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In what ways did the administration of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon continue the containment policy of President Truman?


A basic fear of Americans is toward the foreigners, the people who are different. This has been appeared often in our history in such occurrences as the Know Noting Party, the KKK, the Palmer Raids, and the containment policy. The first three were domestic developments directed out of fear against people and ideas that were different. The foreign policy known as “containment,?however, developed in the Truman years following the ideas expressed in the famous “X?article in Foreign Affairs, reflecting the fears of the American people and government that the communist Soviet Union was a threat to America.


The foreign aid program was given to make underdeveloped countries capable of resisting the advances of communism. Foreign aid was first used by President Truman and later by the other four presidents. The containment policy held that the west should meet every communist move with equal pressure. It became clear that Europe would have to be rebuilt if it were to help in applying this pressure. The Marshall Plan was developed in 147 to do this. The first clear statement of containment was the Truman Doctrine which, following a Soviet threat to Greece and Turkey, stated that the U.S. would aid any nation threatened by communist power internally or externally. When the Soviet Union blocked the land transportation routes to Berlin in 148, the Truman administration pushed for the establishment of the North Atlantic Treat Organization, a mutual defense pact subscribed to by most of the nations ringing the Atlantic area and extending through the Mediterranean to Turkey.





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It was under Eisenhower that the Domino Theory was first expressed which held that if one country in southeast Asia becomes a communist country, the other countries would fall like dominos. The French in Indochina were aided under this reasoning just as the Greek government had been under Truman when the U.S. was keeping Greece in its side. This also was the beginning of the long U.S. involvement in Indochina to prevent a communist government in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The basic foreign policy of the Eisenhower administration was containment by Brinkmanship, Dulles?idea of threatening nuclear retaliation for any aggressive communist moves, showing how the U.S. was guided by fear of those who were different from us.


Kennedy enlarged the foreign aid program. The Peace Corps and an increased emphasis upon the Good Neighbor Policy in South America were part of the aid policy. It was rooted in America’s fear that Castro’s Cuban communism would spread to South America if not blocked. The Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of war, but Kennedy proved that the U.S. would not permit the Soviet Union to establish a military base in its hemisphere. It was a classic example of the containment policy at work and was designed to keep those who are different out of the country.


Kennedy’s foreign policy program was inherited by Johnson, his successor. The Johnson years were primarily the time of an enlargement of the Vietnam conflict into a full-scale bloody war. The Vietnam War was the focus of most of the attention of Johnson’s administration and is an excellent example of how he followed the containment policy. Other examples of his pursuing this policy can be seen in the Middle East and in Central America where troops were sent into the Dominican Republic.


Nixon’s efforts to end the Vietnam War, to establish good relations with China, and d?ente with the Soviet Union may appear to go against containment. In reality, they were merely other ways of achieving the same goal. Nixon hoped China and the Soviets would contain each other if we were friendlier with each of them.


The Eisenhower through Nixon administrations saw the enlargement of the containment policy to include Western Europe and the Far East, but also Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America as well. The programs which have been and are a part of that policy have ranged widely, but the motive behind them has been to block the spread of that fearful quantity known as communism.





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