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What Were the Cold War Fears of the American People After the Second World War? How Successfully Did the Administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower Address These Fears?

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The Cold War

Throughout the decade immediately after the end of the Second World War, national relations between the United States and The Soviet Union took a sharp turn for the worst. Knowledge of the devastating power of each other’s “atomic advancements” forced American people into a constant state of fear and tension. The election was greatly influenced by this fear. Other than being a five-star general in the U.S. Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower was terribly unqualified for taking on the role as President. He was just a bold speaker with strong confidence in U.S. military capabilities. It made it easier to sleep at night. The Eisenhower administration was unsuccessful as a whole in addressing these fears of the American people. Although he did implement the strategy created by his secretary of state: John Foster Dulles. His plan on how to deal with Soviet forces was the walk to Eisenhower’s talk. It was aggressive and promising.

The reality that all American people had to accept was that thumbs always hovered over the “fire” buttons. In other words, an enemy atomic bomb could desolate any area in the united states at any time. Being the period right after the end of WWII, american people were well aware of the impact that these weapons had (the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). It doesn’t help when the News and World report, one of the main sources of where the american people got their news information from, pumps out some concerning war-statistics and suggests that the U.S. would be better off to sit this one out because of how many innocent lives that were at stake (Document E). Another aspect that fueled this fear of the Soviets becoming more technologically advanced was the arms race. For example, the Soviets successfully launched Sputnik in 1957. Although this was just a satellite, the American people believed that The Soviets now had the ability to attack from orbit. When they could look up in the sky on a clear night and see this thing fly across the sky, no doubt they became more afraid. The american people also faced the fear of the spread of communism to the point of world domination. Communists taking away their freedom is scary enough, but the real, underlying fear was losing their recently-achieved prosperity. They had just been brought out of The Great Depression by WWII and things were starting to get better for America. Then the threat of communism taking all of that away loomed over all American people. This national crisis was further fueled by McCarthyism’s anti-communism accusations in the Red Scare. All these causes of fear were alluded to in Eisenhower’s speech at a press conference saying; “There’s too much hysteria. (Document A)” Well of course there is. The great depression took its tole on so many, but they struggled out of it by fighting in WWII. So a decade later they’re faced with that becoming the reality once again, but this time… the threat was not enemy troops that could be fought by our own. No… this time it was a devastating weapon that no one could fight against. No wonder there was nationwide hysteria! Eisenhower was aware of these fears, but does he successfully address them?

In 1950’s media sources, like magazines, propaganda advertising fallout shelters appeared all over the place. Document C shows a family



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