Truman Contribution To The Cold War

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The Cold War marked a very significant, yet rarely examined period of American history. It examined the clash between capitalist and communist systems and was immensely different from wars of the past in the sense that it wasn’t a war of outright physical warfare, rather it was a war of ideologies and political systems of two very separate, and influential spheres of power: Communism and the Free World. In that sense, the leaders of the time were a hugely important aspect of the Cold War. Each President—Truman, Nixon and Reagan, had tremendous impact and influence on the way in which the Cold War played out. But, most importantly, it allowed President Ronald Reagan to demonstrate his immense leadership capabilities and strategic-planning…show more content…
On March 12th, 1947, Truman requested that Congress approve aid to Greece and Turkey which was called the Truman Doctrine, and in a way marked the beginning of the Cold War. The purpose of the Doctrine was to, “assist victims of aggression and intimidation throughout the world”, and was easily Truman’s most important contribution to the history of the Cold War (Gaddis, 95). The Doctrine ultimately spurred the enactment of the Marshall Plan. Its purpose was to “jump-start European economies—and simultaneously, that of Japan as well—through a substantial infusion of American assistance” (103). In response to the Marshall Plan, Stalin began really enforcing whatever power he had, “Stalin fell into the trap the Marshall plan laid for him, which was to build the wall that would divide Europe” (32). Stalin’s reaction to the Marshall Plan demonstrated a shift in U.S. policy towards the containment of Soviet influence and gave way to Truman’s approval of NSC-68. The document was essentially an outline of American strategy in response to communism, it greatly increased the defense budget, and to more broadly define it, it allowed America to take “any measures, overt or cover, violent or non-violent” to advance our cause in the Cold War without “jeopardizing the integrity of our system” (170). This eventually gave purpose to the Vietnam War, but conclusively, Truman’s contributions were…show more content…
His take on the war was vastly different from Nixon’s, Reagan ended détente believing that it only perpetuated the war, when it obviously needed to end, “It followed that neither communism nor nuclear weapons should continue to exist, and yet détente was ensuring both did” (217). Reagan decided to take a more forceful route in confronting “the evil empire”, he understood that the Soviet Union’s government-controlled economy could not possibly keep up with American Capitalism, “It was no source of strength for the U.S.S.R. to be sustaining a defense burden that may well have been three times that of the United States by the end of the 1970s, when its gross domestic product was only about one-sixth that the size of its American counterpart” (213). The Soviet Union at this time was beginning to show its weakness, and its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, knew it; even stating that “we can’t go on living like this” (229). It basically became a game of who could out-spend the other in terms of military force, and weapons acquisition and the U.S. was clearly winning, “Oil prices had plummeted leaving the Soviet economy in shambles” (224). This was ultimately the turning point of the war. It can be argued that Reagan was the most important American leader during the Cold War because he knew exactly when to step in and start shutting it down. In 1983 he challenged the concept of Mutual
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