Why did the United States adopt a policy of containment?

1812 Words Dec 11th, 2003 8 Pages
The term containment, introduced by the Truman Administration, describes the foreign policy pursued by the United States after the Second World War. The policy itself was an attempt to 'contain' the Soviet Union within its current borders and frustrate any attempts of expansion. George F. Kennan, a diplomat and US State department advisor on Soviet affairs, introduced the term in his famous Anonymous X - article. Keenan suggested a

' Long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies'

This would lead to the inevitable break up of the Soviet Union. Since the defeat of the Nazi's the Soviets because of their communist ideology and history were considered to be the largest threat to the Western World.
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President Truman wished to set up democratic government and free elections according to the Atlantic Charter principles. On the other hand, Stalin refused to allow democratic elections in Poland and insisted on a strong pro - communist government to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union. Stalin claimed that the use of Poland as a 'buffer zone' was for defence purposes only, pointing out that throughout history Russia had been prone to invasion from Germany and by gaining Poland as an ally, Russia would be able to defend itself adequately. The United States believed the motives of Stalin were of a more expansive nature. They believed there were two key explanations for the creation of the 'buffer zones'. Although it was true Russia would be less prone to invasion than it had been in the past, it would also be in a much stronger position to enforce future foreign policies as it would be more difficult to oppose them. Secondly, they believed that Stalin was in fact attempting to create a communist Empire within Europe, with the intention of expanding worldwide.

By the time the allies met again at the Potsdam, the situation had changed dramatically. Germany had been defeated, Roosevelt had died and been replaced by Truman and Clement Attlee had defeated Churchill in the British election. The allies agreed to divide Germany into zones and to claim reparations for war losses. However, the USA began to realise that it did not want a weakened Germany in Central
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