Bert the Turtle Was Very Alert: The US in the Early Cold War

The world looked very different at the end of World War Two than before it. While the former European empires focused on rebuilding from the destruction of the war, a new economic and military powerhouse, the United States, reigned supreme. But the US faced a challenge to its global superpower status from the Soviet Union. For the United States, the spread of communism in Eastern Europe and across the world was antithetical to its democratic values. But the Cold War did not simply take place in foreign affairs, anxieties and fears about communism permeated domestic politics as well.

Before you beginning this assignment, be sure to read the Module Notes, Chapter 25: “The Cold War” in The American Yawp. In addition, read the primary source documents: Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, “Enemies from Within,” “They Want to Muzzle the Truth,” “Sometime Soon…The Free Nations Must Make Their Choice,” and “We Must Keep the Labor Unions Clean,” and view the videos: Atomic Alert, Duck and Cover, and We Must Not Confuse Dissent with Disloyalty.

Using the primary and secondary source materials above as evidence, consider the following in a post of at least 350 words:

  • How did the early Cold War affect Americans’ perceptions of their country’s place in the world? How did this differ from the US’s role in the world during the 1930s and 1940s?
  • Do you think the US response to the Soviet Union and the hunt for internal communist subversives were based upon real threats, or the product of unnecessary paranoia?

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