American History













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The period after World War II and the ensuing Cold War era witnessed a surge in  US foreign policy that was superficially geared towards ensuring other countries enjoyed freedom. This US foreign policy, however, was primarily targeted in ensuring that the Soviet Union and its communist ideas did not spread to other territories. The notion that the US was the leader of the free world is a fallacy. Events at home in the 1950s and 1960s that depicted inequalities showed United States’ insincerity to the freedom it was advocating in other countries. The US foreign policy after World War II and during the Cold War was geared toward limiting the dominance of the Soviet Union.

The Vietnamese nationalists under the VietMinh coalition buoyed by their successful efforts in the defeat of Japan during the Second World War proclaimed independence in September 1945. The nationalists declared independence based on the ideals of the US and the French and not on communist ideologies[1]. By advancing the ideals of The French and US, the colonists hoped that the Western countries would be proud and support the clamor for their independence. However, the French did not wish to relinquish the colonial empires they controlled. The United States chose to side with their French allies, a decision that ultimately had devastating effects on Vietnam and the US. ” For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has a right to be a free and independent country and, in fact, it is so ready[2].” This statement from the proclamation of independence speech by Hon Chi Minh emphasizes the desire of the Vietnamese people to be free after eighty years of French and Japanese domination. The French reluctance to relinquish Vietnam and the US support for the French was an indication that the Vietnamese had their right to freedom limited.

The Truman doctrine of 1947 based the US foreign policy based on containing the spread of the Soviet Union. The doctrine followed financial aid plea from the Greek monarchy, which was facing a communist-led rebellion[3]. Though President Truman acknowledged that the Greek and Turkey centers of power were not democratic, he argued that helping them was an act of defending freedom. The Truman doctrine is a clear indication of US foreign policy of limiting the communist ideals from spreading to other countries.” I do not believe that the American people and Congress wish to turn a deaf ear to the appeal of the Greek government” This statement for Truman speech in the unveiling of the 1947 doctrine urged Congress to approve the financial aid to ensure Greece remained a ‘free’ nation. Truman’s insistence of supporting governments he had acknowledged we not democratic indicated that limiting the Soviet Union rather than freedom was the primary motivator of US policy during the Cold War era. By supporting a government accused of chaos and extremism, the US could have helped limit the freedom of the citizens of those countries.

The Vietnam proclamation of independence and the Truman Doctrine showed the US insincerity in the pursuant of freedom as its independence defined it. The US supported its ally the French against Vietnam instead of backing its claim of pursuant of freedom by supporting the Vietnamese independence call. The Greek and Turkey authorities, however, got help from the US just because they were up against Soviet domination. The US desire to defeat communism influenced its support for the ‘freedom’ of countries in Europe up against the Soviet Union. By failing to support Vietnamese independence and going ahead to support Greece showed that the freedom the US pursued was freedom from The Soviet Union communist ideas and not a clamor for equalities.

Back at home, President Truman’s government carried out a loyalty review of its civil servant to weed out perceived sympathizers of the Soviet Union. During President Truman’s second term, there was a raging fear of communist infiltration of the US government[4]. Senator  Joseph R. McCarthy became the center of the loyalty review after he sensationally claimed that he had a list of 250 communists working in the US state department[5]. Though the senator revised the list to 57 in the congressional record, he never gave evidence of his claims against these people.” I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy “.This was a statement from Congressional record authored by Senator McCarthy that sensationally claimed the presence of a list of communist sympathizers in the US government[6]. Several government officials were sentenced for their perceived support for communism. The victims, however, did not enjoy the rights to fair trials. This was a direct violation of freedoms that the US purported to enhance in Europe and other nations. This political scheme that occurred during the Cold War led to limitations of the liberties of American people, especially the civil servants and State department officials.

The weeding of perceived communist sympathizes in the US government showed the lengths the US government would go to ensure the defeat of the Soviet Union. This event had similarities to the Vietnamese independence and the Truman doctrine in that the Soviet Union played a considerable role. The US failed to support Vietnamese independence because there was no Soviet Union influence in Vietnam and that the interested party was the French, its ally. The US came up with the Truman doctrine to counter the impact of the Soviet Union in other European countries. The weeding of American officials from the government was due to their perceived ties to the Soviet Union


The three events discussed in this paper reveal how US foreign policy and is freedom agenda was influenced by the desire to defeat the Soviet Union. Failure to support Vietnamese independence showed the US was not keen on backing its claims of freedom as defined in its constitution. The subversion of its laws in punishing its citizens due to their Communist links indicate how limiting the Soviet Union was the United States’ main agenda.

Word Count:1129 words




Foner, Eric. 2019. Voices of Freedom. New York: W.W Norton & Company.




[1] Ho Chi Minh, “Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Eric Foner, ed. Voices of Freedom, Vol. 2, 6th Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020),237.

[2] Ibid,238

[3] Harry S. Truman, ““Special Message to the Congress on Greece and Turkey, March 12, 1947,” in Eric Foner, ed. Voices of Freedom, Vol. 2, 6th Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020),240.

[4] Class PPT notes,Lecture 11.1.1,The Rise of the Cold War

[5] Joseph R. McCarthy on the Attack , in Eric Foner, ed. Voices of Freedom, Vol. 2, 6th Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020),263.

[6] Ibid,264.


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