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Analysis of How Did The Cold War Shaped American Politics, Society, and Economy

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The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union emerged and developed after World War II, though its origins go back in history to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The Cold War was an ideological, economic, political and military confrontation, but it never actually was fought between these two nations on a battlefield. It was a war of tensions and hostilities where the belligerents engaged each other around the world but avoided direct conflict because of the dire consequences of such actions. As the Cold War progressed until the collapse of the Soviet Union, it had a significant impact on the American society, economy, and American politics. The Cold War instigated strong anti-communism within the USA. The hatred towards Communism was so great that it eventually led to McCarthyism. During McCarthyism, Americans were obsessed with the process of identifying the Communists and removing those Communists from American society. The strength of this obsession increased greatly that Americans started to forget the fact that the US constitution guaranteed all Americans freedom to believe what they wanted to believe.

The purpose of organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the House Un-American Activities became the ‘removal of Communists’ and laws such as the Communist Control Act were passed to facilitate the process of identifying, capturing and removing Communists. The McCarran Act was also introduced, which forced all Communist organizations to be registered within the US government and banned Communists carrying US passports and working in defense industries. Inevitably, many were questioned without having done anything wrong, many lost their jobs and some even lost their lives like the Rosenbergs, who were blamed for having passed secret information about atomic bombs to the Soviet Union. This red scare continued to dominate the American society until the late 1950s. No wonder the Cold War theme is still the best history ee topics – it made many Americans live in fear of the danger of war. This fear of war was instigated by the arms race.

One example is the Cuban missile crisis, which caused high tension within the USA as the missiles in Cuba could reach the USA at any time. Until the U-2 planes found the missiles in Cuba, the fear was not significant as people knew that the missiles in the USSR could not cover such long distance to reach the USA. However, the missiles in Cuba threatened the USA’s security to a significant extent that many Americans had to live in fear. Although the attitude of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was existent, the missiles in such proximity alarmed many Americans at that time. Apart from the Cuban missile crisis, Americans lived in constant fear as the Cold War could turn into a hot war at any time.

This constant fear was shared between both nations, but the victor was the one who could outstand the other and, in this case, it was the United States. “The cold war was fought as much in the imagination as on the battlefield” (The Thaw). Even though an attack was never launched, the impending threat of all out nuclear warfare was very much real, yet neither side wanted to attack, knowing the mutual devastation it would cause. Rather than directly threatening the Soviet Union with an attack, the United States decided to send a message by demonstrating their immense power and influence as a world power. Among the Cold War was a series of smaller battles, or competitions, between the two nations. These competitions were ways in which each nation could show their power and military capability. One of the most well-known was the Arms Race, which was fought over military expenditure. In a sort of ignorant way, each side believed that by demonstrating their military ability, they would be able display their superiority as a country. The disparity between the two nations soon after the war began was tremendous. Shortly before 1957 the United States led the Arms Race with 2,123 warheads of their own while the Soviet Union had just 84. This was a message taken to heart by the Soviets. They attempted to retaliate with the expansion of their own development of weapons, but for every answer they had, the U.S. had more. Furthermore the U.S. competed in other forms of “competitions” with the Soviet Union including the Space Race, based off the development of space technology which would later prove successful for America as they landed the first human on the moon, as well as the use of propaganda. Propaganda played a major role in the late 1900’s appearing in movies, cartoons, and comics with the shared goal of promoting democracy as superior to communism. This propaganda was overwhelmingly successful as it sparked patriotism throughout the United States, creating a unified nation in a period of turmoil. Without a unified nation chaos would have pursued and possibly lead to the downfall of the nation. The Cold War was a complex stage for America, people were detached from one another because of the overwhelming feeling of fear and confusion that filled the nation. The propaganda however, was the driving force that provided a similar interest and goal, tying the nation back together. Psychologically America was the stronger country; whether they truly were physically, is debatable, but the United States’ confidence in their own ability was enough to deter the Soviets from any attacks.

America not only won this war on the battleground but also at home as they experienced insurmountable benefits as a result of their wartime efforts. From creating technology that revolutionized the future to improving their economy, the United States truly made the best out of dreadful situation. Critics often view the Cold War as an enormous waste of money, as the U.S. poured billions of dollars into research and development. However, this is not the case. With such a boom in the development of technology tens to hundreds of thousands of jobs were created and the United States’ GNP “increased at an average rate of 3.1 percent per year” from 1948 to 1989. Among this, President Reagan “helped stimulate massive economic growth with his tax cuts and deregulation” (Cold War Influences). Deregulation has many benefits in the economy including both business owners and consumers. Customers tend to see a decrease in price and an increase in quality, which in return will result in increased consumer spending and a more stable economy. Even though the economy benefitted from the United States’ involvement the benefits seemed to go un noticed especially during the war as the nation was filled with fear of a nuclear attack.

Though this fear filled everyone alike, from the nation’s leaders to the civilians, America was able to come out victorious. It was the first time the United States’ power was challenged, but they were in control every step of the way as they outclassed the Soviet Union in every aspect of the war, politically, economically, and technologically. This war was simply a competition between two inexperienced nations who were oblivious to the impact of their actions. This however was an important lesson that America learned from and overcame as they still managed to simultaneously create new technology that pushed the world further than it had ever thought possible. The nation experienced a sense of unity, inspiration, and motivation to push boundaries further than ever before. From advanced military technology to everyday pieces of technology that continue to play a crucial role in people’s lives today, America was able to take advantage of an unfortunate situation and turn it into a valuable time period.

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