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The Cold War was a long standoff between the USSR and the United States each side’s allies. Though each country was able to mostly put their differences and distrust aside during the 1940s during World War Two to fight the Axis powers, they were not on the best terms. During and immediately after the First World War, American had been very distrustful of the revolution in Russia and anything and anyone associated with the ideology of the Russian communists. America had even contributed troops along with several other countries, to help the “White” or non-communists Russians in their civil war from 1918 to 1920.
Despite this distrust, the standoff of the Cold War really started after Germany was defeated in World War Two. The Soviets took control of all of Eastern Europe, spreading the Communist ideology and setting up puppet governments in these countries. The Soviets were also very distrustful of the Western Countries and their allies, due to ideological differences, past grievances and bellicose talk from both sides. The standoff of the Cold War was soon well underway.
Immediately following the end of World War Two, American decision makers and leaders decided that the best way to combat the Soviet influence was a doctrine known as “Containment.” This would see the US attempting to stop Soviet and/or communist influence in “free nations.” This was best summed up by President Truman in an address to Congress in 1947 in which he stated: “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by outside pressures.” This policy lead to many US interventions and actions attempting to stop Communism, most notably the Korean War in the 1950s and US involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s.
In the early days of the Cold War, many Americans were terrified of Communists infiltration in America. This was actually the second time that this sort of hysteria had happened in the United States, as another Red Scare had occurred in 1919. Hysteria over these fears forced the Government to take a range of actions to combat the perceived threat. During the early 1950s, Federal employees were forced to be analyzed for “loyalty to the US.” Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was one of the leading anti-communist leaders of the time and used his influence to accuse celebrities, intellectuals, and anyone who disagreed with him of being Communists. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover investigated and spied on thousands of Americans suspected of being “communists.” In many cases these people found their lives ruined by these allegations even though in many cases, they were innocent. By the late 1950s, this scare had subsided for the most part. This time period was a great example of how fear can trample American Constitutional rights.
History.com Editors, “Cold War History”, HISTORY.COM, October 27, 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cold-war-history, accessed December 5, 2018
History.com Editors, “Red Scare”, HISTORY.COM, June 1, 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare, accessed December 5, 2018
The Cynical Historian, “The 1919 Red Scare - the craziest year in American history”, 19 May 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4Pi2nYcYNw, accessed December 5, 2018
The Cynical Historian, “The Russian Intervention (1918-1920) | Wars you've never heard of”, 18 November 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mC1bmzbgxY, accessed December 5, 2018
The Cold War was a long standoff between the USSR and the United States each side’s allies. Though each country was able to mostly put their differences and distrust aside during the 1940s during World War Two to fight the Axis powers, they were not on the best terms.