The Cold War and American Foreign Policy - Essay Example

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Two names more important than perhaps any other in terms of The United States foreign policy and its impact, position and effect in the Cold war are those of Paul Nitze and George Kennan, senior officials in the American administration, with sharply contradicting views and positions of strategy…
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The Cold War and American Foreign Policy
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Download file to see previous pages Two names more important than perhaps any other in terms of The United States foreign policy and its impact, position and effect in the Cold war are those of Paul Nitze and George Kennan, senior officials in the American administration, with sharply contradicting views and positions of strategy. Each had a highly contrasted sense of policy from the other, in terms of how the United States should take a stand towards the Cold War and what would be the most favorable policy for their victory and the Soviets’ defeat. These views and the lives of these two men are outlined in Nicholas Thompson’s book, The Hawk and The Dove, and are investigated in the paragraphs to follow, along with the question of who influenced American foreign policy more favorably and what effect it would have on the ultimate result of the Cold War. To outline their most fundamental disagreement in a nutshell, one believed in prevention and the other believed in action. One of them, Nitze, believed their strategy should be to surpass any limits of capability the soviets may hold them responsible for and then act on them, while the other, Kennan, believed to think like the soviets would, try to analyze their intentions and then counter or contain them until they themselves internally collapsed, known as his policy of containment. Kennan, who believed in the latter, was of the belief that the soviets were fundamentally weak and insecure and that it would not take much for them to collapse, assuming they were handled correctly. Nitze on the other hand was of the opposing view that the Soviets were fast gaining power and that Moscow would attain strategic superiority from the United States in a few years, which he hoped to counter before it occurred. Where Kennan believed that it just took to understand the Soviets’ intentions and thoughts to end the cold war, Nitze believed it took to understanding and surpassing their every capability. To understand how fundamentally different the two men were, it is of interest to note that foreign policy aside, they even differed on their own country: Kennan condemned America for its vulgar culture, and its people for having a complacent and mediocre standard. Nitze on the other hand was convinced of America’s power and central hold on the world. Therefore, given their completely contrasting view, one ready to take the back-seat and one ready to accelerate with full force, they can both be said to sum up the two sides of a generation’s argument on the Cold War and America's foreign policy regarding it. Of course there were also many incidents where the two men, who were close friends, did agree, such as the Marshall Plan, or their stance on the American position in Vietnam, in which cases they tended to prove that they were quite correct in their judgment and often received favorable reaction. Nonetheless, those few times aside, they had different viewpoints at a primary and fundamental level, thereby making it more likely for them to disagree than agree. These differences however did not prevent them from seeking mutual benefit from each other’s policies. For example, Nitze extracted military benefit from Kennan’s theory of containment, by negotiating deals with Soviets regarding the United States military, and by keeping the military and its allies safe. Kennan on the other hand enjoyed a certain level of military and otherwise superiority from which to excise his policy of containment, thereby proving that each was necessary factor in American policy on the Cold War and that while each contradicted each other, it did not necessarily mean that they clashed with each other. Where the differences in their thinking arose from is of no mystery, as it was indeed early experience in the lives of both these men that were to shape them for the rest of their life. One’s experience with the Cold War, Nitze's, consisted of dealing with the live aftermath of a Nuclear War, on the scene ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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