, . " "

Current R., Williams T. H., Freidel F., Brinkley A. American History: a survey. 7th edition; New York, 1987.


PART SEVEN. The American Century, Since 1945

What can we say and foresee about an American Century?" the publisher Henry Luce asked in 1941. "How shall it be created?" It was a question that many Americans were asking in the aftermath of World War II. Having emerged from the conflict not only victorious but the most admired and powerful nation in the world, the United States in 1945 viewed its future with high and fervent hopes. To predict that the coming years would constitute an "American Century" did not seem presumptuous.

To Henry Luce and to many others, America's destiny seemed clear. "It must be a sharing with all peoples of our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our magnificent industrial products, our technological skills." The United States must serve as "the dynamic center of ever-widening spheres of enterprise ... as the training center of the skilled servants of mankindas the Good Samaritan, really believing again that it is more blessed to give than to receive." Out of these elements, Luce predicted, "surely can be fashioned a vision of the 20th Century to which we can and will devote ourselves in joy and gladness and vigor and enthusiasm."

It was a heady visiona vision of a peaceful world united by bonds of mutual cooperation. But it was more than that. It was a vision of a world molded in the American image, a world in which the United States would reign unchallenged as the preeminent military, economic, and moral force. And it was a vision that would enchant the American people for more than two decades.

This sense of America's special virtues was in some respects a defensive reaction to a pervasive unease in the postwar years. For shortly after the end of World War II, the United States found itself embroiled in a new world strugglea long, grim, and dangerous competition with the Soviet Union for international supremacy. The world had moved from the horrors of "total war" to the tensions of another type of conflict: what the columnist Walter Lippmann christened the "Cold War." And although only intermittently did the Cold War produce actual military conflict, it maintained an unbroken, icy grip on the world, and on American society, for decades.

But the enduring appeal of the American Century idea was a result, too, of the remarkable growth and prosperity of American society in the postwar years. The nation's economy, having revived from the Great Depression during the war, continued in the following decades to perform remarkable feats. Indeed, never in the history of the world had a nation enjoyed such astounding economic progress as did the United States in the twenty years after 1945. For a time, it was possible to believe that America had found the secret of permanent, uninterrupted prosperity.

In both foreign and domestic affairs, therefore, the United States behaved in the postwar years with remarkable assertiveness. Having abandoned most of the vestiges of isolationism, the nation now used its influence in the world in ways that earlier generations had never contemplated. The struggle against communism seemed to require constant vigilance and constant activism. No area of the globe was outside the range of American concerns; and in large ways and small, the United States found itself involvedeconomically, politically, and at times militarilythroughout the world in an apparently ceaseless effort to protect its own vision of the future.

At home, Americans were similarly expansive in their vision of their obligations and capabilities. By the late 1950s, in particular, a vigorous, crusading liberalism was emerging as the dominant force in American politics. And in response to that spirit, the nation embarked on a series of ambitious efforts to solve its remaining social problems. Because the economy was creating such enormous wealth, it did not seem unreasonable to assume that society could be purged at last of poverty and injustice. And it was the federal government, most liberals believed, that would be the essential agent of change.

For a time, it all seemed to work. The Cold War was not won, certainly; but America's aggressive foreign policy appeared to be an effective response to the communist challenge. Social problems were not eliminated, but there was impressive progress. In the mid-1960s, however, the dream of an American Century began to encounter powerful obstacles. The commitment to combating communism throughout the world led the United States into a disastrous military venture in Vietnama war that dragged on inconclusively for more than seven years, eroding America's stature in the world and poisoning the political and social atmosphere at home. And the commitment to solving domestic social problems propelled Americans into an ambitious assault on the deepest national injustice of all: the oppression of the nation's black citizens. That assault produced important and long-overdue improvements in the status of blacks in America. But like the war in Vietnam, it proved to be a far more difficult and costly commitment than most Americans had at first envisioned. And it helped to produce widespread social conflict and bitterness.

Together, these twin criseswar and raceled the United States into a period of wrenching national turbulence in the late 1960s, a crisis that for a time appeared to threaten the very foundations of American society. The turmoil ultimately subsided; but in its aftermath nothing was quite the same. For a time, at least, Americans appeared to have lost confidence in their ability to shape the destiny of the world and to solve their problems at home. Confronted with evidence of the limits of its capacities, the nation seemed to be seized with self-doubtuntil a new, conservative political spirit emerged in the early 1980s and attempted to revive at least some of the expansive visions of earlier years.

Chapter 28. merica and the Cold War

The immediate aftermath of World War II was a trying time for the United States. Having emerged from the struggle indisputably the greatest power in the world, America assumed that the peace would take a form to its liking. It did not. Almost immediately, it became clear that another great powera nation not yet as strong as the United States, but strong enough to make its influence felt had a very different vision of the postwar order. Even before the war ended, there were signs of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, who had fought together so effectively as allies. Once the hostilities were over, those tensions quickly grew to create an enduring "Cold War" between the two nations that would cast its shadow over the entire course of international affairs for decades.

At the same time, the American people were experiencing the predictable upheavals of readjustment to civilian life. The economy was undergoing a difficult transformation in preparation for the remarkable growth that was soon to follow. Politics was in some confusion, partly as a result of the death of Franklin Roosevelt in April 1945. And the specter of the Cold War was having profound effects on American domestic life, ultimately producing the most corrosive outbreak of antiradical hysteria of the century. America in the postwar years was both powerful and prosperous; but it was also for a time troubled and uncertain about its future.

Origins of the Cold War

No issue in twentieth-century American history has aroused more debate than the question of the origins of the Cold War. Two questions, in particular, have provoked controversy: When did it begin? Who was to blame? Some have argued that the Cold War could have been avoided as late as 1947 or 1948, others that it was virtually inevitable long before the end of World War II. Some have claimed that Soviet duplicity and expansionism created the international tensions, others that American provocations and imperial ambitions were at least equally to blame. On virtually every aspect of the history of the Cold War, disagreement remains rampant. (See "Where Historians Disagree/' pp. 798-799.)"

But if historians have reached no general accord on these questions, they have gradually arrived at something approaching a consensus on some of the outlines of the debate. Most would agree that the origins of the Cold War can be understood only by looking at both the historic background of Soviet-American relations and the specific events of 1945 through 1948. And most would also agree that, wherever the preponderance of blame may lie, both the United States and the Soviet Union contributed to the atmosphere of hostility and suspicion that quickly clouded the peace.

A Legacy of Mistrust

The wartime alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union was an aberration from the normal tenor of Soviet-American relations. Ever since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the two nations had viewed each other with deep mutual mistrust.

The reasons for American hostility toward the Soviet Union were both obvious and many. There was, of course, the fundamental American animosity toward communism, which had strong roots in the nation's past and had been a powerful force in society since well before the Russian Revolution. But there were more specific reasons as well. Americans never forgot the separate peace that the Soviet government had negotiated with Germany in 1917, leaving the West to fight the Central Powers alone. They had chafed at the strident attacks on the American capitalist system emanating from Moscowattacks that proved particularly grating during the 1930s, when that system was under duress. They had long been concerned about the Soviet regime's open avowal of the need for world revolution. They had felt a deep and understandable revulsion at the bloody Stalinist purges of the 1930s. And they had been deeply em-bittered in 1939 when Stalin and Hitler agreed to the short-lived Nazi-Soviet Pact.

But Soviet hostility toward the United States had deep roots as well. Russian leaders were well aware of the American opposition to their revolution in 1917, and they never forgot that the United States had sent troops into the Soviet Union at the end of World War I to work, they believed, to overthrow their new government. They resented their exclusion From the international community throughout the two decades following World War I; Russia had been invited to participate in neither the Versailles Conference in 1919 nor the Munich Conference in 1938.

The Stalin regime remembered, too, the long delay by the United States in recognizing the Soviet government; the two nations did not exchange ambassadors until 1933, sixteen years after the Revolution. Andjust as most Americans viewed communism with foreboding and contempt, so did most Russian communists harbor deep suspicions of and a genuine distaste for industrial capitalism. There was, in short, a powerful legacy of mistrust on both sides.

In some respects, the wartime experience helped to abate that mistrust. Both the United States and the Soviet Union tended to focus during the war less on the traditional image of a dangerous potential foe and more on the image of a brave and dauntless ally. Americans expressed open admiration for the courage of Soviet forces in withstanding the Nazi onslaught and began to depict Stalin less as the bloody ogre of the purges than as the wise and persevering "Uncle Joe." The Soviet government, similarly, praised both the American fighting forces and the wisdom and courage of Franklin Roosevelt.

In other respects, however, the war deepened the gulf between the two nations. Americans did not forget the Soviet invasion of Finland and the Baltic states late in 1939, once the war with Germany had begun in the west. Nor were they unaware, as the war continued, of Soviet brutalitynot only toward the fascist enemies but toward supposedly friendly forces: for example, the Polish resistance fighters. Stalin harbored even greater resentments toward the American approach to the war. Despite repeated assurances from Roosevelt that the United States and Britain would soon open a .second front on the European continent, thus drawing German strength away from the assault on Russia, the Allied invasion did not finally occur until June 1944, more than two years after Stalin had first demanded it. In the meantime, the Russians had suffered appalling casualtiessome estimates put them as high as 20 million; and it was easy for Stalin to believe that the West had deliberately delayed the invasion to force the Soviets to absorb the brunt of the German strength. So although in most respects the wartime alliance worked well, with both sides making serious efforts to play down their differences, an undercurrent of tension and hostility remained.

Two Visions of the World

At least as important as these deep-seated suspicions was a fundamental difference in the ways the great powers envisioned the postwar worlda difference that was not at first immediately obvious, but one that ultimately shattered any hope for international amity. The first vision was that of many people in the United States, one perhaps best expressed by the title of a famous book by Wendell Willkie, One World (1943), and first openly outlined in the Atlantic Charter, drafted by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941. It was a vision of a world in which nations abandoned their traditional belief in military alliances and spheres of influence. Instead, the world would govern itself through democratic processes, with an international organization serving as the arbiter of disputes and the protector of the peace. No nation would control any other. Every people would have the right "to choose the form of government under which they will live."

The other vision was that of the Soviet Union and to some extent, it gradually became clear, of Great Britain. Both Stalin and Churchill had agreed to sign the Atlantic Charter espousing the "One World" principles. But neither man truly shared them. Britain had always been uneasy about the implications of the self-determination ideal for its own empire, which remained at the close of World War II the largest in the world. The Soviet Union was determined to create a secure sphere for itself in Eastern Europe as protection against future aggression from the West. Both Churchill and Stalin, therefore, tended to envision a postwar structure in which the great powers would control areas of strategic interest to them, in which something vaguely similar to the traditional European balance of power would reemerge.

This difference of opinion was particularly serious because the internationalist vision of Roosevelt had, by the end of the war, become a fervent commitment among many Americans. It was a vision composed equally of expansive idealism and national self-interest. Roosevelt had never forgotten the excitement with which he had greeted the principles of Wilsonian idealism during World War I, and he saw his mission in the 1940s as one of bringing lasting peace and genuine democracy to the world. But it was clear, too, that the "One World" vision would enhance the position of the United States in particular. As the world's greatest industrial power, and as one of the few nations unravaged by the war, America stood to gain more than any other country from opening the entire world to unfettered trade. The United States would have a global market for its exports, and it would have unrestricted access to vital raw materials. Determined to avoid another economic catastrophe like that of the 1930s, Roosevelt saw the creation of the postwar order as a way to ensure continuing American prosperity.

Thus when Britain and the Soviet Union began to balk at some of the provisions the United States was advocating, the debate seemed to become more than a simple difference of opinion. It became an ideological struggle for the future of the world. And on that rock the hope for a genuine peace would ultimately founder. Roosevelt was by the end of the war able to win at least the partial consent of Winston Churchill to his principles; but although he believed at times that Stalin would similarly relent, he never managed to steer the Soviets from their determination to control Eastern Europe, from their vision of a postwar order in which each of the great powers would dominate its own sphere. Gradually, the irreconcilable differences between these two positions would turn the peacemaking process into a form of warfare.

Wartime Diplomacy

Almost from the moment of Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelt administration devoted nearly as much attention to planning the peace as it did to winning the war. Indeed, the president himself realized that the conduct of the warthe relationships among the Allies in coordinating their effortswould go far toward determining the shape of the postwar world.

Throughout 1942, Roosevelt had engaged in inconclusive discussions with the Soviet Union, and particularly with Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, about how best to implement the principles of the Atlantic Charter, to which all the Allies had in theory subscribed. Until 1943, however, neither nation was ready for any specific commitments. In the meantime, serious strains in the alliance were beginning to appear as a result of Stalin's irritation at delays in opening the second front and his resentment of the Anglo-American decision to invade North Africa before Europe.

It was in this .deteriorating atmosphere that the president called for a meeting of the "Big Three" Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalinin Casablanca, Morocco, in January 1943. Stalin declined the invitation, but Churchill and Roosevelt met nevertheless. Because the two leaders agreed that they could not accept Stalin's most important demandthe immediate opening of a second frontthey reached another decision designed to reassure the Soviet Union. The Allies, Roosevelt announced, would accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. The announcement was a signal to Stalin that the Americans and British would not negotiate a separate peace with Hitler and leave the Soviets to fight on alone.

In November 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill traveled to Teheran, Iran, for their first meeting with Stalin. By now, however, Roosevelt's most effective bargaining toolStalin's need for American assistance in his struggle against Germanyhad been removed. The German advance against Russia had been halted; Soviet forces were now launching their own westward offensive. New tensions had emerged in the alliance, moreover, as a result of the refusal by the British and Americans to allow any Soviet participation in the creation of a new Italian government following the fall of Mussolini. To Stalin, at least, the "One World" doctrine was already embodying a double standard: America and Britain expected to have a voice in the future of Eastern Europe, but the Soviet Union was to have no voice in the future of the West.

Nevertheless, the Teheran Conference seemed in most respects a success. Roosevelt and Stalin established a cordial relationship, one that the president hoped would eventually produce the same personal intimacy he enjoyed with Churchill. Stalin agreed to an American request that the Soviet Union enter the war in the Pacific soon after the end of hostilities in Europe. Roosevelt, in turn, promised that an Anglo-American second front would be established within six months. More important to Roosevelt, all three leaders agreed in principle to a postwar international organization and to efforts to prevent a resurgence of German expansionism.

On other matters, however, the origins of future disagreements could already be discerned. Most important was the question of the future of Poland. Roosevelt and Churchill were willing to agree to a movement of the Soviet border westward, thus allowing Stalin to annex some historically Polish territory. But on the nature of the postwar government in the portion of Poland that would remain independent, there were sharp differences. Roosevelt and Churchill supported the claims of the Polish government-in-exile that had been functioning in London since 1940; Stalin wished to install another, procom-munist exiled government that had spent the war in Lublin, in the Soviet Union. The three leaders avoided a bitter conclusion to the Teheran Conference only by leaving the issue unresolved. There had, however, been little evidence to support hopes that an amicable settlement of the Polish question would be possible.


For more than a year, during which the Soviet Union began finally to destroy German resistance and the British and Americans launched their successful invasion of France, the Grand Alliance among the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union alternated between high tension and warm amicability. In the fall of 1944, Churchill flew by himself to Moscow for a meeting with Stalin to resolve issues arising from a civil war in Greece. In return for a Soviet agreement to cease assisting Greek communists, who were challenging the British-supported monarchical government, Churchill consented to a proposal whereby control of Eastern Europe would be divided between Britain and the Soviet Union. "This memorable meeting," Churchill wrote Stalin after its close, "has shown that there are no matters that cannot be adjusted between us when we meet together in frank and intimate discussion." To Roosevelt, however, the Moscow agreement was evidence of how little the Atlantic Charter principles seemed to mean to his two most important allies.

It was in an atmosphere of some gloom, therefore, that Roosevelt joined Churchill and Stalin for a great peace conference in the Soviet city of Yalta in February 1945. The American president sensed resistance to his internationalist dreams. The British prime minister was already becoming disillusioned about Stalin's willingness to make concessions and compromises, warning even before the conference met that "I think the end of this war may well prove to be more disappointing than was the last." Stalin, whose armies were now only miles from Berlin and who was well aware of how much the United States still wanted his assistance in the Pacific, was confident and determined.

On a number of issues, the Big Three reached amicable and mutually satisfactory agreements. In return for Stalin's promise to enter the war against Japan, Roosevelt agreed that the Soviet Union should receive the Kurile Islands north of Japan; should regain southern Sakhalin Island and Port Arthur, both of which Russia had lost in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War; and could exercise some influence (along with the government of China) in Manchuria.

The negotiators agreed as well on a plan for a new international organization: the United Nations. Tentative plans for the UN had been hammered out the previous summer at a conference in Washington, D.C., at the Dumbarton Oaks estate. At Yalta, the leaders ratified the Dumbarton plan to create (1) a General Assembly, in which every member would be represented, and (2) a Security Council, on which would sit permanent representatives of the five major powers (the United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and China), along with temporary delegates from several other nations. They accepted, too, the provision giving each of the major powers a veto over all Security Council decisions. These agreements became the basis for the drafting of the United Nations charter at a conference of fifty nations beginning April 25, 1945, in San Francisco. The United States Senate ratified the charter in July by a vote of 80 to 2 (a striking contrast to the slow and painful defeat it had administered to the charter of the League of Nations twenty-five years before).

On other issues, however, the Yalta Conference produced no real agreement, either leaving fundamental differences unresolved or papering them over with weak and unstable compromises. As at Teheran, the most important stumbling block remained Poland. Fundamental disagreement remained about the postwar Polish government, with each side continuing to insist on the rights of its own government-in-exile. Stalin, whose armies had by now occupied Poland, had already installed a government composed of the procommunist "Lublin" Poles, to the chagrin of the British and Americans.

Roosevelt and Churchill protested strongly at Yalta against Stalin's unilateral establishment of a new Polish government, insisting that the pro-Western "London" Poles must be allowed a place in the Warsaw regime. Roosevelt envisioned a complete restructuring of the Soviet-controlled government, based on free, democratic electionswhich both he and Stalin recognized the pro-Western forces would win. Stalin agreed only to a vague compromise by which an unspecified number of pro-Western Poles would be granted a place in the government. Although he reluctantly consented to hold "free and unfettered elections" in Poland, he made no firm commitment to a date for them. They never took place.

Nor was there agreement about one of the touchiest issues facing the three leaders: the future of Germany. All three leaders were determined to ensure that Germany could not soon again become a major military power, but there were wide differences in their views of how to accomplish that goal. Stalin wanted to impose $20 billion in reparations on the Germans, of which Russia would receive half. Churchill protested, arguing that the result would be that Britain and America would have to feed the German people. Roosevelt finally accepted the $20 billion figure as a "basis for discussion" but left final settlement to a future reparations commission. To Stalin, whose hopes for the reconstruction of Russia rested in part on tribute from Germany, it was an unsatisfactory compromise.

Roosevelt was uncertain at first about how he wished to resolve the German question. In 1944, he and Churchill had met in Quebec and agreed on what became known as the Morgenthau Plana plan for dismantling much of Germany's industrial capacity and turning that country into a largely agricultural society. But by accepting the principle of reparations at Yalta, he was clearly abandoning the idea of destroying German industry; without it, the Germans would have no means by which to pay. Instead, he seemed to be hoping for a reconstructed and reunited Germanyone that would be permitted to develop a prosperous, modern economy, but one that would remain under the careful supervision of the Allies. Stalin, in contrast, wanted a permanent dismemberment of Germany, a proposal the British and Americans firmly rejected. The final agreement was, like the Polish agreement, a vague and unstable one. The United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union would each control its own "zone of occupation" in Germanythe zones to be determined by the position of troops at the time when the war would end. (Berlin, the German capital, was already well inside the Soviet zone, but because of its symbolic importance it would itself be divided into four sectors, one for each nation to occupy.) At an unspecified date, the nation would be reunited; but no specific agreement was reached on how the reunification would occur.

As for the rest of Europe, the conference produced a murky accord on the establishment of interim governments "broadly representative of all democratic elements." They would be replaced ultimately by permanent governments ''responsible to the will of the people" and created through free elections. Once again, no specific provisions or timetables accompanied the agreements.

The Yalta accords, in other words, were less a settlement of postwar issues than a general set of loose principles that side-stepped the most divisive issues. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin returned home from the conference each apparently convinced that he had signed an important agreement. But the Soviet interpretation of the accords differed so sharply from the Anglo-American interpretation that the illusion endured only briefly. Stalin continued to believe that Soviet control of Eastern Europe was essential and considered the Yalta accords little more than a set of small concessions to Western punctiliousness. Roosevelt, in contrast, thought the agreements represented a mutual acceptance of the idea of an ''open" Europe, under the direct control of no single nation. In the weeks following the Yalta Conference, therefore, he watched with horror as the Soviet Union moved systematically to establish procommunist governments in one Eastern European nation after another and as Stalin refused to make the changes in Poland that the president believed he had promised.

Still, Roosevelt refused to abandon hope. His personal relationship with Stalin was such, he believed, that a settlement of these issues remained possible. Continuing to work to secure his vision of the future, he left Washington early in the spring for a vacation at his private retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia. There, on April 12, 1945, he suffered a sudden, massive stroke and died.

The Collapse of the Peace

Harry S. Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt in the presidency, inherited an international predicament that would have taxed the most experienced and patient statesman. He did not, however, inherit Roosevelt's familiarity with the world situation. (He had served in the administration only three months and had received few substantive briefings on foreign policy.) Nor did he share Roosevelt's belief in the flexibility of the Soviet Union. Roosevelt had insisted until the end that the Russians could be bargained with, that Stalin was, essentially, a reasonable man with whom an ultimate accord could be reached. Truman in contrast, sided with those in the government (and there were many) who considered the Soviet Union fundamentally untrustworthy and viewed Stalin himself with deep suspicion and basic dislike. There was also a significant contrast between the personalities of the two men. Roosevelt had always been a wily, even devious public figure, using his surface geniality to disguise his intentions. He had, as a result, been an unusually effective negotiator. Truman, on the other hand, was a sharp, direct, and impatient leader, a man who said what he thought and seldom wavered from decisions once he had made them. They were qualities that would win him the admiration of many of his contemporaries and of an even larger proportion of later generations of Americans. They were not, however, qualities well suited to patient negotiation.

The Failure of Potsdam

Truman had been in office only a few days before he decided on his approach to the Soviet Union. He would "get tough." Stalin had made what the new president considered solemn agreements with the United States at Yalta. The United States, therefore, would insist that he honor them. Dismissing the advice of Secretary of War Stimson that the Polish question was a lost cause and not worth a world crisis, Truman met on April 23 with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov and sharply chastised him for violations of the Yalta accords. "I have never been talked to like that in my life," a shocked Molotov reportedly replied. "Carry out your agreements and you won't get talked to like that," said the president. In fact, however, Truman had only limited leverage by which to compel the Soviet Union to carry out its agreements. Russian forces already occupied Poland and much of the rest of Eastern Europe. Germany was already divided among the conquering nations. The United States was still engaged in a war in the Pacific and was neither able nor willing to engage in a second conflict in Europe. Despite Truman's professed belief that the United States should be able to get "85 percent" of what it wanted, he was ultimately forced to settle for much less.

He conceded first on Poland. When Stalin made a few minor concessions to the pro-Western exiles, Truman recognized the Warsaw government, hoping that noncommunist forces might gradually expand their influence there. (They never did.) Other questions remained, and to settle them Truman met injuly with Churchill (who was replaced in the midst of the negotiations by Clement Atlee, who had ousted him as prime minister) and Stalin at Potsdam, near Berlin, in Russian-occupied Germany. The British and Americans hoped to use the Potsdam Conference to resolve the question of Germany, and in one sense they succeeded. But the resolution was not, ultimately, to the liking of the Western leaders. Truman reluctantly accepted the adjustments of the Polish-German border that Stalin had long demanded; he refused, however, to permit the Russians to claim any reparations from the American, French, and British zones of Germany. The result, in effect, was to confirm that Germany would remain divided, with the western zones united into one nation, friendly to the United States, and the Russian zone surviving as another nation, with a pro-Soviet, communist government. Stalin had failed to receive the reparations he wanted, and he had been unable to secure other forms of financial assistance from the West (a failure symbolized by the abrupt termination by the Truman administration in May of all lend-lease assistance). He would, therefore, use eastern Germany to help rebuild the shattered Russian economy. Soon, the Soviet Union was siphoning between $1.5 and $3 billion a year out of its zone of occupation.

A Dilemma in Asia

Throughout the frustrating course of its negotiations over the future of Europe, the United States was facing an equally troubling dilemma in Asia. Central to American hopes for an open, peaceful world "policed" by the great powers was a strong, independent China. But even before the war ended, the American government was aware that those hopes faced a major, perhaps insurmountable obstacle: the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang was generally friendly to the United States, but he had few other virtues. His government was hopelessly corrupt and incompetent. His popular legitimacy was feeble. And Chiang himself lived in a world of surreal isolation, unable or unwilling to face the problems that were threatening to engulf him. Ever since 1927, the nationalist government he headed had been engaged in a prolonged and bitter rivalry with the communist armies of Mao Zedong. So successful had the communist challenge grown that Mao was in control of one-fourth of the population by 1945.

Truman had managed at Potsdam to win Stalin's agreement that Chiang would be recognized as the legitimate ruler of China; but Chiang himself was rapidly losing his grip on his country. Some Americans urged the government to try to find a third faction to support as an alternative to either Chiang or Mao. A few argued that America should try to reach some accommodation with Mao. Truman, however, decided reluctantly that he had no choice but to continue supporting Chiang, despite the weakness of Chiang's position. American forces in the last months of the war diverted their attention from the Japanese long enough to assist Chiang against the communists in Manchuria. For the next several years, as the long struggle between the nationalists and the communists erupted into a full-scale civil war, the United States continued to pump money and weapons to Chiang. By late 1947, however, it was clear to the president that the cause was lost. Although he did not abandon China entirely or immediately, he was not prepared to intervene to save the nationalist regime.

Instead, the American government was beginning to consider an alternative to China as the strong, pro-Western force in Asia: a revived Japan. During the first years of American occupation of Japan after the war, the United States commander, Douglas MacArthur, provided a firm and restrictive administration of the island. A series of purges removed what remained of the warlord government of the Japanese Empire. Americans insisted, too, on dismantling the nation's munitions industry. But after two years of occupation, American policy toward Japan shifted. All limitations on industrial development were lifted, and rapid economic growth was encouraged. The vision of an open, united Asia had been replaced, as in Europe, with an acceptance of the necessity of developing a strong, pro-American sphere of influence.

The Containment Doctrine

By the end of 1945, the Grand Alliance was in shambles, and with it any realistic hope of a postwar world constructed along the lines Americans had urged. Although few policymakers were willing to admit openly that the United States must abandon its "One World" ideals, a new American policy was slowly emerging to replace them. Rather than attempting to create a unified, "open" world, the West would work to "contain" the threat of further Soviet expansion. The United States would be the leading force in that effort.

The new doctrine received one test before it was even fully formulated. When Stalin refused in March 1946 to follow the British and American lead in pulling his occupation forces out of Iran, the Truman administration issued a strong and threatening ultimatum. Stalin relented and withdrew. But new crises were emergingin Turkey, where Stalin was exerting heavy pressure to win some control over the vital straits to the Mediterranean, and in Greece, where once again communist forces were threatening the pro-Western government and where the British had announced they could no longer provide assistance. Faced with these challenges, the president finally decided to enunciate a firm new policy.

For some time, Truman had been convinced that the Soviet Union, like Nazi Germany before it, was an aggressor nation bent on world conquest. He had accepted the arguments of the influential American diplomat George F. Kennan, who warned that the United States faced "a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with the U.S. there can be no permanent modus vivendi" and that the only answer was "a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies." On March 12, 1947, Truman appeared before Congress and used Kennan's warnings as the basis of what became known as the Truman Doctrine. "I believe," he argued, "that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." In the same speech he requested $400 millionpart of it to bolster the armed forces of Greece and Turkey, another part to provide economic assistance to Greece. Congress quickly approved the measure.

The American commitment ultimately eased Soviet pressure on Turkey and helped the Greek government to defeat the communist insurgents. More important, it established a fundamental new doctrine that would become the basis of American foreign policy for more than two decades. Communism, Truman seemed to claim, was an ideological threat; it was indivisible; its expansion anywhere was a threat to democracy because, as Secretary of State Dean Acheson had argued, the fall of one nation to communism would have a "domino effect" on surrounding nations. It was, therefore, the policy of the United States to assist pro-Western forces in any struggle against communism anywhere in the world, whether that struggle directly involved the Soviet Union or not. The Truman Doctrine marked the final American abandonment of the "One World" vision of a generation of idealists. But it replaced it with another, equally powerful visiona vision of two worlds, one enslaved and one free, in which every rivalry and every conflict could be defined as a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the years to come, the ideology of the Truman Doctrine would at times blind Americans to local or regional particularities, with the result that the United States would on more than one occasion interpret an internal revolution as an expression of Soviet expansionism.

The Marshall Plan

The Truman Doctrine was only one halfthe military halfof the new containment doctrine. The second part of the new American policy was a proposal to aid in the economic reconstruction of Western Europe. There were a number of motives for the assistance. One was a simple humanitarian concern for the European peoples, whose economies lay in ruins and whose future appeared bleak. Another was practical necessity: Until Europe could, support itself economically, it would remain a drain on the United States, which was endeavoring in the meantime to feed it. But there was powerful self-interest at work as well. Without a strong European market for American goods, most policymakers believed, the United "States economy would be unable to sustain the prosperity it had achieved during the war. Above all, unless something could be done to strengthen the perilous position ot the pro-American governments in Western Europe, they might well fall under the control of domestic communist movements, which were gaining strength as a result of the economic misery.

In June 1947, therefore, Secretary of State George C. Marshall spoke before a commencement gathering at Harvard University and announced a plan to provide economic assistance to all European nations (including the Soviet Union) that wouldjoin in drafting a program for recovery. Although Russia and its Eastern satellites quickly rejected the plan, claiming that it represented an American attempt to reshape Europe in its own image, sixteen Western European nations eagerly participated. There was substantial opposition at first to Truman's request for an enormous appropriation to fund the effort; but congressional opponents lost power quickly, embarrassed by the unwelcome support of the American Communist party and shocked by a sudden seizure of power by communists in Czechoslovakia, which had hitherto remained at least nominally free of Soviet control. In April 1948, the president signed a bill establishing the Economic Cooperation Administration and providing an initial budget of $4 billion. Over the next three years, the Marshall Plan, as it soon became known, channeled over $12 billion of American aid into Europe, sparking what many viewed as a miraculous economic revival. By the end of 1950, European industrial production had risen 64 percent, communist strength in the member nations was declining, and the opportunities for American trade had revived.

Mobilization at Home

That the United States had fully accepted a continuing commitment to the containment policy became clear in 1947 and 1948 through a series of measures designed to maintain American military power at near wartime levels. Although the government had moved rapidly in 1945 to release almost 7 million men from the armed forces in the space of a few months, it was not long before the president began to demand a renewal of universal military training through a continuing draft. Congress finally restored the Selective Service System in 1948. The United States had announced, shortly after the surrender of Japan, that it was prepared to accept an international agreement banning nuclear weapons (through a proposal known as the Baruch Plan). The Soviet Union, arguing that since only America had developed a bomb, America alone should abandon it, resisted any system of international inspection and controls. In response, the United States simply redoubled its own efforts in atomic research, elevating nuclear weaponry to a central place in its military arsenal. The Atomic Energy Commission, established in 1946, became the supervisory body charged with overseeing all nuclear research, civilian and military alike.

Perhaps the clearest indication of America's continuing concern with military power, however, came through the National Security Act of 1947. It created a new Department of Defense, whose secretary would combine the traditional functions of the secretary of war and the secretary of the navy and preside over all branches of the armed services. The National Security Council (NSC), operating out of the White House and including the president, several members of his cabinet, and others, would govern foreign and military policy. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would be responsible for collecting information through both open and covert methods and, as the Cold War continued, for engaging secretly in active political and military operations on behalf of American goals.

Despite some problems of administration, the National Security Act effected important changes in the nation's ability to conduct a cold war. It transferred to the president expanded powers over all defense activities, centralizing in the White House control that had once been widely dispersed; it enabled the administration to take warlike actions without an open declaration of war; and it created vehicles by which the government could at times act politically and militarily overseas behind a veil of secrecy.

The Road to NATO

At about the same time, the United States was moving to strengthen the military capabilities of Western Europe. Convinced that only a reconstructed Germany could serve as the necessary bulwark against communist expansion, Truman abandoned earlier policies designed to restrain German power and forged an agreement with England and France to merge the three western zones of occupation into a new West German republic (which would include the American, British, and French sectors of Berlin, even though that city lay well within the Soviet zone).

Stalin interpreted the move (correctly) as a direct challenge to his hopes for a subdued Germany and a docile Europe. At almost the same moment, he was facing a challenge from inside what he considered his own sphere. The government of Yugoslavia, under the leadership of Marshall Josip Broz Tito, broke openly with the Soviet Union and declared the nation an unaligned communist state. The United States offered Tito assistance.

Stalin's response came quickly. On June 24, 1948, taking advantage of the lack of a written guarantee of Western transit through eastern Germany, he imposed a tight blockade around the western sectors of Berlin. If Germany was to be officially divided, he was implying, then the country's Western government would have to abandon its outpost in the heart of the Soviet-controlled eastern zone. The United States was being given a choice between dropping its plan for a united West Germany or surrendering Berlin. Truman refused to do either. He was unwilling to risk war by responding militarily to the blockade; but he ordered a massive airlift to supply the city with food, fuel, and supplies. The airlift continued for more than ten months, transporting nearly 2.5 million tons of material, keeping alive a city of 2 million people, and transforming West Berlin into a symbol of the West's resolve to resist communist expansion. Finally, late in the spring of 1949, Stalin lifted the now ineffective blockade. And in October, the division of Germany into two nationsthe Federal Republic in the west and the Democratic Republic in the Eastbecame official.

The crisis in Berlin accelerated the consolidation of what was already in effect an alliance of the United States and the countries of Western Europe. On April 4, 1949, twelve nations signed an agreement establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and declaring that an armed attack against one member would be considered an attack against all. The NATO countries would, moreover, maintain a standing military force in Europe to defend against what many believed was the threat of a Soviet invasion. The American Senate quickly ratified this first peacetime alliance between the United States and Europe since the eighteenth centuryan agreement that fused European nations that had been fighting one another for centuries into a strong and enduring alliance. Whatever effects NATO may have had on the global balance of power, it created a stable peace in Western Europe. (It also spurred the Soviet Union to create an alliance of its own with the communist governments in Eastern European alliance formalized in 1955 by the Warsaw Pact.)

The NATO alliance also greatly increased American influence in Europe. The United States quickly became the most important supplier of the NATO military forces; and an American officer, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, assumed the powerful position of supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe.

The Enduring Crisis

The Berlin blockade, the offer of aid to Yugoslavia, the creation of NATOall had in most respects been expressions of American confidence. Truman had believed, along with most other policymakers, that the United States was easily the more powerful of the two great rivals, that the Soviet Union would not dare provoke war because of the certainty of defeat. For a time, it had seemed that the battle against communism was being won.

But a series of events in 1949 began seriously to erode that confidence and launched the Cold War into a new and more enduring phase. An announcement in September that the Soviet Union had successfully exploded its first atomic weapon, years before most Americans had considered it possible, came as a severe shock to the nation. So did the collapse of Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist government in China, which occurred with startling speed in the last months of 1949. Chiang fled with his political allies and the remnants of his army to the offshore island of Formosa (Taiwan), and the entire Chinese mainland came under the control of a communist government that many Americans believed to be a mere extension of the Soviet Union. The United States, powerless to stop the communists without a major military commitment that virtually no one wanted, had no choice but to watch the collapse of its ill-chosen ally. Few policymakers shared the belief of the so-called China lobby that the United States should now commit itself to the rearming of Chiang Kai-shek. But neither would the administration recognize the new communist regime, particularly after the Maoist government began expropriating American property, expelling American businesspeople, and strengthening its ties to the Soviet Union. The Chinese mainland would remain almost entirely closed to the West for a full generation. The United States, in the meantime, would devote increased attention to the revitalization of Japan as a buffer against Asian communism, ending the American occupation of the island, finally, in 1952.

With the containment policy in apparent disarray, and with political opposition mounting at home, Truman called for a thorough review of American foreign policy. The result was a National Security Council report, commonly known as NSC-68, which outlined a shift in the American position. The April 1950 document argued that the United States could no longer rely on other nations to take the initiative in resisting communism. It must itself establish firm and active leadership of the noncommunist world. Among other things, the report called for a major expansion of American military power, with a defense budget almost four times the previously projected figure. It also reinforced what was already a strong sense of mission in the formulation of American foreign policy. Upon the United States, the report maintained, lay the sole responsibility of defending freedom in the world.

America After the War

The increasing dangers overseas were only a part of the frustrations facing the United States after the war. The nation also encountered serious difficulties in adapting its complex economy to the new demands of peace; the instability that resulted contributed to the creation of a heated political climate.

The Problems of Reconversion

The bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war months earlier than almost anyone had predicted and propelled the nation precipitously into a process of reconversion. The lack of planning was soon compounded by a growing popular impatience for a return to normal. Under intense public pressure, the Truman administration attempted to hasten that return, despite dire warnings by some planners and economists. The result was a period of economic problems.

They were not, however, the problems that most Americans had feared. There had been many predictions that peace would bring a return of Depression unemployment, as war production ceased and returning soldiers flooded the labor market. But there was no general economic collapse in 1946for several reasons. Government spending dropped sharply and abruptly, to be sure; $35 billion of war contracts were canceled at a stroke within weeks of the Japanese surrender. But increased consumer demand soon compensated. Consumer goods had been generally unavailable during the war, so many workers had saved a substantial portion of their wages and were now ready to spend. A $6 billion tax cut pumped additional money into general circulation. The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill of Rights, provided economic and educational assistance to veterans, increasing spending even further.

But while the sudden flood of consumer demand ensured that there would be no new depression, it also created rampant, debilitating inflation. For more than two years inflation continued, with prices rising at rates of 14 or 15 percent annually. In the summer of 1946, the president vetoed an extension of the authority of the wartime Office of Price Administration because Congress had weakened the agency's authority. In so doing, he permitted government price controls, which were already having difficulty holding down price increases, to be removed altogether. A month later, he relented and signed a bill little different from the one he had rejected. But in the meantime inflation had soared briefly to 25 percent.

Compounding the economic difficulties was a sharp rise in labor unrest. Most unions had grudgingly accepted government-imposed restraints on their demands during the war, but now they were willing to wait no longer, particularly as inflation cut into the existing wage scales with painful force. By the end of 1945, there had already been major strikes in the automobile, electrical, and steel industries. Government intervention had helped settle the strikes relatively quickly, but the agreements fueled inflation even further.

In April 1946, a fresh crisis emerged when John L. Lewis led the United Mine Workers out on strike, shutting down the coal fields for forty days. The economic impact was devastating. Freight and shipping activity declined by 75 percent; the steel industry made plans to shut down operations; fears grew that without vital coal supplies, the entire nation might virtually grind to a halt. Truman finally forced coal production to resume by ordering government seizure of the mines. But in the process, he induced mine owners to concede to the union most of its demands, which he had earlier denounced as inflationary. Almost simultaneously, the nation's railroads suffered a total shutdownthe first in the nation's historyas two major unions walked out on strike. By threatening to use the army to run the trains, Truman pressured the workers back to work after only a few days.

The Fair Deal Rejected

On September 16, 1945, only four days after the formal Japanese surrender, Truman submitted to Congress a twenty-one point domestic program outlining what he later termed the "Fair Deal." It called for expansion of Social Security benefits, the raising of the legal minimum wage from 40 to 65 cents an hour, a program to ensure full employment, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, public housing and slum clearance, long-range environmental and public works planning, and government promotion of scientific research. Weeks later he added other proposals: federal aid to education, government health insurance, prepaid medical care, funding for the St. Lawrence Seaway, and nationalization of atomic energy. The president was, it was clear, declaring an end to the wartime moratorium on reform and creating an impressive new liberal agenda. The announcement of the Fair Deal, he later wrote, symbolized "for me my assumption of the office of President in my own right."

Truman's proposals greatly heartened Democratic liberals, who had continued to wonder whether the new president would prove a satisfactory successor to Franklin Roosevelt. But the Fair Deal made little progress in Congress. Truman's programs fell victim to the same general public and congressional conservatism that had crippled the last years of the New Deal and had increased during the war. The economic problems and labor unrest of 1946 only intensified congressional resistance to further spending and reform. And what little hope there had been for legislative progress died in November 1946, when the Republican partymaking use of the simple but devastating slogan "Had Enough?"won control of both houses of Congress.

With the new Congress in place, the retreat from reform rapidly became a stampede. The president bowed to what he claimed was the popular mandate to lift most remaining wage and price controls, and Congress moved further to deregulate the economy. Inflation rapidly increased. When a public outcry arose over the soaring prices for meat, Senator Robert Taft, perhaps the most influential Republican conservative in Congress, advised consumers to "Eat less," and added, "We have got to break with the corrupting idea that we can legislate prosperity, legislate equality, legislate opportunity." True to the spirit of Taft's words, the Republican Congress quickly applied what one congressman described as a "meat-axe to government frills." It refused to appropriate funds to aid education, increase Social Security, or support reclamation and power projects in the West. It defeated a proposal to raise the minimum wage. It passed tax measures that cut rates dramatically for high-income families and moderately for those with lower incomes. Only vetoes by the president finally forced a more progressive bill.

The most notable action of the Eightieth Congress was an open assault on one of the cornerstones of Depression reform: the Wagner Act of 1935. Conservatives had always resented the enormous powers the legislation had granted unions; and in the light of the labor difficulties during and after the war, such resentments intensified sharply. The result was the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act, which loosened several of the earlier restrictions on employers and added some important new prohibitions against the unions. The act made illegal the so-called closed shop (a workplace in which no one could be hired without first being a member of a union). And although it continued to permit the creation of so-called union shops (in which workers must join a union after being hired), it permitted states to pass "right-to-work" laws prohibiting even that. This provision, the controversial Section 14(b), remained a particular target of the labor movement for decades. The act also empowered the president to call for a "cooling-off" period before a strike by issuing an injunction against any work stoppage that endangered national safety or health.

These and other provisions delighted conservatives, who viewed union power as one of the nation's greatest social evils. But they outraged workers and union leaders, who denounced the measure as a "slave labor bill" and called on the president to veto it. Truman needed little persuading. He had opposed the Taft-Hartley Act from the beginning and on June 20, 1947, returned it to Congress with a stinging veto message. Both houses easily overruled him the same day.

The Taft-Hartley Act did not destroy the labor movement, as many union leaders had predicted. But it did seriously damage the position of weaker unions in relatively lightly organized industries such as chemicals and textiles; and it made far more difficult the organizing of workers who had never been union members at all, especially in the South. Powerful unions remained powerful, for the most part; but unorganized or loosely organized workers now faced serious obstacles. Equally important in the short run, the passage of Taft-Hartley served as a symbol of the repudiation of New Deal reform by the Republican party and its Congress, a warning that government innovations that many had come to take for granted were now in jeopardy. "Victories fought and won years ago were suddenly in doubt," a columnist for the New Republic wrote at the time. "Everything was debatable again."

The Election of 1948

Truman and his advisers were convinced that the American public was not ready to abandon the achievements of the New Deal, that the 1946 election had not been a mandate for a surrender to conservatism. As they planned strategy for the 1948 campaign, therefore, they placed their hopes in an appeal to enduring Democratic liberalism. Throughout 1948, Truman proposed one reform measure after another (including, on February 2, the first major civil-rights bill of the century). Congress ignored or defeated them all; but the president was effectively building a campaign issue for the fall.

There remained, however, the serious problem of Truman's personal unpopularitythe assumption among a vast segment of the electorate that he lacked stature, that his administration was weak and inept. Many of the qualities that made him such an admired figure in later yearshis outspokenness, his impatience, his common-man demeanorseemed at the time to be evidence of his unfitness to fill the shoes of Franklin Roosevelt. Liberals within his own party were actively looking for an alternative candidate. Conservatives were regarding the president with disgust.

All of these tensions came to a head at the Democratic Convention that summer. Two factions abandoned the party altogether. Southern conservatives were angered by Truman's proposed civil-rights bill and outraged by the approval at the convention of a civil-rights plank in the platform (engineered by Hubert Humphrey, the mayor of Minneapolis). They walked out and formed the States' Rights (or "Dixiecrat") party, with Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina as its nominee. At the same time, the party's left wing formed a new Progressive party, with Henry A. Wallace as its candidate. Wallace supporters objected to what they considered the slow and ineffective domestic policies of the Truman administration, but they resented even more the president's confrontational stance toward the Soviet Union.

In addition, many Democrats unwilling to leave the party attempted to dump the president in 1948. The Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), a coalition of liberals, tried to entice Dwight D. Eisenhower, the popular war hero, to contest the nomination, certain that he could win the November election while Truman could not. Only after Eisenhower had refused did the party bow to the inevitable and, in near despair, give the nomination to Truman. The Republicans, in the meantime, had once again nominated Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, whose substantial reelection victory in 1946 had made him one of the nation's leading political figures. Austere, dignified, and competent, he seemed to offer an unbeatable alternative to the president. That his views on most issues were only marginally different from Truman's appeared further to strengthen his chances of victory.

Nothing, it seemed, could save the president from certain defeat. His party was seriously splintered. Polls showed him trailing so far behind Dewey that late in September public-opinion analysts stopped taking surveys. Dewey was conducting a quiet, statesmanlike campaign, behaving much as if he were already president. Only Truman, it seemed, believed he could win. As the campaign gathered momentum, he became ever more aggressive, turning his fire away from himself and toward Dewey the "do-nothing, good-for-nothing" Republican Congress, which was, he told the voters, responsible for fueling inflation and abandoning the workers and the common people. To dramatize his point, he called Congress into special session in July to give it a chance, he said, to enact the liberal measures the Republicans had recently written into their platform. Congress met for two weeks and, predictably, did almost nothing. Truman was delighted.

Before the campaign was over, the president had traveled nearly 32,000 miles and made 356 speeches, delivering blunt, extemporaneous attacks. He had told Alben Barkley, his running mate, "I'm going to fight hard. I'm going to give them hell." He called for repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, increased price supports for farmers, and strong civil-rights protection for blacks. (He was the first president to campaign in Harlem.) He sought, in short, to re-create much of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal coalition. And to the surprise of virtually everyone, he suceeded. When the returns came in, the nation was stunned to learn that Truman had won a narrow but decisive victory: 49.5 percent of the popular vote to Dewey's 45.1 percent (with the two splinter parties dividing the small remainder between them), and an electoral margin of 303 to 189. Democrats, in the meantime, had regained both houses of Congress by substantial margins. It was the most dramatic upset in the history of presidential elections.

The Fair Deal Revived

Truman interpreted the 1948 election as a mandate for the revival of liberal reform. But despite the Democratic victories, it often seemed that the Eighty-first Congress was no more hospitable to reform than its Republican predecessor. Truman failed once again to win approval of such major new reforms as aid to education and national health insurance. Nevertheless, his administration managed in the first two years of its second term to consolidate and extend a number of already established New Deal reforms that before the election had seemed to be in jeopardy.

On three issues, in particular, Truman won important victories. Congress raised the legal minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour. It approved an expansion of the Social Security system, increasing benefits by 75 percent and extending them to 10 million additional people. And it strengthened the federal commitment to public housing. The National Housing Act of 1949 called for the construction of 810,000 units of low-income housing over six years, to be accompanied by long-term rent subsidies. (Inadequate funding plagued the program for years, and the initial goal was reached only in 1972.)

While many of the other initiatives Truman had sponsored before 1948 gradually faded from view, he continued to press strenuously on what was perhaps the most controversial domestic issue of all: civil rights. The president had little luck persuading Congress to accept the civil-rights legislation he proposed in 1949, legislation that would have made lynching a federal crime, provided federal protection of black voting rights, abolished the poll tax, and established a Fair Employment Practices Commission to curb discrimination in hiring. Although a majority of the Senate appeared ready to support at least some aspects of this package, a vigorous filibuster by Southern Democrats (who also controlled crucial committees) managed to block the legislation. Nevertheless, Truman proceeded on his own to battle several forms of racial discrimination. He had appointed a federal Civil Rights Commission in 1946, whose 1947 report became the first important government call for the total elimination of segregation. Truman publicly approved its recommendations, although he was as yet unable to implement them. He ordered an end to discrimination in the hiring of government employees. He began to dismantle segregation within the armed forces. And he allowed the Justice Department to become actively involved in court battles against discriminatory statutes. The Supreme Court, in the meantime, signaled its own growing awareness of the issue by ruling, in Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), that the courts could not be used to enforce private "covenants" meant to bar blacks from residential neighborhoods. The Truman record, and the judicial decisions that accompanied it, made only minor dents in the structure of segregation. They did, however, signal the beginning of a commitment by liberal Democratsand by the federal government as a wholefinally to confront the problem of race.

The Korean War

Truman's domestic policies had had a difficult time from the beginning in competing against the nation's obsession with the Soviet threat in Europe. In 1950, a new and more dangerous element of the Cold War emerged and all but killed hopes for further Fair Deal reform. On June 24, 1950, the armies of communist North Korea swept across their southern border and began a major invasion of the pro-Western half of the Korean peninsula to the south. Suddenly, the United States found itself embroiled in a new kind of conflict. The nation was neither fully at war nor fully at peace. It was, rather, discovering the peculiar demands of "limited war."

The Divided Peninsula

Korea had long been a source of international controversy. A peninsula of great strategic importance in Asia, it was easily accessible to the Soviet Union, Japan, and China. At the end of World War II, therefore, neither the United States nor the Soviet Union both of which had sent troops into Korea against the Japanesewas willing to leave. As a result, the nation had been divided, supposedly temporarily, along the 38th parallel. The Russians departed in 1949, leaving behind a communist government in the north with a strong, Soviet-equipped army. The Americans left only months later, handing control to the pro-Western government of Syngman Rhee, a ruthless and only nominally democratic leader. He possessed a far less imposing army than his northern counterparts, and he used it primarily to strengthen his own position against internal political opposition.

The situation proved a strong temptation to the nationalists in the North Korean government and, apparently, to the Soviet leadership. The communist government of the north, recognizing its military superiority, was eager to invade the south and reunite the nationparticularly after the American government had implied that it did not consider South Korea within its own "defense perimeter." The evidence remains murky as to how much the Soviet Union was involved in initiating the invasion; there is some reason to believe that the North Koreans acted without Stalin's approval. But the Soviets supported the offensive once it began.

The Truman administration was quick to respond. On June 27,1950, the president ordered American air and naval forces to assist the South Korean army against the invaders; and on the same day he appealed to the United Nations to intervene. Because the Soviet Union was boycotting the Security Council at the time (to protest the council's refusal to recognize the new communist government of China), American delegates were able to win UN agreement to a resolution calling for international assistance to the embattled Rhee government. On June 30, the United States ordered its own ground forces into Korea, and Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur to command the UN operations there. (Several other nations offered minor assistance to the effort, but the "UN" armies were, in fact, overwhelmingly American.)

The intervention in Korea was the first expression of the newly militant American foreign policy outlined in NSC-68. Very quickly, the administration decided that the war would be an effort not simply at containment but also at "liberation." After a surprise American invasion at Inchon in September had routed the North Korean forces from the south and sent them fleeing back across the 38th parallel, Truman gave MacArthur permission to pursue the communists into their own territory. His aim, as an American-sponsored UN resolution proclaimed in October, was to create "a unified, independent and democratic Korea." (Paralleling this decision came new American initiatives in other areas: efforts to strengthen the Chiang regime in Taiwan for a possible future assault on the Chinese mainland; and assistance to the French, who were attempting to rout communist forces from Vietnam and Laos.)

From Invasion to Stalemate

For several weeks, MacArthur's invasion of North Korea proceeded smoothly. On October 19, the capital, Pyongyang, fell to the UN forces. At the same time, parachutists managed to trap and immobilize much of the rest of the North Korean army. Victory seemed near. Slowly, however, the United States was becoming aware of the growing presence of forces from communist China; and by November 4, it was clear that eight Chinese divisions had entered the war. Suddenly, the UN offensive stalled and then collapsed. Through December 1950, American forces fought a bitter, losing battle against far more numerous Chinese divisions, retreating at almost every juncture. Within weeks, communist forces had pushed the Americans back below the 38th parallel once again and had captured the South Korean capital of Seoul. By mid-January 1951 the rout had ceased; and by March the UN armies had managed to regain much of the territory they had so recently lost, taking back Seoul and pushing the communists north of the 38th parallel for the second time. But with that, the war degenerated into a protracted, brutal stalemate. It was then that the nation first began to experience the true dilemmas of limited war. Truman had been determined from the beginning to avoid embroiling the nation in a direct conflict with China, a conflict that would, he believed, lead to a world conflagration. As early as December 1950, he had begun seeking a negotiated solution to the struggle; and he continued through the next two years to insist that there would be no wider war. He faced, however, a formidable opponent in General MacArthur, a soldier of the old school who could not accept the idea of any limits on a military endeavor. The United States was fighting the Chinese, he argued. It should, therefore, attack China itself, if not through an actual invasion, then at least by bombing communist forces massing north of the Chinese border. In March 1951 he gave a public indication of his unhappiness with the administration's policy, sending to House Republican leader Joseph W. Martin a message that concluded: "There is no substitute for victory." His position quickly won wide popular support from a nation frustrated by the long, inconclusive war.

For nine months, Truman had chafed at Mac-Arthur's resistance to his decisions about the conduct of the war. More than once, he had warned him to keep his objections to himself. The release of the Martin letter, therefore, struck the president as intolerable insubordination. On April 11, 1951, he relieved MacArthur of his command.

The result was a virtual firestorm of public outrage. Sixty-nine percent of the American people supported MacArthur in the controversy, a Gallup poll reported. When the general returned to the United States in 1951, the first time he had set foot in the country since 1935, he was greeted with hysterical enthusiasm. His televised farewell appearance before a joint session of Congress attracted an audience of millions. Public criticism abated somewhat when a number of prominent military figures, including General Omar Bradley, publicly supported the president's decision. But the controversy had cast in sharp relief the dilemmas of limited war.

In the meantime, the Korean stalemate continued for what seemed interminable months. In July 1951, negotiations began between the opposing forces at Panmunjom, near the 38th parallel; but they produced no swift resolution. Instead, the talksand the wardragged on until 1953.

Limited Mobilization

Just as the war in Korea produced only a limited American military commitment abroad, so it created only a limited economic mobilization at home. Although the Truman administration drew heavily on the experiences of World War II in meeting the demands for armaments and supplies, never was it necessary to create the enormous bureaucracy and pervasive controls that had been required a decade earlier.

Nevertheless, the Korean War did place pressure on the government to control the economy in several important ways. First, Truman attempted to halt a new wave of inflation by setting up the Office of Defense Mobilization to hold down prices and discourage high union wage demands. Then, confronted with the failure of these cautious regulatory efforts, the president took more drastic action. When railroad workers walked off the job in 1951, Truman ordered the government to seize control of the railroads. But while the dramatic gesture helped keep the trains running, it was of no effect in restraining union demands. Workers ultimately got most of what they had demanded before the railroads were returned to their owners. In 1952, a nationwide steel strike threatened to interrupt vital war production; and again Truman moved to seize the steel mills, citing his powers as commander in chief. This time, however, the courts intervened. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the president had exceeded his authority, and Truman was forced to relent. A lengthy and costly strike followed.

The effects of the war on American society at large were mixed. The conflict gave a significant boost to national prosperity. Just at the point when some economists believed the postwar consumer demand was about to decline, a new surge of funds was being pumped into the economy by the federal government, which increased military expenditures more than fourfold, to $60 billion in 1953. Unemployment declined. Industry embarked on a new wave of capital expansion. But the war had other, less healthy effects on American life. Coming at a time of rising insecurity about the position of the United States in the world, it intensified anxiety about communism. As the long stalemate continued, producing 140,000 American casualties (and more than 1 million South Korean dead and wounded), frustration increasingly turned to anger. The United States, which had recently won the greatest war in history, seemed unable to conclude what many Americans considered a minor border skirmish in an unimportant country. Many began to believe that something must be deeply wrongnot only in Korea but within the United States as well. Such fears became one of many factors contributing to the rise of the second major campaign of the century against domestic communism.

The Crusade Against Subversion

There has never been a single, satisfactory explanation of why, in the years following World War II, the American people developed a growing fear of internal communist subversion that by the early 1950s had reached the point of near hysteria. Only by looking at the convergence of many factors at once is it possible to understand the era of the "great fear."

One factor was obvious. Communism was not an imagined enemy in the 1950s. It had tangible shape, in the person of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. It was a dark and menacing threat to America's hopes for the world. The continuing setbacks overseas, the frustrations in Korea, the "loss" of China, the shocking realization that Russia had developed an atomic bomball created a sense of unease and a need to find someone to blame. The idea of a communist conspiracy within American borders was a natural outlet. But there were other factors as well, rooted in events in American domestic politics.

HUAC and Alger Hiss

Much of the anticommunist furor emerged out of the search by the Republican party for an issue with which to attack the Democrats, and out of the efforts of the Democrats to take that issue away. Beginning in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), established by the Democrats in 1938 to uncover malign foreign influences in the United States and now under the control of conservative Republicans, launched a series of widely publicized and inflammatory investigations to prove that, under Democratic rule, the nation had allowed communist subversion to reach alarming levels. The committee turned first to the movie industry, arguing that communists had so infiltrated Hollywood that American films were being tainted with Soviet propaganda. A parade of writers and producers was summoned to testify; and when some of them ("the Hollywood Ten") refused to answer questions about their political beliefs, they were sent to jail for contempt. Others were barred from employment in the industry when Hollywood, attempting to protect its public image, adopted a blacklist of those of "suspicious loyalty."

Far more frightening to much of the public, however, was HUAC's investigation into charges of disloyalty leveled against a former high-ranking member of the State Department: Alger Hiss. Whittaker Chambers, a self-avowed former communist agent, now an editor at Time magazine, told the committee in 1948 that Hiss had passed classified documents to him in 1937 and 1938. When Hiss sued him for slander, Chambers produced microfilms of the documents (called the "pumpkin papers," because Chambers had kept them hidden in a pumpkin in his garden). Hiss could not be tried for espionage because of the statute of limitations (a law that protects individuals from prosecution for most crimes after seven years have passed). But as a result of the committee's efforts (and particularly because of the relentless pursuit of the case by Richard M. Nixon, a freshman Republican congressman from California), Hiss was charged with lying to the HUAC inquisitors. After a sensational trial, in which a number of leading Democratic liberalsincluding Adlai Stevenson, Felix Frankfurter, and Dean Acheson testified as character witnesses for Hiss, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. A second trial produced a conviction for perjury, and Hiss served several years in prison, still proclaiming his innocence. The Hiss case not only discredited a talented young diplomat; it cast suspicion on an entire generation of liberal Democrats and made it possible for the public to believe that communists had actually infiltrated the government.

The Federal Loyalty Program

The Truman administration, in the meantime, was making its own contribution to increasing the popular fear. Partly to protect itself against Republican attacks, partly to encourage support for the president's foreign policy initiatives, the executive branch in 1947 initiated a widely publicized program to review the "loyalty" of federal employees. A series of "loyalty boards" undertook a sweeping investigation of the government; and in August 1950, the president authorized the dismissal in sensitive departments of even those deemed no more than "bad security risks." The faintest suspicion of disloyalty could cause a federal employee to lose his or her job. By 1951, more than 2,000 government employees had resigned and 212 had been dismissed.

Not only was the employee loyalty program itself being abused; the program also served as a signal throughout the executive branch to launch a major assault on subversion. The attorney general established a list of dissident organizations and, in 1948, obtained indictments of eleven American communists for "conspiring to teach the violent overthrow of the government." The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), whose director, J. Edgar Hoover, had been obsessed with the issue of communism for years, launched major crusades to investigate and harass alleged radicals. Federal information and education programs began to become tinged with strident anticommunist propaganda.

By now, the anticommunist frenzy was growing so intense that even a Democratic Congress was becoming obsessed with it. In 1950, over the objections of the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the CIA, it enacted the McCarran Internal Security Act. The bill required all communist organizations to register with the government and to publish their records. Americans were now to be liable for prosecution on grounds as vague as "fomenting revolution." Communists were barred from working in defense plants and denied passports. Members of overseas "subversive organizations" were denied visas to enter the country. Truman vetoed the bill. Congress easily overrode his veto.

Of particular importance in fanning public fears were the efforts of the FBI and the Justice Department to prove a communist conspiracy to steal America's atomic secrets for the Soviet Union. The early explosion of a Russian nuclear weapon made such charges credible. And the testimony in 1950 of Klaus Fuchs, a young British scientist, that he had delivered to the Russians full details of the manufacture of the bomb gave the charges substance. Through an arcane series of connections, the case ultimately settled on an obscure New York couple, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, members of the Communist party, whom the government claimed had been the masterminds of the conspiracy. The Rosenbergs had allegedly received the information from Ethel's brother, a machinist who had worked on the Manhattan Project, and passed it on to the Soviet Union. Several witnesses corroborated the story; although the Rosenbergs vehemently denied any guilt, they were found guilty and, on April 5, 1951, sentenced to death. A rising chorus of public protests and a long string of appeals failed to save them. On June 19, 1953, they died in the electric chair.

All these factorsthe HUAC investigations, the Hiss trial, the loyalty investigations, the McCarran Act, the Rosenberg case, and morecombined, by the early 1950s, to create a paranoia about communist subversion that seemed to grip the entire country. State and local governments launched loyalty programs of their own, dismissing thousands of employees. Local courts began handing down extraordinarily harsh sentences to defendants convicted of anything resembling subversion. Schools and universities rooted out teachers suspected of teaching "un- American" ideas. Unions found themselves under continuing assault for suspected (and sometimes real) communist leanings. And a pervasive fear settled on the countrynot only the fear of communist infiltration but the fear of being suspected of communism. It was a climate that made possible the rise of an extraordinary public figure, whose behavior at any other time would have been dismissed as preposterous.


Joseph McCarthy was an undistinguished, first-term, Republican senator from Wisconsin when, in February 1950, he suddenly burst into national prominence. In the midst of a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, he raised a sheet of paper into the air and claimed to "hold in my hand" a list of 205 known communists currently working in the American State Department. No person of comparable stature had ever made so bold a charge against the federal government; and in the weeks to come, as McCarthy repeated and expanded on his accusations, he emerged as the nation's preeminent leader of the crusade against communism.

He had seized on the issue less out of a deep concern about domestic subversion than because he needed something with which to run for reelection in 1952. And he continued to exploit the issue for the next four years because, to his surprise, it won him fame and notoriety beyond his wildest dreams. His rise was meteoric. Within weeks of his charges against the State Department he was expanding his accusations to other agencies. After 1952, with the Republicans in control of the Senate and McCarthy the chairman of a special subcommittee, he conducted highly publicized investigations of subversioninvestigations that probed virtually every area of the government. His unprincipled assistants, Roy Cohn and David Schine, sauntered arrogantly through federal offices and American embassies overseas looking for evidence of communist influence. One hapless government official after another found himself summoned before McCarthy's subcommittee, where the senator belligerently and often cruelly badgered witnesses and destroyed public careers.

In the course of this extraordinary crusade, not once did McCarthy produce conclusive evidence that any federal employee had communist ties. But much of the public seemed not to care. A growing constituency adored him for his coarse, "fearless" assaults on a government establishment that many considered arrogant, effete, even effeminate. They admired his efforts to expose the "traitors" who had, he claimed, riddled the Truman administration. They even tolerated his attacks on public figures who earlier would have been considered unassailable, men such as General George C. Marshall and Governor Adlai Stevenson. Republicans, in particular, rallied to his claims that the Democrats had been responsible for "twenty years of treason," that only a change of parties could rid the country of subversion. McCarthy, in short, provided his followers with an issue into which they could channel a wide range of resentments: fear of communism, animosity toward the country's "Eastern establishment," and frustrated partisan ambitions.

For several years, McCarthy terrorized American public life, intimidating all but a very few from speaking out in opposition to him. In 1952, when some Democratic senators dared to denounce him, McCarthy openly campaigned against their reelection, and several went down to defeat. Journalists and intellectuals, with some notable exceptions, drew back from challenging him for fear of being themselves discredited by his attack. Even the highly popular Dwight D. Eisenhower, running for president in 1952, did not dare to oppose him. Outraged at McCarthy's attacks on General Marshall, Eisenhower briefly considered issuing a public protest. In the end, however, he remained silent.

The Republican Revival

Public frustration over the stalemate in Korea and popular fears of internal subversion combined to make 1952 an inhospitable year for the Democratic party. Truman, whose own popularity had diminished almost to the vanishing point, wisely withdrew from that year's presidential contest, creating the first open battle for the nomination since 1932. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee launched a spirited campaign, performing well in the primaries. But party leaders ultimately settled on Governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, whose early reluctance to run seemed only to enhance his attractiveness.

Stevenson's dignity, wit, and eloquence quickly made him a beloved figure to many liberals and intellectuals, who developed a devotion to him that they had never offered Harry Truman. But those same qualities seemed only to fuel Republican charges that Stevenson lacked the strength or the will to combat communism sufficiently. McCarthy described him as "soft" and took delight in deliberately confusing him with Alger Hiss.

Stevenson's greatest problem, however, was the candidate the Republicans chose to oppose him. Rejecting the efforts of conservatives to nominate either Robert Taft or Douglas MacArthur, the Republicans turned to a man who had had so little previous iden-tification with the party that liberal Democrats had tried to draft him four years earlier. Their choice was General Dwight D. Eisenhower, military hero, former commander of NATO, now president of Columbia University in New York. Despite a vigorous struggle by the Taft forces, Eisenhower won nomination on the first ballot. He chose as his running mate the young California senator who had won national prominence through his crusade against Alger Hiss: Richard M. Nixon.

Eisenhower and Nixon proved to be a powerful combination in the autumn campaign. While Eisenhower attracted support by virtue of his geniality and his statesmanlike pledges to settle the Korean conflict (at one point dramatically promising to "go to Korea" himself), Nixon effectively exploited the issue of domestic anticommunism. After surviving early accusations of financial improprieties (which he effectively neutralized in a famous television address, the "Checkers speech"), Nixon went on to launch harsh attacks on Democratic "cowardice," "appeasement," and "treason." He spoke derisively of "Adlai the appeaser" and ridiculed Secretary of State Dean Acheson for running a "cowardly college of communist containment." And he missed no opportunity to publicize Stevenson's early support for Alger Hiss as opposed to Nixon's own role in exposing Hiss's misdeeds. Eisenhower and Nixon both made effective use of allegations of corruption in the Truman administration and pledged repeatedly to "clean up the mess in Washington."

The response at the polls was overwhelming. Eisenhower won both a popular and an electoral landslide: 55 percent of the popular vote to Stevenson's 44 percent, 442 electoral votes to Stevenson's 89. Republicans gained marginal control of both houses of Congress; but it was clear that their presidential candidate was far more popular than the party as a whole. Nevertheless, the election of 1952 ended twenty years of largely uninterrupted Democratic control of the federal government. And while it might not have seemed so at the time, it also signaled the end of the turbulent postwar era and the beginning of a period marked by a search for cohesion and stability.



Origins of the Cold War

No issue in recent American history has produced more controversy than that of the origins of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In particular» historians have disagreed as to who was responsible for the breakdown of American-Soviet relations and whether the conflict between the two superpowers was inevitable or could have been avoided.

For more than a decade after the end of World War II, few historians saw any reason to challenge the official American interpretation of the beginnings of the Cold War. Thomas A. Bailey spoke for most students of the conflict when he argued, in America Faces Russia (1950), that the breakdown of relations was a direct result of aggressive Soviet policies of expansion in the immediate postwar years. Stalin's government violated solemn promises he had made in the Yalta accords, imposed Soviet-dominated governments on the unwilling nations of Eastern Europe, and schemed to spread communismthroughout the world. American pol-icy was the logical and necessary response: a firm commitment to oppose Soviet expansionism and to retain its armed forces in a continual state of preparedness.

The American involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s disillusioned many historians with the premises of the containment policy and thus with the traditional view of the origins of the Cold War. But even before the conflict in Asia had reached major proportions, the first works in what would become known as the "revisionist" interpretation began to appear. William Appleman Williams began to challenge the accepted wisdom as early as 1952; and in 1959 he published The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, which studied the Cold War in the context of American foreign policy throughout the twentieth century. The United States had operated in world affairs, Williams argued, in response to one overriding concern: its commitment to maintaining an "open door" for American trade in world markets. The confrontation with the Soviet Union, therefore, was less a response to Russian aggressive designs than an expression of the American belief in the necessity of capitalist expansion.

Later revisionists modified many of Williams's claims. But most accepted some of the basic outlines of his thesis: that the United States had been primarily to blame for the Cold War; that the Soviet Union had displayed no aggressive designs toward the West (and was so weak and exhausted at the end of World War II as to be unable to pose any serious threat to America in any case); that the United States had used its nuclear monopoly to attempt to threaten and intimidate Stalin; that Harry Truman had recklessly abandoned the conciliatory policies of Franklin Roosevelt and taken a provocative hard line against the Russians; and that the Soviet response had reflected a legitimate fear of capitalist encirclement. Walter LaFeber, in America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1961 (1967), maintained that America's supposedly idealistic internationalism at the close of the warits vision of "One World," with every nation in control of its own destinywas in reality an effort to ensure a world shaped in the American image, with every nation open to American influence (and to American trade).

Crucial to many revisionist arguments has been the American decision to use atomic weapons against Japan in the closing days of World War II. As early as 1948, a British physicist, P. M. S. Blackctt, wrote in Fear, War, and the Bomb that the destruction of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki was "not so much the last military act of the second World War as the first major operation of the cold diplomatic war with Russia." Gar Alperovitz expanded that idea in Atomic Diplomacy (1965), in which he claimed that American decision makers used the bombs on an already defeated Japan not to win the war (for the war was already won) but to impress and intimidate the Soviets, to make them more "manageable." In fact Alperovitz argued, this atomic diplomacy had the opposite effect: It convinced the Soviet Union of America's hostile intentions and helped bring about the Cold War.

Ultimately, the revisionist interpretation began to produce a reaction of its own, what some have called the "counterrevisionist" view of the conflict. Some manifestations of this reaction have consisted of little more than a reaffirmation of the traditional view of the Cold War. Herbert Feis, for example, argued in The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II (1966) that the revisionist claim that the use of nuclear weapons on Japan was a tactic to intimidate the Soviets was unfounded, that Truman had made his decision on purely military groundsto ensure a speedy American victory and eliminate the need for what was expected to be a long and costly invasion of Japan. Others challenged the revisionists by accepting some of their findings but rejecting their most important claims. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., admitted in a 1967 article that the Soviets may not have been committed to world conquest, as most earlier accounts had claimed. Nevertheless, the Soviets (and Stalin in particular) were motivated by a deep-seated paranoia about the West, which made them insistent on dominating Eastern Europe and rendered any amicable relationship between them and the United States impossible.

But the dominant works of counterrevisionist scholarship have attempted to strike a balance between the two camps, to identify areas of blame and misconception on both sides of the conflict. Thomas G. Paterson, in Soviet-American Confrontation (1973), viewed Russian hostility and Amer-ican efforts to dominate the postwar world as equally responsible for the Cold War. John Lewis Gaddis, in the United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947 (1972), similarly maintained that "neither side can bear sole responsibility for the onset of the Cold War." American policymakers, he argued, had only limited options because of the pressures of domestic politics. And Stalin was immobilized by his obsessive concern with maintaining his own power and ensuring absolute security for the Soviet Union. But if neither side is entirely to blame, Gaddis concluded, the Soviets must be held at least slightly more accountable for the problems; for Stalin was in a much better position to compromise, given his broader power within his own government, than the politically hamstrung Truman.

Out of the postrevisiomst literature has begun to emerge a new and more complex view of the Cold War, one that de-emphasizes the question of who was to blame and adopts a more detached view of the conflict. The Cold War, recent historians suggest, was not so much the fault of one side or the other as it was the natural result, perhaps the inevitable result, of predictable tensions between tye world's two most powerful nations two nations that had been suspicious of, if not hostile toward, one another for nearly a century. As Ernest May has written, in a 1984 essay:

"After the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union were doomed to be antagonists. . . . There probably was never any real possibility that the post-1945 relationship could be anything but hostility verging on conflict. . . . Tra-ditions, belief systems, propinquity, and convenience ... all combined to stimulate antagonism, and almost no factor operated in either country to hold it back."



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