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Cold War Politics

in the Truman Years

quiz, roll
Lecture, Part II
Intro Atomic Cafe
From the Grand Alliance
to Containment
A. The Cold War Begins
B. The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan
C. Building a National Security State
D. Superpower Rivalry Around the Globe
The Cold War Begins
✦ Though they collaborated to win WWII, the
mistrust and antagonism between the Soviet
Union and the West resurfaced over their
different visions of the postwar world.
✦ The Soviets had lingering doubts about the
motivation for the delay in opening a second
front inWestern Europe--a move that would
have brought relief to Eastern front.
The Cold War Begins (2)
✦ After the war, Stalin wanted to make Germany
pay for rebuilding the Soviet economy, and sought
to expand Soviet influence. They had lost so much
during the war--20 million citizen lives and vast
portions of its economic capacity.
✦ In contrast, the US emerged with a vastly
expanded productive capacity and a monopoly on
atomic weapons. They lost 402,000 during the
war, which is just 2 percent of the Soviet loss. The
US was now the most powerful nation on the
The Cold War Begins (3)
✦ Both leaders (Truman and Stalin) and citizens of
these two countries regarded their new foreign
policy stances not as a self-interested campaign to
guarantee economic interests but as the means to
preserve national security and bring freedom,
democracy, and capitalism to the rest of the world.
✦ The first clash between the two powers occurred
in Eastern Europe in 1946. The USSR installed
Communist governments in Bulgaria and Poland.
The Cold War Begins (4)
✦ The US opposed the action arguing for
freedom and democracy in the Eastern
European block.
✦ The USSR accused the US of being
hypocritical because in this stance because
of the US support of “friendly”
dictatorships to the American interests in
Cuba and other Latin American countries.
The Cold War Begins (5)
✦ In March 1946, Truman traveled with
Churchill to Fulton, Missouri, where the
former prime minister denounced Soviet
suppression of popular will in Eastern
Europe and famously declared that an “iron
curtain” had descended across the continent.
✦ In February 1946, career diplomat George F.
Kennon wrote a comprehensive ratioale for a
hard-line foreign policy.
The Cold War Begins (6)
✦ Kennon predicted that the Soviet Union
would retreat from efforts to expand its
influence worldwide “in the face of superior
✦ Not all public figures accepted the rough line,
but those who criticized the administration’s
policy met still resistance from Truman’s
The Truman Doctrine and the
Marshall Plan

✦ In 1947, the US moved from words to action,

implementing the policy of containment that
would guide foreign policy for the next 40
✦ The policy threatened military action--and
more specifically the bomb--if the Soviets did
not stay within the treaty lines.
The Truman Doctrine and the
Marshall Plan (2)
✦ The Soviets were pressing Greece and
Turkey toward Communism, and their
weakened economy made their governments
✦ Truman responded with a warning that if
these two countries fell to the Soviets,
“confusion and disorder” would spread
throughout the entire Middle East and
threaten Europe. This became known as the
domino theory.
The Truman Doctrine and the
Marshall Plan (3)

✦ Truman’s response was to not only resist

Soviet military power but also lend its
support to countries resisting Soviet
incursions. This became known as the
Truman Doctrine.
✦ Congress authorized aid for Greece and
The Truman Doctrine and the
Marshall Plan (4)
✦ In March 1948, Congress approved the European
Recovery Program — the Marshall Plan — and
over the next five years, the US spent $13 billion
to restore economies of Western Europe.
✦ While Congress debated the Marshall Plan, in
February 1948, the Soviets staged a brutal coup
against Czechoslovakia, and blockaded Berlin. In
1949, Berlin was divided into East Berlin, under
Soviet control, and West Berlin, which became
part of West Germany.
Building a National
Security State
✦ In 1949, the Soviets successfully detonated an atomic
bomb, thus ending the US monopoly on nuclear
weapons and their upper hand.
✦ Truman proceeded to develop a deadlier weapon, the
hydrogen bomb. From the 1950s to the 1980s,
deterrence formed the basis of American nuclear
strategy. The US sought to deter Soviet threats by
having a larger and more deadly bomb and military.
✦ The policy of containment quickly acquired a
military capacity to back it up. The plan was a 5-
pronged defense strategy.
Building a National
Security State (2)
The strategy was:
1. development of atomic weapons
2. strengthening traditional military power
3. military alliances with other nations
4. military and economic aid to friendly nations
5. an espionage network and secret means to
subvert Communist expansion.
Superpower Rivalry
around the Globe
✦ Efforts t implement containment moved beyond
Europe to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
✦ Leaders of many liberation movements impressed
with the rapid economic growth of Russia, adopted
socialist or Communist ideas, although few had
formal tied to the USSR.
✦ In Asia, civil war raged in China, where Communists
led by Mao Zedong fought the official Nationalist
government of Chiang Kai-shek.
Superpower Rivalry
around the Globe (2)

✦ Some in Congress pushed Truman to do something

about China, but he was advised it would be a
fruitless mission. In October 1949 Mao established
the People’s Republic of China.
✦ The US reconsiders its postwar plan for Japan in
light of the situation in China.
✦ By 1948, U.S. policy had shifted to focus on
economic recovery.
Truman and the
Fair Deal at Home
A. Reconversion and the Postwar Economic
B. The Fair Deal Flounders
C. The Domestic Chill: A Second Red Scare
Reconversion and the Postwar
Economic Boom

✦ World War II brought steady work to most of the

country, and Americans enjoyed a higher standard of
living than ever before.
✦ Truman wanted to provide jobs and keep the
economy moving after the war, so he asked Congress
to enact a program of social and economic reforms.
✦ Congress approved only one of Truman’s key
proposals—full employment legislation.
Reconversion and the Postwar
Economic Boom (2)
✦ Inflation, not unemployment, turned out to be the
most severe problem in the early postwar years.
✦ Labor relations were another thorn in Truman’s side
as workers saw their wartime wages decline.
✦ Unions sought to preserve wartime gains with the
one weapon they had relinquished during the war —
the strike.
✦ Although most Americans approved of unions in
principle, they became fed up with labor stoppages,
blamed unions for rising prices and shortages of
goods, and called for more government restrictions
on organized labor.
Reconversion and the Postwar
Economic Boom (3)
✦ Despite these problems, by 1947 the nation had
survived the strains of reconversion and avoided a
postwar depression.
✦ The nation’s gratitude to its returning soldiers
provided yet another economic boost, resulting in the
only large welfare measure passed after the New
Deal, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill).
It offered job training and education, unemployment
compensation, and low-interest loans to purchase
homes, farms, and businesses.
The Fair Deal Flounders
✦ Republicans capitalized on public frustrations with
economic reconversion in the 1946 congressional
✦ The Republican led Eightieth Congress weakened
some reform programs and enacted tax cuts favoring
higher income groups over Truman’s veto.
✦ Organized labor took the most severe attack, when
Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which
reduced the power of unions and made it more
difficult to organize workers, over Truman’s veto in
The Fair Deal Flounders (2)
✦ As the 1948 elections approached, Truman faced not
only a resurgent Republican Party headed by
Thomas E. Dewey but also two revolts within his
own party.
✦ Nearly alone in believing he could win, Truman
crisscrossed the country by train and gained
supporters, stunning the country with his election
✦ Truman failed to turn his victory into success for his
Fair Deal agenda, however,
Red Scare
A Second Red Scare
✦ Truman’s domestic program also suffered from a
wave of anti-Communist hysteria that weakened left
and liberal forces.
✦ Warnings about subversion and attacks on
Communists and other radicals went back to the
1920s, but the cold war greatly intensified them.
✦ Records opened in the 1990s showed that the Soviets
did receive secret documents from the Americans,
but at most, such information may have marginally
hastened Soviet development of nuclear weapons.
Notable among those who did Alger Hiss, and
Julius Rosenberg--though not Ethel.
A Second Red Scare (2)
✦ Senator Joseph McCarthy’s influence as a “red baiter”
was so great that McCarthyism became a term
synonymous with the anti-Communist crusade.
✦ In March 1947, President Truman issued Executive
Order 9835 requiring investigation of every federal
✦ The domestic cold war spread beyond the nation’s capital
to state and local governments, which took on
investigations demanded loyalty oaths, fired
individuals suspected of disloyalty, banned
books from public libraries, and more
✦ McCarthyism caused untold economic and
psychological harm to individuals innocent of
breaking any law.
The Cold War Becomes Hot:
A. Korea and the Military Implementation of
B. From Containment to Rollback to
C. Korea, Containment, and the 1952 Election
D. An Armistice and the War’s Costs
Korea and the Military
Implementation of Containment
✦ The war grew out of the artificial division of Korea at the
thirty-eighth parallel after WWII into two occupation
zones: the north supported the Soviets, and the south,
supported by the US.
✦ Skirmishes between the North and South Korean troops
had occurred since 1948, with both sides crossing the
thirty-eighth parallel.
✦ In June 1950, however ninety thousand North Koreans
swept into South Korea.
✦ On June 30, six days after learning of the attack, Truman
decided to commit ground troops, believing that Korea
was “the Greece of the East” and that the US must fight
Korea and the Military
Implementation of Containment (2)
✦ Sixteen nations, including many NATO allies,
sent troops to Korea, but the US furnished
most of the personnel and weapons, deploying
almost 1.8 million troops and essentially
dictating military strategy.
✦ By mid-October, UN forces had pushed the
North Koreans back to the thirty-eighth
parallel; the US now had to decide whether to
invade North Korea and seek to unify Korea
under UN supervision.
From Containment to Rollback
to Containment
✦ Popular sentiment and wisdom in the State Department
favored transforming the military objective from
containment to elimination of the enemy and unification
of Korea.
✦ With UN approval, US forces moved beyond the thirty-
eighth parallel.
✦ With Chinese help, by Dec. 1950, the North Koreans had
recaptured Seoul.
✦ Under the leadership of General Matthew b. Ridgeway,
the Eighth Army turned the tide again, pushing North
Korean forces back to the thirty-eighth parallel.
✦ Truman favored a negotiated settlement, but McArthur,
UN commander, challenged his plan.
From Containment to Rollback
to Containment (2)

✦ MacArthur took his plan to the public, in effect

challenging the president’s authority to make foreign
policy and violating the principle of civilian control over
the military.
✦ Fed up with MacArthur’s insubordination, Truman fired
him in April 1951.
✦ Many Americans sided with MacArthur, however,
reflecting American frustration with containment.
Korea, Containment,
and the 1952 Election
✦ Popular discontent with Truman’s war gave the
Republicans a decided edge in the election battles of
✦ Eisenhower defeated Robert Taft in the Republican
Primary, but the old conservative guard prevailed on the
party platform.
✦ Eisenhower’s choice of Richard M. Nixon for his running
mate helped to appease the Republican right wing and
ensure that anticommunism would be a major theme of
the campaign.
✦ Truman decided not to run, but recruited Adlai E.
Stevenson, governor of Illinois to run for the Democrats.
✦ Eisenhower won.
An Armistice and the War’s Costs
✦ Eisenhower made good on his pledge t end the Korean War.
✦ The war took the lives of 36,000 Americans and wounded
more than 100,000.
✦ The nature of the war and the unpopularity of the South
Korean government made it difficult for soldiers to
distinguish between friends and enemies, since civilian
populations sometimes harbored North Korean agents.
✦ The Truman administration judged the war a success for its
containment, since the US had supported the promise to help
nations that were resisting Communism--thus defining
✦ The war had an enormous effect on defense policy and
✦ The war also induced the Truman administration to expand
its role in Asia--paving the way for Vietnam.
The Politics and Culture
of Abundance
Eisenhower and the Politics
of the Middle Way
A. The President and McCarthy
B. Moderate Republicanism
C. The 1956 Election and the Second Term
The President and McCarthy
✦ The new president attempted to distance
himself from the anti-Communist fervor
that had plagued the Truman
✦ Eisenhower correctly predicted that
McCarthy would destroy himself.
✦ With the end of the Korean War, popular
frustrations over containment abated, and
the anti-Communist hysteria subsided.
Moderate Republicanism
✦ In contrast to the Old Guard conservatives in his
party who wanted to repeal much of the New Deal
and preferred unilateral approach to foreign policy,
Eisenhower preached “moderate Republicanism.”
✦ Despite his claim to be above interest group politics,
Eisenhower turned for advice almost exclusively to
business leaders and chose wealthy executives and
attorneys for his cabinet.
✦ He sometimes echoed conservative old-guard
Republicans’ conviction that government was best
lest to the states and economic decisions to private
Moderate Republicanism (2)
✦ Nevertheless, the welfare state actually grew during
his administration, and the federal government took
on new projects.
✦ In 1954, Eisenhower signed laws expanding Social
Security and continuing the federal government’s
modest role in financing public housing.
✦ His greatest domestic initiative was the Interstate
Highway and Defense System Act of 1956.
✦ He also restrained federal activity in favor of state
governments and private enterprise, stubbornly
resisting a larger federal role in health care,
education, and civil rights.
The 1956 Election and the
Second Term
✦ While not all people in the US were living the
American dream, with the nation at peace and
economy booming, Eisenhower easily defeated Adlai
Stevenson in 1956, losing only seven states.
✦ The Democrats, however, won significant gains in the
midterm election of 1958.
✦ In part because of the Democratic resurgence,
Eisenhower faced more serious leadership challenges
in his second term.
✦ In the end, the first Republican administration after
the New Deal left the size and functions of the federal
government intact, though it tipped policy somewhat
more in favor of corporate interests.
Liberation Rhetoric and the
Practice of Containment
A. The “New Look” in Foreign Policy
B. Applying Containment to Vietnam
C. Intervention in Latin America and the Middle
D. The Nuclear Arms Race
The “New Look” in Foreign Policy
✦ To meet his goals of balancing the federal budget and cutting
taxes, Eisenhower determined to control military
✦ Reflecting Americans’ confidence in technology and
opposition to a large peacetime army, his defense strategy
concentrated U.S. military strength in nuclear weapons along
with planes and missiles to deliver them.
✦ This was Eisenhower’s “New Look” in foreign policy.
✦ Nuclear weapons could not stop a Soviet nuclear attack, but
in response to one, they could inflict enormous destruction
on the USSR.
✦ Nuclear weapons were useless, however, in rolling back the
iron curtain because they would destroy the peoples that the
US had promised to liberate.
Applying Containment to
✦ A major challenge to the containment policy came in
southeast Asia, where in 1945 a nationalist coalition
called the Vietminh, led by Ho Chi Minh, had
proclaimed Vietnam’s independence from France.
✦ Ike viewed communism in Vietnam much as Truman
had regarded it in Greece and Turkey, a view that came
to be known the “domino theory.”
✦ Although the US was contributing 75 percent of the
cost of France’s war, Eisenhower resisted a larger role.
✦ The Vietminh defeated the French in 1954.
✦ Two months later, France signed a truce that divided
Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel, separating the
country between North and South.
Applying Containment to
Vietnam (2)
✦ The truce prohibited both Vietnamese governments
from joining a military alliance or permitting foreign
bases on their soil.
✦ Some officials warned against US involvement in the
✦ Nevertheless, between 1955 and 1961, the US provided
$800 million to the South Vietnamese army.
✦ Unwilling to abandon containment, Eisenhower handed
over the deteriorating situation— along with a firm
commitment to defend South Vietnam against
communism — to his successor.
The Nuclear Arms Race
✦ While Eisenhower’s foreign policy centered on
countering perceived communist inroads abroad, a
number of events encouraged the president to seek
reduction of superpower tensions and accommodation
with the Soviet Union.
✦ Eisenhower and Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, met in
Geneva in 1955 at the first summit conference since the
end of WWII.
✦ By 1960, the two sides were within reach of a ban on
nuclear testing.
✦ The US defense budget enormously increased the US
nuclear capacity, more than quadrupling the stockpile of
nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Arms Race (2)
✦ In August 1957, the Soviets test-fired their first ICBM
and two months later beat the US into space by launching
Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to circle the earth.
✦ Eisenhower insisted that the US possessed nuclear
superiority, but in 1957, he could not reveal the reason for
his confidence, the top-secret U-2 surveillance of the
✦ American nuclear superiority did not guarantee security
because the Soviet Union possessed sufficient nuclear
weapons to devastate the US.
✦ As he left office, Eisenhower warned about the growing
influence of the “military industrial complex” in American
government and life
New Work and
Living Patterns
A. Technology Transforms Agriculture and
B. Burgeoning Suburbs and Declining Cities
C. The Rise of the Sun Belt
D. The Democratization of Higher Education
Technology Transforms
Agriculture and Industry
✦ Between 1940 and 1960, the output of American farms
mushroomed, while the number of farmworkers
declined nearly one-third.
✦ The decline of the family farms and the growth of
agribusinesses were both causes and consequences of
✦ As in agriculture, new technology increased industrial
✦ Labor unions enjoyed their greatest success during the
50s, and real earnings for production workers shot up
40 percent.
✦ The growing clerical and service occupations swelled
the demand for female workers.
Burgeoning Suburbs and
Declining Cities
✦ Although suburbs had existed since the nineteenth
century, nothing symbolized the affluent society more
than their tremendous expansion in the 1950s
✦ While private industry built the suburbs, the
government subsidized home ownership with low-
interest mortgage guarantees through the FHA and VA
and by making interest on mortgages tax deductible.
✦ As white residents joined the suburban migration,
blacks moved to cities in search of economic
opportunity, increasing their numbers in most cities by
50 percent during the 1950s.
The Rise of the Sunbelt

✦ Americans were on the move westward as well as to the

✦ A warm climate and a pleasant natural environment
drew new residents to the West and Southwest, but no
magnet proved stronger than the promise of economic
✦ The surging populations and industries brought with
them needs that soon raised environmental concerns.
✦ Free of the discrimination faced by minorities, white
Americans reaped the fullest fruits of prosperity in the
Democratization of
Higher Education
✦ California’s system of community colleges was oly the
largest element in a spectacular transformation of higher
✦ The GI Bill made college possible for thousands of
African Americans, the majority of whom attended
black institutions.
✦ For a time, the democratization of higher education
increased the educational gap between men and women.
✦ The large veteran enrollments also introduced a new
feature of college life—the married student.
✦ Some observers in the 1950s termed college students a
“silent generation,” pointing to their apparent passivity,
caution, and conformity.
The Culture of Abundance
A. Consumer Culture
B. The Revival of Domesticity and Religion
C. Television Transforms Culture and Politics
D. Countercurrents
Consumer Culture
✦ Consumer items flooded American society in the 1950s.
✦ Although the purchase and display of consumer goods
had always been a part of American life, by the 1950s,
consumption had become a reigning value, vital for
economic prosperity and essential to individuals’
identity and status.
✦ The consumer culture rested on a firm material base.
✦ Several forces, including a population surge and
consumer borrowing, spurred this unparalleled
✦ Advertising dollars tripled between WWII and 1959.
✦ Women’s presence in the labor force helped secure some
of this new abundance.
The Revival of Domesticity
and Religion
✦ Even though married women took jobs in unprecedented
numbers, the dominant ideology celebrated traditional family
life and conventional gender roles.
✦ The emphasis on home and family life reflected to some extent
anxieties about the cold war and nuclear menace.
✦ Writer and feminist Betty Friedan gave a name to the
idealization of women’s domestic roles in her book The
Feminist Mystique.
✦ Along with a renewed emphasis on family life, the 1950s
witnessed a surge of interest in religion.
✦ Religion offered reassurance and peace of mind in the nuclear
age, while ministers like Billy Graham turned the cold war
into a holy war, labeling communism as a plot from Satan.
Television Transforms Culture
and Politics
✦ Just as family life and religion offered a respite from
cold war anxieties, so too did the new medium of
✦ Television kept people at home more but did not
necessarily enhance family relationships.
✦ Viewers especially turned in to situation comedies,
which projected the family ideal and the feminine
mystique into millions of homes.
✦ Television began to affect politics in the 1950s, as
viewers tuned in to debates and candidates had to spend
huge sums of money for TV spots.
Television Transforms Culture
and Politics (2)

✦ Unlike government-financed television in

Europe, private enterprise paid for American
✦ In 1961, Newton Minow, chairman of the
Federal Communications Commission, called
television a “vast wasteland.”
✦ Pockets of dissent underlay the complacency of the
✦ Some intellectuals took exception to the politics of
consensus and to the materialism and conformity
celebrated in popular culture.
✦ Less direct challenged to mainstream standards
appeared in the everyday behavior of large numbers of
Americans especially youth.
✦ Just as rock and roll’s sexual suggestiveness violated
norms of middle-class respectability, Americans’ sexual
behavior often departed from the family ideal of the
postwar era.
Countercurrents (2)

✦ The most blatant revolt against conventionality

came from the self-proclaimed figures based in
New York City’s Greenwich Village and in San
✦ Bold new styles in the visual arts also showed
the 1950s to be more than a decade of bland
NY in the 50s