United States' Grand Strategy during the Cold War with Emphasis on the Conflict in Vietnam

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Introduction - Analysis of U.S. grand strategy during the Vietnam War cannot be fully understood without placing it in the context of the Cold War and the foreign policy of “containment.” In this context, details indicate that realist, liberalist, and constructivist theories all contributed to U.S. grand strategy at the time. However, more detailed analysis reveals that, while defensive realism was guiding foreign policy during this period of the cold war, offensive realism was the predominant theory guiding U.S. grand strategy in Vietnam.

Body - After the end of World War II, the expansion of Soviet influence into Eastern Europe and South East Asia resulted in its recognition as a growing world power. In a cable sent from Moscow in
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Therefore, states must be as powerful as possible in order to decrease the chances of becoming a future victim. Defensive realists, on the other hand, believe that stabilizing factors can be put into place in order to favor the defense. These include balancing, as previously mentioned, and other factors that make conquest more costly for the aggressors. Therefore defensive realism clearly guided the adoption of the strategy of the containment of Soviet expansion.

Several relevant multinational organizations were formed early in the Cold War following the end of WWII. The United Nations (UN) was established in 1945 to promote international cooperation and preserve world peace. Created to prevent another similar conflict, its objectives include the maintenance of international peace and security. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a multinational military alliance was formed in 1949 to protect countries in Western Europe and further enable the strategy of containment. Additionally, the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was formed in 1954. A similar alliance to NATO, SEATO was created for the collective defense of countries in Southeast Asia in order to defend against communist expansion.

The formation of NATO and SEATO can be understood by examining the principles of defensive realism, where states seek survival and great powers guarantee their security by forming balancing alliances against a common threat

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