Essay Writing Samples

Short Essay on the Cold War and Containment

The term “cold war” refers to a style of ideological conflict in which countries engage in short military conflict while keeping diplomatic relations. “Cold War” is the name given to the period of ideological conflict between the USSR and the United States during the second half of the 20th century (Merriam-Webster). Using this definition, cold wars currently exist between North Korea and South Korea, The United States and China, and The United States and Cuba. In all three, the ideological difference is democracy and communism. These complex situations have been a popular subject of everything from brief essays to exhaustive dissertations.

Containment was the description of a policy by the United States to stop the spread of communism. George Kennan, a Foreign Service officer, explained it in 1946: “the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” (“The World in 1945”) The Truman Doctrine, created by President Harry Truman, laid out a policy of pro-democracy and anti-communism, and it was used as reasoning to give support Greece and Turkey in order to prevent communism from spreading there. The Marshall Plan, created by Secretary of Stage George Marshall, spent $17 billion over four years to help Great Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium recover after World War II. (“Truman”) Both are examples of containment.

The United States entered the Vietnam War because of the Cold War. According to the American Legion website: “The emerging scholarly synthesis interprets the war in the global context of the Cold War that lasted from the aftermath of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this view, Vietnam was neither a crime, a forfeit nor a tragic mistake. It was a proxy conflict in the Cold War.” (“Why we went to war in Vietnam”) The country spent money and lives to ultimately withdraw from the country.

I agree with Jill Labbe’s reasoning in “There’s a Reason Afghanistan is Called the Graveyard of Empires.” She believes that trying to enforce borders in this region is a waste of resources, and that we are being sapped of our blood and treasure. (Labbe) It is another example of failed containment.

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Works Cited

“Cold war – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.” Dictionary and Thesaurus – Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. .

Lind, Michael. “Why we went to war in Vietnam.” The American Legion. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. .

Labbe, J.R. “There’s a reason Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires – News – LakeExpo.” Lake Alert. Daily News Lake of the Ozarks. Free Classifieds.Web. 7 Aug. 2013. .

“Office of the Historian – Department History – Short History – George Kennan and Containment.” Office of the Historian. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. 2013. .

“Office of the Historian – Department History – Short History – The Truman Doctrine and the….” Office of the Historian. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. .

“Office of the Historian – Department History – Short History – The World in 1945.” Office of the Historian. Web. 7 Aug. .


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