What was the containment policy during the late 1940s through the early 1970s?

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The containment policy was the foreign policy of the United States following World War II until the 1970s. The policy was developed by American diplomat and U.S. State Department advisor on Soviet affairs, George Kennan. The policy held the belief that communism had entrenched itself in countries like the Soviet...

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The containment policy was the foreign policy of the United States following World War II until the 1970s. The policy was developed by American diplomat and U.S. State Department advisor on Soviet affairs, George Kennan. The policy held the belief that communism had entrenched itself in countries like the Soviet Union and that the United States could not combat it there. The policy followed the belief that communism could be "contained" to the places it already existed. The hope was that the Soviet Union would eventually collapse over time if the spread of communism was stopped. This was more of an indirect effort to stop communism as opposed to direct conflict with the Soviet Union.

In the period following World War II, we can see a few examples of the containment policy in effect. For example, the United States provided economic and military aid to both Greece and Turkey to help insure these nations would not fall under the control of communist regimes. The United States also became involved in wars in both Korea and Vietnam in order to prevent the spread of communism in those nations. Additionally, the Marshall Plan, which was the U.S. financial support of many Western European nations after World War II, was another attempt by the U.S. to prevent the growth of communism in Europe.

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The policy of containment was the main policy that the United States pursued for most of the Cold War.  The basic idea of this policy was that communism should not be allowed to spread beyond the countries that were already communist.  This policy did not envision trying to overthrow communist governments that already existed.  Instead, it simply aimed to prevent any further countries from becoming communist.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union was given control of Eastern Europe.  The Soviets quickly moved to exert very tight control over these countries.  This made people in the United States very worried that the Soviets were going to try to spread communism to as much of the world as they possibly could.  In response to this fear, they developed the policy of containment.  The US would not try to overthrow any communist governments, but it would do things like the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan (and later the Vietnam War) to prevent communism from spreading.

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