The containment period for the United States began as WWII ended. This was the period where the United States looked to curb the communist influence throughout Europe. George Kennan, an American diplomat in Moscow who was the author of the “Long Telegram” argued that the goals and philosophies of the United States and the Soviet Union were irreconcilable (Kissinger 115). Another government official who worked within the Truman administration argued that the “main deterrent to Soviet attack on the United States, or to attack on areas of the world which are vital to our security, will be the military power of the United States”. Though he would also argue that America did not have tensions with the Soviet people, they did have tensions with “a small ruling clique” running the Soviet Government and ideology (Kissinger 116). Thus, setting the stage for Americas global security effort in which many wars throughout the centuries would be fought in proxy against the Soviet Union.
The first conflict in the containment era came in Greece in the 1940’s but was not limited to this one conflict. Throughout the decades the United States found themselves drawn into wars in areas around the globe to maintain American security (Kissinger 129). The Korean war and the Vietnam war are two of these examples. With each being fought to push back on the communist armies trying to overthrow the sitting governments. There was varying opinion on the containment policy, with some believing that the United States was in a position of power and should negotiate with the Soviet Union rather than wait for their ultimate demise and collapse, while others did not believe that the United States had the right to interfere with the Soviet influence within Russia.
The Containment policy was responsible for many military conflicts that happened for decades to come after the end of WWII. But was it worth it? Henry Kissinger said, “America would emerge, after more than a generation of struggle, lacerated by its exertions and controversies, yet having achieved almost everything it had set out to do” (Kissinger 130). Any policy that achieves everything that it sets out to do would be a success by anyone’s definition. But was it for the greater good? One long lasting effect from this policy can still be seen today. NATO (National Atlantic Treaty Organization) which was created as a multi-national committee to stop the spread of communism, is still active today. With the collapse of the Soviet Union coming in 1991, it would be hard to argue that the containment was not a success, though you could easily argue the means by which this was achieved.
Kissinger, Henry. Reflections on Containment. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73, No. 3 (May – Jun., 1994), pp. 113-130