Essay On Containment Of Communism

Essay On Containment Of Communism-90
Kennan advocated assuming a firmer approach in dealing with the Soviets and was instrumental in the formation of the U. At its simplest this notion describes the ‘American effort, by military, political and economic means to resist communist expansion throughout the world’,[1] and can be understood as a product of the post-war structure of international power and desire of U. leaders to avoid a repeat world war.[2] It is remarkable because its pursuit led directly to a radical change in the global positioning of the U. The first term of the Truman presidency reveals a multifaceted approach to containment, in which economic measures were prioritized but military and diplomatic components made up significant elements of the wider strategy.The interpretation of John-Lewis Gaddis explains this multifaceted approach through the influence of Kennan’s strategy on policy planning.However in order to demonstrate his responsibility for the militarisation of containment, Offner relies on an unbalanced and negative portrayal of Truman. suggests he played more the role of a final authorizing figure than policy instigator. [56] The suggestion Truman’s rhetoric subsequently guided the path of foreign policy is an example of the ease with which the historian can ‘cherry-pick’ sources to fit an interpretation, instead of taking account of the broad set of factors accounted for when it was formed. During 1948 two major events occurred that proved for a majority of Americans the expansionist tendencies of the Soviet controlled communist ideology. The most convincing form of protection against what the administration viewed as the growing storm of international communism was a large increase military strength, resulting in this soon becoming the most significant aspect of containment.

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However the problem with Gaddis’ attempt to explain the nature of containment by alluding to Kennan’s influence is that recognition of this alone cannot explain the course of U. This critique of the modern interpretive approach to history is used by John Gimbel to explain what he argues are the true origins of the Marshall Plan, formally known as the European Recovery Programme (E. S.’ strategy of containing Soviet expansionism in Europe conceals its true origins.[20] Gimbel’s view is that the Marshall Plan must be understood as an attempt by the U. to escape the quagmire of its occupation of Germany whose economy was utterly ruinous. was very much encouraged by the influence of Kennan as a means of containment. report that had recommended it.[22] First and foremost the E. The industrial capacity of Western Europe meant the area was deemed of vital interest to U. security, requiring rehabilitation to restrict its vulnerability to the spread of communism.[23] In Italy De Gasperi headed a fragile coalition where the Communist Party had in excess of two million members, and in France communism was on the march with the Party gaining approximately twenty nine percent of the vote in the elections of 1947.[24] To counter this growing threat, entry to the E. The Bizone enabled economic rehabilitation through the development of a ‘Coal for Europe’ programme, the founding bloc of what would mature into a sustainable Western European unity.[30] The administration’s policy towards Yugoslavia was radically altered following its leader Tito’s split with the Soviet bloc in 1948 in a move that crushed the idea communism was monolithic. S., resulting in the global expansion of its power. power, beginning an endless process whose goal was persistently ambiguous encouraging the development of military power the Soviet Union for its own sake.[46] This is perhaps the ultimate reflection of how far removed U. foreign policy came from Kennan’s conception of the containment strategy, whose end goal had consistently been to foster a set of circumstances leading to an early and peaceful conclusion of the Cold War.[47] The growth of U. hegemony arguably therefore provides a significant explanation of why containment policies became militarised.

To make this politically acceptable a wider European programme was initiated whose purposes then ‘mushroomed’ to the extent it lacked clear objectives.[21] However Gimbel’s bid to redress the orthodox interpretation by arguing its purpose was solely economic is guilty of his own charge against traditional historians. This is reflected both in the principles of its implementation, and in the similarity of the language Marshall used when advocating the aid programme in June 1947 to Kennan’s P. This reorientation provides perhaps the best example of how Truman’s lack of a comprehensive strategy allowed Kennan to extend the influence of his own strategic vision for U. The history of the formation of NATO demonstrates why Lundestad’s interpretation is credible. Full understanding of this phenomenon requires an account of the crucial role played by ideology in motivating the perception of threat the Soviet Union inspired.

Kennan argued the sources of Soviet international hostility were internal preventing any foreseeable normalization of relations.

Ideology did not determine action; it provided merely a vehicle to legitimize totalitarian power for the Communist Party, by constructing the image of a lurid and hostile capitalist world and cloaking the traditional expansionist tendencies of Russian imperialism. Fundamental to this was Kennan’s belief that Soviet expansionism represented a ‘primarily political [not military]’[9] threat to the balance of world power.

The Truman Doctrine, regarded as an official endorsement of containment, thus reveals through a variety of approaches its multifaceted nature. However his approach imposes a sense of order scarcely apparent at the time which neglects the reality of how foreign policy was formed.[17] Despite Kennan’s personal conception of a broad strategy, instances of its implementation should be understood as responses to immediate crisis that were decided in a ‘piecemeal and staggered manner’.[18] The notion of containment as a structured and doctrinal approach of U. foreign policy is therefore flawed, it is more likely containment was at best a ‘bundle of assumptions’ the administration adhered to at various times.[19] In contrast to Gaddis’ argument, the multifaceted nature of the administration’s approach can therefore be better understood as a product of the of any overriding doctrine. By doing so Kennan sought to encourage a Western European economic system to emerge that might act as a ‘third force’ between the two poles, and in time potentially develop into a cooperative defence network.[27] In providing aid to Britain and France the U. similarly hoped to militarily contain Soviet expansionism, through the rehabilitation of these economies so that they might assist in the task.[28] In a variety of other foreign policy initiatives during the first term of Truman’s presidency, evidence of the plural nature of its approaches suggests a lack of overarching strategy. The creation of an Atlantic defence system was therefore used by America as a means to reverse this trend, expanding military power through NATO in order to dominate.[39] However the problem with this interpretation is that like other revisionist arguments, Freeland’s attempt to explain the militarisation of containment relies upon the idea that Truman’s foreign policy was guided by an overarching strategy for domination.[40] Recognition that early post-war U. foreign policy was formed through a competition of pressures, not the product of a grand design, suggests the hollowness of this approach. S.’ expansion suggests that the revisionists’ assertion is fundamentally correct; a drive for global hegemony did result in the militarisation of containment. The question remains how to explain this trend given the failure of the revisionist position (which argues the Truman administration developed a strategy to expand and politically dominate states) to hold.

The emphasis placed on economics as the most significant aspect amongst many arguably suggests Gaddis is correct in his interpretation U. foreign policy followed the strategic doctrine of containment inspired by Kennan. Consensus exists amongst historians that Kennan did at times exercise a crucial influence over policy. The significant use of economics as a tool to achieve its ends represents the extent of Kennan’s influence during Truman’s first term. He argues the dissemination of the idea the plan originated as part of the U. provided a means to economically contain Soviet expansionism. required various measures of internal monetary reform including the stabilization of currencies in order to enhance free market international trading conditions to encourage economic growth.[25] Like other initiatives of Truman’s foreign policy the E. Despite not being initiated as part of a containment doctrine, the change in German occupation policy that created the Bizone in January 1947 unified the economies of the American and British occupied zones, providing a means to contain Soviet expansionism.[29] It marked the beginning of diplomatic initiatives that would lead to the unification of the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949. Gier Lundestad provides some clue with his theory the U. constructed a global ‘empire by invitation’.[41] This is the idea that instead of imposing its power, individual states and their public opinions had varying motives for developing military and economic relationships with the U.

It is clear that at times elements of both schools succinctly explain how military factors became the most significant aspect of the U. The early policies of the Truman administration’s firmer diplomatic approach, conducted during 1946 in the context of a developing Cold War reveal the multifaceted nature of containment policies. first employed its economic power as a means to contain Soviet expansionism.

For Truman the fate of Eastern Europe and extent of its domination by the Soviets remained an issue of continued concern, having just fought a war against an empire seeking to subjugate the peoples of the same territory. Initially refusing to surrender the territories of states including Czechoslovakia, America attempted to establish multilateral trade agreements as a means to encourage independence from the developing Soviet sphere and ‘test [the] loyalties’ of governments within it.[3] Secretary of State James F.

This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree.

E-IR publishes student essays & dissertations to allow our readers to broaden their understanding of what is possible when answering similar questions in their own studies.‘To what extent where military factors the most significant aspect of the United States’ foreign policy of containment towards the Soviet Union, 1946-1953?


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