Examine ways in which the United States government reacted to the threat of Communism during the Cold War.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way in which the United States government reacted to the threat of Communism was to double down its offensive capability.  Influenced heavily with the assertions of decorated war leaders such as Curtis LeMay, there was an insistence on the United States government reacting with swift and decisive offensive capacity to deter or obliterate the Soviet threat.  LeMay's demand that the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) be equipped with nuclear bombs that would be ready to be detonated at a moment's notice helps to illuminate this reaction.  The fundamental belief is that the United States could beat the Soviets with a huge and committed offensive show of force.  LeMay's attitude represents one way in which the United States reacted to the threat of Communism.

Another and more nuanced reaction to Communism can be seen domestically.  Within the United States, there was a growing mistrust of Communists.  Savvy and charismatic political leaders were able to help enhance this fear.  Regular Americans were told that a Communist attack could happen "at any time" and that the best way to stop this would be to remain totally vigilant.  Through exercises like the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and legislation such as the Smith Act, the United States government responded to the threat of Communism with fear, accusation, and a desire for greater control within the United States.