The United States and the Soviet Union fought as allies in World War II for one reason, they had a common enemy. Both countries wanted Nazi Germany to be defeated, but their reason for attaining a victory had its differences. The United States wanted to destroy the Nazis, re-establish Europe and promote democracy. The Soviet Union however, wanted to destroy the Nazis but only so they could continue on their path of spreading communism throughout the world. Once they were invaded by Germany they knew it was either join forces with the United States to defeat Germany, or succumb to Hitler’s rule.
After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the world’s two reigning superpowers – and as mortal enemies (Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2006 p. 799). Much of the Europe and Asia lay in ruins because of the war. The United States, in contrast, had come out of the war not needing to rebuild, but flourishing. The Soviets saw the U.S. as the only obstacle in furthering their conquest of other countries and to continue spreading communism. Not only did the Soviets want to spread communism, but they did it in a way that advocated violence and fear as tactics for continuing their purpose. They also rejected religion and the notion of private property, two institutions central to the American dream (Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2006 p. 800). America saw this as an imminent threat and decided to start preparing themselves for the onset of war.
There were three major foreign policies set forth by the Truman administration that were meant to contain the Soviet Union and communist expansion. They were The Truman Doctrine, The Marshall Plan, and NSC-68. The Truman Doctrine stated that the United States would step in and help protect free countries from being invaded by the Soviet Union. This ultimately was to help the American people, but to the world showed America’s commitment against fighting communism.
The Marshall Plan was meant to help rebuild Europe. His plan was designed to eliminate conditions that produced the discontent that Communists often exploited (Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2006 p. 803). Congress was not sure this plan would actually be beneficial to the United States, but as the cold war spread, so did the need for Europe to recover. Not only would that hopefully deter the Soviets from attacking Europe, but it would also restore Europe’s need for American products.
NSC-68 was a radical plan developed by the National Security Council (NSC) with the purpose of having a more aggressive approach to the cold war. It increased defense spending by $37 billion dollars a year. Many conservatives did not want this increase because it meant higher taxes. However, when North Korean troops invaded South Korea in an attempt to overthrow the government and rule it under communism, their points of view changed.
Overall, the main objective was for most of the world to join together in the fight against communism. Countries that may not have been allies of the United States in the past stepped forward and joined the fight. The United States started out with the idea of just containing communism and holding the Soviet Union back, but as the Soviets created more of a threat the United States had to become more aggressive. Though much of the world seemed to be in ruins and torn by war, this was also a period of different countries coming together for a common goal and to improve the lives of people everywhere.
Davidson, J., Gienapp, W., Heyrman, C., Lytle, M., & Stoff, M. (2006). Nation of Nations- A Concise Narrative of The American Republic (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.