From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Episode 2 - 1947: Scaring the Hell Out of the American People

August 08, 2019 Logan Rogers Season 1 Episode 2
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 2 - 1947: Scaring the Hell Out of the American People
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From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 2 - 1947: Scaring the Hell Out of the American People
Aug 08, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Logan Rogers

Tensions between the US & USSR had been building even during their awkward wartime alliance, but it was in 1947 that the Cold War became a staple feature of the post-WWII American political & diplomatic scene. This episode indulges in a very brief & oversimplified history of the Soviet Union, and then explores what caused the souring of US-Soviet relations and describes the governmental maneuvers that followed (including the founding of the CIA & NSC, passage of the Truman Doctrine's anti-Communist military aid, & the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe). This week's program also discusses the international attempts to stabilize the postwar world via the founding of the United Nations, IMF, & World Bank, plus the US imposition of democracy upon the former Japanese Empire. Domestically, Truman actually goes to bat for Big Labor against the new GOP Congress, but to no avail; Jackie Robinson's stardom shatters the color barrier in professional sports; and pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in a high-tech aircraft (by 1940s standards). We conclude by exploring the moral paradoxes of America's new role of anti-Communist superpower, and the effect of the Cold War on future US political discourse & electoral outcomes.

Show Notes Transcript

Tensions between the US & USSR had been building even during their awkward wartime alliance, but it was in 1947 that the Cold War became a staple feature of the post-WWII American political & diplomatic scene. This episode indulges in a very brief & oversimplified history of the Soviet Union, and then explores what caused the souring of US-Soviet relations and describes the governmental maneuvers that followed (including the founding of the CIA & NSC, passage of the Truman Doctrine's anti-Communist military aid, & the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe). This week's program also discusses the international attempts to stabilize the postwar world via the founding of the United Nations, IMF, & World Bank, plus the US imposition of democracy upon the former Japanese Empire. Domestically, Truman actually goes to bat for Big Labor against the new GOP Congress, but to no avail; Jackie Robinson's stardom shatters the color barrier in professional sports; and pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in a high-tech aircraft (by 1940s standards). We conclude by exploring the moral paradoxes of America's new role of anti-Communist superpower, and the effect of the Cold War on future US political discourse & electoral outcomes.

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Speaker 1:

From boomers to millennials is a modern US history podcast, providing a fresh look at the historical events that shaped current generations from the Cold War era to the present. Welcome to 1947 Aka episode two scaring the hell out of the American people. Last week, we concluded with Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech foreshadowing the growing concern of western powers over Soviet domination of eastern Europe. The Soviet Union's military forces had driven the Nazi tyranny out of this region, but the Russian communists were soon instituting their own forms of oppression by prohibiting groups that weren't loyal to Moscow from having any power or influence. The main theme of today's episode is US international relations after World War II, as the optimistic hopes for a peaceful global future gave way to the fear and paranoia of the Cold War. To help you understand the rise of the Cold War, we need to briefly explain the origin of the Soviet Union. A country that no longer exists and to offer some background about its communist economic system was socialist and even Marxist ideas being increasingly influential and relevant.

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Again in our current age of growing income inequality. It is helpful to understand why there is such a generational divide regarding perceptions of terms like socialism. Here's a very quick and massively over-simplified summary. In the 19th century, the German economist, Karl Marx, published his theory that capitalism would meet its demise when the industrial workers over through big property owners and instead ran society themselves on a more equal basis. Early on, the term socialism and communism were often used almost interchangeably by those influenced by Marx's ideas, but in many countries, the communists became a more radical hard line faction than the self-proclaimed socialists were adherence of a moderate branch of the socialist tradition. The social democratic parties would eventually become successful mainstream movements in many European countries from the early 20th century all the way up to the present day, and they have been particularly prosperous in Scandinavia. Many politicians in the English speaking world who now claim to be Socialists are followers of this social democratic tradition, which features a regulated market, high taxes, and many widely available government runs services within a multi-party democracy.Compare this with the radical communists who often wanted to abolish private property, marginalize or ban non-socialist parties, and to replace all existing social, religious, economic, and institutions. Hardly anyone expected communist ideas to take over Russia, which had few industrial workers, but many peasants. It was one of the most traditional societies with one of the most rigid monarchies in Europe during the 1800s; however, the Russian monarchy fell apart during World War One. In 1917 a radical faction of communist revolutionaries seize power led by a man with a famous name and an equally famous goatee Vladimir Lenin, the nation state they created in what was formerly the Russian empire, was called the Union of Soviet socialist republics, USSR or Soviet Union for short, and it collectivized private property, which would now be controlled and distributed by the communist central government under a so-called dictatorship of the proletariat.

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When Lennon died during the 1920s Joseph Stalin became the new leader of the Soviet Union. He is known to this day as one of the most brutal dictators in history, a paranoid and merciless man stolen, pretty much jailed or executed anyone he viewed as an enemy or critic of his governance of the Soviet state. He was responsible for the deaths of millions, even among socialists or Marxists. Today, very few people outside of Russia defend his actions in a remarkable development, stolen, temporarily aligned with the fascist Nazi government of Germany in 1939 despite communists and fascists supposedly being mortal political enemies, both nations agreed to grab a chunk of formerly independent Poland for themselves during that year. However, trusting Hitler turned out to be a mistake. I know. Shocking, right, and the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the Soviets then shifted to ally with the British and Americans to collectively defeat Germany after an epic and brutal conflict along World War II eastern front, which included the biggest tank battle in the history of the world.

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The Soviets eventually repelled the Nazis and then pushed their way across eastern Europe to Berlin. Their Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the communist Red Army closed. In. Meanwhile, the Americans and British had been gaining ground against the Nazis on the western front, and by 1945 they occupied western Germany. The defeated German nation was divided up between the various allied powers and the armies of the capitalistic democracies and the communist military forces eyed each other uneasily across the divide. That quick overview brings us up to date for our story of 1947 back in the USA, President Truman and his fellow Democrats faced headaches, handling both foreign and domestic issues now that Republicans had captured Congress. As discussed in our last episode, the GOP won in part by capitalizing on a backlash against strikes by militant labor unions. In spring 1947 the new Congress quickly passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which weaken the power of labor unions to strike.

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The bill was named for conservative Republican Senator Robert, a Taft of Ohio, who plays a role later in this episode and his house co-sponsor. Apparently some guy named Hartley who we will never mention again. The acts provisions allowed the president to enact a cooling off period before some strikes could be allowed. It band closed shops where you must be in the union to get hired and it gave states the power to pass right to work laws that would make it harder for unions to organize. It also forced union leaders to sign affidavits, swearing they weren't communists in order to participate in collective bargaining. Big labor unions were outraged by the bill and Truman having recently dissapointed these important Democratic Party constituents by opposing most of their strikes during 1946 was persuaded to veto the Taft-Hartley Act. However, the bill had strong congressional support among both Republicans and conservative Democrats, which were actually a major thing back then and together they had enough votes to overturn Truman's veto and make Taft-Hartley the labor law of the land.

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During summer 1947 historian James T. Patterson suggests that big labor overestimated the threat posed by the bill because soon quote, most unions managed to live within the law. Close quote. It was a setback to be sure, but labor unions would remain a powerful force advocating for American workers and checking the power of corporate management for the next three decades, regardless of whether they were blue collar Labor supporters or white collar management sympathizers in their downtime. Americans in 1947 flock to afternoon baseball games regardless of social class, women wore dresses and men sported suits and formal hats going out in public and a tee shirt and jeans even to a baseball game was not socially acceptable in this era, which is a dramatic contrast with our own time when you see people showing up to the symphony and jeans. Anyway, Major League baseball was by far the most popular professional sport in America during this time period, but not until 1947 did the game finally open up to all Americans.

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Black had previously been segregated into a separate so-called Negro League, but in 1947 the Brooklyn Dodgers, they weren't in Los Angeles yet, challenged this athletic apartheid by calling up second baseman, Jackie Robinson to the big leagues from their triple a minor league team in Montreal two years prior. The franchise had signed the Young African American player who had been a multi-sport standout in his college years at UCLA and who had been playing baseball in the Negro Leagues. Upon making his major league debut with the Dodgers during the 1947 season, Robinson faced great pressure to play and conduct himself well so that America's black population would be given further opportunities to excel in professional sports and in various other fields. Furthermore, he endured threats from audiences, cheap shots from opposing players and even experienced some hostility from teammates for a time he responded with nothing but high quality play. Winning Major League Baseball's rookie of the year award and leading the Dodgers to the world series where they lost in seven games to the mighty New York Yankees.

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Robinson endured provocations with dignity and nonviolence, which would serve as an example and model for the civil rights movements that followed in the next quarter century. Robinson's restraint in the face of jeering fans and opponents in order to break the color barrier took great discipline and courage, but bravery of a more short term and high flying variety allowed us aviators to break the sound barrier. In 1947 a former World War II fighter pilot named Chuck Yeager accomplished this feat over southern California's Mojave desert in an experimental x one aircraft which he nicknamed Glamorous Glennis as a tribute to his wife. He flew faster than any previous pilot despite having broken two ribs from a recent horseback riding accident. It was an almost too perfect embodiment of the increasingly common metaphor. The pilots were modern day cowboys exploring a new frontier. Yeager reached to speed of Mach 1.06 at an altitude of over 40,000 feet.

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He proved the sound barrier could be broken without wrecking the aircraft or worse its pilot. This was an early example of the aeronautics innovations that would make the future advances of the u s space program possible. It remains to be seen whether these leaps would serve peaceful scientific purposes or be wielded to destructive ends. That depended in part on the international diplomatic chess match that came to a head during 1947 the big question national governments around the had during and after the catastrophic Second World War was how can we prevent a conflict to this deadly and destructive from ever happening again. To understand the earliest allied blueprints for a postwar world, we need to make a quick detour back to summer 1941 when a secret meeting between two iconic world leaders took place in the middle of the Atlantic aboard the British battleship, HMS Prince of Wales, their US president, Franklin Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, covertly planned their military cooperation against the axis powers and alliance that would not become official until Germany and Japan declared war on the u s in December of that same year.

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One important result of that meeting in the Atlantic was a joint declaration of principles released to the press on August 12th which has become known to history as the Atlantic Charter. Churchill and FDR vowed to uphold the quote, the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live close quote, as well as to promote free trade, improved social conditions for workers, the abandonment of military aggression by nation states and the establishment of a long lasting peace by means of a quote unquote permanent system of general security. Churchill reluctantly agreed to some of these principles hoping they would not be applied too quickly or too literally within his beloved British Empire. Unlike Roosevelt, the consummate Patriotic Englishman wasn't keen on allowing all the peoples around the world who were under British imperial rule to gain immediate independence after the allied victory in World War Two the Atlantic Charter is theoretical permanent system of general security became reality in the form of the United Nations.

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In designing it, diplomats tried to avoid the mistakes of the League of nations, which u s President Woodrow Wilson had championed after World War One, but had been unable to get his own country to join. Congress voted against membership. The league famously proved inept at stopping military aggression during the 1930s so it was disbanded at the end of the war. It had been designed to prevent in the 1940s historian Elizabeth Borgwardt in her book a new deal for the world, America's vision for human rights sites. A 1943 Gallup poll that found 73% of Americans wanted to see the u s joined some kind of post war organization of Nations after Pearl Harbor. Most Americans realize that greater u s involvement in the world and cooperation with allies was unavoidable. Beauregard called this the multilateral moment at time in the mid 1940s when there was a public mood favoring multi-party international agreements, recognizing a need for a strong unifying organization.

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Delegates from around the world traveled to San Francisco in early 1945 to draft a charter that would organize and govern a new and hopefully better peacekeeping institution. The United Nations consisted of a general assembly with one vote per member nation and a Security Council consisting of five great powers, the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China. Each with veto power over counseled decisions. At the San Francisco Conference, the smaller states successfully lobbied the major powers to give more authority to the general assembly, but critics still complained that the charter gave the Security Council too much power. The UN would in practice be an important institution for international cooperation, but the organization lacked the power to enforce most of its resolutions within member states, so fears that it would become a heavy handed world. The government were generally unfounded. The new United Nations articulated some of humanity's highest ideals and aspirations in its universal declaration of human rights.

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The commission that produced the declaration was chaired by a well known American Eleanor Roosevelt widow of FDR and a dynamic political organizer and activist in her own right. The document which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 stated that the basic rights of all individuals around the globe, not just the rights of nation states, were a central concern of international institutions. The declaration was a statement acknowledging fundamental individual human rights. It was a statement of ideal principles like the Atlantic charter rather than a binding treaty commitment with legal enforcement mechanisms. If the United Nations offered the political blueprint for a stable postwar world, Americans intended the 1944 Bretton Woods conference to create an economic counterpart as a framework for a prosperous planet. Many economists believe that tariff barriers, trade wars and currency manipulations during the 1930s had helped bring about World War II. The agreement made at the conference founded to multilateral economic institutions, the International Monetary Fund or IMF and the World Bank in order to prevent such commercial tensions in the future.

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In the conclusion to his book offering a brief introduction to the new deal and its legacies, historian Eric Roush way reflects quote, where IMF was supposed to allow countries to weather the vicissitudes of free economies. The bank was supposed to lend money for the repair of war damage and for long poor countries to enter the club of modern nations. Close quote, the Soviets were invited to join these organizations, but they refused to participate. Some European nations reluctantly got involved with the IMF and the World Bank expressing concern that they may be structured to favor the American dollar against their own currencies. The IMF and World Bank along with the UN are still influential to this day. They have many defenders and advocates, but they received criticism from nationalists on the right and anti-globalization activists on the left. The negotiators who framed these institutions, however, had no secret agenda for either global government or American domination.

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Rather, they tried to facilitate the global stability necessary for peace time commercial exchange in some postwar international organizations were an imperfect compromise between the humanitarian sentiments of idealistic activists and the raw self interests of various stakeholders. Some Americans strongly oppose these global entities. According to boardwalk its account. Robert Taft of Ohio, leader of the isolationists faction in the u s Senate complained the pledging American funds to the internationally controlled IMF would be quote, pouring money down a rat hole. Taft also alleged United Nations advocates were reckless quote, do gooders who regarded as the manifest destiny of America to confer the benefits of the new deal on every hot and Todd. Close quote, hot and tot was a derogatory term once used to describe tribal peoples in Africa, taps isolation is faction especially strong among Midwestern Republicans, embodied and America first mentality that still influences us politics. This ideology holds that the federal government should only attempt to help us citizens, that international engagements are best avoided, that foreigners are often suspicious and may have questionable values, and that multilateral organizations waste American resources and threatened American freedoms.

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This type of isolationism had been popular during the 1920s and thirties however, in the aftermath of the Second World War, many Americans believed we risked global instability and a return to World War II if we repeated our post World War one mistake of shunning international peacekeeping institutions. This argument helped persuade the U S congress to approve both the United Nations Charter and the Bretton Woods institutions during the summer of 1945 however, the hopeful architects of postwar peace and prosperity had to face the new dangers posed by atomic weapons. These were controlled by the u s military during World War II, but the atomic energy act of 1946 had established civilian political control of the nuclear stockpile, which according to Patterson in 1947 consisted of just 13 atomic bombs. The U S had an intimidating nuclear monopoly after demonstrating the awful efficiency of these weapons for destroying entire cities. The Americans and the British tried to keep their Soviet allies mostly in the dark about the development of atomic weapons during the war, but the Soviets had spies in the u s nuclear program, so their existence was not a shock to them.

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There were some discussions about nuclear weapons being controlled by an international commission in order to prevent an arms race, but cold war tensions soon put an end to that possibility. Those tensions first became obvious toward the end of World War II. During the Yalta Conference, one of the final meetings between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, it occurred in the Soviet Union on the shores of the Black Sea. During February, 1945 one of the last months of FTRs life there Stalin's plans for eastern Europe became more apparent and they looked suspiciously like a permanent expansion of Soviet control into that area. However, the U S had little power to dictate policy to its Soviet allies because they still had a huge army occupying the region. According to Borgwardt, one of the failings of the agreement reached at yell to was that it allowed the Soviets to send any Russian found in eastern Europe back to the USSR. Many of these individuals, including former POW, is held by the axis.

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Powers were subsequently sent to the Gulag, Stalin's infamous set of Siberian forced labor prison camps based upon suspicion of their disloyalty under pressure from the u s and the UK stolen claimed free democratic elections would eventually take place in nations such as Poland. One source of us exasperations with the Soviets was their failure to live up to this vow. Historian. John Lewis Gaddes writes in his book the Cold War, a new history quote, because the Poles would never elect a pro Soviet government. Stalin imposed one. The cost though was a permanently resentful Poland as well as a growing sense among his American and British allies that they could no longer trust him as a disillusioned Roosevelt put it two weeks before his death stolen has broken every one of the promises he made at yell to close quote. After FDRs death, Truman and his advisers viewed this deception as proof of Stalin's bad faith and of hostile Soviet intentions.

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After World War II stolen seemed to confirm Western suspicions by pressuring Turkey to host Soviet military bases and by neglecting to remove Red Army troops from northern Iran. Once the war ended under pressure from the United States and its allies in the international community, he backed down from plans regarding Turkey and he finally removed his troops from Iranian soil. Still, his actions made it appear Stalin was eager to expand Soviet influence whenever given the chance. Many historians argue over which side deserves more blame for the outbreak of the Cold War. This podcast is more concerned with how and why it happened from a u s history perspective. The following though is a brief summary of the debate. Those historians who blame the Soviets emphasize solids misdeeds both at home and in eastern Europe and his rhetoric emphasizing communism's inherent conflict with capitalism. Other reasons include the Soviet's attempts to control neighboring territory in Europe and Asia, their totalitarian governments, repression of individual freedoms.

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They're appalling human rights record, including mass purges of dissenters during the 1930s there prior cynical packed with the Nazis there Marxists Leninist ideology that led to hostility toward the capitalist West and their maintenance of a massively built up military even after the war. Scholars who primarily blame the Americans interpret stolen's actions as primarily defensive and as paranoia about the capitalists power is justifiable given their history of hostility toward the USSR since its founding. They argue that Truman's abrupt post war ending of lend-lease age shipments to the USSR after the war sent an unfriendly message and they spotlight the less humanitarian motives of the capitalist powers such as pursuing their economic self interest and gaining access to markets. They alleged the u s engaged in its own expansionism by promoting global capitalism after the war. They also emphasize the Soviets reasonable fear of Western invasions via Poland, which had happened to Russia twice within the past 40 years.

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They're staggering losses during world war two which left the USSR more in position to rebuild internally than to expand externally. There are disproportionate contribution to defeating the Nazi war machine, their alleged right to a pro Soviet buffer zone. Given that the USA had its own sphere of influence in the western hemisphere and their fear of the u s nuclear monopoly. Ultimately it seems unlikely. These two powerful countries with mutually opposing systems could have completely avoided some tensions. Patterson observes in his book, grand expectations, quote dissimilar ideologically and politically. The two nations had been especially cold to each other since the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and they had different geopolitical concerns in 1945 conflict between the two sides. A Cold War was therefore unavoidable close quote. Now I'm skeptical that anything in history is truly inevitable, but disputes with the USSR seem difficult to avoid. By 1947 perhaps if the Americans had reacted to Soviet actions in a more passive and less adversarial way, the Cold War might have been less Chile.

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The world might have avoided the dangerous nuclear tensions and bloody proxy wars that were to follow then again, it may have been worse for the world if us failure to stand up to Stalin resulted in his imposition of authoritarian rule on more countries and peoples. It's hard to know one thing is for certain. During 1947 the Cold War became entrenched and there was no going back to friendly relations between the two great powers. Truman had grown impatient with Soviet behavior. Many of his advisors later nicknamed the wise men. Most of them from elite Anglo Saxon Protestant backgrounds believed Americans had to stand up to the communists. Among them was diplomat, George Kennan, whose theory of containment became predominant. It argued that the u s should avoid war with the USSR, but it should also ensure containment of communism within the nations where it already held power preventing its expansion to other nations.

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Americans feared that leftist parties in the free part of Europe would bring their countries closer to Moscow. There were pro communist parties with mass support in postwar France and Italy, for example, Marxist ideology encouraged socialist revolutions, which could topple anticommunist governments and replace them with pro Soviet regimes, thereby expanding the influence of the communists block. US officials felt they had to prevent this expansion in order to protect both our national self interest and our democratic values. After all, most communist governments at this time or authoritarian with little regard for individual rights, the u s allied with fellow anticommunist powers such as Great Britain, the British Empire had been the most formidable military player on the world stage before the two world wars. However, that all had changed by 1947 when the British allowed India and Pakistan to become independent and began a long process of decolonization that would take decades to complete.

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The UK was deeply in debt from World War Two. There was a massive pro independence movement in India that was making British rule difficult and expensive to maintain there. And the recently elected UK Labor Party government was more ideologically committed to investing in domestic social programs than it was to preserving British imperial power. Many u s officials regarded eventual de-colonization as inevitable, but they were alarmed by a British decision to stop financing military and political forces that were fighting communists in Turkey and Greece. The Wiseman came to believe it was America's turned to replace Britain as a protector of the so-called civilized world from communism. After all, the Post War USA was the world's greatest military and economic power as historian George C. Herring put it in his book from colony to superpower quote, it's navy exceeded the combined fleets of all other nations. It's air force commanded the skies. It alone possessed atomic weapons.

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Closed quote, while New York and Washington were supplanting London as respective capitols of global finance and diplomacy, the wise men convinced Truman that intervention in the Mediterranean was urgently needed to prevent further communist territorial gains, but many Republicans had recently been elected to Congress on a platform of budget cuts and the American public was now focused on domestic issues. Republican isolationists were naturally skeptical of Truman's proposal to bankroll a foreign fight against communism. Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan and important swing vote said that Truman must quote unquote scare the hell out of the American people if politicians like him or to avoid a political backlash from voting for the plan. Truman did just that in a dramatic speech to Congress in March, 1947 announcing a policy that became known as the Truman doctrine. He argued that the world was being divided between free and totalitarian states and the u s had a moral duty and a defense of imperative to keep totalitarianism in check.

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He declared quote, I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. Close quote, he warned that failure to act quote may endanger the peace of the world and endanger the welfare of our own nation. Congress responded to this dramatic rhetoric by approving his requested $400 million to assist anticommunist forces in Greece and Turkey. In essence, this was a bipartisan endorsement of the containment theory. Truman succeeded in convincing American politicians and the public to feel threatened by the commies. Indeed, this fear soon became a national preoccupation committing to a global effort to contain communism. Congress followed up the Truman doctrine by passing the National Security Act of 1947 this bill consolidated the navy and war departments into a department of defense and it added the air force as a third branch of service.

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It also created the National Security Council and SC and founded the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA for intelligence gathering abroad, including activities technically known as spying. Part of its purpose was to check the power of the Soviets KGB. Then called the MGB, which had its own intelligence agents around the world. The Truman administration also initiated a federal employee loyalty program to route suspected communists out of the federal government. The subsequent red and the investigation of alleged Soviet agents will be discussed in more detail in future episodes. The new American role as a global military power lacked national historical precedent. The USA had traditional, you'll lack to significant standing army as permanent standing armies had been viewed by many founding fathers as a potential tool of government oppression. The United States had stumbled and scrambled to mobilize an effective military after the outbreak of war in both 1812 and 1917 even prior to World War II.

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According to historian James T. Patterson, quote, as late as 1938, Romania had supported a larger army than did the U s closed quote. It took the cold war to ensure that the massive military machine, the Americans gradually built up during World War II would remain to a substantial degree intact. Uh, U s military presence outside its borders wasn't a new phenomenon, particularly in the Western Hemisphere, but the u s now under took a more global involvement in the internal disputes of foreign countries. It deployed worldwide military forces worthy of a great empire like those long held by Britain and France and characterizing the u s is becoming more like an empire. I do not intend that as a judgmental term. My use of the word is simply to describe the unprecedented extent of its military power and its attempts to wield influence around the world. Under this definition, the Soviet Union at this time certainly also qualified as an empire, although both the u us and USSR were usually described by the more modern sounding term superpower.

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How did this growth in power affect how other nations viewed the u s the imperial footprint of the United States wasn't necessarily seen as a boot on the neck of a protesting population. Indeed, our military presence in West Germany was eventually welcomed by many western Europeans who were concerned about deterring the massive numbers of Soviet tanks behind the iron curtain for making a move against them. Likewise. Eventually many South Koreans would find reassurance and the American military shield against a potential second invasion from the north. This foreign acceptance of us protection against communist threads has been described as quote unquote empire by invitation by Norwegian historian year Luna Stad. He wrote quote, while all empires have elements of both imposition and invitation, the invitationals side was clearly much stronger with the American than with the British and Soviet empires. Close quote, but maintenance of any kind of empire, even an arguably benevolent one involves major expenses and dangers.

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The risk of Hubris, blowback and overreach is greater for an empire than for a more modest republic. U S would come to be resented in many parts of the world during the Cold War. While few found cause to complain about, say, Global Canadian or Swedish influence in its anticommunist crusade, the u s would at times violate the ideals of the Atlantic Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the American's anti-soviet position emerged based in part upon our aspirational values of self determination and human rights for all peoples and our objection to Soviet violation of those ideals. The U s government would be tempted to sacrifice those values and its attempts to win his fight against communism. For example, one country seeking US support for the principle of national self-determination was a small tropical nation that did suffered many decades of exploitation by multiple imperial powers. A charismatic pro independence leader in that country had read the Atlantic Charter and thought the Americans might truly support decolonization.

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He gave a speech to a crowd and one of that nation's major cities in 1945 announcing quote, we hold the truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yes, this language was borrowed from our declaration of independence in an attempt to specifically appeal to the United States. The leader also sent multiple telegrams seeking help from President Truman, which went unanswered. The identity of this leader, [inaudible] men and his country was Vietnam. His efforts to win us favor failed and the Americans instead supported the restoration of the French as colonial rulers of Indochina, the region containing Vietnam. France was now an important ally against the Soviets and the U s would not risk alienating the French by undermining their colonial possessions. US officials were skeptical of the Vietnamese independence movement, mostly due to the fact that many of its leaders, including Ho men, had pro communist beliefs during the war.

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Franklin Roosevelt had generally favored phasing out the colonial holdings of allies and granting self determination to those nations, but he was inconsistent in that view and very open to pragmatic compromises. According to journalists, Stanley Karnow, author of Vietnam a history FDR once proposed a quote unquote international trusteeship for postwar Indochina in preparation for its eventual independence and he criticized French colonial exploitation of the region. However, Indochina was quite low on his list of global postwar priorities. It seemed obvious that an underdeveloped backwater like Vietnam would never be a central concern of US foreign policy. Cornell writes that in May, 1945 after FTRs death, US officials tacitly recognized France as claim to Indochina close quote. By the early 1950s the u s would be funding the French military effort against Hoshi Mans guerrilla forces who combined Vietnamese nationalism with communism. Unless you were living under a rock during your u s history class.

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To coin an awful mixed metaphor, you know that US handling of Vietnam eventually became a major foreign policy train wreck. That of course is a story for a future episode. I will end our tale of 1947 on a more positive note for the Americans with two u s international relations success stories, the establishment of democratic self government in Japan and the reconstruction of Western Europe by means of the Marshall Plan. The United States helped facilitate the transformation of the formerly militaristic and hierarchical Japanese empire into a progressive and democratic nation with a growing market economy. The U S had occupied Japan since 1945 following the empire surrender, the nation was in a dismal state after World War II in part due to the damage inflicted by US air power, including the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the firebombing of Tokyo. Early on, the American occupation forces were enabled to prevent food shortages leading to widespread hunger and suffering.

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The country urgently needed economic and political stabilization civilian efforts. Working for the u s occupation forces drafted a democratic constitution and submitted it to Japan's parliament for potential revisions. It was ratified with a few changes in 1946 and it took effect in 1947 it included an article forever renouncing warfare as an instrument of government policy. It also included provisions protecting women's rights and workers rights to organize a major change from the conservative imperial status quo. These elements reflected the civic idealism of its framers and the fact that in 1946 anti-communism had not yet become the main focus of us foreign policy. The U s didn't want the constitution to be too disruptive to Japanese society. However, it retained the emperor as a figurehead presiding over a democratic system because the Americans believed that the Japanese people would not accept a constitution that eliminated the imperial tradition. Historian John W dour called the process of Japanese reconciliation to the new constitutional order as embracing defeat in his book of the same name.

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The Japanese would energetically adjust to the new system. And within three decades, Japan went from a nation in literal ruins to a prosperous market democracy. This u s nation building effort turned out far better than subsequent American attempts in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The Japanese exhausted by war and decimated by bombing did not offer much resistance to u s restructuring. Some American intervention in Japanese affairs seemed legitimate given that Japan had attacked the United States among other countries and then lost the war like the Germans. The Japanese were forced to engage in a national moral reconsideration of their history, questioning what had led them to aggressive militarism. Another reason the reconstruction of Japan succeeded was its relative modernity compared with nations. The U s later attempted to shape the Japanese had the technology expertise and institutions necessary to transform into a wealthy developed nation. Another us success was the massive European aid package advocated by Truman's secretary of State, George C. Marshall, a former general who had been one of America's most important military strategists during World War II.

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In June, 1947 Marshall announced to proposal to reconstruct Europe by giving $13 billion of assistance to various European nations. The Marshall Plan, which Congress approved in 1948 help to stabilize and revitalize the European economy. The plan was based on political strategy, not just altruism, the u s hope to undermine the appeal of communist parties within democratic systems. The U s also offered aid to the Soviets, but Gaddis states that the u s did so knowing and hoping that the Soviet quote would not itself accept such aid or allow at satellites to thereby straining its relationship with them and that the u s could then sees both the geopolitical and moral initiative in the emerging cold war close quote, stolen predictably prohibited Eastern Europe from receiving any of this u s assistance. Previous us relief had gone mostly toward food and medicine to help Europeans survive mass shortage. Historian George Herring writes that in 1947 quote, Europeans lack the dollars to purchase urgently needed American goods.

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Closed. Quote, the new aid sought to restore Europe status as a key U s trading partner. There was a catch, however, the u s set from guidelines for Marshall Plan recipients to follow communists had to be excluded from recipient governments in western Europe. In 1946 in France, over a quarter of the population had voted for the communists who had played an important role in the underground resistance to the Nazis there. And the governing coalition in France included several communists ministers in charge of important agencies. The U s pressure the French into removing these ministers from their government. In 1947 the u s also pushed for recipients to balance their and to open up their economies to freer trade with the United States. Domestically, the expensive plan seemed a tough sell to Congress, but attaching war hero Marshall's name to it gave it more credibility. A massive lobbying effort occurred, including not just typical liberal internationalists do gooders, but also hardheaded conservative business leaders and military men who insisted the deal was in the longterm economic and security interest of the USA.

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Congress passed the plan and the aid soon improved conditions across western Europe. Professor herring called the Marshall Plan, quote one of the United States most successful 20th century initiatives. Not all Europeans agreed, some fretted about the fact that the plan allowed reindustrialization of West Germany because they still feared and mistrusted the Germans. Some French commentators complained about the flood of mass produced American products such as Coca-Cola, that freer trade brought into their country. They complain these cheap consumer goods and mass advertising. We're diluting traditional French culture, a process they called Coco colonization. Seriously. Nevertheless, most western Europeans were grateful to the u s for helping to bring it in to the scarcity and austerity they had suffered during and immediately after the war. The rise of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR shook up the u s political status quo and it would have a major impact on the baby boomers.

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It troubled conservatives by causing the u s to abandoned isolationism and join international institutions. So they viewed as a threat to independent American sovereignty. It also led to massive federal spending on military and security agencies. Expenses often more acceptable to the right then social welfare benefits, but which still meant the large central government created during the new deal era was here to stay. For the left. It meant fears about a potential return to war and concerns about an over glorification of private enterprise. The Cold War also scaled back the reformist idealism of the 1930s because liberal ideas could be painted as pink or quasi communistic. Some labor unions and civil rights groups would indeed be accused of being red during the years that followed. So anti-communism became an obstacle for movement seeking social change. A new cold war, political consensus emerged to adapt to these new realities. Embracing a big democratic u s government meant to defend individual freedom and private property from an undemocratic centralized Soviet government that violated individual freedoms and opposed property rights. This new synthesis would become apparent during the fascinating presidential election year of 1948

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or [inaudible]

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