The Cold War that began after World War Two constituted an era of highly polarized global politics, in which many countries were part of either the US or Soviet sphere of influence. Those countries that were US allies generally supported the policies, strategies, and tactics that the nation employed. In contrast, the countries within the Soviet bloc were highly critical of the United States. In addition to allies, there were numerous colonies and dependencies (some of which remained independent nations) that had large opposition factions—sometimes operating in exile—that spoke out against the larger countries’ domination.
The most well-known case of a foreign nation opposing US policy, which nearly escalated into a war, is the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. When the Cuban Revolution of 1959 put Fidel Castro’s Communist government in power, the island nation switched from being a US ally under Fulgencio Batista to a key Soviet supporter. The threat of nuclear weapons installation, resulting aborted invasion, and subsequent US embargo combined to turn the official Cuban position strongly against the United States.
Controversies about US positions also centered on the country’s involvement in the protracted conflict in Southeast Asia from the late 1950s to mid-1970s, which included the Vietnam War. Although the early US support was in the form of economic aid and advisers, large-scale military involvement—which ultimately failed to keep South Vietnam an independent nation—severely damaged the US reputation.