Was Containment the Right Choice for America?
Containment is A-Okay! The struggle for world power between capitalism and communism had the potential to start World War III according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as of November 9th, 1950 in document 16 where they state, “In the event of the commitment of the [Soviet Union]… it would then be evident that World War III is imminent. ” The Containment Policy was a way to keep communism from spreading without having to fight the most powerful communist countries outright. Wars that occurred during the Containment Policy never had direct fighting between the United States and the major communist influence, the Soviet Union.
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The Containment Policy was effective at stopping the spread of communism, and was the right choice to prevent World War III. The plan for European recovery after World War II was the Marshall Plan. According to document six, “Its purpose is to revive a working economy in the world. ” In this document, George Marshall states, “There are also possibilities of disturbances because of the desperation of the people concerned. In document eight, President Truman states, “The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want.
They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. ” These documents justify that, communism spreads in economically depressed countries and it was the purpose of the Marshall Plan to prevent that. Document one shows coal and steel productions in the years after World Wars I and II. After World War I production levels had alternating highs and lows, but after World War II increased consistently. In document four, comparing the amount of money given to the countries it is evident that the top four recipients were the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany.
Document two; figure two shows the economic growth of nations during the Marshall Plan years. The nations with the top four highest economic growths were Germany, Austria, Italy, and France. Three out of four of the top recipients were also three out of the four countries with the highest economic growth. Document two figure nine compares European countries with the assistance of the Marshall Plan to Argentina, which had a similar economic situation to the European countries. The GDP per capita growth of the Marshall Plan countries shows an increase while the Argentina GDP stays relatively the same.
The evidence in these documents show that the Marshall Plan was necessary to prevent the spread of communism and effective at stimulating the economies of the European countries assisted. Colonel Jacobo Arbenz, according to document12, gained presidency of Guatemala through proper constitutional procedures. His actions while in office, found in document 13, included expropriating United Fruit Company holdings, legalizing the Guatemalan Communist Party, and suppressing anti-communist opposition following an abortive uprising at Salama.
In document 21 the range of Soviet missiles based in Cuba was 1,100 miles, reaching the U. S. -Canadian border in the Michigan-New York area. Had Guatemala began receiving support from the Soviet Union, the U. S. would have been within the range of Guatemalan missiles. This evidence shows it was necessary to keep Guatemala from turning communist, legitimizing the shady tactics used to overthrow Arbenz. When the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin, the CIA according to document 26 concluded, “A total and uncontested blockade would cause the West Berliners to lose all hope in a matter of weeks. Referring back to document eight, “They [totalitarian regimes] reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. ” The U. S. needed to break the blockade to keep West Berlin from becoming communist, but an outright war with the Soviet Union risked World War III, as stated in document 16. America and its allies supported West Berlin by flying supplies in from West Germany. The non-violent solution ended the blockade without confrontation. The Cuban Missile Crises Timeline in document 22 shows in 1961 the U.
S. supported Bay of Pigs invasion failed to remove the communist leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, from power. In 1962, U. S. spy planes found evidence of medium range nuclear missile sites in Cuba. In retaliation, the U. S. announced quarantine against ships carrying offensive weapons to Cuba. According to document 21, President Kennedy was unaware 42 intermediate-range missiles with warheads were in place. Referring to that information, Secretary of Defense in 1992, Robert McNamara declared, “Had a U. S. nvasion [of Cuba] been carried out… there was a 99 percent probability that a nuclear war would have been initiated. ” The quarantine prevented nuclear war and was effective at ending the Cuban Missile Crisis. Two wars were fought during the Containment Policy, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. When the Korean War was over communist North Korea had lost minor amounts of territory to American aided South Korea. In Vietnam the American forces lost the war and Vietnam became a communist country. It was necessary to fight both wars to ensure America maintained its reputation as a powerful country.
The top priority in fighting the Vietnam War, according to document 32, was to avoid a humiliating defeat to the technologically inferior Vietnam forces. The maintained support of American allies was a factor in fighting the Vietnam War. Had America withdrawn “American allies would be shaken,” claimed Robert McNamara in document 31. To preserve its standing as a formidable country willing to stop at nothing to fight communism it was necessary for America to fight the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The Containment Policy was the correct choice for America. The Marshall Plan prevented communism from spreading to economically struggling European countries. Containment prevented the potential use of nuclear missiles in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite the unfavorable end of the Vietnam War America proved it was willing to stick to the Truman Doctrine no matter the cost of human lives. The majority of the world’s countries today are not communist, proving that the Containment Policy was effective.