US cold war foreign policy - Essay Example

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When the Berlin Wall started to fall in November 1989, it represented the beginning of the end of a nearly 45 year conflict. All over Eastern Europe, millions of people cried out for freedom. Within two years, the Soviet Union dissolved and so too had the Cold War…
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Download file to see previous pages When the Berlin Wall started to fall in November 1989, it represented the beginning of the end of a nearly 45 year conflict. All over Eastern Europe, millions of people cried out for freedom. Within two years, the Soviet Union dissolved and so too had the Cold War.Many in the West called this a victory with many praising U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his aggressive, military policy towards the Soviet Union. Francis Fukuyama called it the end of history.1 Others looked to the future with U.S. President George H. W.Bush speaking about a 'new world order'.2 Yet, the absolute victory Fukuyama spoke of is misleading. Bush's vision of the future is tainted by 'new' elements, Osama bin Laden, that are directly linked to the policies of the Cold War. To understand our Cold War policies and their effects requires us to examine some of the earliest documents of this conflict. This includes George Kennan's "Long Telegram" and his "Mr. X" article as well as Walter Lippman's response. NSC-68 and The Ugly American will also be analyzed. Together, these documents provide the necessary foundation from which to more completely understand how the Cold War ended and why.When Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, it ended World War II fighting in Europe. Almost immediately, though, the Soviet Union and the United States of America started to establish radically different policies in respect to recently liberated European counties. By 1946, tension between the former war allies started to mount. George Kennan, a member of the U.S. State Department stationed in Moscow, wrote a letter to Secretary of State James Byrnes describing the Soviet Union and her ambitions in the midst of this tension. In his "Long Telegram", Kennan argues that the "Kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity."3 Kennan separates the Russian people from the ruling class, and, more importantly, finds complexity in the policy positions of the Soviet Union. Further, while the Soviet Union is insecure, Kennan believes that the Soviet Union thinks slowly in respect to international conflicts and internal stability is of particular importance to the regime. Accordingly, Kennan suggests that the United States should engage the Soviet Union on many fronts; diplomatic, economic and military. Kennan finishes the telegram with a note of caution: "the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping."4
In 1947, Kennan wrote an article for Foreign Affairs under the name 'Mr. X'. In "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", Kennan offers a more compact version of the 'Long Telegram'. Kennan argues that the United State must lead the 'fight' against the Soviet Union. However, he only uses the words 'military' and 'conflict' once and argues that the United States should apply "a cautious, persistent pressure toward the disruption and, weakening of all rival influence and rival power."5 Further, Kennan notes that "the United States has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate."6 This, though, did not mean solely military engagement. Walter Lippman responded by arguing that the United States should "concentrate our effort on treaties of peace which would end the occupation of Europe."7 Unlike Kennan, Lippman believed that recent Soviet actions demonstrated that it was a much more violent country, prone to aggressive international behavior. Accordingly, Lippman took a more militaristic stance again the Soviet Union and the concept of containment.
Then, in 1950, the U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union was more officially codified in 'NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security'. While using Kennan as a starting point, the document leans more towards Lippman's conception of the Soviet threat and has a more militaristic response. NSC-68 argues for a "rapid and concerted build-up of the actual strength of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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