• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11

Assess the strategic strengths and weaknesses of America's 'containment of communism' policy since 1945.

Extracts from this document...


Assess the strategic strengths and weaknesses of America's 'containment of communism' policy since 1945. There have been a number of issues raised by this essay prompt, which have forced me to consider the effect this policy has had on the world and the path it has travelled since 1945. Firstly, we must focus on what the 'communist containment' policy is. Essentially this policy was designed, by the US, for curbing the expansionist policies of the Soviet Union. It was a response to Stalin's desire for a 'cushion' of satellite countries in Eastern Europe and around the USSR's borders so as to protect it from future 'capitalist' interference. However, when answering this question we must be more precise in understanding what the 'communist containment' policy actually constitutes. The terminology 'communist containment' has been the ideological backbone to American foreign policy over the last five decades, but, successive US governments have differed in their approach to this 'umbrella' terminology. Therefore, to be able to debate this essay question thoroughly we will have to examine each doctrine that has been in action since 1945, whilst focusing on examples of 'communist containment.' George Keenan, a State Department official published an anonymous article in the US Journal Foreign Affairs (1947) outlining the future US foreign policy needed, if Soviet expansionist tendencies were to be contained. Keenan commented on his understanding of the USSR by suggesting that: "...the Kremlin is under no ideological compulsion to accomplish its purposes in a hurry...it has no right to risk the existing achievements of the revolution for the sake of vain baubles in the future."1 And, it was due to this understanding of the Soviet psyche that Keenan proposed the USA foreign policy, Keenan concludes his article by suggesting that: "...in these circumstances it is clear that the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies."2 Keenan's conclusions can be seen as the 'ideological foundations' of communist containment. ...read more.


communism) in Asia when you consider the perceived nature of communism and the Japanese geopolitical control of South East Asia in the Second World War. In WWII Japan's control of S.E.Asian countries by the end of the war had doubled. These countries fell quickly and were used to support the military-industry complex needed to facilitate a total war machine. The speed of Japan's expansion alarmed Eisenhower. To apply it to communism he substituted communism for Japan, and saw that if one fell then they would all fall. This is one way of explaining the US involvement in Korea and the future Vietnam war. Once again, we must understand that we are not necessarily concerned with the actualities of the war, this section on Vietnam will focus on the progression of USA policies on Vietnam and communism. Although Eisenhower placed nine hundred military advisors in South Vietnam he refused to escalate American military involvement. Eisenhower's policy of containment was more geared towards using the threat of mass retaliation and the building up of defensive alliances. Paul Kennedy in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers lists the alliances that the US were a part of during the Eisenhower presidency. By 1954 the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) was set up whereby, 'the United States joined Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, the Phillipines, Pakistan and Thailand' to offer each other mutual assistance in combating any aggression in that region. In 1955, in the Middle East, the Baghdad Pact was set up with the aid of the US 'Britain, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan' to provide the same assurances as SEATO. By 1957 the Eisenhower Doctrine was responsible for giving aid to 'Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan' and other Arab states. In 1961 President Kennedy had begun to increase the American military involvement in Vietnam to 16,000 Service people. Kennedy's policy of containment in Vietnam involved the idea of a 'limited' war, a war of counter-interventionism, an intervention which aids the party, not take over the responsibilities of fighting the war. ...read more.


p493 The Rise & Fall of the Great Powers (Bold is mine) By P. Kennedy Published by Fontana Press (1989) 12) p493 IBID 13) American National Self- Interest in the Marshall Plan Article by K Garrett www.stanford.edu/~garrettk/sme.html 14) p100 Just and Unjust Wars By M. Walzer Published by Basic Books 2nd Edition (1992) 15) p101 IBID 16) p107 The Real War By R. Nixon Published by Warner Books (1980) 17) This entire section on East Timor is taking from an article by myself in Indent (November 1999) 18) Noam Chomsky After Pinkville!!cho2.htm 19) US Imperialism Killed over 10% of Vietnamese Population During War www.shss.montclair.edu/english/furr/casualty.html Section on Keenan based on The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Section on Marshall Plan based on American National Self- Interest in the Marshall Plan Section on NSC-68 based on How would you define what Keenan meant by Containment Section on Just War Theory based on Just and Unjust Wars B I B L I O G R A P H Y Internet Sites American National Self- Interest in the Marshall Plan Article by K Garrett www.stanford.edu/~garrettk/sme.html An Alternative to Containment Article by Earl C Ravenal Policy Analysis No.94 www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa094.html In Retrospect: What did the World Learn in 50 Years? Author unknown http://icdweb.cc.purdue.edu/~phealy/final.html How would you define what Keenan meant by Containment Author Unknown www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/usr/hfien/contain.html Karnak Resource website www.karnak.com Book Titles Basic Texts In International Relations Selected by E. Luard Published by Macmillan (1993) Just and Unjust Wars By M. Walzer Published by Basic Books 2nd Edition (1992) The Real War By R. Nixon Published by Warner Books (1980) Power and the Pursuit of Peace By F. H. Hinsley Published by Cambridge University Press (1980) The United States in the Twentieth Century: Key Documents Edited by R. Maidment and M. Dawson Published by Holder & Stoughton (1994) A History of the United States By P. Jenkins Published by Macmillan Press (1997) U. S. Diplomacy Since 1900 By R. D. Schulzinger Published by Oxford University Press (1998) Articles Ethical Foreign Policy = 200,000 Dead By Matthew Hill in Indent Magazine (Nov. 1999) ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent was America's policy of containment successful? Use Korea, Cuba and Vietnam ...

    3 star(s)

    The end of the Korean War proves the fact that America's policy of containing Communism was successful. However, America's policy of containing the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis was not so successful. In fact, it almost resulted in a nuclear war.

  2. How far were White weaknesses responsible for Red success in Russian Civil War?

    Therefore, food shortages were also starting to make their way into the Red held urban areas of Russia, so that in February 1918 the bread ration in Petrograd had reached an all time low of only 50 grams per person a day and workers started to flee from the cities, leaving factories short of workers.

  1. Why did tension increase in Europe between 1900 and 1914?

    * In 1933 Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. He ordered the German delegates to walk out of a Disarmament Conference organised by the League of Nations. He stated that Germany was prepared to disarm if other nations did so as well. He then left the League immediately afterwards.

  2. Assess the view that the US Policy of Marshall Aid was motivated mainly by ...

    influence, boosting capitalism and encouraging free trade would have the desired effect of containing communism. Further evidence to make this a credible argument is within Balfour's interpretation, Molotov viewed aid as ''an attempt by American capitalists to capture additional markets''.

  1. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    control the majority of votes within the body responsible for developing peaceful uses of atomic energy inside the Soviet Union. When the Russians asked to negotiate about the specifics of the plan, they were told they must either accept the entire package or nothing at all.

  2. Superpower Relations 1945-90

    COMECON was only a pale shadow of the economic institutions of the West. It became a major drain on the resources of the Soviet Union and helped to bring about its economic downfall. 3. Similarly, defence spending was far more than the USSR could afford.

  1. The role of Saddam Hussain in serving the aims of America in the Middle ...

    Therefore OPEC come into being in 1960 and it soon set about manoeuvring in order to influence and dominate oil policies, and since most of the member states were under the British influence, the dominance of Britain over the oil markets started to increase significantly at the expense of the

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    In response, two Lebanese soldiers were kidnapped on May 1st which finally forced the Lebanese Army into action against the PLO. The refugee camps were then surrounded and attacked by the army. In response to Palestinian shelling of the airport, the Lebanese Air Force was ordered into action against the Burj al-Barajina camp in Beirut.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work