How did the arms race between the U. S. and the Soviet Union arise?
At the end of World War II the first nuclear bombs made their appearance when the U. S. dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a fact that both the Soviet Union and the United States did not want to actually engage in a war destroying the world with nuclear bombs. However, the proclivity of President Truman to exaggerate the powers he held and the suspicious nature of Stalin regarding capitalist power and the fear of anything foreign brewed a race to see who was more powerful in regards to weaponry.
The United States wanted nothing to do with the spread of communism and wanted to maintain its influence throughout the world. President Truman was under the belief “that the Soviet Union was plotting to take over the world.” The Soviet Union believed that the United States clearly already having developed nuclear weaponry was trying to scare them into being diplomatic with all other countries. When the Baruch plan was introduced in 1946 “which provided for U. S. abandonment of its atomic monopoly only after the world’s fissionable materials were controlled by an international agency”, the Soviet Union became angered that this would only inhibit their ability to develop nuclear capabilities while the U. S continued to build.
How did ideological conflicts contribute to tensions in the Cold War?
President Truman, was a leader who believed in democracy and capitalism and wanted to ensure those beliefs for not only the United States but other countries to which he pledged support. He and his team had developed what they called the policy of containment. This policy was “designed to confront the Russians with unalterable counterforce at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world. ” This policy became one of the driving guides throughout the cold war, which in turn fueled the arms race. Dominance in Europe at the time drove competing plans between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The United States developed a plan for Western Europe called the Marshall Plan which was designed to speed the recovery of post war torn areas by providing financial aid, and also control the spread of communism. The Soviet Union countered by coming up with its own economic plan called the Warsaw Pact. Joseph Stalin, an authoritarian dictator of the Soviet Union and proponent of communism, did not want the Americans or their culture to take the parts of Central and Eastern Europe that they considered their territories. They also didn’t believe in rapid rebuilding of war torn areas. Neither country wanted to the other country to even have the appearance of being more powerful than them. These few examples show why it became a race to maintain power by escalating the power of the weapon and the better way to deliver the weapon.
How the Cold War affected American culture, politics, and everyday life?
The Cold War had a profound effect on every aspect of American society, from everyday life to popular culture, to the politics of the day. The fear of communism and anything that the Soviet Union was involved in dominated conversations, actions, home life and child’s play. The government revived the House Un-American Committee whose main goal was to fish out those that they believed were communist sympathizers. As the people and culture of the United States were strongly influenced by the movies and shows that came out of Hollywood, much like today, the committee focused on the film industry as those that might sway the public towards communism.
There were “ten screenwriters and directors, known as the “Hollywood Ten,” sent to prison for contempt of Congress when they refused to “name names” of suspected communists.” There were people that were simply suspected of communist affiliations, with no real evidence, who could no longer find work and whose careers were over because of the implications of the HUAC.
Another political change (although driven by a religious group) due to the scare of communism, was the changing of The Pledge of Allegiance and the importance placed on it being said daily by all American children. The Knights of Columbus was a Catholic mens group that was worried that our pledge had nothing to separate our Christian belief system in America from the atheist regime in the Soviet Union. They submitted a bill, that was signed by President Eisenhower, to change the wording to “One Nation, Under God.” Eisenhower was quick to support the bill and stated that we should “strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war. ” Changes that appeared more in the everyday lives of Americans were driven by a fear of nuclear warfare, rather than communism per se. The appearance of fallout shelters happened during this timeframe.
Advertised on T. V. as “blueprints for survival in the age of atomic peril”, it would appear that it was a necessary purchase for survival, supported and designed by the U. S. Government. The governments fascination with the Sputnik satellite was also trickled down into society as businesses jumped on the bandwagon. There were toys created by all different retail companies to turn the children into rocket scientists at play. The retail giant Macy’s had a Sputnik store that had the ever so recognizable beep playing in their store and sales people dressed in spacesuits. The idea that the Soviet Union could engage or encroach on the United States at any time had created a daily awareness of the Cold War whether the American public wanted it or not.