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Prepare: Read Chapters 10, 11 and 12 in the textbook, and watch the video, The House We Live
In
Link/reference to video:
Smith, L. M. (Producer, Director, & Writer). (2003). The house we live in (Links to an external
site.)Links to an external site. [Series episode]. In L. Adelman (Executive producer) Race: The
power of an illusion. Retrieved from
https://secure.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=49736&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0
&w=640&h=480 &ref=
Reflect: The post-war era of the United States is often looked back on as a â??Golden Eraâ? yet this
was also a period of tension, both at home and abroad. Consider the major events of the Cold
War, consider the impact of the Cold War on the world, particularly in places like Germany,
Cuba, Vietnam, Korea, Chile, and Afghanistan.
Also consider the impact that the Cold War had at home, particularly on American culture and
society. Reflect deeper on the state of American society in this time period; on the social,
economic, and technological gains, but also on the inequalities that existed, particularly those
discussed in The House We Live In .Think about how this period, which was a golden era for
some, created the need for movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, the American Indian
Movement, the Womenâ??s Movement, and movements for immigrantsâ?? rights such as the National
Farm Workers Association and Chicano Movement.
Write: Based on information from your textbook and the required video, assess the changes of
the Cold War era at home and abroad:
â?¢
â?¢
â?¢
At Home: Select one of the following movements, your chosen movement should be
included in the title of your discussion post:
o Civil Rights Movement
o American Indian Movement
o Womenâ??s Movement
o National Farm Workers Movement/or Chicano Movement
Answer the following questions:
o What conditions existed which created the need for this movement.
o What did this movement accomplish?
o What was the United States Governmentâ??s response to this movement?
o What is an issue that remains to this day?
Abroad: How did the United Statesâ?? relationship to the world change during the Cold
War, and to what extent did this pave the way for the events that we are witnessing in the
world today? Provide at least one specific example of a foreign policy event which took
place during the Cold War to support your position.
Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Your post should make reference to the
required materials and video with in-text citations.
10 The Cold War Era
Everett Collection/SuperStock
With the onset of the Cold War, some American families
began constructing elaborate underground fallout
shelters outfitted with supplies in case of a nuclear
attack. This shelter was constructed in the early 1950s.
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American Lives: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Pre-Test
1. In 1947 Americans feared a slow progression of communism throughout the world and
developed a foreign policy stance to limit it through containment. T/F
2. With the United States and its Allies victorious in World War II, there was little need to
further strengthen its military. T/F
3. The House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings to uncover Communist and
subversive activities in the nation. T/F
4. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called his approach to domestic policies dynamic
conservatism. T/F
5. During Eisenhowerâ??s tenure, he and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, redefined
the approach to foreign policy from containment to massive retaliation. T/F
Answers can be found at the end of the chapter.
Learning Objectives
By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:
â?¢
â?¢
â?¢
â?¢
â?¢
List the factors that contributed to the Cold War.
Describe the ways that U.S. foreign policy changed during the Cold War.
Explain why Truman had difficulty fully implementing his domestic agenda.
Discuss how McCarthyism and anticommunism affected different segments of society.
Describe how Cold War foreign policy led to U.S. involvement in conflicts in Asia.
American Lives: Julius and
Ethel Rosenberg
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are the only U.S. citizens to
have been executed during peacetime for spying for
a foreign government. They were indicted on August
17, 1950, and charged with espionage by conspiring
to provide U.S. military secretsâ??including information about the atomic bombâ??to the Soviet Union.
As facts in the case became known, some American
officials began to believe that the secret information
proved key to the Soviet Unionâ??s development of its
own atomic weapon.
Julius Rosenberg was born in New York City in 1918
to Jewish immigrants from Poland, and he earned a
degree in electrical engineering from the City College
of New York in 1939. While in college he became a
student leader in the Young Communist League USA,
the youth wing of the American Communist Party.
Ethel Greenglass, born in New York in 1915, flirted
bar82063_10_c10_307-340.indd 308
Everett Collection/SuperStock
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg leave
federal court after being indicted on
espionage charges.
1/9/15 9:34 AM
Origins of the Cold War
Section 10.1
with a stage career but eventually worked as a secretary for a shipping firm. She met Julius at a
meeting of the Young Communist League, and the two married in 1939.
Communists had been involved in successful unionization drives during the Depression and
World War II, which had reinforced their popularity. Like a small but growing segment of American citizens, the Rosenbergs came to believe that the capitalist United States provided little
opportunity for the working classes and that the Communist Party USA was the best advocate
for democratic rights and economic justice.
During the war, Julius worked as an engineer at a U.S. Army Signal Corps laboratory, but he was
fired in 1945 for his involvement with the Communist Party. Until his discharge, his wartime
work gave Julius access to classified reports on military operations and electronic and communications projects. At some point in 1942, Soviet intelligence agents recruited Julius and
encouraged him to pass on these military secrets. Julius recruited others for the Soviet espionage scheme as well, including Ethelâ??s brother David Greenglass, who worked on the top secret
Manhattan Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Greenglass provided the
Soviet spy network with top secret information on the U.S. atomic bomb project.
The Soviet Union, initially far behind in nuclear technology, shocked the world by testing its
own atomic bomb on August 29, 1949. Although intelligence agencies uncovered no direct link
between the Rosenbergs and the Soviet bomb, the nation learned of their alleged conspiracy
through an investigation shortly after the Soviet test. Passing key American intelligence to the
Soviets was a shocking crime, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Greenglass, and several other
conspirators were arrested and indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917.
Greenglass offered key evidence against his sister and brother-in-law and served just over
9 years in prison. A handful of other conspirators also testified against the couple. Convicted of
espionage, the Rosenbergs were sentenced to death and executed by electric chair on June 19,
1953 (Burnett, 2004).
Until their deaths, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg proclaimed their innocence but offered no evidence save their own testimony. In 1995 the federal government released a series of documents
relating to the case that confirmed Juliusâ??s involvement as a courier and recruiter for Soviet
intelligence. Ethelâ??s involvement remains unclear.
For further thought:
1. What does the Rosenberg case suggest about competition between the United States
and the Soviet Union?
2. Did the Rosenbergsâ?? punishment fit the crime?
10.1 Origins of the Cold War
World War II left most of Europe in shambles. Millions were homeless because the war
destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and public buildings. The European economy
was similarly devastated, with much of the industrial infrastructure destroyed or heavily
damaged. Great Britain was heavily in debt to the United States and was forced to borrow
even more to begin reconstruction. The Soviet Union had suffered severe population losses,
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Origins of the Cold War
Section 10.1
including nearly 8.7 million military deaths and 19 million noncombat deaths from starvation, disease, and German prison camps and mass shootings. The USSR also experienced a
significant reduction in industrial and food production in the immediate postwar period.
Unable to quickly rebuild, European business elites, conservatives, and even liberals lost
ground to Socialists and Communists, who supported the nationalization of banks, manufacturing, and utilities. Smaller European nations such as Greece and Italy also saw major
advances by their own homegrown Communist parties. At the warâ??s end, the United States,
with its political stability and rapid economic growth, stood as the lone strong nation among
the struggling former combatants. Still, some feared that a Communist upsurge could shake
the United States and challenge the nationâ??s traditions of free enterprise and capitalism.
In this uncertain environment, despite its huge losses, the Soviet Union was the only other
world power that had the ideological confidence and military might to join the United
States in shaping the new world order. Although the United States and the USSR depended
on one another for victory in the war, the alliance between them was tenuous. The Sovietsâ??
Communist-based ideology, culture, and economic system, as well as the dictatorial control of
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, stood in stark contrast to American democratic values and capitalism. Although some hoped that the alliance between the two nations would last beyond the
war, the relationship quickly began to unravel once the common threat of German aggression
was removed.
The United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a protracted struggle in which their
clash of ideas and values was as central as their military and diplomatic rivalry. Beginning in
the immediate postwar era, this so-called Cold War was as integral to the restructuring of the
new world order as was the physical rebuilding of war-torn Europe and Japan.
Roots of the Conflict
When Harry S. Truman assumed the presidency following Rooseveltâ??s death in April 1945,
he faced some of the most delicate and worrisome troubles of any American president. With
little experience in international affairs, he confronted the growing division between the
United States and the Soviet Union that began during the war, as evidenced in the tensions
over Poland at the Yalta conference. His decisions during and immediately after World War II
fostered a half century of global competition with the USSR that held dramatic consequences
for the entire world.
Both the United States and the Soviet Union hoped to reshape the world according to their own
values, beliefs, and economic systems. The growth of global institutions such as the United
Nations and the World Bank fostered the American vision of a world based on democracy,
international cooperation, and economic prosperity, especially in Western Europe and Asia.
The Soviets, who occupied significant parts of Eastern Europe and Germany at the warâ??s end,
sought to spread their influence and Communist system to that region of the world. Concern
arose that the Soviets were building an empire of sorts through their influence in Eastern
Europe and that the free Polish elections Stalin had promised at Yalta would not materialize.
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Origins of the Cold War
Section 10.1
Trumanâ??s response to these developments included actions that were intended to win allies
and achieve access to free markets and raw materials, as well as spread freedom and democracy. As president, he bore responsibility for maintaining a precarious balance between
actions that enhanced postwar economic growth and those that might halt the spread of
Soviet influence.
American diplomat George Kennan offered Truman and his secretary of state a close assessment of the USSR in his so-called Long Telegram, issued from Moscow in February 1946.
He told the president that it appeared the Soviets were seeking to expand their power. He
advised that the Sovietsâ?? â??neurotic view of world affairsâ? was rooted in a â??traditional and
instinctive Russian sense of insecurity.� Kennan worried that the Soviets would spread their
influence to people â??in Europe at least, [who] are tired and frightened by experiences of past,
and are less interested in abstract freedom than in security� (Kennan, 1946). He advised the
United States to take action to contain or counter this Soviet expansionism. This was the first
assertion of the containment policy that came to guide American actions during the Cold
War (Casey, 2001).
The first conflict of the Cold War emerged from the Soviet occupation of northern Iran, where
Stalin sought control over that nationâ??s immense oil resources. Pressure from the United
States and Britain, and especially a resolution from the UN Security Council, resulted in a
withdrawal, but the USSR was not so willing to back away from Eastern Europe, which it had
occupied since the end of the war.
At Yalta, Britain and the United States tacitly agreed to allow the Soviet Union to influence
Eastern European nations and direct reconstruction there. The Soviets installed and supported Communist-friendly governments in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Some of the
governments of Eastern Europe were chosen through elections, as Stalin had promised, but
manipulation of the electoral process assured that Soviet Communist influence spread to
the region. Instead of developing free and democratic governments, these Eastern European
nations fell under Soviet control and aligned ideologically with communism. The Soviets justified their actions in Eastern Europe as analogous to Britainâ??s empire building in Asia and
Africa or U.S. interventions in Latin America.
Fear of spreading communism was a real and palpable concern for leaders elsewhere in
Europe as well. Citizens of many European nations welcomed the ideas behind the Communist
philosophy. Government control of transportation systems and utilities, for example, helped
restore badly needed services to war-torn areas, and many supported whatever measures
would restore prewar life as soon as possible. For these reasons, Communist Party membership increased dramatically from the Depression era through 1947. In Italy, party membership grew from 5,000 to an incredible 1.7 million. In Czechoslovakia, Communist numbers
rose from 28,000 to 750,000, and in Greece from 17,000 to 70,000 (Goldberg, Rearden, &
Condit, 1984).
By stark contrast, the United States witnessed a sharp decline in Communist Party membership. Peaking at between 75,000 and 85,000 members in 1945, mostly union workers, by 1956 the party held fewer than 22,000 members and continued to steadily decline
(Davis, 1992).
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Origins of the Cold War
Section 10.1
Containment and the Truman Doctrine
Early in 1947, conflict in Greece and Turkey spurred Truman to make his first application of
the containment policy. A civil war in Greece pitted a weak monarch against a growing Communist rebellion. Farther to the south and east, Turkey was under pressure from the Soviets
to allow them access to the waterway linking the Black and the Mediterranean Seas. Both
nations struggled with corrupt and undemocratic governments. Initially receiving British aid,
both governments faced possible overthrow when the British announced they were no longer
able to afford to keep their troops in that region and planned to focus attention on their own
reconstruction. The British asked the Americans to take over their role and especially to
provide monetary aid.
Although neither country faced a direct Soviet takeover, American officials, concerned that instability
in the region might cut off Western access to the oilrich Middle East, urged action. Senate leader Arthur
Vandenberg advised the president to intervene in
Greece and Turkey, a radical departure for American foreign policy (T. Morgan, 2003). According to
Vandenberg, if Truman wanted to get people to support this new direction, he should â??make a personal
appearance before Congress and scare hell out of
the country� (as cited in Lucas, 1999, p. 8).
© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis
President Harry S. Truman altered the
nationâ??s foreign policy when he declared
the United States would support seekers
of freedom and democracy around the
world.
On March 12, 1947, Truman addressed a joint session of Congress and declared, â??At the present
moment in world history nearly every nation must
choose between alternative ways of life.� He then
presented two options. One choice was for nations
to be governed by the will of the majority. This
occurred, as in the United States, when nations had
representative governments and supported freedoms of speech, liberty, and religion.
The other option, the one chosen by the Soviet
Union, was government by the will of the minority
and the use of terror and oppression to impose a
way of life. Soviet officials fixed elections, controlled
the press, and suppressed personal freedoms.
Truman concluded by saying:
I believe 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. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own
destinies in their own way. . . . We must take immediate and resolute action.
(as cited in Merrill & Paterson, 2009, p. 201)
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Origins of the Cold War
Section 10.1
This new policy, dubbed the Truman Doctrine, fundamentally shaped the United Statesâ??
approach to the Cold War by providing justification for America to exert its influence, promote the growth of democracy, and resist the spread of communism throughout the world.
Truman argued, for example, that on the basis of this policy the United States should support the pro-Western government in Greece with a monetary commitment, though not with
American troops.
Some in Congress expressed concern that the plan increased the powers of the president
and represented a significant economic burden, but the growing fears about a world split
between communism and democracy overrode those reservations. Initiating a long-lasting
Cold War consensus in Congress, Republicans and Democrats authorized $400 million to
support Greece in its civil war and neighboring Turkey with military aid (T. Morgan, 2003).
â??Scaring the hellâ? out of the American people helped set the stage for the paranoid tone of the
Cold War.
The United States and the World
The shift in foreign policy under the Truman Doctrine necessitated a reorganization and redirection of diplomatic energy and the creation of new government structures aimed at containing communism. The National Security Act of 1947 combined the Department of War
and the Department of the Navy to create a Department of Defense and further defined and
consolidated military command. A Joint Chiefs of Staff composed of a representative from
each military division advised the secretary of defense, a new cabinet-level post. The act also
created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to engage in secret military actions and gather
intelligence abroad. Coordinating actions of the CIA and various military branches was the
National Security Council, a body of presidential advisors knowledgeable on issues of foreign
policy and military action (Walker, 1993).
Military power and covert intelligence gathering thus formed one arm of the nationâ??s conta …
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