Major Changes from 1945 until the late 1960’s in American Society

The aftermath of the Second World War saw the formation of a bi-polar world, with the United States and the Soviet Union dominating their respective hemispheres.  Both the powers were equipped with nuclear arsenal and any direct confrontation could have led to the destruction of the species.  In this atmosphere where the stakes are very high, most of the strategic advantage is won through diplomacy and applying political pressure.  This variety of wielding power has come to be known as the Cold War, where advantages were won or lost through tactful diplomacy as against the use of force.

The Cold-War was ended by the horrific bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the chief cause for both incidents of aggression is largely systemic, individual decision making played a part too.  De-classified information of the Second World War period indicates that President Truman gave orders for using nuclear weapons against the general consensus of his inner circle.  What later came to be called the Truman Doctrine was based on the Domino Theory that states that communism is a vicious threat to the national interests of the United States and it has to be fought where ever it takes root.

As a result of the Truman Doctrine and the Soviet ambition of spreading communism the international atmosphere became quite tense. History will show that the European nations after Second World War were divided geographically as well as ideologically as belonging to the western democratic bloc or the eastern communist bloc.  Long-time partner and a trusted lieutenant of the United States, namely Great Britain, is the leading representative of this western coalition.  Other nations that aligned with the United States were Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, etc.  The countries of Eastern Europe were imposed with communist governments and hence came under the influence of the Soviet Union.  Some of them were Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belarus, etc.  Germany was deemed a key prize in the spoils of the Second Great War and so its reigns were bitterly contested.  In the end both superpowers had to strike a compromise and divide Germany into their respective halves.  This event was a key flashpoint in the years immediately following the end of the War.

In his farewell address to the citizens of his nation, American President Dwight Eisenhower chose to dwell on one particular aspect of the American economic system.  Those were the years following the Second World War and the United States was waging a cold war with the Soviet Union.  As a result, a strong military had become imperative.  Many ammunition manufacturing corporations sprung up in the United States to meet this demand.  The only way such a large industrial base could survive is by creating more demands for ammunition, combat vehicles, etc.  The military industry in America is so big that they can sway and influence the decisions taken in the executive branch of government.

In the western hemisphere, the peak cold war confrontation manifested in the form of the Cuban Missile crisis.  It was the year 1961, under the leadership of President John F. Kennedy; the world came perilously close to a deadly confrontation between the two major powers.  This was also a period of relative economic prosperity, following a decade known for the rise of a consumerist culture.  But on the political front, the Soviet Union was under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev.  Lying only 145 km from the coast of the USA, Cuba had always been of concern to the United States (America still maintains a naval base there to the present day at Guantanamo). The relations between the two nations took a U-turn with the onset of the communist revolution in 1959.  Fidel Castro’s consequent rise to power made Cuba a real and present danger. The pressing concern for the United States was the potential symbolic threat that a communist neighbor would prove to be.  The fiasco that was the Bay of Pigs invasion, intended to dispel and if possible eliminate Castro, was an affair of big embarrassment for the Kennedy Administration.  This further strained the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

At this juncture Castro was left with little option but to strengthen relations with the Soviet Union.  It benefited the Soviet Union to respond to Cuba’s call for protection, as setting up a base so near the American coast was of strategic importance. The events of these fortuitous days for mankind unraveled in the backdrop of the cold war. The 50’s were a period of economic and technological advancement for both superpowers. Paralleling this prosperity was the escalating ideological conflict between democracy and communism. The tense couple of weeks that would later be called the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest this planet came to complete annihilation. Soviet missiles with capabilities to wipe out all major cities in eastern United States were positioned just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. A last minute command from Khrushchev to soviet ships heading to Cuba saved the planet from a potential Armageddon.

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