The Doctrine of Containment

The Doctrine of Containment is a policy that incorporates both military and economic action to prevent the spread of communism. In the case of the United States, the policy of containment was used to

eliminate the diplomatic and political policies that were in favor of the communist practices. The Doctrine of Containment was adopted by the United States in order to keep those forms of government from spreading to non-communist countries. The article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct”, by George Kennan suggests that the Soviet Union be “contained” and its system would ultimately collapse by the nature of its own inefficiencies. This containment would allow for the United States and its allies to not have the need to go on the offensive or to plan for an inevitable war. The rise of containment came about from fear of the “domino theory” which states that if one region fell into communist practices, that all surrounding regions would adopt the same policies. According to the United States, containment was the answer in how to prevent the spread of communism. Containment allowed the United States to make a political statement towards an opposing nation with the threat of surrounding military action and economic support toward the threatened regions. Ultimately, the doctrine of containment was effective in aiding the United States foreign policy against the spread of the communist practices.

The reason for the United States invading Vietnam was the fear of communism that seemed to be spreading throughout the world. Vietnam, because of the Geneva Convention was divided into two regions; the North and the South, in which the North was under communist rule. Many believe that the United States Foreign Policy was correct in showing its global importance but many others believe that it was one of the greatest and biggest mistakes in history. The U.S. feared that if South Vietnam fell under communist rule that it would lead to an outburst of communism throughout the rest of the world. The strengths of the containment doctrine during the Vietnam War was actually having our U.S. troops go into the unknown grounds of Vietnam and contribute to stopping the spread of communism throughout surrounding countries. Although our military was terribly defeated in Vietnam and some thought that we had no justification of war in that country, we entered Vietnam as part of the Containment Doctrine. The Containment Doctrine was to stop this expansion of Soviet Power by combating Soviet methods by our own intelligence operations, providing aid to existing governments, and directly involving our troops in a war on unfamiliar grounds. Our main weakness in Vietnam was that it was a major defeat against the United States, leading many other nations in the world to conclude that the United States was an unreliable ally and this damaged U.S. interest’s world-wide and gained popular movement to communism, in which we feared.

The division point, isolationism was the dominant ideology that guided American foreign policy. Isolationism is a national policy of abstaining from political or economic relations with other countries. It was favored by most Americans for their non-involvement with other countries and others foreign affairs. This, in particular was used toward the president from Americans that had concern with being involved with foreign countries and to refrain from intervention in old world affairs. The United States was practicing isolationism until the fall of France in 1940 and the attack on Pearl Harbor that following year. As a result of the fear that arose from what had happened, The America First Committee was formed, which led to interventionism.

The Cold War affected American Foreign Policy in one division point such as interventionism (globalism). Interventionism referred to whether or not the United States should have a place or a standing in other countries affairs. The United States had an idea that we should not get involved with other countries and we should keep to ourselves and stay out of situations that have nothing to do with us. The United States also stood strong in believing that the only type of communication with other countries be specifically for trade purposes only but have entangling alliances with none. This goes back to not getting involved if it has nothing to do with us. Interventionism is a policy or practice of intervening in the affairs of another sovereign state.

The United States saw the importance of working to become friends and allies with other countries in making it easier for others to work with us rather than against us. The realist views overpowered throughout most of the Cold War. They believed that their allies were anti-communists countries and other countries that were communist were considered to be enemies. The realism aspect of it all is that by maximizing our own power we will be the focus and ignore others internal affairs. Realism is the idea that international relations is the primacy of power and for us to survive and maintain our political independence we must maintain our territorial integrity. This aspect is also important when speaking in terms of idealism, in order to maintain support from other countries and this too is an advantage. Idealists argued that the United States primary emphasis be focused on American values and that their allies should enforce similar democratic practices and this would promote anti-communists goals more effectively. Idealism is no better than realism and realism is no better than idealism, in the end it all depends on the situation and American values.
One major impact that the Cold War had upon American politics was the way that it affected our government in a negative way. Throughout the Cold War the United States and the American people fought efforts to end the talk of global nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1984 and 1985, the Americans insisted that President Reagan back away from the Soviet Union and make a commitment to negotiate and put an end to this dangerous global war that had now existed for half of a century.

In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev became President of the Soviet Union and realized that his country could no longer afford to compete with the United States. In 1986, Gorbachev arranged a meeting with President Reagan in Iceland and they discussed a proposal. The proposal was: The Soviet Union would destroy all of its nuclear weapons if the United States would agree to do the same and also agree to not go ahead with its Star Wars program. The Star Wars program was designed to protect the United States from future attacks by nuclear missiles. President Reagan left Iceland and returned to the United States after rejecting to the proposed agreement. Reagan realized that the United States could not afford to give up its nuclear arsenal and had to protect its global interest.

In 1986, when Americans discovered that it was indeed the Soviet Union that was more committed to the disarmament of nuclear weapons than the United States, more problems arose for Reagan. He referred to the Soviet Union as “the evil empire”, and they were actually the ones that took the initiative to reduce the threat of nuclear war. As a result of Reagan’s failure to inform the American people that the Soviet’s did indeed make a proposal and effort to have peace with the United States and put an end to the Cold War, many Americans lost faith in their government. In the end, the United States government was mirroring the Soviet Union by acting as a communist country in more ways than one. It is no surprise to me that more people vote for their leaders throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union than they do in the United States. Voting is a crucial aspect in a democratic society and has a major impact on the American political system today.