The Containment Strategy

The success of the containment strategy during the cold war is widely debatable. Although the US defeated the Soviet Union, various ramifications of the strategy might have costed her dearly. One factor attributed to the containment failures is assumptions. The assumption that the military approach was better than diplomacy, it was easy to stop communism, and that she was the best candidate to lead the free society on moral values significantly undergirded the US containment strategy.

Firstly, the US assumed that the military approach to communism was better compared to the diplomatic approach (“National Security Council Report, NSC-68 6). According to Logevall, the US government did not have meaningful diplomacy with its communists’ adversaries; thus, the strategy was overlooked (473). The containment philosophy was about stopping the Soviet Union from propagating the communism influence. It was an ambiguous situation since the US found herself between détente and dissension. However, the US considered that the Soviet Union would not consent to diplomatic cooperation since its leaders were drunk in power (Logevall 473). Therefore, the US spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost thousands of soldiers in the military containment strategy (Fleming 132). Overall, the military approach was weak in that it overlooked diplomacy, which could have secured peace cheaply.

Secondly, the US assumed that it was possible to end the monolithic communist expansion globally straightforwardly. The NSE-68 suggested that the probable way of maintaining a free society would be to end communism by actions, including military (12). However, the US military was not strong enough for the task. For instance, it did not prevent China from becoming a communist, and it was unable to gird Vietnam against communist taken over. Besides, some nations like Ethiopia found value in communism, centrally to the containment perspective, that the free world ought to avoid communism (“National Security Council Report, NSC-68 12). Both examples reveal the vulnerability of the US to stop communist through her assumption that stopping communism was one nation’s task.

Lastly, the US assumed the position of self-appointed leader of the world to lead in a free society. Therefore, communism was a frame for the US to prove her superpower against the Soviet Union. Besides, some moral values that initially led to opposition against communism were never used. For instance, despite advocating for a free society, the US strategy was to contain their enemy. That is literally against the values of the free society (Krieger 427). In a way, the containment policy was a way of forcing democracy and proving her superpower. The assumption would then cost her diplomatic relations and voluminous resources during the containment.


Works Cited

“National Security Council Report, NSC 68, ‘United States Objectives and Programs for National Security’,” April 14, 1950, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, US National Archives.

Fleming, D.F. “Some Costs Of The Cold War”. Political Research Quarterly, vol 17, no. 3, 1966, pp. 105-107. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/106591296401700389.