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The History of the United States
Discuss America's place in the world just before and then a change after WWII. Explain how and why America got into WWII? What shaped American foreign policy after that and what were the effects of the Truman Doctrine on the beginnings of the Cold War in the late 1940's? How did a policy of containment work at home and abroad? What did former CIA agent John Stockwell mean by "third world war" when addressing U.S. foreign affairs after WWII? What evidence supports such a claim? What conflicts/wars resulted and what was their outcome? Was this policy successful? Why and/or why not? What patterns of mistakes were repeated tracing from Vietnam to Iraq? Do these undermine or further American Hegemony? Explain. Are these wars of the past ongoing under a new title, "the war on terrorism?" Support all statements and be specific. (3 pages)
Before World War II began, America's self-identified place in the world was not that of an isolated nation, surrounded by two vast oceans on either side, as it had often regarded itself during the days before World War I. In other words, by involving itself in the 'War to end all Wars,' America broke with its long-standing 19th century policy of refusing to become a participant in European affairs. However, the subsequent American refusal of Congress to allow America to become a part of Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations showed that the previous era of American involvement would be followed by America's immediate retraction from international politics and a backlash, sending it back to adopting its isolationist policies once again during the 1920's.
Just before World War II was about to break out, America had grown more involved in supporting Great Britain against the Nazi powers. Great Britain alone stood stalwart and free, fighting the Axis powers after France fell to the Germans in 1940. The complete Nazi victory in Europe would have been catastrophic for democracy in Europe and thus in America as well. 1940 and 1941, the United States was officially neutral but often covertly acted in aiding the Allied powers that were engaged in formal armed conflict.
The official start of World War II for the United States, the day that would live in infamy (in the words of President Roosevelt) occurred on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese armed forces attacked ships and facilities at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States immediately declared war on Japan. The next day Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. After VE or 'Victory Europe,' Day it was determined that the United States would not make the same political errors as it had after the termination of World War I and isolate itself from European affairs. The Truman Doctrine was an active and committed statement of the United States' resolution to remain dedicated to anticommunism at home and abroad. Truman believed it must be the policy of the United States to support all free peoples resisting subjugation by internal and external armed minority and communist organizations, such as was then transpiring in Greece.
President Truman saw the communist group in Greece as a faction acting against the larger interests of Greece as a free nation. Truman saw the world as divided into free and enslaved, communist and capitalist, and his resolve to aid those armed liberation groups who wished to remain free sowed the seeds of the containment policy of the 1940s. The United States policy of containment fell into full swing during this decade as Soviet encroachments into Eastern Europe threatened world stability. Containment tacitly accepted the dominance of the Soviet Union in the Eastern European block of the Warsaw Pact but drew a line in the sand -- or in the air, as in the case of the Berlin airlift -- against further Soviet advancement into European territory. A Third World War was initially feared in nuclear terms, but the 'third,' really the 'Cold' War, as John Stockwell as noted, became waged in a series of conflicts over an extended period of time between the powers rather than outright, stated combat in a formal state of war. Atomic and nuclear threats were always implied, never enacted, in fact the threat acted as a deterrent to full fledged action.
Instead, the United States pursued a diplomatic and also a guerrilla form of containment policy in Europe. Containment, however, was not always a defensive action. Of course, to some extent the Berlin airlift itself was proactive, as it actively involved the airlifting of goods into free West Berlin. But containment combined with the Truman doctrine reached its foremost 'peak' as it began to include the defense of South Korea against North Korean encroachment, and an attempt to keep Vietnam 'communist free' as well. Containment became a policy waged largely in non-European lands, from China to Cuba. Any nation that did not become part of the Soviet empire was seen as a victory for the United States.
The fallacy of this bipolar, or self-centered thinking on the part of both of the major world powers, unfortunately, was that America refused to take into account regional differences when evaluating a conflict. It applied the same standards to evaluating the Vietnam conflict, for example, during its initial stages, as it had Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe, freely elected and evolving governments were encroached upon by a major world powers committed to domination for its own strategic buffering. But although the Soviet Union, in the interests of the supposed international doctrine of communism, may have provided support to such militia groups as the Viet Cong in other lands, the dynamic of the conflict was not the same. Vietnam was an ancient but long-colonized nation. Most of the Vietnamese people cared little about the international struggle of communism or Western freedom. Rather, they identified the South Vietnamese with the former French colonizers, and they looked to Ho Chi Min as a nationalist liberator who perhaps 'happened' to embrace communism as an ideology, but only because it was anti-Western and anti-French.
Thus, the refusal to regard nations as integral in their own internal as well as their significance in external and United States foreign policy countries to trouble U.S. foreign policy makers. This pattern of mistakes marks a kind of hegemonic way of thinking on the part of America as a world power, whereby all world policies are subsumed under one, without regard for local variation and internal country's self-perceptions and continues to dominate the thinking of regarding Iraq and the 'war on terror,' where all Arabic, Islamic, or Muslim nations are grouped into the same ideology, despite a multiplicity of ethnic conflicts, ideological conflicts between Islamic factions, and other distinctions between the nations of the Islamic world.
Question 2: The Great Depression was a worldwide development. Discuss the causes of it in the U.S. And then FDR's answer in 1933. What was the New Deal and what were its numerous programs and provisions? Include elements of relief, recovery, and reform. What was its purpose-progressive or pragmatic- was it radical or a reaction and did it end the depression for America? Did it have historical precedent and did it spawn any future movements? Be specific. (3 pages)
Before the Great Depression, excessive speculation kept the stock market artificially high. This sowed the seeds for the severity of the market's eventual crash and the crash's spiraling impact across the country. The speculation was based in the creation of money on paper rather than money based in real created wealth. There was also an oversupply of goods in the manufacturing sector, because of the very large wealth gap in the United States at the time, between the haves and the have-nots. This disparity also meant that when the wealthier 'haves' lost much of their cash in the crash, there was little income flowing in the lower and middle sectors of the economy to sustain America.
The agricultural sector had recently suffered the effects of over farming that spiraled into the Dust Bowl. Banking was poorly regulated and there were few federal restrictions about lending capital or about how many reserves a bank had to keep on hand. On an international level, the United States was far more prosperous than Europe, enacting heavy tariffs on foreign goods, but acting as the major creditor nation of the depleted world powers abroad. When the United States economy collapsed, so did the world's economy, as the United States had been propping up the rest of the world with its spending and credit.
To remedy this, President Roosevelt's New Deal solution embraced the philosophy of Keynesian economics as a solution to the Great Depression. Traditional economic theory suggested that demand created employment, and that prices were flexible -- eventually the price of goods would become so low, people would buy the goods, and employers would hire more workers, who would then spend more money. But during a severe depression, Keynes suggested that people hoard their money, because individuals do not…[continue]
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