United States foreign policy, 1945 to 1995

Katie Bleau, Anh Duong, Emily Higgins, Arielle Parnes-Katz, Cesar Santana

17 United States foreign policy, 1945 to 1995

(By Arielle Parnes-Katz-dotted bullet info, Katie Bleau and Arielle Parnes-Katz-arrow bullet info)

Origins of the Cold War: Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade and Airlift

Tehran Conference-

  • Nov-Dec 1943
  • Big Three meet (Stalin, Churchill, FDR)
  • decision to open second front in Europe is made
  • Russia pledges to enter war against Japan once Germany is defeated
  • International peace keeping organization is planned

Yalta Conference-

  • Feb 1945
  • Big Three
  • Agree to divide defeated Germany into occupation zones
  • USSR is given 1/2 of Poland and an occupational zone in Korea
  • Territory in Eastern Russia returned from Japan
  • Plan for UN ratified


➢ George F. Kennan, American diplomat in Moscow
➢ Policy to prevent army extension of communist rule to other countries
➢ Adopted by Truman’s administration

  • Kennan's Long Telegram alerts US of his fear of Russia's expansionist tendencies and warns to prevent this by using containment

Truman Doctrine

➢ March 1947, originated out of Greece and Turkey conflict

Greece and Turkey conflict
There was a Civil War in Greece when communist-led guerrilla forces took arms against the corrupt and unrepresentative government that continued to participate in government run right wing terrorism. Soviet actual involvement was minimal but Yugoslav communism was providing help for the rebels. In Turkey there was pressure from the Soviet Union to revise the actual ownership of the Black Sea and to grant the Soviet Union base rights along the straits in the Black Sea and Mediterranean.
-Cesar Santana

  • Provided $400 million in aid to Greece and Turkey

➢ Economic and military aid

Economic and military aid
Truman specifically called for military and economic aid for Greece and Turkey. The actual initiation of military support actually made the Greek government stops the incentive to have popular reforms and instead pursue a military solution to the civil war. At the same time Stalin continued to stop giving the Greek communist aid, then there was a break between Yugoslavian and Soviets and the Yugoslavian halted the aid to the Greek communist. Turkey was more successful and after continuous help Turkey became more willing to fight against the Soviet Union and actually provided the U.S. with bases for aerial assaults on the Soviet Union. The bases in Turkey are actually used as the Cold War progressed.
-Cesar Santana

➢ U.S. policy to provide military aid to free people fighting subjugation
Truman Doctrines affects on foreign policy
The Truman Doctrine called for the global containment of communism. This was a monumental shift in foreign policy because Anti-Communism for the U.S. became the new guiding factor of US foreign policy and a significant force in US domestic politics as well. It basically showed an explanation to what the evil was (communism), and the solution to this problem which was the U.S. and containment. -Cesar Santana

➢ Influenced by policy of containment

Marshall Plan

➢ June 1947, proposed by secretary of State George Marshall
➢ Economic aid to pull countries out of poverty

  • $12 Billion in economic aid to Europe
  • Soviet Satellites reject assisstance
  • Political and economic stipulations to recieving aid

➢ Directed against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos
➢ Influenced by policy of containment

  • Created modern European welfare state
  • Encouraged creation of Organization for European Economic Cooperation which was designed to help administer Marshall aid and reconstruct Europe

Marshal Plan
Marshal Plan became very successful concerning the control that the U.S. acquired in Europe. The United States basically became a monopoly for laundering money. The Marshal Plan helped France with the economic claims, as well as helping Germany out of extreme debt; which was smart because a main cause of WWII was due to Germany not being able to fully get out of debt. On the other hand the Marshal Plan was also very structured around the U.S.’s new found foreign policy anti-communism path and the plan was actually intended for the containment of the Soviets on an economic stand. It also was used to stop the German-Soviet interactions to minimum as well as bilateral deals.
-Cesar Santana

Post Marshal Plan
The Marshal plan leads to the rebuilding of West Germany which then plays a pivotal role because at the same time the Soviet Union wishes to rebuild East Germany. Both U.S. and U.S.S.R should have a say in the rebuilding because from Stalins point of view its only fair considering the amount of help that the Soviets contributed in WWII. But because of the U.S. and U.S.S.R being completly diffrent in an ideological point of view it causes conflict. By having a conflicting view of how to rebuild Germany the actual country becomes an influential place of the Cold War as well as showing an actual example of the two worlds, communist and capitalist.
-Cesar Santana

National Security Act 1947-

  • New department of defense
  • National Security Council (NSC)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • NSC supervises foreign and military policy through president

Berlin Blockade

➢ June 1948 Soviet blockade of West Berlin
➢ Stalin’s attempt to force the 3 western powers out of Berlin
➢ Led to Berlin Airlift

Berlin Blockade

The great big event that follows which shows the affects of a country split between two different ideologies is the Berlin Blockade. The actual blockade was done by Stalin to remove the western powers in order to forestall the program that the U.S. and other powers were attempting to orchestrate. At the same time Truman thought that if he withdrew from Berlin it would destroy many things. Truman thought that if they pulled out it would undermine U.S. influence in Europe. As well as his own presidential façade, Truman simply did no want to seem weak. The blockade led to the airlift which is another significant occurrence in the Cold War.
-Cesar Santana

Berlin Airlift

➢ 327 days, 2.3 million tons of supplies, planes landed every few minutes
➢ American and British officials flew supplies to West Berlin
➢ Result of Soviet blockade of West Berlin
➢ Successfully caused Soviet to surrender May 1949

  • October 1949 Germany was officially divided

NATO and the Korean War

NATO Alliance

➢ April 1949, North Atlantic Treaty Organization
➢ 12 members pledged military support in case any where attacked
➢ Belgium, Denmark, France, Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, U.S. and Canada
➢ First military alliance during peacetime that U.S. joined

  • If one of the countries was attacked all others would respond

Relations with China

➢ U.S. provided economic support to Nationalist party to Chiang Kai-Shek
➢ Nationalist collected grain tax and lost support to Communist Mao Zedong
➢ 44 to 47, conflict between communist and nationalists→ Civil War
➢ U.S. failed to negotiate peace, sent aid to Nationalists
➢ Nationalist fled to Taiwan, China became communist

Korean War

➢ June 1950-1953
➢ After WWII, split along 38th parallel: North→ Japanese, South → American
➢ June 1950, North Korea crossed 38th parallel and attacked
➢ South Korea requested UN support, Truman sent American troops to South Korea and between Taiwan and China
➢ General MacArthur launched counterattack, drove North Korea back across 38th parallel
➢ Chinese interfered and sent 300,000 troops in support of North Korea
➢ Chinese captured South Korea capital of Seoul
➢ MacArthur wanted to extend war to China using nuclear weapons, rejected by Truman
➢ Truman fired MacArthur due to his continued talk of escalating the war
➢ Truce talks began July 1951, but did not end until 1953

Eisenhower and Dulles


➢ Developed under foreign policy advisor John Foster Dulles
➢ Idea that U.S. would go to the edge of all-out war
➢ Under policy, trimmed army and navy, expanded air force
➢ Expanded nuclear development, November 1952 U.S. developed the H-Bomb

Eisenhower Doctrine

➢ January 1957, originated under Eisenhower
➢ Protect all interests in Middle East
➢ Meant to defend Middle East against army attack from a communist country
➢ CIA intervened: Iranian coup, Iraq

  • Iran nationalized British owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
  • US feared use of force could result in turmoil and shift of power from pro-western shah to pro-soviet party
  • US urged for a negotiation settlement while British boycotted Iranian oil
  • US and Britain organized a coup to remove Musaddiq from power and replace him with a government that would support their negotionations

U-2 incident

➢ Soviet rejected Eisenhower’s “open skies” proposal at Geneva Summit conference 1955
➢ CIA began secret spy fighters over Soviet territory
➢ U-2 spy plane shot down over Soviet Union 1960
➢ Greatly increased tensions between the super powers

Kennedy: Bay of Pigs, Berlin, Cuban Missile Crisis

(By Emily Higgins and Amelia Harmon)

  • Election of 1960: Kennedy versus Nixon in televised debates
    • Kennedy was young and inexperienced, but extremely charismatic. He was coached by television producers for his debates and was a wonderful speaker, as opposed to the sweaty Nixon.
    • Kennedy played an active role in MLK Jr.’s release after being arrested, having his brother speak to the judge, while Eisenhower and Nixon did not want to take a side.
  • Kennedy assembled a group of brilliant minds
    • National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy (Harvard University Dean)
    • Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (president of Ford Motor Company)
    • Secretary of State Dean Rusk (president of Rockefeller Foundation)
    • Attorney General Robert Kennedy
  • Developed the military policy of flexible response, which contrasted sharply with Eisenhower’s policy of massive retaliation. The level of retaliation would instead be matched to the attack.
  • January 3, 1961, Eisenhower cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba because of the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro
    • Castro had gained power with the promise of democracy and the promise to eliminate poverty, inequality and dictatorship. From 1956-1959 he had led a guerilla movement to topple Batista, and he managed to gain control in 1959.
    • The U.S. recognized Castro’s government but became angry when Castro seized three American and British oil refineries.
    • Castro broke up commercial farms into communes and so American sugar companies, which controlled 75% of the crop land in Cuba, appealed to the U.S. government for help.
      • Congress erected trade barriers against Cuban sugar.
    • Castro began to rely on Soviet aid, and repressed those who did not agree with him.
  • Bay of Pigs
    • March, 1960 Eisenhower gave the CIA permission to secretly train Cuban exiles for an invasion of Cuba.
      • He hoped it would trigger a mass uprising that would overthrow Castro, and Kennedy approved despite his doubts.
    • April 17 1961 more than 1000 Cuban exiles supported by U.S. military landed at the Bay of Pigs, but nothing went as planned.
      • An air strike had failed to knock out the Cuban air force though the CIA reported that it had succeeded.
      • A small advance group sent to distract Castro’s forces never reached shore.
      • When the main commando unit landed, it faced 25,000 Cuban troops backed up by Soviet tanks and jet aircraft.
      • Some invading exiles were killed while others were imprisoned.
    • Cuba media sensationalized defeat and Kennedy was embarrassed.
    • Kennedy negotiated the release of surviving commandos and paid ransom of $53 million in food and medical supplies.
      • But, he warned that he would resist further communist expansion in the Western Hemisphere.
        • Castro defiantly welcomed further Soviet aid.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
    • Castro had powerful ally in Moscow: Soviet Premier Khrushchev who promised to defend Cuba with Soviet arms.
    • Summer of 1962, the flow to Cuba of Soviet weapons increased greatly and Kennedy responded with a warning.
    • October 14 Plane photographs revealed Soviet missile bases in Cuba.
    • October 22 Kennedy informed nation and made it clear any attack from Cuba would result in an all-out attack on the Soviet Union.
      • Next 6 days the world faced the possibility of nuclear war
    • In the Atlantic Ocean, Soviet ships headed towards Cuba and the U.S. prepared to quarantine the country
      • 100,000 troops waited in Florida, largest amount ever assembled in U.S.
    • Break in crisis occurred when Soviet ships stopped to avoid confrontation at sea.
      • A few days later, Khrushchev offered to remove missiles in return for an American pledge not to invade Cuba.
        • U.S. also secretly agreed to remove missiles from Turkey
        • Khrushchev’s prestige was damaged, and Kennedy was criticized both for practicing brinkmanship and for passing up the chance to invade Cuba
    • Cuban exiles blamed Democrats for “losing Cuba”
    • Castro closed Cuba’s doors to exiles in November 1962 by banning all flights to and from Miami
      • Three years later, U.S. offered to allow Cuban’s to join their relatives in the U.S.
  • Berlin
    • Conflicts inspired the construction of the Berlin wall, which severed the city in two
    • In the eleven years since the Berlin airlift, almost three million East Germans had fled to West Berlin because it was free from communist rule. Their departure weakened their country’s economy
    • At summit meeting in Vienna, Austria in June 1961, Khrushchev threatened to sign a treaty with East Germany to close all access roads to West Berlin.
      • Kennedy’s determination and America’s nuclear strength prevented Khrushchev from closing the air and land routes.
        • Instead, midnight August 13 1961, East German troops began to unload posts and barbed wire.
    • The building of the wall and its armed guards successfully reduced the flow of East German refugees to a tiny trickle, but it aggravated Cold War tensions.

Johnson, Nixon and Vietnam

Nixon–Kissinger policies, détente, relations with China

(By Emily Higgins and Amelia Harmon)

  • Nixon's top priority while in office was gaining an honorable peace in Vietnam.
  • National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State Kissinger promoted the idea of realpolitik, that foreign policy should be based solely on consideration of power, not ideals or moral principles.
    • If a country was weak, it was more practical to ignore them even if they’re Communist.
    • Departure from containment in that you ignored some, but also said that you should confront the powerful
      • Confront meaning negotiation as well as military engagement
  • Kissinger also helped Nixon to develop a more flexible approach, détente.
  • 1971 Nixon visits China, though U.S. had previously refused to recognize Chinese Communist government.
    • He was trying to take advantage of the Chinese/Soviet rift.
      • China criticized the Soviet Union as being “soft” towards the West and broke ties in 1960.
    • The two nations agreed that neither would try to dominate the Pacific and both would cooperate in settling disputes peacefully.
      • Also agreed to participate in scientific and cultural exchanges as well as eventually reunite Taiwan with the mainland.
  • May 1972, Nixon headed to Moscow, he was the first U.S. president to visit.
    • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks led to the SALT I Treaty, which limited the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine launched missiles to 1972 levels.
  • Moscow and Beijing successes meant peace was “at hand” in Vietnam, which helped reelect Nixon as president in 1972.
    • Peace in Vietnam proved elusive. Nixon administration grappled with war for nearly six more months before withdrawing troops and ending America’s involvement in Vietnam.

the USA and the Middle East

Reagan, Bush and the end of the Cold War

Chapter 26 Cold War Conflicts 26 Cold War Conflicts

Chapter 28 The New Frontier and the Great Society 28 The New Frontier and the Great Society

The Vietnam War

Anh - I bold all the important dates and underlined all the names/terms for easy studying.


  • Vietnam declares independence in 1945
  • Last battle against France in 1954, France pulled out
  • The Geneva Accords divided Vietnam along the 17th parallel.
    • North: Ho Chi Minh's Communist. South: Ngo Dinh Diem's Democrat.
  • Eisenhower proposed the Domino Theory (if one SE Asian country falls to communist, everyone else will as well)

U.S steps in

  • Election of 1956 was canceled - Communists were favored; Diem lost popularity due to corruption
  • U.S wants to prevent a communist takeover - send troops
  • The Vietcong (southern Communist anti-American force) & Ho Chi Minh Trail(supply & troops route from North to South through Cambodia and Laos) was formed
  • Kennedy assassinated, Johnson is president.


  • Tonkin Gulf Resolution - power to the president
  • Rolling Thunder - intensive bombing
  • Johnson sent a large number of troops to Vietnam
    • Rusk and McNamara (Sec. of State and Defense), as well as Westmoreland (Commander in Vietnam) supported this
  • Napalm & Agent Orange vs. Guerrilla jungle tactics
  • Search and destroy missions
  • War of attrition (wear down)


  • Protest movements & groups against the war and the draft
    • Student for Democratic Society, Free Speech Movement, New Left, …
    • From protest to resistance & violence
  • Doves vs. Hawks - Working class vs Aristocrats
  • Credibility gap (Johnson's administration was sketchy)
  • Loss of morale at the battlefield

The War Turns

  • Tet offensive 1968 - Military victory, psychological defeat
  • Election of 1968 divided the nation; Johnson withdrew, (Robert) Kennedy shot
  • Nixon became president
    • Kissinger and Vietnamization - train Vietnamese to fight, no more U.S troops
  • Violent events escalated protests at home & over the world
    • My Lai massacre, Invasion of Cambodia, Kent State University protest, Pentagon Papers,…
  • Most American troops were out by 1973
  • Last effort - Christmas Bombing 1974
  • South Vietnam fell in 1975. War is over

After the war

  • War Powers Act - limit the power of the president.

Previous “US Foreign Policy 1945-1995” Questions

In what ways, and to what extent, did Eisenhower’s foreign policy demonstrate the limits of American power in the 1950s?

Explain why the Cuban Missile Crisis did not cause a war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Evaluate the aims and successes of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s policy of ‘détente’ with China and the Soviet Union.

Evaluate President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

Why had President Nixon ended American involvement in the Vietnam War by 1973?

“The outcome of the Vietnam War was determined not on the battlefield, but on the television screen.” How far do you agree with this judgment?

The Vietnam War had a disastrous effect on the presidencies of both Lyndon B Johnson and Richard Nixon.. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Compare and contrast the Cold War policies of two of the following US presidents: Harry S. Truman (1945-53); Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-61); Ronald Reagan (1981-89).

Assess the successes and failures of the foreign policies of either Eisenhower (1953-61) or Kennedy (1961-63).

Analyse the aims and achievements of the foreign policies of Harry S Truman (1945–53) and George Bush (1989–93).

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