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For what reasons, and with what results up to 1963, did the Unites States adapt the policy known as containment?

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OCTOBER 6, 2009 MRINALI R. D. ROCHLANI :) For what reasons, and with what results up to 1963, did the Unites States adapt the policy known as containment? The term containment describes the foreign policy strategy pursued by the United States after the Second World War. The goal of containment was simple: prevent the spread of communism. In general, USA pursued this policy to maintain stability in the international arena, to maintain a balance of power, and also to express disapproval of totalitarian, communist, non-democratic regimes. Containment was expressed through a variety of policies and institutions: economic, political and military. These included the Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine, NATO, and US involvement in south east Asia. Truman had wanted to pursue a strategy of containment based on economic deterrence, say, influencing Western bloc countries through aid packages and favorable trade agreements to support democratic institutions and democratic parties, instead of the new communist parties. The Marshall Plan was one such way to influence these countries. In June 1947, the U.S secretary of state, George Marshall, announced the economic recovery program which later became known as the Marshall plan. It provided economic assistance to all European nations that would agree to United States' intervention. Hence providing aid would let US look at everything that was going on in that country and also have control over it. ...read more.


As Walter LaFeber states "the Truman Doctrine was a milestone in American history...the doctrine became an ideological shield behind which the United States marched to rebuild the Western political and economic system and counter the radical left." A major way in which the US used the doctrine to shield the spread of communism was in Greece. By the end of WW2, the British had restored the Greek monarchy, but they nevertheless faced danger from the communist guerillas, who were eager to end the age-old monarchy and establish a government in congruence with the Soviet Union. The British could no longer finance any more assistance to the Greek government due to their own financial problems, which were stemming from WW2. In light of such a problem, Truman decided to issue his doctrine to Greece, in order to stop the potential communist takeover. US aid and military advisers were immediately sent to Greece and the uprising communists were defeated, before they could have made any more advancement. The USA also displayed firm action against Stalin and his expanding Soviet empire. Such firm action was particularly shown in the Berlin Crisis. Stalin was extremely angered when the Western Powers decided that they would be in control of West Germany, and treat it like a separate country from the East. ...read more.


The Molotov Plan also created an economic assistance organisation known as COMECON. Stalin also unveiled a 5-year plan for the Soviet Empire. The plan's main objective was for Eastern Europe to reach economic prosperity. These organisations and plans stimulated the economies of the communist countries and led to their great and powerful economic development, which was basically the opposite of what the Marshall Plan aimed for. Also the military alliance, NATO, within a week of its formation, found itself with a coalition alliance known as the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact brought all the states of Europe into a single military command. Therefore, while NATO was formed to make the West more powerful against the ideals of communism, it ironically led to the formation of the Warsaw Pact, making the East more unified in its efforts. The various crises of the Cold War forced the United States to put containment into action. However, the policy was only mildly successful, as in the cases of the Berlin Blockade, the Communist uprising in Greece, but was highly unsuccessful in the South East Asian contexts. While overall the policy prevented the spread of Communism on a global scale, at times, it led to much embarrassment for the various American administrations of the Cold War as well as prolonged partition of nations such as Korea, Vietnam and Germany. 1 US Departments of State Website, The Truman Doctrine, 1947 ...read more.

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