What led the United States to build its military forces after winning a successful war? Were the Soviets afraid of Americans as much as Americans were afraid of them? Would the recommendations...

  • What led the United States to build its military forces after winning a successful war?
  • Were the Soviets afraid of Americans as much as Americans were afraid of them?
  • Would the recommendations contained in these documents be appropriate responses to national security threats since the end of the Cold War (for example, al-Qaeda)?
Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After World War II, the U.S. was convinced that it had to build up its military forces to combat the growing threat from the Soviet Union. Even during the end of World War II, the Soviets had stopped their attack on Warsaw, Poland, which was then controlled by Nazis, to defeat anti-Communist forces in Poland. The U.S. had detonated two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August of 1945 in an attempt, some historians believe, to frighten Soviets at the beginning of the Cold War. Therefore, the origins of the Cold War lie within the end of World War II. According to historian David Trowbridge, author of U.S. History, Volume 2, "both nations came to view the other as aggressive and committed to global domination by the early 1950s." Therefore, there is research that suggests that the Soviets were just as afraid of American aggression, in part resulting from the detonation of the atomic bombs, as Americans were afraid of Soviets. 

I'm not sure which documents you are referring to in the question, but the American Cold War policy was guided by documents such as NSC-68, written in 1950 by the National Security Council. This document stated that the Soviets wanted “to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.” NSC-68 established an aggressive approach to fighting communism. These types of approaches would likely not be successful in fighting current or recent threats, such as al-Queda, because terrorist groups are not a conventional enemy. It is therefore difficult to know how to oppose their expansion. 

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