How did the US enact the policy of containment?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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During the Cold War, containment was the main policy of the United States.  This was a policy that was meant to prevent the spread of communism.  The United States enacted the policy of containment in at least two main ways.

First, the US tried to use economic and political means to tie other countries closer to it and keep them from becoming communist.  Perhaps the clearest example of this was the creation of the Marshall Plan soon after World War II.  By giving economic aid of this sort, the US was building good will among foreign countries while also strengthening their economies.  This would, it was hoped, create stronger ties between those countries and the US and make them more resistant to communism.

Second, the US used military means to try to resist the spread of communism.  This was first done in Greece and Turkey via that Truman Doctrine.  It was used in the Korean War.  The whole concept of the nuclear deterrent was aimed at preventing the communists from spreading through military force.

Thus, the US used military, political, and economic tools to try to prevent the spread of communism during the Cold War.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The United States developed a policy of containment after World War II. It was designed to keep Communism from spreading to new places. The policy was developed from ideas presented in the Long Telegram. This document basically said that Communism would fail. Since Communism had flaws, it would eventually collapse.  The collapse may take some time, but it will occur.  Therefore, we needed to prevent Communism from spreading. As a result, many actions were taken.

We knew that the Soviet Union looked to take over countries that were weak economically. It would be more likely that people in those countries would want to change governments. Thus, we wanted to keep the economy strong in as many countries as possible. We offered economic aid to Greece and Turkey with the Truman Doctrine. We offered aid to any country with the Marshall Plan.

We also weren’t afraid to take military action or threaten to take military action if needed. We threatened military action in 1946 when the Soviet Union refused to move its army out of northern Iran. We consolidated three of the four zones in Germany and created the country of West Germany when we thought the Soviets were trying to undermine the economy in Germany. We used the Berlin Airlift to counteract the blockading of West Berlin. We organized a United Nations response to the attack on South Korea. We also created the military alliance called NATO to protect non-communist countries.

This policy was able to prevent the spread of Communism in several places after World War II.

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Containment Policy was a strategic response to the alleged spread of communism by the Soviet Union and called for containing the communist influence in friendly countries via economic, political and military means. 

The policy was mostly associated with President Truman, who created NATO as a mutual defense group aimed at defending NATO countries from an attack by the Soviet Union. An example of the containment policy was Truman's request for $400 million as aid to Turkey and Greece who were fighting communist forces. A similar idea was used for the Marshall Plan, which provided $13 billion to rebuild the European countries destroyed by the war. This not only helped the US build better relationships with European nations, but also highlighted its financial superiority, military superiority already was established by the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombing. 

Other strategies such as rollback were also used in American conflicts with communist states, but mostly reverted back to containment (Korean War is a good example).

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