The Geography of The Cold War: Why The Us Embarked on a Containment Policy

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About this sample


Words: 1572 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 1572|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Post-World War II tensions were already high due to the cold war and there was the presence of two global superpowers, the United states and the Soviet Union, the main conflict between the two sides was both were trying to gain mass support and influence in order to help them control the world. the soviet union was known as communists, ’Communism is a philosophical, social, political, economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and the state’. Whereas the united states were known as capitalists, ‘Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include private property and the recognition of property rights, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets’. This distinguishes the differences between the two opposing superpowers, neither of them wanted the expansion of the others ideology. The united states were fear ridden at the thought of this therefore putting into the place the policy of containment, which was the process of preventing the widespread of a hostile powers ideology. George Kennan was the man who came up with this approach due to the increased soviet influence which was floating around eastern boarders. The doctrine was created in 1946/47 post World War 2 during the term in which president Truman was serving.

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The U.S. was committed to democracy and self-determination, or the right of citizens to determine their own form of government. They would not return to their isolationism post World War 2, they believed that communism was too totalitarian and ‘the Soviet government's structure prevented objective or accurate pictures of internal and external reality’, and would not let people choose government. In addition, the United States is a capitalist country, and so its prosperity depends on having people buy its products all over the world. In communist countries, there is no private property, so it cuts people off from buying products. The more communism spreads, the fewer people there are to buy products, thus undermining capitalism. According to George Kennan he believed the soviets saw themselves in a war with capitalism and would use controllable Marxists in capitalists world and even stated that, “In summary, we have here [in the Soviet Union] a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be no permanent modus vivendi that it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure. This political force has complete power of disposition over energies of one of world’s greatest peoples and resources of world’s richest national territory and is borne along by deep and powerful currents of Russian nationalism”. This is a clear representation of the on going tension between two superpowers who intend to ruin the other, therefore its clear to see fear of the spread of a communist ideology was the cause to go out in advance to prevent this before it creates problems, this was seen by supporting and creating alliances, therefore clearly depicting the fear of communism was the sole purpose of the introduction of the contain policy.

A important starting point was the Greek civil war starting in 1946 which was a conflict between conservative and communist parties, this led to Greece receiving the support from the united states in order to prevent communists influence in the region as Greece was considered a significant threat if fallen to communism . the western feared this due strategic value of Greece around the Mediterranean. This led to Truman in march of 1947 requesting money from congress in order to help aid these countries under communist threat such as Greece and turkey who would prove to be strategically valuable to the United State, this consisted of asking for up to 400 million dollars in order to aid these countries. In turn this led to the result of the Truman doctrine, in order to expand the containment of communist ideology spreading, meaning the United States took on international responsibility as leaders of the western world. this doctrine helped Greece and led to them being under their wing and receiving the support from the conservative government , to the United States this was a plan that was being executed precisely in the hopes to tear down their opposition.

The idea of aiding European nations economically, which was a introduced in 1947, aided Greece and turkey from falling into communists hands, however this was turned from a short term aid into an essentially longer term supporting and rebuilding plan to overcome the opposition outlined to be communists. This was not intended to be part of the original containment plan, however it became a pivotal step forward, as influence and indirect soviet actions were becoming more and more obvious, therefore leading to further action being needed. This further action was known as the Marshall plan, which was considered a long term strategic plan that led to the supporting financially of European countries who had in fact suffered sue to the significant impact of World war two, weekend countries had needed rebuilding in order to regain a capitalist market and avoid communist revolutions. This was successful as western democratic nations had accepted this aid in order to speed up the rebuild process of the economy and in turn they were the ones recovered well and steadily, whereas those who didn’t tended to decline economically after the war. Due to this, western European countries involved had higher productivity rates and levels, benefitted from reduced number of trade barriers and were able to distribute and use resources more efficiently. As a whole the marshal plan cost the United States an estimated 13 billion dollars in 4 years, which clearly depicts the desperation the United states went to avoid the spread of enemy communism within the years of 1946-1947.

However, in opposition to the United States tactics through containment the soviets objected to Marshall aid in many ways. For one it forbids those in the eastern bloc who were considered allies with the Soviet Union to not be able to apply for Marshall aid in order to hold their ground and continue their spread of communism. In addition to this this they worked on providing support for those who needed economic support and guidance otherwise known as the COMECON. The soviet retaliated back by not letting the United States drive them out and attempted to build its own eastern economy and network trade amongst it. As strategic as this sounds, the USSR found it difficult to compete with America’s resources as in comparison it had little to nothing to offer.

It was truly battle of the superpowers that was on going and that was in fact the cause in the first place in relation to the introduction of the containment policy. Truman’s aim was to get rid of communism and remove it as quickly and effectively as he could , by creating a power buffer against it which was prohibited through the united states being enabled to deliver marshal aid to western democratic countries allowing them to build allies and breakdown the spread of communism.

Containment was seen as a tool of propaganda used to string in countries to become allies and rally against the soviet union and communism ‘Despite all the criticisms and the various policy defeats that Kennan suffered in the early 1950’s, containment in the more general sense of blocking the expansion of Soviet influence remained the basic strategy of the United States throughout the cold war. On the one hand, the United States did not withdraw into isolationism; on the other, it did not move to “roll back” Soviet power, as John Foster Dulles briefly advocated. It is possible to say that each succeeding administration after Truman’s, until the collapse of communism in 1989, adopted a variation of Kennan’s containment policy and made it their own’. Therefore, we can see that the policy of containment and the step by step process in order to rid of soviet communist threat was an effective method and was used continuously till the defeat of communism. Kennan had set out this plan in order to weaken and gain an advantage against the Soviet Union and in the long run containment proved to be an effective method.

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In conclusion the policy of containment was embarked upon by the United States due to the uprising and on going spread of communism which went against Americas capitalist ideologies. The USSR had opposing ideologies to Americas and both ideologies went against each other creating a head on battle between two superpowers. The containment policy which was followed by the Truman doctrine and alongside the Marshall plan were all embarked upon in the years of 1946-1947 due to the uprising of communism and the paranoia of not knowing the lengths of extremes soviets parties would go to spread their communist ideologies in order to gain global control in addition to previous tension which stemmed from the cold war in 1945 and the development of eastern and western turn the policy ended up being a success and followed through with the collapse of the USSR allowing the united states to be the only global power.  

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The Geography Of The Cold War: Why The US Embarked On A Containment Policy. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“The Geography Of The Cold War: Why The US Embarked On A Containment Policy.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
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