Toward an American Sparta? Legacies of the Korean Era
I suppose that history will remember my term in office as the years when the `cold war' began to overshadow our lives. I have hardly had a day in office that has not been dominated by this all-embracing struggle . . . And always in the back-ground there has been the atomic bomb.
Harry S. Truman, Farewell Address, January 15, 1953. 1.
The seeds of mutual distrust and misunderstanding between the United States and the Soviet Union germinated during World War II, having been sown during World War I. The immense power vacuums left in the wake of the Second World War combined with vague and unenforceable postwar settlements only widened the growing rift between the two nations. Between 1945 and 1950, this deteriorating relationship became known as the Cold War, a time of neither war nor peace, punctuated by a series of crises that only served to heighten tensions between the superpowers. Yet despite the recurrent crises of this period, the Cold War did not seriously challenge the American domestic system or the traditions and beliefs upon which that system was built. The Korean War and the consequences it wrought changed that. Indeed, Truman's decision to intervene in the Korean War and to simultaneously rearm the nation along the lines prescribed in NSC- 68 shook the very pillars of American free-market capitalism, not to mention the ideological tenets that undergirded it. After 1950, the____________________