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The evolution of american national security policy since the end of second world war
The aim of this work is to account for the evolution of the American national security policy since the end of the World War II.
Charles Kegley divided the history of the American foreign policy of containing the Soviet Union into the five chronologically ordered phases:
1. Belligerence, 1947-1952
2. Tough Talk, Accomodative Action, 1953-1962
3. Competetive Coexistence, 1963-1968
4. Detente, 1969-1978
5. Confrontation, 1979 onwards Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., American Foreign Policy: Pattern and Process (3rd. ed. London: Macmillan, 1987), p.56
The same pattern fits for the US national security policy quite well. Only some additions must be introduced. The period of confrontation ended in 1986. The period between 1987 and 1990 could be called ‘Ending the Cold War’, and the period from 1991 onwards - ‘The Post-Cold War Era’. The period between 1945 and 1946 could be named ‘Toward Containment’.
So, the goal of the US national security policy for nearly forty years was the containment of the Soviet Union by all possible means.
But in the 1991 the US founded itself in the confusing situation. The major threat - the SU - simply dissapeared. The US left the only superpower. There are no large specific military threats facing the US. The US national security policy must be changed, and it is changing. The problem is that there is no clear consensus in the US over the threats to the security and economic well-being of the US. Korb, L.J., ‘The United States’, in Murray, D.J. and Viotti, P.R. (eds.), The Defense Policies of Nations (3rd. ed. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1994), p.30
Toward Containment, 1945-1946.
The World War II showed that the US must change its role in the world politics. The World War II reafirmed that the US could not pretend to be immune from the global turmoil and gave birth to the notion of the US as a “superpower”. Foerster, Sch., ‘The United States as a World Power: An Overview’, in Foerster, Sch. and Wright, E.N. (eds.), American Defense Policy (6th. ed. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1990), p.152 The first problem was how to deal with the Soviets. The immediate postwar American policy towards the SU was based on the belief that the SU could be integrated in the postwar security structure. President Roosevelt developed the ‘Four Policemen’ idea, which was based on the vision that the US, Great Britain, the SU, and China would impose order on the rest of the postwar world. Gaddis, J.L., Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p.10 But in fact, experience showed that there was little the US could do to shape Stalin’s decisions. It was realized that neither trust nor pressure had made any difference. Ibid., p.18 In less than a year President Truman realized that the Soviets would expand as far as they could unless effective countervailing power was organized to stop them. Brown, S., The Faces of Power: Constancy and Change in United States Foreign Policy from Truman To Reagan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), p.31 Stalin obviously placed a higher value on expanding the Soviet sphere of control then on maintaining good relations with the US. Ibid., p.34
Many American defense officials in 1945 hoped to avoid the escalation with the SU. But at the same time their aim was to prevent Europe from falling under Communist regime. The American objective was to avoid Soviet hegemony over Eurasia. Leffler, M.P., ‘National Security and US Foreign Policy’, in Leffler, M.P. and Painter, D.S. (eds.), Origins of the Cold War: An International History (London: Routledge, 1994), p.23 In winter 1945-1946 the SU increased pressures on Iran and Turkey. The US viewed this as a threat to the global balance of power.