What was the focus of US foreign policy during the Cold War?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the above points, another focus was a nuclear arms race and to some degree, brinkmanship.  Between 1945 and 1986, the United States and the Soviet Union amassed nuclear arsenals in excess of a total of 27,000 weapons (and tens of thousands more warheads, ready to be assembled), enough to destroy the world dozens of times over.  The building and stationing of these weapons, both in the United States and around the globe in allied nations was a crucial part of our containment strategy.  The US wished to send clear signals that it was willing to do whatever it took to protect Western Europe, and medium and short range nuclear missiles were aggressively stationed there as late as the Reagan Administration.

An arms race of another fashion - a huge standing army, air force and navy - also reinforced our containment efforts.  We established both a NATO alliance and ANZUS, similar to NATO in the Asian theater, and stationed hundreds of thousands of troops in potential flash points, including more than 500,000 in West Germany alone.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the Cold War, the focus of US foreign policy was (not surprisingly) the containment of communism.  Containment was a doctrine that said that the US would try to prevent communism from spreading even if the US would not really try that hard to end communism where it already existed.

Because of this focus, US foreign policy was often criticized by American liberals for being immoral.  This was because the US often supported dictatorships that had little regard for human rights (Shah of Iran, Marcos in the Philippines, Apartheid regime in South Africa) as long as those governments could be helpful in containing communism.