The Impact of NSC-68 on American Foreign Policy During the Cold War
AbstractFollowing the end of World War II, the strenuous relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, which had arisen due to the urgent need to counter the Nazi German threat during WWII, disintegrated and hostilities between the US and USSR erupted. The resulting post-WWII international order constituted a bipolar system, which was characterized by the establishment of the two superpowers of the capitalist USA and the communist USSR. This international order pitted the two superpowers against one another and launched the global competition for power and prestige, which would persist until the collapse of the USSR in December 1991, and the ensuing conclusion of the Cold War. This competition for global supremacy produces the question: what guided American foreign policy throughout the Cold War? This paper examines the policies and recommendations contained within the National Security Report 68 (NSC-68) and analyses how this document constituted the guiding framework for the US’ foreign policy decisions throughout the Cold War. To demonstrate the connection between NSC-68 and American foreign policy in the Cold War, the paper begins by examining the content within NSC-68 and then proceeds to apply NSC-68’s policies and recommendations to the decisions that America made during the Cold War, which include: the massive buildup of the US’s military, the pursuit of containment, the development of the thermonuclear bomb, and finally the decision to enter Vietnam. Throughout these analyses, the paper asserts that the policies within NSC-68 constituted the principal guiding force behind American foreign policy decisions throughout the Cold War, regardless of the Party or President in power.
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