History 300 Wd Count

Describe the ways the United States adapted to change and the expectations that came with being a superpower during the Cold War. What was the biggest challenge that the United States had to overcome with the rising pressure of Communism? How did the changing national interests impact American perspectives on society?

Your response should be a minimum of 300 word


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Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VI Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

6. Explain the United States’ role as a superpower during and after the world wars. 6.1 Describe the new responsibilities of the United States as a superpower in the Cold War era.

7. Describe the modern challenges and opportunities concerning the United States around the globe.

7.1 Identify key individuals associated with the Cold War period. 7.2 Recognize notable innovations in the post-World War II (WWII) world. 7.3 Identify political ideals related to the Cold War era.


Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

6.1 Unit Lesson Reading: U.S. History Unit VI Assessment

7.1 Unit Lesson Reading: U.S. History Unit VI Assessment

7.2 Unit Lesson Reading: U.S. History Unit VI Assessment

7.3 Unit Lesson Reading: U.S. History Unit VI Assessment


Reading Assignment Throughout this course, you will be provided with sections of content from the online resource U.S. History. You may be tested on your knowledge and understanding of the material listed below as well as the information presented in the unit lesson. Click on the link below to access your material. Click here to access this unit’s readings from U.S. History. The chapter title is also provided below. Chapter 28 (Sections 28.1–28.5): Post-War Prosperity and Cold War Fears, 1945-1960

Unit Lesson Unit V focused on World War II (WWII), which left us with one lasting front of political, militaristic, and cultural hostility. The Allied Powers, who had so effectively worked together in the extermination of the Nazi threat, were not as fortunate in overlooking their own differences. In the West, the traditional powers of Great Britain and France remained aligned with the United States, which had been the one superpower left standing after WWII. On the other side stood the Soviets, who, unlike in the aftermath of World War I (WWI), possessed an established, commanding leader in Joseph Stalin. Stalin demanded the respect and loyalty of his people, which was a power he gained through utopian promises and brutal aggression. Hitler’s defeat would ultimately lead to tense negotiations for the fate of the German people and, finally, a new struggle to find the world’s one true super power.


Post World War and Korea




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Cold War Hostility This unit will focus on the early hostilities of the Cold War, including the Korean conflict and troubles at home. This would be the ultimate test for democratic resolve, as it was attacked on the world stage by individuals of immense power and influence who wanted nothing more than to spread their ideas of perfectionism to the nations of the West. Germany, at the end of the war, was literally divided in half between the Allied West and Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.). To put it in simplest terms, excluding Berlin, the fate of former-Axis territory now rested in the hands of the nations that liberated it. Berlin, the capital of Germany and the opposition’s seat of power during the previous world war, was also divided between the two sides. To enforce this border, the Soviets constructed a wall, which, over time, would become more than just a symbol of the differences between geographic rivals but, rather, become a form of political validation. The Western powers were not going to repeat the mistake of abandoning the rebuilding process, which could again lead to further hostilities, but Stalin demanded that German suffering stand as payment for Soviet losses and casualties as well as a symbol of the strength of Eastern Europe and of his own ruthless nature.

Communism, in its purest form, was popular in poorer nations because it publicly guaranteed equal treatment and promised to provide what was necessary to live. Its failures, in practice, were ultimately due to corrupt management and limited incentive, which was the hallmark of the free market economy. In the fallout of WWII, the Soviet Union would be influential in the spread of Communism throughout its sphere of control or influence, which now spread all the way into Western Europe, having been invited by some and bullying their way into others. With the efforts of other aspiring dictators, such as China’s Mao Zedong (Tse Tung), other war-weary and struggling nations, including Vietnam and Korea, would also soon face strong communist pressure. In the United States, communism was a source of constant headlines. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare was effective at swaying social consciousness against anything communist. The Soviet growth across Eastern Europe and Asia provided his campaign with a continuous source of propaganda. This period of tension would be dubbed the as the Cold War in reference to the absence of violence between the powers. However, all the while, there was a lingering threat that only supported further political action, including espionage on both sides and relentless speculation of who was an enemy and who could be trusted. In the aftermath of previous wars, the United States would instinctively renew its isolationist policy, retreating back to its natural borders and leaving Europe to address its own problems. With the quick and ominous threat that communism brought, however, this was no longer an option. As the only world power with the

East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall, Nov. 20, 1961. (National Archives, 1961)




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potential to rival the strength of the Soviets, the United States found itself in the middle of a political firestorm and in a state of constant alert. In 1950, the dominos started to fall, and the first real conflict emerged from this situation. The Republic of Korea (ROK), more commonly known as South Korea, was invaded by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), also known as North Korea. Once united under the control of Japan, these two neighbors were, like Germany, divided at the mutually agreed upon 38th parallel. As a part of negotiations following WWII, the North fell under the control of the Soviets, and the South fell under the united Western control. Following the pattern of their Soviet brothers, the North Koreans became communist and desired a reunification of the Korean peninsula. South Korea, supported in their rebuilding, had become quite Westernized in the years since the war and no longer shared many cultural, social, economic, or political traits with their neighbors to the north. For the Western powers, this was a situation in need of containment. United Nations (UN) forces would be brought into the region to enforce the Truman Doctrine and ensure that South Korea would not sustain losses due to the invasion. Things did not entirely go as planned for the heavily U.S.-backed UN. Early losses would lead to moderate success and momentum, but conflicting leadership would lead to China stepping in to support their communist allies. The United States was not ready for this conflict. Despite this, Truman would not be seen as afraid or unable to back up his promises, and 1.8 million Americans would be deployed to Korea. The first success would not come until General Douglas MacArthur successfully retook Inchon, Seoul, and, finally, the original border. Truman wanted to reunite Korea, rather than simply reinforcing the border from 5 years prior, but he knew the risk of threatening the Chinese border. MacArthur, as brilliant and charismatic as he was, did not see eye-to- eye with this strategy. Since his experience in the Pacific padded his confidence in U.S. strength, he decided to ignore his Commander in Chief, and China did indeed enter the fray with an initial force of 300,000 soldiers to aid the northern cause. After a disagreement about a bombing strategy, MacArthur and Truman would have a very loud and public falling out because of this decision. MacArthur, like many Americans, did not discount the United States and saw the situation at the time as an opportunity to strike against the communists. Truman, frustrated and angered by MacArthur’s blatant refusal to follow orders, removed the WWII hero from his post as Commander of the Pacific in 1951, whereupon the first round of peace negotiations began. Finally, in 1953, with North Korea battered from continuous air raids and South Korea unable to match Chinese forces on the ground, an armistice was signed at Panmunjom. In addition to ceasing hostilities, this agreement instilled a 2.5-mile mutually shared buffer zone, called the demilitarized zone, surrounding the new border. The last impact of this conflict was the fear of future problems. It was decided that the military was not up to the standard of a superpower, and with that, the federal budget would allot approximately 70% of the 1952 budget to restocking the military in case of later aggression. This controversial and secret decision would be known as NSC 68. Truman would not recover from Korea, and he would not even attempt to challenge as the incumbent in the 1952 presidential election. The Republicans would take the White House, with Dwight D. Eisenhower at the helm; he chose California Senator Richard Milhous Nixon as his running mate.




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Eisenhower knew the nation was war-weary and chose to be a moderate during his term of service as president. He proposed a plan that most Americans would see as beneficial but was essentially the opposite in terms of the flash of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal. Eisenhower’s Middle Way sought to reinforce the liberties and rights of the American people. Eisenhower saw benefit in public works, such as the New Deal, but he did not think that the government needed to interfere with every aspect of personal life. The Cold War was a time of high alert. It is perhaps because of Eisenhower’s style of modern Republicanism, which was focused on public works (e.g., the Interstate Highway and Defense System Act of 1956) and jobs— instead of constant threats and overbearing government interference, that he was popular. On the other end of the scale, the active muscle behind the Red Scare, Senator Joseph McCarthy, would finally step too far by accusing persons of the military of communist association, without any proof to validate his claims. He then experienced a very public falling out, and almost overnight, the public scare was over, though the threat was still very real. Today, the term McCarthyism is

linked to false, or unproven, accusations. His model is common to popular media and literature, such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which uses the backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s as a comparison to the panic and fear of McCarthy’s time in the public limelight. Adapting to Changes With progress, there are often losses—some expected and others not. Such is the case with the success of Eisenhower’s interstate system. For the second time in American history, agreements between the federal government and Native American tribes would be broken over issues such as land rights and the assumption that the Native Americans wanted to become “more American” and “less Native.” By the end of the Eisenhower Administration, there were plans for the forced removal of tribes from granted lands in exchange for compensation or replacement lands. Much of this was related to a Truman-era belief that the Native Americans needed federal aid to survive and that many Native Americans acted out their desires to be more American by undertaking roles with other Americans during the war years, such as enlistment working in factories. However, the final outcomes would begin during Eisenhower’s time. Similar to the Jackson Administration in the 19th century, not all went according to plan with the removals. Prices given for lands were often unfair to the tribes, and federal funding ceased with the closing of federal care and aid facilities (as this became a state matter). Lastly, many Native Americans were sent to cities where they were promised everything they would need for a prosperous opportunity, but they found themselves on the receiving end of much of the same racism and bigotry that was seen by immigrants in the 1850s. There would also be a great migration in the 1950s resulting from the popularization and advertisement of the suburbs. Families who could quickly make their way out of the city and into the neighborhood did so in large numbers. This was a part of the American dream and the finding of one’s piece of paradise, just as depicted in popular television programs such as Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. In reality, what changed was the nature of work.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956 (White House, 1956)




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Technology was replacing the unskilled worker in industry. Also, many of the backbreaking farming tasks, which had required a large family in previous generations, were now almost fully automated. Unions grew stronger as work opportunities were at a premium; many of the lower classes would move into the city to discover there were still few opportunities to be had. Thanks to the growth of the electrical grid and air conditioning, the greatest rate of population growth occurred in the Southeast and Southwest, which traditionally had much smaller populations and few major cities. With this influx of citizens, however, there came an effort to oust competition, starting with immigrants. Due to its location, the group that would face the harshest criticism would be Mexicans. Women did see their opportunities to work trend upward, but they were not considered equal to men in either wages or status in most companies. Women also became more common on university campuses, though starting a family would often trump educational ambition. Perhaps the largest change for women would be a new group of reform-minded activists, such as Betty Friedan and Edith Stern, who argued against the homemaker expectation. They would advocate for women to not accept society’s right to judge their capability based on gender but to challenge themselves to find personal fulfillment, which might be outside of the home.


Equality was also a goal for African Americans, who still contended with many of the Jim Crow attitudes confronted by their fathers and grandfathers. The 1950s would provide some steps forward but at the expense of a renewed wave of racism and hostility. Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1896 that legalized segregation. It had reinforced and supported racist attitudes and actions in America, which inherently also limited the opportunities for advancement of African American communities. Brown v. Board of Education of 1956 would address this limitation by overturning the Plessy decision. In short, multiple lawsuits were presented, which showed that, due to issues related to geography, facility, or funding, separate institutions of learning were not equal. This pattern of hostility was not unique to one region, population, or economic class; it had simply been overlooked or excused for such a long time that generations continued to grow in its shadow. Even with the Brown decision, there was little to no enforcement in many cases. The American South, however, was still a hotbed of activity, and a young activist named Rosa Parks would become the face of one such event: the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. Even with these tense times, the 1950s was the backdrop to many cases of peaceful refusal to abide by Jim Crow laws. If those who resisted were arrested, it was okay, and attempts at public humiliation provided even greater exposure. Finally, with the aid of leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, this unequal treatment was becoming national news. Eisenhower would

Miss Main Honour, a math major at Auburn University and the first woman accepted into Redstone Arsenal’s Cooperative Training Program (U.S. Army, 1956)




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make some small strides to advance equality, but in general, he focused on issues with which he was more comfortable, most notably, military and international affairs. Space Race Internationally, Eisenhower would face many struggles, starting with the premiere of a new Soviet leader: Nikita Khrushchev. Both Eisenhower and Khrushchev feared what continued hostilities could mean, up to and including the potential for nuclear war if the threat escalated. Under the leadership of these two men, the competition between the two superpowers would take a turn in a new direction—the race for space.

Though there are numerous nations with the technology and means for a space program today, this was more of a show of technological progress and ability than a public spectacle. For example, if one power could launch a rocket powerful enough to exit the atmosphere, what could that mean for their military might? This is exactly the question that was on the minds of many when Sputnik, an unmanned satellite, was launched into space by the Soviet Union. The United States was quick to respond, but the damage had been done. The United States still had the edge in nuclear technology, but this was the first time since the Great War that the U.S. public was not absolutely sure if it could protect itself from a rival force. To calm the public, the government made public service advertisements, which, in hindsight, probably had about the same chance of success as a placebo. For

example, schools taught students to crawl under their desks if they heard an air raid siren, as well as other such drills that supposedly would protect them during nuclear conditions. The United States and Soviet nations would continue their uneasy peace through the 1950s. Any exchanges between the two would generally be related to espionage more than imminent catastrophe. This inspired a refocus on science and mathematics in the American education system. Many of the remaining international issues that Eisenhower would face would largely be related to containment, the same policy that had ultimately plunged the United States into the Korean conflict. Eisenhower, like Truman, saw the threat of not acting on the containment strategy. Eisenhower’s perspective, though, was a bit different. He was more concerned about his domino theory and argued that failure to act on, or successfully prevent, one non-communist nation from being assimilated into the communist bloc would result in others following. Just as Truman had feared not acting with Greece, Turkey, and finally Korea, Eisenhower had his hands full with Latin America (Guatemala and Cuba), the Middle East (Iran and Egypt), and Vietnam. This time the threat of communism was arising on a more global scale, but the epicenter of U.S. interest would be a Southeast Asian target: Vietnam. Following France’s defeat by Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces in 1954, Vietnam was separated into communist north and independent south at the 17th parallel, just as Korea had been divided at the 38th parallel after WWII. The north, led by Ho Chi Minh, would become an increasingly desperate threat to Eisenhower’s policy. Despite the many comparisons, Vietnam would not be as clear a separation as Korea had been, the difference being that the Viet Minh, those who supported the communist regime, were prevalent in both nations. Defense of the south would mean that the United States

A replica of Sputnik, which is stored in the National Air and Space Museum (National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 2004)




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would very likely need to fight against some of the same people they were sent to protect if they were to stop the spread of communism. Truman and Eisenhower together set a tone for the early Cold War era, which heavily emphasized the need for the United States to serve as an international power, even at the expense of some national programs. The United States embraced its position as a superpower and stayed true to its promise to help rebuild the world it had helped destroy. This was not a shared goal with the Soviets, however, and the Cold War would soon again escalate, with both highs and lows for the United States.

References National Archives. (1961). Berlin Wall construction [Photo]. Retrieved from

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlin_Wall_1961-11-20.jpg#/media/File:Berlin_Wall_1961- 11-20.jpg

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (2004). Sputnik [Image]. Retrieved from

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sputnik_asm.jpg U.S. Army. (1956). Main Honour [Photo]. Retrieved from

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Main_honour.jpg White House. (1956). Eisenhower official [Photograph]. Retrieved from