Success of Containment

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Containment was the foreign policy which America adopted a few years after WWII, it was born out of America's superiority at the time. It was also based on American newfound confidence and position in the world. It was a very bold and ambitious policy which was also known as the Truman Doctrine and was based on the idea that  the USA would use its wealth and power to stop or contain the spread of communism world-wide. Through the Truman Doctrine the USA had rejected isolationism and announced it would play a leading role in world politics. In Greece and Turkey the doctrine was successful where financial help was given. Initially the doctrine was applied to Europe and the Middle East. Eventually, it was extended to the whole world and led to war in Korea and Vietnam. It is a fair distinction to make that containment in Europe was based on economic incentives. There was a reluctance to use military power there, which is clearly seen in how America did not militarily intervene at the building of the Berlin Wall. However, in Asia military power was used - the Korean and Vietnam wars being key examples. The reasons for this difference are unclear perhaps there was a fear that the USSR might get involved if there was fighting in Europe or else the military power was more developed there.

The Marshall Plan 1947-1952

In 1947, there was a belief that communism could only be stopped if Western Europe became wealthy, this would be because people would not feel the need to turn to communism as private enterprise was successful. In June, General George Marshall announced the scheme whereby the USA would offer economic aid to Western Europe. This money was available to all countries; including the Soviet Union in theory. However, Stalin refused to have anything to do with it and ordered Poland and Czechoslovakia to not take part as well. He saw the plan as an attempt to impose capitalist ideas on European countries, which was true. Western Germany was one of the countries who accepted Marshall Aid. This resulted in a step towards the division of Germany and thus angered the Soviet authorities.

Success for containment:

  • Over four years, $13,000 million of help was provided. By 1952, when the Marshall Plan officially ended, the countries were much more economically prosperous
  • The Plan was also useful to the USA as by rebuilding Western Europe, America was creating wealthy trade partners who would want to buy large amounts of American goods
  • No countries in Europe did move towards Communism in this period but whether this was because of the financial aid is debateable

Berlin Blockade, Airlift and Wall

Berlin was the epicentre of the Cold War. In 1948 Stalin tried to starve the people of West Berlin into joining Communism, testing the resolve of containment. The threat of a powerful capitalist country on the doorstep of the USSR and her satellite states was considered a major issue as so Stalin set…

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