Why did the U.S. get involved in the Cold War?
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The United States got involved in the Cold War because it believed that communism was a threat to the stability and freedom of the world. It believed that the Soviet Union would do whatever it could to spread its ideology to as much of the world as was possible. The US believed that this would be bad both for the US and for the world.
This belief was based on the idea that communism is a pernicious system. Communism takes away personal freedoms (at least as it has been and is practiced in the real world) that we think are important. Because we saw communism as an evil and expansive ideology, we got involved in the Cold War.
The United States was fearful of the spread of communism and any kind of communist attack that might occur. There was a great deal of tension and distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union. Keep in mind that there were other nations involved but the United States and the Soviet Union were the two "big guns" that were involved in the Cold War. Allies of the Soviet Union were China and Eastern Europe. Allies of the United States were Canada, U.K., Japan, and Western Europe. It was basically democracy versus communism.
At the end of World War II, Germany and Japan were destroyed, Britain was broke and France was unstable and preoccupied in French Indochina. The Soviet Union and the United States were the only countries/empires left on the planet. We had opposite systems of government, and opposite desires for the postwar world.
The only thing that prevented the Cold War by 1943 was our alliance against Nazi Germany. Once the war was over, there was little reason for us to be friends, and a mutual nuclear threat to keep us on our toes. Given this environment and history, the Cold War was inevitable.
The fear of the Soviet Union prompted the entry and commencement of the Cold War. After the Second World War, there was a definite fear of Communism and what would happen to a world controlled by the Communists. This helped to underscore the philosophical differences between the United States and the Soviet Union, between capitalist free enterprise and government control of economic affairs. There was a healthy and genuine dislike of "the other," and this played itself out in other nations. The involvement of the United States in the Cold War was to protect the world, a newly developing world with the end of colonialism and imperialism. This setting was becoming increasingly dominated with new nations seeking to express itself politically. The perception was that a United States absence in the world could move more of these nations towards the Communist side of the ledger. President's Truman's doctrine which called for the need "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures" helped to frame the United States' entry and commitment to its principles in the Cold War.
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