The essence of this struggle lied in the "containment" of Soviet communism, a new tenet of U.S. post-war foreign policy, maintaining that the Soviet Union was "relentlessly expansionary" and that the ebb of "the flow of Soviet power" required a "firm and vigilant commitment" (Kennedy 554). And it was from this principle, to be known as the "containment doctrine," that much of the post-1945, anti-Soviet foreign policy of the United States arose in a crescendo of increasing intensity.
The application of the containment doctrine began with a series of policies designed to avert war and Soviet dominance. First, in March of 1947, President Harry S. Truman appeared before Congress to request military equipment and advisers to strengthen the defenses of Greece and Turkey against the communist threat (Brinkley, 782, Kennedy 554-55, Palmer 844-45). In his request, Truman pledged the support of the United States to those "free peoples . . . resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures" (Kennedy 555). This rhetoric, historically known as the "Truman Doctrine," formed the basis for further acts of Soviet containment and, indeed, committed the United States and its foreign policy to a comprehensive, international battle against communism.
To be sure, a fundamental element of the containment policy was the recognized need to aid in the economic recovery of Western Europe, where some countries, particularly France, Italy and Germany, were still afflicted with the social and economic turmoil stemming from World War II and were thus susceptible politically to communist exploitation (Brinkley 782, Kennedy 555, Palmer 845). Consequently, in June of 1947, then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall offered economic aid to all European countries, hoping to reconstruct the economy of Europe and thereby strengthen its resolve against Soviet influence (Kennedy 555, Palmer 845). The Marshall Plan, as it became known, dedicated 12.5 billion dollars to the economic recovery of Western Europe, which soon re-prospered and witnessed the demise of its communist parties (Kennedy 555).
Having thus succeeded to "contain" Soviet expansion in Western Europe, the United States placed it sights on protecting the global positions of itself and its allies, who were concerned not only with a military revival of Germany but also and primarily with Soviet expansion (Palmer 848). Accordingly, in 1949, spurred by the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the subsequent need for a U.S.-led airlift into that city, twelve countries, including the United States, pledged military support to one another in the event of an aggressive Soviet advance (Brinkley 784, Kennedy 555). Known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and soon joined by several more nations, the agreement demonstrates the prevalent belief that the Soviets presented an imminent threat requiring large-scale containment.
And it was not long thereafter that the United States found itself engaged in a military conflict, defending its goal of the containment of the expansion of Soviet communism. When Japan collapsed in 1945, Soviet troops accepted surrender north of the 38th parallel, and American troops accepted the surrender south of that line (Kennedy 558). Despite both sides' claim to desire reunification of the Korean peninsula, each established rival regimes in its sector and, in