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Explain the USAs policy of containment. How successful was this in Korea, Vietnam and Cuba?

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Explain the USA’s policy of containment. How successful was this in Korea, Vietnam and Cuba? Containment was a United States policy using numerous strategies to prevent the spread of communism abroad. A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet Union to enlarge communist influence in Eastern Europe, China, Korea, and Vietnam. It represented a middle-ground position between détente and rollback. The basis of the doctrine was articulated in a 1946 cable by U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan. In all three areas, Korea, Vietnam and Cuba the policy of containment was mainly unsuccessful as in each area USA was unable to prevent the spread of communism and USSR’s influence over them. However USA was able to achieve some positive aspects and in each case stood up to the USSR, even though after each crisis the countries still remained communist, or under USSR influence. The tension between North Korean and South Korean began after the Second World War, with the Soviets in control over the north as far as latitude 38 degree north and the USA had influence over the south of Korea. The United Nations Organisation requested elections however no elections were allowed in the North which was taken over by the communist leader Kim ll Sung. A republic government was set up in the south however both governments claimed authority over the whole country. Both USA and USSR armed their own client states with weapons. The Orthodox view of how the Korean War broke out is that Kim was acting on Stalin’s orders and that USSR had encouraged the North to invade the South. ...read more.


His pretext was the domino theory of the previous administration. If South Vietnam were allowed to become a Communist state, then one by one, all the other states of the region would follow suit. Unlike the Korean War, USA?s policy of containment was not quite as successful. From the very beginning it of the outbreak of the war USA was already struggling. Kennedy, as in Korea, tried to involve their allies however only Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines ever sent in troops. There was little support for the Vietnam War right from the beginning as after the Korea war little was achieved, and Korea demonstrated America?s lack of judgment which put many countries putting their trust into it. Also, with the Korean War there was a defined invasion with the North invading but with Vietnam there was no obvious reason why they should go and give military aid. Despite the original lack of success of containment, in military terms by 1968 the USA and South Korea had nearly beaten the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. Furthermore between 1954-1976 the USA was able to keep communism at bay between 1954-1976, illustrating how USA?s policy of containment was a success. A massive attack by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army on virtually every town and city in the south took place in January 1968 during a holiday known as TET. The orthodox theory suggests that the Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese government had become convinced that the Americans were so unpopular that the peasants were ready to rise up and drive them out. ...read more.


This was a failure of containment, as their missile sites in Turkey were for defense against communism. Before the Cuban missile crisis the USSR had no missiles near to the USA whereas the USA has missiles close to the USSR, in Turkey. After the crisis neither side had such missiles. Thus the USSR had lost nothing whereas the US had lost its missiles in Turkey. Further examples of why the policy of containment failed in Cuba, is because after the crisis USSR was still allied with Cuba and Cuba remained communism. So in this area American had failed to prevent the spread of communism and furthermore Kennedy had to promise to never interfere with Cuba again so this meant that American would not be able to regain any control or get rid of Castro as it had set out to do before the crisis. In some aspects containment here could be seen as a success as although they were unable to prevent Cuba becoming communist, the USA was able to maintain its hegemony as neighboring countries who were previously thinking of turning communist stepped down as they realized that USA would try and do something against this. In conclusion it is clear that in all three areas the USA?s policy of containment failed as each country remained communist after each incident. However it is clear that each time the USA was able to achieve some positive aspect in respect to its policy of containment. It is evident that its policy of containment was particularly put to test in the Cuban missile crisis because it was a direct communist threat to USA?s national security, yet the Vietnam War and Korean War was fought just for the name of containment and to merely stop the spreading of communism. ...read more.

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