How did the Cold War's foreign policy impact American life?

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The Cold War's foreign policy affected American life by instilling a notion of fear and paranoia into the atmosphere. The threat of nuclear bombs and Soviet spies created a cycle of fear that permeated social society. The proxy wars that were fought during this time period were also highly unpopular due to their high mortality rates.

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Overall, the main impact of America's Cold War foreign policy was to create an atmosphere of anxiety and even paranoia at home. The nuclear arms race made the notion of complete nuclear annihilation a possibility. School children practiced "duck and cover" drills in the classroom. People constructed bunkers in their basements and backyards. Every community had an air raid siren and a contingency plan in place. The idea that the Soviets could drop a nuclear bomb became a very real fear.

In the 1950s, the idea that there could be communist agitators and spies lurking in the midst of American society took hold. People went to great lengths to prove their loyalty since the mere accusation of Communist sympathies could be disastrous.

Perhaps the most tangible impact of Cold War foreign policy was the proxy wars the United States became involved in. In an effort to "contain" communism, the country sent its military into several overseas theaters. In Korea and in Vietnam, this boiled over into full-blown warfare. With many members of the American military fighting and dying, divisions in the country grew. Millions of young men were drafted to fight in these wars, which took place in countries that many had never even heard of. Some people began to question the righteousness of the ideological fight that led to so many deaths. Partly fueled by anti-war sentiments, a massive counter-culture movement emerged in the late 1960s. This led to huge divisions and unrest in the United States.

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What was the impact of the Cold War?

The Cold War affected the Soviet Union and the United States profoundly.  The United States invested trillions of dollars in its defense that could have been used on domestic spending.  To this day the United States does not trust Russia.  Thousands of young men have died fighting proxy wars against Communism in Korea and Vietnam.  A great deal of our scientific research in space and atomic energy was driven by an urge not to fall behind Russian scientists.  

In the Soviet Union, distrust of the United States led to the nation's slow rebuild from WWII.  The Soviet economy never quite fully recovered from the war, while Western Europe received Marshall Plan funds.  The Soviet Union expanded into Eastern Europe, and to this day, the economies of those countries still lag behind the West.  Soviet paranoia led to crackdowns on political and religious dissenters that killed or imprisoned millions during the Cold War era.  Even today, there are older people in Russia who do not trust the West due to the propaganda of the Cold War.  

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Name one specific example of an impact that the Cold War had on the world?

While the Cold War impacted the world in numerous ways, possibly the most visibly jarring result of the conflict was the Berlin Wall. From 1961 to 1989, this concrete and barbed-wire barrier visibly divided Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc, primarily preventing emigration from East Berlin to West Berlin, despite its official purpose of keeping Western fascism out of East Germany. Prior to the wall's construction, residents of East and West Berlin were able to freely cross the border from one side to the other; the creation of the wall restricted access to only three checkpoints, and local travelers were rarely permitted to cross at all. Soldiers patrolled the East German side of the wall with orders to immediately shoot fugitives, and numerous other preventative measures were in place. The head of the East German Communist Party announced on November 9, 1989, that the borders would be opened, and East and West Germany were reunited on October 3 of the following year. Images of German people hacking at and smashing down the wall were widely distributed in news media at the time; this was a physical and symbolic symbol of the breaking down of barriers and of the Cold War's drawing to a close.

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