For Reference Textbook Chapters 27 Cold War America And 28 The Suburban Era and Affluence
The victors of WWII could not see how this new transforming “Cold War’ would eventually shape up. How was Europe to be repartitioned or politically administered after the shooting war ends? We do know that the American Political climate took a major right turn toward a more conservative ideology—after all liberal politics had failed them through the depression— something else needed trying.
There was a second Red Scare, there was a real sense of paranoia and fear of Communism; Americans could see everyday the international struggle between The United States and Soviet Russia; A third World War seemed imminent—this time it would be different—two major military and nuclear powers facing off vying for control of Europe and the World itself.
The ‘Big’ Three FDR, Churchill, and Stalin met on several occasions trying to hammer out the details of what Post War Europe should look like; They met at Teheran (1943), Yalta (Feb 1945), and Potsdam (July 1945). Only at Potsdam after the death of FDR, HST assumed the leadership role in post war negotiations for the U.S.
Churchill warned FDR that Stalin could not be appeased unless he got what he wanted and that was European hegemony; FDR assumed he could charm “Uncle Joe” At Potsdam, however, Stalin met a personage who could care less for charm and dealt in ‘Real Politik.’ HST
The term “cold war” goes back to a 14th- century medieval writer named Don Juan Manuel, who referred to the uneasy peace between Muslims and Christians in Spain. But it was George Orwell, in a piece titled “You and the Atomic Bomb,” who applied the term as we know it best to the protracted economic, geopolitical and ideological battle between the United States, the Soviet Union and their shifting allies.
The precise dates of the Cold War are the subject of debate, though most agree that it began at some point in the summer of 1945 and continued until the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. Whatever the case, it dominated global politics and culture for the entire second half of the 20th century, and its effects are ongoing.
As far as the cause or who started the ‘Cold War,’ it is viewed by many as equal cause: 1) the fault of the Soviet Union 2) the fault of the United States 3) All of the above The U.S. believed in a manifest destiny and free open free trade democracy, economic and political model; there also was the vision of enlightened self- determinism—each country had the right to choose what economic or political model they would opt.— The US also wanted free open world markets for their goods and services.
The Soviets, a slightly different vision. They wanted greater state security; they had suffered over 20 million losses during the war; Many more had died in Stalin’s brutal political purges. Stalin even executed returned POWs assuming they were now indoctrinated spies of the West. Stalin feared with the USs aid that Germany would once again become a large military and economic power:
This fear and security paranoia and distrust of anything western made the USSR want to: 1) Ward off any other attempted invasions 2) Establish defensible borders 3) Encourage friendly regimes on its western borders, even if they had to use terror and coercion to create this encouragement. Stalin wanted to foster these relationships with such as Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria and most of the Eastern Bloc—to do this meant dominance and coercion—political, military, and economic.
This type of Soviet coercion and influence disallowed the two things America was fervently trying to attain: 1) Self-determinism, and 2) Free open markets and democracy; Both countries grabbed a foothold in the Middle east due to the rich Oil Fields—Britain got us embroiled in that mess and we are still paying for it.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Cold War 1) It cost the U.S. Taxpayer $8 trillion; Historian Walter LaFeber suggests these numbers are real considering that the Korean War and Vietnam Wars were both products of the Cold War—as was Chad, the Sudan and Afghanistan for Russia. One also needs to consider interventions into Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Chile, Grenada, and elsewhere; psychological warfare through covert CIA operations such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom and Radio Free Europe; and, of course, the research, development, testing, and construction of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons (at a high point in the late 1960s, both the U.S. and the USSR were each spending $50 million a day on those weapons).
For better perspective, America spends $8 billion per month in Iraq and Afghanistan— the Cold War expenditures could have financed Iraq for 80 yrs. 2) It was predicted by Adolph Hitler: Hitler in the Hitler-Borman documents uncovered after the war—stated that America and Russia because of the colossal size and eventual might would one day have to come to blows militarily or ideological—He wanted Germany to be the sole ally of one or the other—to the victor go the spoils—whoever won.
3) First casualty was Christian Missionary— John Morrison Birch (John Birch Society— ultra-conservative); He was in China, came upon some survivors of the James Doolittle Raid on Tokyo—led them to safety. The OSS (front runner to CIA) recruited him to assist the allies in China—after the War, he went into deep Chinese territory was captured by Chinese Maoists and was executed. Many claim the first causality of the “Cold War.”
4) It ended in part because of Apple. The hobbyist culture and the economic flexibility in the U.S., both largely absent in the Soviet Union and Soviet-bloc countries, encouraged guys to take on industry giants like IBM. As a result, the information age erupted, spreading information that wasn’t spun by news outlets or crafted by governments into propaganda, but expressed by everyday citizens. A Czech engineer complained in the early 1980s, soon with all this information technology available, our children will eventually change us rather than we them …
5) U.S. at one point had a larger Communist alliance than did Soviet Russia. Pres. Nixon recognized China and opened diplomatic relations with China—creating a buffer between age old suspicious and non-trusting border mates—Chin and Russia had been in somewhat border hostility since 1969. It is almost incomprehensible to imagine that world diplomacy and foreign affairs were directly guided by a concept as staggering as Mutually Assured Destruction.
Back to Potsdam, Harry Truman had decided that America would retain a large physical and political presence in War torn Europe to off-set the gains by Stalin and his armies setting up bases on European soil. Immediately Truman offered assistance to any European nation resisting Soviet and Communist influence and intervention into their borders—Turkey and Greece in 1947.
It was at this time that mid-level administrator at the Soviet Embassy penned a famous paper calling for the “Containment” of Communism; Everywhere it reared its head, Democracy must engage in countermeasures—be supportive with money, supplies, political maneuvering and the military if necessary
To try and counter-act Communist aggression, Truman initiated the Truman Doctrine. It was an expenditure of $500 million for the aid of Turkey and Greece—to quell any and all communist insurgencies. “It must be the policy of the United States to support peoples who are resisting or are subjugated by communist aggressors.”
Now let us look at the Cold War and how it affected American Society. The quick spread of Communist influence in China, Europe and Korea forced the U.S. to dramatically increase its DOD defense budget; This unwittingly created a huge Military Industrial Complex of defense companies and initiatives vying for large shares of the American defense budget.
In reality it was the Truman Doctrine that truly initiated the philosophy and reality of ‘Containment.’ “The US will defend free people and their free institutions at any … point in the world … [against] … communist aggression …” Kennan gave three (3) reason why Communism should be contained:
1)Russia has a history of hostility with its neighbors; therefore, it makes sense that they will militarily or economically subdue them to create a buffer zone against western attacks; 2) The US has a moral and democratic obligation to confront Soviet aggression with force if necessary;
3) Moreover, the US must maintain a long term policy of containment against Soviet Aggression. Critics asked difficult questions: When is a revolution the self- determination of a free people? When is it Communist aggression orchestrated by the Kremlin?
What the ‘Cold War’ did do was increase the ‘implied powers clause’ of the constitution; To be able to react quickly to Soviet initiatives around the World, the President needed much greater military latitude and covert capability to counteract Soviet aggression; This dangerous game of intrigue was too sensitive to wait for Congress to make decisions. Since the Truman Doctrine, America has fought several large scale Wars without a declaration from Congress.
To put teeth and credibility into the Truman Doctrine, the US initiated the Marshall Plan. The idea behind the Marshall Plan was to rebuild Europe and Japan economically, infrastructurally, and politically—if the US did not, then Russia would—The US needed these markets and these countries to be self- sustaining and part of a larger alliance to countermand and contest Communist aggression abroad—This was the Economic Recovery Plan for 1947.
John Marshall, an ex-General, now Truman’s Secretary of State proposed this plan to rebuild Europe and Japan—”If we restore the confidence of the European Peoples, they will be forever anti-Communist and Pro-America— It was a win-win situation, recovery for Europe and prosperity for America—it also translated in economic and political stability; The US spent $13 billion in Western Europe and Germany—it is called “The German Miracle.”
Germany quickly rebuilding, Soviet response was to cut off the transportation corridor between Western Europe and Berlin—Berlin is in the middle of Soviet occupied Eastern Europe; (Russia claimed they were doing extensive Road and Rail work) Forgot to cut-off the air space—a massive year long airlift campaign saved Berlin—and proved to the World that the US was the true ‘Superpower.’ At peak performance, every
The blockade lasted 318 days (11 months). In the winter of 1948–49 Berliners lived on dried potatoes, powdered eggs and cans of meat. They had 4 hours of electricity a day. 275,000 flights carried in 1½ million tons of supplies. A plane landed every 3 mins. On 16 April 1949, 1400 flights brought in 13,000 tons of supplies in one day – Berlin only needed 6,000 tons a day to survive. Some pilots dropped chocolate and sweets.
The success of the Berlin Airlift proved to Soviet Russia and the rest of the World, the United States was not only a military power,but an economic power as well. But, again, there is much paranoia in America about the designs and machinations of Communist Russia. Domestically, America began to scrutinize its political and social conscience.
Truman inadvertently gave rise to a hard drinking maniacal “Witch Hunter,” Joseph McCarthy—a senator from Wisconsin. 1) The Truman Loyalty Oath—He had the Justice department to draw up a list of possible or suspected subversives that were employed in the Government—All government employees had to sign a loyalty oath—could be fired if suspected of disloyal behavior— Truman believed that of the three bad political models Nazism, Fascism—Communism was the worst
He was always somewhat of a dubious character; “Tail-gunner Joe” Feb 9, 1950 at the Republican Women’s Club—Wheeling WV, he dropped a political bombshell. He claimed to have in his possession a list of 205 communist sympathizers and infiltrators in the State Department—the frenzy and witch hunt went into full swing.
No one was ever privy to the list—McCarthy kept it well guarded. Republicans distanced themselves, but did like the fact he was blasting a lot of liberals— politically they were gaining influence. McCarthy even indicted Adlai Stevenson, Democratic contender for President against Eisenhower—he argued there must be subversives at work, because we the great powerful US was losing the Korean War.
Because there was a conformity to the political status quo of conservatism, even many Democrats were conservative (Dixiecrats); (Bizarre,) Indiana made its wrestlers take a loyalty oath before ‘rasslin’—the movie and play Robin Hood was condemned because it was seen as socialist propaganda; anti-capitalism was bad. Librarians were forced to pull certain books from the shelves—the Cincinnati Reds renamed themselves the Redlegs for a while—Russian Sable became “Dark Sable.”
Supporters for McCarthy: 1) Republicans ( at a distance); 2) Catholics ( a Father Coughlin spin-off of antisemitism); 3) Conservative Protestants 4) Blue Collar Workers Joseph P. Kennedy secured a legal job for his son Bobby Kennedy as an investigator for McCarthy. Kennedy used the political dirt he gathered years later in his anti-Mob endeavors. McCarthy eventually attacked his own party and President Eisenhower—lost influence due to TV and fell out of power—
On a more congenial note, the 1950s were a time of prosperity and affluence for many Americans. Describing the 1950s, we must make a concatenation of the following: 1) The Cold War (very influential) 2) Rising Income and Affluence 3) Americans had grown tired of depression, rationing, and war. 4) Younger Americans became very apolitical—more in tune with living and experiencing the new consumer market in America.
1950s very iconic: “The American Dream” a house with white picket fence in the suburbs; Job with large corporation, and a new car; Leavitt Town etc. Cultural symbols included Marilyn Monroe, Television, baseball, and consumer egalitarianism—”I Like Ike”
Very prosperous time; many people went to college because of the GI Bill; There was suburban sprawl all over America; Sun-belt cities, San Diego, Atlanta, and Miami and most especially Las Vegas personified the growth and prosperity of the 1950s; Babyboomers became the target of marketing and advertising, Disney Land etc … Movies, PTAs and the “Levittown.”
Of all the great cultural symbols and cultural icons, nothing says the 1950s as well as: 1) The Automobile; 2) Television Subsidiaries of these two mediums for transportation and entertainment—Sit-Com and the Interstate Highway System
Television was a great medium. It gave citizens a personal link to politicians, news, weather, entertainment, and was a way to keep abreast of the Cold War situation. It also gave us sit-coms, a time for the family to sit together and have a laugh, while forgetting the tenuousness of the moment.
In an era of affluence, there is always the fear of communism. The Korean War is a great example—Vietnam (later on this). Sec of State Dean Acheson made a speech outlining America’s containment of communist expansion— He made no mention of Korea.
Because Truman and the Democrats looked weak on China, in fact had lost China (not really); He determined that Korea would be the line in the sand to confront communist expansion. Truman and the Democrats said look what happened in Europe with appeasement—we need to stop it there, fight it there, or we will have to stop it here, and fight here in the cities of America. The U.S. received a resolution from the U.N. and sent troops to Korea.
Early North Korea overran the South Korean forces and drove all the way to the tip of the Southeastern peninsula or what became known as the famous “Pusan Perimeter.” The American Army fought desperately and hung on until reinforcements could arrive. Gen MacArthur planned a daring and treacherous landing at Inchon west of Seoul— Luckily it was successful, it trapped the North Koreans and they had to make a hasty retreat.
Gen. MacArthur quickly went on the offensive. It drove the North Koreans beyond the 38 th Parallel and back into China and beyond the Yalu River, into Chinese borderlands. Mao afraid that MacArthur would use this as a pretense to widen the War and invade China sent hordes of Chinese suicide troops at the Americans—The Chosin Reservoir. Drove the Americans back to the 38tth Parallel
Gen. MacArthur did order a widening of the conflict and sent Jet aircraft into China to bomb munitions and supply depots. MacArthur told Truman and Congress the only way to fight a war “was to pursue it to total victory.” Pres. Truman and JCS feared a greater escalation leading to ultimate disaster. Ordered MacArthur to desist when MacArthur defied Pres. Truman, Truman dismissed him
Pres. Truman was savvy enough to realize that regardless of his popularity,he was a dangerous influence to the War Effort—or Police Action as Truman called it. Truman said, “total war against China would be the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong enemy …”
After receiving word that the War would not be widened by Truman, MacArthur sent a letter to Congress and the Public stating “there was no substitute for victory.” “Once war is forced upon us, there is no alternative …[but] … to bring it to a swift and successful end … why surrender military advantages to the enemy … I could not answer them …” “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President in 1952. Pres. Eisenhower was able to secure an armistice, a truce, an uneasy truce, that still prevails today. The action was never ended, only a temporary truce.
1950s a time of affluence and Global Superpower. It was the ‘Fabulous 50s.’ Confidence and greatness was growing in spite of ‘Sputnik.” Yet, the paranoia paved a road into many small contained actions and several rather large contained actions—Mainly the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Battles of the 50s and 60s. ( which in turn lead to other more open social and political and even religious movements).