Harry S. Truman has now his terms as president. A new president has stepped up to the plate, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, Eisenhower needs to pick up where Truman had left off. He has to keep the country stable and deal with foreign policies. But, Eisenhower needs to face another issue at hand. With the Cold War going on, Americans are starting to fear the aftermath of the Second World War. From things like the Red Scare to the spread of communism in weak, poor countries, Eisenhower has a big responsibility that he must handle.
With current situations, if Eisenhower does not respond to the fears of the American people, he will have difficulties with internal affairs rather than external affairs. The aftermath of the Second World War made Americans shiver because of the fear of a frontal assault, communism, and arms race. President Eisenhower had a mixed levels of responses to each individual fear.
Although the WWII had ended, Americans now have to worry about another war, the Cold War.
Americans had worried about the war in Europe against the Germans, but now they had to go against one of their allies during the war (the trust was very weak between the United States and Soviet Union which made the alliance very weak overall). Americans now feared for a frontal assault from the Soviets. After WWII, the Soviets (under Stalin’s command) had made advances in their military and were standing toe to toe with the United States in military power.
The problem of Massive Retaliation came from the idea that the Soviet Union had the technology to send missiles directly towards the United States (U.S. New and World Report E). Missiles now had the power to be launched for long distances and explode at an enemy country.
This brought up fear amongst the Americans because not only were they behind in military technology, but they had the ability to blow up a part of America from a long distance away. In a response to this, bomb shelters were created so that the civilians of America could retreat and stay out of harm’s way (Life Magazine C). Life Magazine shows this picture as a common procedure that the government needs to do because they’re in charge of protecting the civilians of the United States, because without them then the government would have no purpose. They see this as a normal solution in order to protect the lives of the people.
One issue, however, did not change. Communism was still the main threat during the time of the Cold War. It was the leading cause of the Red Scare because of communist spies infiltrating the United States. Many people were caused of being communist which caused fear within the Americans because they suspected each other for being communists. This was a time of distrust as no one believed if the person next to them was American or communist. This was one of the main reasons that cause mass hysteria. Eisenhower, during the press conference, says ,”We are fearing what unwise investigators will do to use here at home as they try to combat subversion or briber or deceit within,” (A). Eisenhower understands that communism is causing fear within his people that is causing them to become hysterical. Eisenhower is the current president at this time and as president he knows the circumstances that his people are going to and understands the fear they have to put up with.
Communism wasn’t just an internal problem, it was a problem in other parts of the world. Communism also infiltrated the Americas, but specifically Central and South America. Guatemala has been seduced by the ideas of communism causing the situation to become dangerous in the eyes of the Americans (John Foster Dulles B). Communism is bringing danger for the liberty of other cities and also to America itself because it makes it that much closer from taking over the United States as well. John F. Kennedy during his inaugural address, takes on hand the situation of communism. He says,” Oppose and foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” (I).
Kennedy is standing up and stating that America needs to act and oppose its foes to assure that they survive in the end. He also mentions the idea of “successful liberty.” He wishes to grant this to the countries that are being overrun by the ideals of communism and to ensure that they will be granted freedom from communism’s ideals and make sure that they are protected. JFK’s position as the leader of American shows his charisma and strength of attacking these issues. He sees communism as a threat and understands that America must oppose the foe (communism) and great liberty to the country that is being affected by it.
The responses to communism breathed hope into the hearts of Americans, however, it did not help America’s position in the arms race. The fear was that America has fallen behind in the arms race because the Soviet Union has now surpassed them in the arms race with their new high tech missiles and ability to launch them for very long distances which meant that America was to be ready for a massive retaliation from the Soviets (U.S. New and World Report E). With America being behind, something needed to be done in order for us to catch up to our adversary. From this issue, America started to use most of its budget and spent it on missile programs (Herblock F). Increased funding for missile programs went into effect and most other issues like welfare programs and civilian services was set aside because America needed to catch up to Russia with the arms race.
Herblock understands where America stands in the arms race. Each moment America wastes is a moment that the Soviet Union can use to further advance their military and weapons. Herblock’s cartoons shows that he seems to have a good interpretation of the situation that was occurring during the time and what America needed to do or was doing in order for us to catch up to the Soviets in the race. Statistics show that the Department of Commerce increased the percent of government spending into defenses.
During Eisenhower’s presidency a solid 63% of the government’s spending was being invested into nation defense. Overtime America spent from $68.5 billion dollars to $92.1 billion in the late 60s (Department of Commerce H). This shows how much America ended up spending so that it increase its national defenses, but also tried to catch up to the defense power that the Soviets wielded. This increase in production for defense shows America’s determination and ambition to achieve the level of defense power that the Soviets obtained.
The fear of the spread of communism, arms race, and frontal assaults by the Soviets showed the increasing growth of fear that Americans had within them during the Cold War. However, these fears also show the determination and ambition that the Eisenhower administration had which allowed them to create programs and policies as a response to address the fears of the American public. Fears still exist today and it’s quite possible that America might experience another form of the Cold War in the future. Only time can tell and America has the will to face this problem.
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