machines, vehicles, and hardware; and $1.6 billion on fuel.

Additionally settled were partner stores, which utilized Marshall Plan help to build up assets in the neighborhood money. As per ECA rules 60% of these assets must be put resources into industry. This was conspicuous in Germany, where these administration regulated assets assumed a critical part in loaning cash to private endeavors which would spend the cash remaking. These assets assumed a focal part in the reindustrialization of Germany. In 1949–50, for case, 40% of the interest in the German coal industry was by these assets. The organizations were committed to reimburse the advances to the administration, and the cash would then be loaned out to another gathering of organizations. France made the most broad utilization of partner assets, utilizing them to decrease the financial backing deficiency. In France, and most different nations, the partner reserve cash was assimilated into general government incomes, and not reused as in Germany.

Salient Citizens

George Marshall

“Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

Speech at Harvard introducing the Marshall Plan, June 5, 1947

Born in 1880, George C. Marshall was a military leader like no other in the history of America. A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he was a World War I staff officer and later became assistant commandant at the U.S. Infantry School.He was cordially declared as chief of staff in 1939 when World War II began, and after the war, he came out of retirement to serve as President Harry Truman’s honorable secretary of state. His astounding economic recovery program for Europe became known as the Marshall Plan, and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. Marshall race on a staircase of superiority in the US Army trailed across 20th century reforms that pursued closer coordination of citizen soldiers of the National Guard with the regular army, a new staff system to prepare for war, and a professional and dignified military education. Marshall was highly involved in strategizing offense moves in hand by the American Expeditionary Force in France. As a commandant of the infantry School, he cleared out a solid engraving  As a commandant of the Infantry School,he cleared outa solid engraving on the strategies that the U.S. Armed force were to use in World War II. Broad work with National Guard units gave him introduction to the regular citizen's world and involvement with managing government officials.

President Franklin Roosevelt deeply believed in Marshall because he was known to naturally never expressed an expression of complaint or protestation while still fighting for the rightness of human nature.President Harry Truman brought Marshall out of retirement and in 1945, dispatched him to China to turn away a war between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang government. Indeed, even Marshall's power of character couldn't achieve a solid trade off between those rivals, notwithstanding. His involvement in China proved gainful when he turned into Truman's secretary of state in 1947. For he could put forth a solid defense that American military intercession in the Chinese Civil War would be an unreasonable endeavor with just a faint prospect of progress.

Marshall considered Europe to be an American importance, in society as well as international politics. In both the Cold War and World War II, his well known of foreign plan that honorably shielded his name aided European nations against Communist subversion and along with this prior to clearing out the State Department in 1949, he additionally raised two different mainstays of regulation in Europe to remain hand-in-hand with the Marshall Plan; he helped strategize the Western military union, NATO and helped raise the West German state. Marshall was presented the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his outstanding plan for the monetary recuperation of Western Europe after World War II. Marshall passed on at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1959 at 78 years of age, and he is currently entombed at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Other Influential People

Although this international blueprint was named for Secretary of State George C. Marshall, there were several other influential people who played pivotal roles in executing the plan thoroughly and crafted its roots with careful consideration.


 Truman signs the Marshall Plan on April 3rd, 1948.

President Harry S. Truman pronounced it to be the foreign modus operandi of the United States to help any nation whose dependability was undermined by communism on March 12, 1947. His primary entreaty was exactly for $400 million to aid Turkey and Greece, which Congress affirmed. This policy of paying special mind to different nations motivated the birth and induction of the Marshall Plan later that year. Truman was a direct inspiration in cultivating Marshall’s strategies.


Kennan (far right) discussing plans enthusiastically with Truman and Marshall

George Frost Kennan, like Marshall, was an American minister, political scientist, and understudy of history. He was alluded to best as a promoter of a course of action of control of Soviet augmentation in the midst of the Cold War. He tended to extensively and made savvy histories out of the relations amongst USSR and the United States. He was the first to push the idea of the Truman Doctrine in "containing" the Soviet Union. The "Long Telegram" from Moscow in 1946 and 1947 article "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" proved forward that Soviet ideologies were infectious and that its effect must be "contained" in regions of basic key criticalness to the United States. These works offered legitimization to the Truman association's new antagonistic Soviet plan. Kennan accepted an imperative part in the change of definitive Cold War tasks and establishments and thereby helped with the Marshall Plan's tactics.

The Wise Men

In the 1940s, the gathering of government authorities and individuals from the East Coast outside built up the regulation arrangement of managing the Communist coalition, and these men created establishments and activities that have affected history and American politics and foreign diplomacies until this very day. These six "sagely elders" are known to have created NATO, the World Bank, and the Marshall Plan. 

  • George F. Kennan, ambassador to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia
  • Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under President Harry Truman
  • Charles E. Bohlen, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, the Philippines, and France, who also wrote the speech that Marshall gave
  • W. Averell Harriman, special envoy for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Robert A. Lovett, Truman's Secretary of Defense
  • John J. McCloy, a War Department official and later U.S. High Commissioner for Germany


Areas of Implication

In spite of the fact that the support of the Soviet Union and East European countries was an underlying plausibility, Soviets had major concerns over potential U.S. monetary control of its Eastern European. Besides, it was near;y impossible that the U.S. Congress would have been willing to finance the arrangement as liberally as it did if help likewise went to Soviet Bloc Communist countries. Consequently the Marshall Plan was connected exclusively to Western Europe, blocking any measure of Soviet Bloc collaboration. Progressively, the monetary recovery of Western Europe, particularly West Germany, was seen suspiciously in Moscow.

Countries Unaffected by Plan

Lamentably, expansive parts of the world crushed by World War II did not profit by the Marshall Plan. The only European country barred was Francisco Franco's Spain, which did not plainly take an interest in World War II. After the war, it sought after an approach of independence with little achievement but with the heightening of the Cold War, the United States rethought its position, and in 1951 held onto Spain as a grateful ally, supported by Franco's forceful hatred of communism (plausibly for money). Throughout the following decade,  aid would be provided in Spain not as much as its fellow European nations had gotten through the powers of the Marshall Plan.

When the western segment of the Soviet Union had been as seriously influenced by the war, the eastern section of the nation was to a great extent untouched and had seen a quick industrialization amid the war. The Soviets additionally forced expansive reparations installments on the Axis partners that were in its authoritative reach. East Germany and Romania were compelled to pay endless aggregates and ship endless supplies to the USSR. 

With careful math, it is safe to say that these reparation installments implied the Soviet Union itself as a nation got about the same as 16 European nations got altogether from Marshall Plan's monetary funding aids. 

Division and World Total

A rough per capita basis was used to divide up the Marshall Plan's monetary aid services. Major industrial powers with larger populations were generally given larger sums of money, because their prevalences in Europe were thought to be greater in European revival. Allied nations were also given more aid per capita- with alarmingly less for those who partook in Axis powered ideas or even those who remained neutral in conflict.

The total of loans and American to the world postwar between 1945 to 1953 came to $44.3 billion. One can only hope it was for the best. The audacity recovered from this time period changed history and diplomatic relations forever.

Authors: Jeremiah Isaac & Dheivanai Moorthy

Ideology - The cold war

Photo by: Mike Kiev

Traditional scholarship on the Cold War assigned a central but sharply circumscribed role to ideology. The writers of the 1950s drew on the official rationales that the Truman administration had used to explain the nature of the Cold War and the necessity for the American Cold War policy of containment. This literature portrayed the Soviets as bent on expansion, driven by a combination of traditional interests and Marxist-Leninist ideology. The United States in response acted prudently and pragmatically to defend its interests against this obvious security threat. This view did not go unchallenged. Although initially an advocate of containing the Soviet Union, George Kennan soon joined another realist critic, Walter Lippmann, and turned against his creation. Kennan argued that the Truman Doctrine overcommitted the United States by defining American interests in ideological and expansive terms. For Kennan and Lippmann both, ideology influenced not only Soviet but also American policymakers. Beginning in the 1960s revisionist scholars turned traditional scholarship on its head, arguing that American, not Soviet, policy was ideological, and that the Soviet actions in the immediate postwar period were motivated by legitimate security needs.

In reaction to the sharp disjunction between revisionist and traditional scholarship, historians working in the 1970s and 1980s set aside ideology altogether and redefined the Cold War as a traditional conflict of interests between two great powers. This conflict came as the inevitable out-growth of World War II and particularly the power vacuum in central Europe resulting from the destruction of Germany. Louis Halle in The Cold War as History famously describes the two superpowers as scorpions in a bottle. They could not help but come into conflict. Writing very much in this tradition, Melvyn Leffler argues in his award-winning account of the Truman administration, A Preponderance of Power, that American policymakers were driven by national security considerations and sought to increase American power in the postwar world. In A Preponderance of Power, ideology has little to do with American policy. Instead, American policymakers acted out of fear for American security. Truman and his advisers were prudent in reacting to the possibility of Soviet aggression, yet they were foolish to seek so exaggerated a security for the United States. Although the wisdom of American policy-makers and the question of Soviet intentions remained a subject of scholarly disagreement, ideology seemed to fall out of the picture. For a time, there the debate rested.

But in the 1990s newly available archival sources from the Soviet side of the conflict reopened the question of the relationship between ideology and the Cold War. Writing in 1997, John Lewis Gaddis declared in We Now Know that the new Cold War history must of necessity concern itself with ideology. Similarly, Martin Malia in The Soviet Tragedy, an account of Soviet foreign policy, places ideology at the center of the conflict between East and West and argues that the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution virtually guaranteed the Cold War that followed. The Russian scholars Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov also emphasize ideology in their interpretation of Cold War Soviet foreign policy, though in their account Marxist-Leninism and self-interest combined to shape Stalin's decision making.

American ideology has received less attention, but the arguments of this new scholarship implied a role for American ideology as well. Two scholars in particular, Odd Arne Westad and Anders Stephanson, emphasize the importance of American ideology during the Cold War. As Westad states in his 2000 Bernath Lecture, "It was to a great extent American ideas and their influence that made the Soviet-American conflict into a Cold War. " Meanwhile, Stephanson finds in Cold War documents a particularly American language of politics built around the opposition between "freedom" and "slavery." The kind of ideological absolutism embodied in Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" lived on in America's conceptions of the Cold War world. Ideology thus seemed to have returned to a central place in the analysis of the Cold War.

Amidst this rediscovery of ideology, however, Marc Trachtenberg, in an important 1999 book, A Constructed Peace, argues precisely the opposite: the Cold War in fact had little to do with ideology at all. In Trachtenberg's view the central problem of the postwar world was power, specifically German power. Soviet and American leaders in the postwar period understood this reality, and far from being influenced by ideology pursued their interests with cool calculation. This is not to say that the superpowers did not distrust one another, or that there were not very real conflicts of interest between them. But the conflicts were precisely that: of interest, not of ideology. Trachtenberg argues that the Cold War began as a result of Soviet actions in Iran in April 1946, actions that American policymakers perceived as signaling expansive intentions. In response the United States tightened its hold on western Germany, and the Cold War rivalry ensued. The crucial question of the Cold War continued to be the problem of Germany, although much of the actual conflict took place on the periphery. Once the superpowers reached a settlement on Germany, which Trachtenberg argues occurred in 1963, the Cold War was for all intents and purposes over.

The gap between those who write in terms of national security and those who emphasize ideology remains wide. The relationship between ideology and national security is often portrayed as an either-or proposition: either ideology or national interest motivates policymaking. Ideology tends to be associated with irrational or particularly aggressive actions. And in fact the literature has tended to portray the more aggressive side of the Cold War rivalry as the more ideological. For traditionalists this meant the Soviet leadership acted according to the tenets of Marxist-Leninism, while for revisionists it was American policy that had fallen victim to the siren song of ideology. In this respect the literature treats ideology as a kind of pathology of policymaking. Moreover, national security is often treated as a given, a kind of objective truth that exists unchanging across time and space. By this logic leaders on all sides of the Cold War conflict understood the risks and opportunities they faced in much the same way. Each calculated his (and they were all men) options and reactions carefully and rationally and shared similar goals of ensuring territorial security and increasing state power. Calculations complete, policymakers reached into the same toolbox for the means to achieve their goals. Perhaps they did.

But as Tony Smith asserts in his study of twentieth-century American foreign policy, America's Mission, "security definitions arise out of particular domestically engendered perceptions of foreign affairs." Ideology acts to define the boundaries of legitimate action and to define what is dangerous and what is not. It is thus complicit in the process of creating interests and defining national security, because ideology provides the context within which policy decisions are made. As a result we must take seriously historical experience, the language policymakers use, and the very different tools on which they rely to pursue their ends. Foreign policy decisions are rarely made in a vacuum, and domestic political debates influence the process. During the Cold War, and particularly in the United States, ideological context conditioned foreign policy outcomes. Ideology defined the issues at stake.

For Americans the issue at stake became the survival of freedom, and Soviet communism became the primary threat. This view did not come all at once. Although suspicious of Soviet intentions, to be sure, Truman and especially his secretary of state James Byrnes remained open to efforts at accommodation and compromise with the Soviet Union throughout 1945 and the early months of 1946. Meanwhile, officials like Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and George Kennan, chargé d'affaires in Moscow, were raising the alarm, prompting debate within the administration over how to deal with the Soviets in the postwar world. In February 1946, Kennan telegraphed some eight thousand words from his post at the embassy in Moscow. His Long Telegram offered one of the first interpretations of Soviet policy. Similar views were already floating around the corridors of Washington policymaking bureaucracies, but Kennan, as he would do several more times in the early Cold War, put American attitudes into articulate form.

Kennan described the Soviet Union as committed "fanatically" to the belief that there could be "no permanent modus vivendi" between East and West. In Kennan's view the Kremlin's perspective resulted from a combination of Marxist-Leninist ideology and a traditional and instinctive insecurity. Marxist-Leninist ideology and the closed society that limited contact with the out-side world had a hypnotic effect on Soviet officials, leaving them unlikely and unable to question their assumptions about the West. Kennan argued that Soviet policy could not be changed by talk; it was "highly sensitive to the logic of force." He warned that much depended upon the "health and vigor" of American society and urged his colleagues in Washington to have the "courage and self-confidence" to protect American traditions. "World communism is like a malignant parasite…. This is point at which domestic and foreign policies meet."

The Long Telegram echoed earlier traditions of exceptionalism and mission, which likely in part explains its appeal to official Washington. Kennan's analysis made the rounds (it appears in the personal papers of nearly every major figure in the Truman administration), and most agreed with its analysis. The Soviet Union represented a clear threat to American values and to freedom at home and abroad. The Kremlin sought to expand communist influence throughout the world, and it would not be deterred by negotiation. The American way of life increasingly appeared under siege to many of these officials. Soviet actions in eastern Europe, particularly in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, as well as the April crisis in Iran, seemed only to confirm these fears. So too did the emergence of strong communist parties in France and Italy. At the same time, however, the crisis in Iran proved resolvable by diplomacy when Iran made a protest to the United Nations. Even better, the apparent Soviet acceptance of the UN's decisions in the case suggested that the new organization was not doomed as many had feared. Moreover, in July 1946 the Paris Peace Conference began and by the end of the summer successfully concluded peace treaties with the Axis powers, though a German peace treaty and particularly the problem of reparations remained on the table. Despite the alarmist language of many administration officials in their private memos and growing public suspicion of Soviet intentions, the possibility of postwar settlement was not yet foreclosed.

But the limited diplomatic successes of the Council of Foreign Ministers and the Paris Peace Conference could not erase the growing fears of the threat Marxist-Leninism posed to American society and interests. A September 1946 report prepared by White House staffers Clark Clifford and George Elsey reveals that the perspective expressed by Kennan's Long Telegram was taking hold throughout the administration. The Clifford-Elsey report expressed the opinion of its authors to be sure, but the two officials drew on documents prepared by all of the major policymaking institutions, and their views were thus informed by the combined wisdom of the Departments of State, War, Navy, and Commerce. The report placed the U.S.–Soviet relationship at the center of American foreign policy. It expressed no ambiguity about Soviet intentions: "Soviet leaders appear to be conducting their nation on a course of aggrandizement designed to lead to eventual world domination by the U.S.S.R." This aim could not be turned aside by conventional diplomacy, and the authors borrowed Kennan's interpretation that the Kremlin leadership believed in the impossibility of peaceful coexistence between Marxist-Leninism and capitalism. Like Kennan, Clifford and Elsey took Soviet rhetoric and ideology seriously. The pronouncements of Kremlin leaders such as Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov represented the reality of Soviet policy. The United States must prepare itself for total war, the authors declared. Economic aid programs and an information policy (propaganda, like ideology, was something the other side had) articulating the benefits of American society and the goals of U.S. policy should not be neglected. But the United States should never lose sight of Soviet preparations for eventual war with the "capitalistic powers," preparations that represented a direct threat to American security. By autumn 1946 the language and content of the Clifford-Elsey report was emblematic of the emerging consensus held by official Washington.

The fate of Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace signaled perhaps more than anything else the hardening of this new perspective. Wallace had long argued for negotiations with the Soviets, and in September 1946 he expressed his views publicly in a speech at Madison Square Garden. Wallace argued that the United States should work to allay Russian suspicions and distrust and recognize Soviet security needs in eastern Europe as legitimate. In retrospect there seems to be little in Wallace's speech that is particularly radical. But his apparent support for a Soviet sphere of influence in eastern Europe set off a firestorm of controversy. The tone of the speech created a dissonant echo amidst the increasingly hard-line atmosphere of official Washington. An embarrassed President Truman, who had upon cursory reading endorsed Wallace's address, demanded the secretary's resignation. Arguments that the United States should attempt to resolve the diplomatic disputes that separated the superpowers and that the Soviets acted in eastern Europe out of legitimate security concerns slipped increasingly to the margins of mainstream opinion. Consensus about ideological conflict in the postwar world, the expansive tendencies of Soviet Union, and the necessity for a policy of containment was taking hold, and American policy evolved to match these views.

By the end of 1946 American officials increasingly turned away from negotiating with the Soviets. When Secretary of State James Byrnes returned from a December conference of foreign ministers meeting in Moscow, where he had attempted to conclude agreements on eastern Europe and international control of atomic energy, he faced sharp criticism. To American observers Stalin showed every sign of emulating Hitler in his efforts to expand Soviet power, his allegiance to ideology, and his willingness to break agreements. Both policymakers and the informed public drew on the analogy of the Munich Conference (1938), at which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain bargained away territory in Czechoslovakia in the hope that he could achieve peace for all time. Chamberlain failed. And the lesson Americans learned was that dictators could not be trusted, appeasement only fed greater ambition, and negotiations suggested weakness. It is striking how powerful in fact this analogy became and how often officials referred to it during the postwar period. The decision largely to renounce negotiation and the tools of traditional diplomacy held an appeal linked to the American heritage of exceptionalism and aloofness from the messiness and compromise of European politics. The failed diplomacy of 1939 fit neatly into the existing preconceptions and predisposition of American diplomacy. And the "lessons" of history seemed to lend legitimacy to the desire to contain Stalin's Soviet Union and wait for it to fall victim to its own "internal contradictions."

But containment meant more than a policy of waiting. Beginning in spring 1947 the United States turned ideas into action. In late February the British government notified the Department of State that the British would be forced for financial reasons to withdraw its support from Greece. In the midst of a civil war, Greece had become a site of a great power contest, lying as it did in a strategic corner of the Mediterranean. Anxious to prevent Soviet influence from taking hold in Greece, the Truman administration resolved to take action. The decision resulted from a combination of ideological and strategic interests: Greek geography rendered it significant from a strategic perspective. But American policymakers also feared the spread of communism into Greece and believed that from Greece the contagion would almost certainly spread to Italy and France. Greece offered a test.

It was a test that Harry Truman met with a commitment to defend freedom throughout the world. In a speech before both Houses of Congress on 12 March 1947, Truman asked Congress to fund economic and military aid to Greece and to neighboring Turkey. The president emphasized that the United States had a responsibility to protect freedom worldwide, declaring that "the free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms." Continued peace depended upon American leadership. Truman drew a close connection between poverty and totalitarianism and argued that the United States must provide economic and political support for freedom. The United States should stand on the side of self-determination—by intervention, if necessary. "I believe we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way," the president told Congress. Implicit in Truman's statement, of course, was the belief that most of the world's peoples would choose a way of life compatible, if not identical, with that of the United States. A New York Times article declared that "the epoch of isolation and occasional intervention" was over. An "epoch of American responsibility" was just beginning. The American impulse to withdraw from the world, suggested by the decision to "contain" the Soviet Union, stood alongside the Wilsonian mission to spread democracy. The tension between these two impulses determined the nature of America's Cold War policies.

In part the ideological content of Truman's speech represented a tool of politics. Truman required congressional support to put his policy into action, and the administration needed to head off any perception that the U.S. decision to intervene in Greece represented an effort to shore up the British empire. Yet the ideological content went deeper than public rhetoric, since these were terms that had appeared in confidential government documents such as the Clifford-Elsey report throughout the preceding months. Officials within the administration thought in these terms themselves, and thus public rhetoric matched private perceptions. Subsequently, with the announcement of the Marshall Plan in June 1947, the United States added economic aid to Europe to its arsenal against the Soviet Union. Secretary of State George C. Marshall declared that the policy was not aimed at any particular country but instead against "hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos." But to most observers, the goal was clear. A rebuilt western Europe tied to the United States by a flow of dollars and trade would offer a significant barrier to Soviet expansion. The parasite of communism preyed upon societies weakened by poverty and unstable institutions. The Marshall Plan offered an answer.

The following month in an article published in Foreign Affairs, George Kennan summarized the new consensus for the educated public. The Soviet Union holds within it the "seeds of its own destruction," he declared. Despite Kennan's claims to objectivity, his analysis of "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," as the article was entitled, revealed as much about the ideological content of American conduct as it explained about the Soviet Union. Kennan declared that "the political personality of Soviet power as we know it today is the product of ideology and circumstances." Marxist-Leninism provided the ideology, which together with geography, a history of invasion, and Stalin's personal paranoia resulted in dangerous and expansive tendencies. Kennan argued that Soviet ideology taught that the outside world was hostile and not to be trusted. Capitalism and socialism could not long coexist. Moreover, in Kennan's interpretation, the Soviet Union pictured itself as a center of socialist enlightenment adrift in a dark and misguided world. The logic of history was on its side and in the long run, revolution was inevitable. Here was a rival city on a hill.

To Kennan the challenge that Soviet communism posed to the United States offered a test of faith and an opportunity for reaffirmation. In the closing paragraph of the article he wrote that the Soviet challenge offered "a test of the overall worth of the United States as a nation among nations." Kennan believed that American virtue and strength at home translated into power to meet the Soviet threat abroad. By maintaining its free society the United States could best counter the appeal and the promise that Marxist-Leninism offered. The United States stood as a model of freedom for the world, an alternative to totalitarianism, and a shining example in a hostile world. He wrote that the United States should "offer gratitude to providence," which had chosen the United States for the great task of resisting the spread of Soviet communist oppression and protecting freedom at home and abroad. For history had "plainly intended" that the United States bear the burdens of moral and political leadership. The city on a hill must become the leader of the free world. Failing to arrest the spread of communism would lead to destruction and the end of freedom everywhere. Although Kennan came to be identified as the father of containment, he came to question the implications of his creation, criticizing American foreign policy as overly ideological in 1951 in American Diplomacy. Ironically, he failed to realize the degree to which his own worldview was shot through with "the red skein" of ideology.

Realist scholars like Marc Trachtenberg are correct to emphasize that American policymakers reacted to the perceived dangers and opportunities of particular situations. In this respect external conditions drove America's Cold War foreign policy. The problem of Germany, the occupation of Japan, and the future of Europe represented real dilemmas for policymakers. And the global political and economic instability of the immediate postwar period posed a potential danger to American security and prosperity. But American policymakers' interpretations of these threats and opportunities was influenced by American concerns about freedom, independence, exceptionalism, and democracy. For them the source of both economic and political instability came from the Soviet Union and in particular the nature of the Soviet state. Truman and his key advisers defined the Soviet Union in explicitly ideological terms. The threat was not the power of the Soviet state (in fact, most administration officials considered the Soviets the weaker of the two superpowers) so much as the appeal of Marxist-Leninist ideology and the promise of revolution that it held.

Contrast this with the perspective of the British Foreign Office, which in the early months of the postwar period retained its nineteenth-century concern with maintaining a balance among the main European powers and protecting their imperial holdings. For British policymakers, at least initially, the threat to postwar peace came from an unequal division of the spoils and an extension of Soviet power. This distinction between the worldviews of the Foreign Office in London and the Department of State in Washington highlights the role of ideology in providing the context for policy decision making. For realists ideology is an instrument of policy; it serves to rationalize and justify decisions already made. Yet as Stephanson explains in "Liberty or Death," "an instrumental view of ideology as rhetorical means to strategic ends misses the question." Why did policymakers choose the particular language they did and how did they come to "inhabit" it? While the power vacuums and risks of the postwar world may have provided the occasion for a more activist foreign policy, American ideology determined the form American intervention in the world would take, defined the nature of American national interests, and informed the decisions that issued from Washington. Ideological suspicion of communism reinforced distrust of Soviet intentions. Americans viewed all dictators as the same, and all compromise as appeasement. At the same time, these fears warred with traditional American ambivalence toward European affairs and intervention abroad. American Cold War policy grew out of these contradictions. Containment drew from the ideological foundations of liberalism, anticommunism, and American mission.

The superpower conflict soon stalemated in Europe. By the 1960s Soviet and American positions had hardened, and little change seemed likely. Moreover, the ideological rivalry seemed to ease, such that some commentators such as Walter Lippmann began to believe by the early 1960s that the Cold War might be ending. Yet despite signs of a willingness to coexist in Europe and to open the way to a more "normal" diplomatic relationship through arms control and the like, the Soviet-American rivalry continued unabated in the Third World. Throughout the postwar period instability and conflict infected the old colonial areas of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America as the imperial powers retreated. Rapid social and economic change hit the newly created postcolonial states, and they became ripe for outside intervention. Here was a crucial arena of the Cold War conflict.

At times at the invitation of local elites and at times of their own decision, the two superpowers intervened throughout the Third World, playing a violent and risky game of dominoes. And like Wilson in Mexico, American policymakers throughout the postwar period attempted to curb the radicalism of social change and to intervene on behalf of self-determination. Under the Cold War imperative of containing the spread of communism, they argued that the United States was spreading democracy abroad and acting on the side of right. Often, however, the United States supported very undemocratic regimes, such as those of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and Carlos Castillo Armas in Guatemala. The effort to contain communism more often than not contradicted the lingering Wilsonian heritage. A deep ambivalence toward social change and revolution conflicted with the goal of spreading democracy abroad, particularly in societies long subject to colonial control. Thus, for every Alliance for Progress, the Kennedy administration's economic development program for Latin America, there was a Somoza in Nicaragua or a Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam.

Nowhere did the contradictions among American ideals and the demands of American interests explode so spectacularly as Vietnam. And like the scholarly debate over the Cold War, the literature on Vietnam is rich with disagreement. Two studies of the Johnson administration illustrate this disjunction clearly. Lloyd Gardner in Pay Any Price emphasizes what he sees as the powerful hold that liberal ideals had over President Johnson. For Gardner, Johnson's intervention in Vietnam resulted from a deeply held belief in liberalism and an effort to promote American ideals abroad. A student of Williams, Gardner similarly finds tragedy amidst the ruins of American policy. Johnson's efforts to transplant liberalism and promote economic development amidst social revolution in Vietnam could not but end in failure.

Fredrik Logevall, by contrast, finds that liberal ideology mattered relatively little in Johnson's decision making. The president, Logevall argues in Choosing War, certainly had a vision for the future of Vietnam, a future shaped along liberal principles. But the driving force in his decision making was not that vision but rather his fears for his domestic political as well as his personal credibility. In Logevall's account the president and his advisers were gloomy realists on Vietnam in the key months following the 1964 election. Many of them were pessimistic about the prospects for success in the war, and many privately questioned whether the outcome really mattered to U.S. security. Thus Johnson's liberal rhetoric and economic development programs provided the window dressing for what was in reality a cynical and self-serving use of American power.

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