Essay Test

Posted: November 27th, 2013





Essay Test

1. How did World War II change life in the United States? What were the long-term consequences of some of these changes?

World War II started in 1939 and ended in 1945. Although many of the nations that had participated in the war were left in economic ruin, America did not suffer great economical losses. America had suffered the consequences of the previous wars. Economically, the nation had had to endure the great depression. Life changed after the war as America started to rebuild itself. Granted, people were still dealing with many problems. However, a deep pride was associated with being an American during that time. Since then, many changes have been encountered. The nation has experienced positive economic, political and social changes. Science and technology has advanced and the education system continues to improve. Freedom of speech has had both positive and negative changes as well. Despite these positive attributes, America has also made some huge mistakes in the past, some of which have forever changed the lives of the affected people.

Economically, America has seen both periods of recession and boom. As other countries were trying to rebuild after the war, America had not been affected by the war and so its economy continued to develop (Brands 97). After the war, consumerism increased as many industries, which had previously been used to make war weaponry, began to manufacture other goods needed by the consumer. People became more materialistic as they sought goods and services, which made them more comfortable. Many people wanted to have a good life and so they worked hard. Unemployment levels decreased and many families began living comfortably. The first years following the Second World War experienced the lowest unemployment rate that the nation has ever had. People had more leisure time and this gave them a chance to develop new technological products. Home appliances such as televisions, refrigerators and washing machines became more common as people could afford to buy them. These items have nowadays become more of a necessity than a luxury. People have more dispensable income than they did before and they are spending more on luxury items.

The political climate has changed since the forties. Although America has largely been a democratic country, minorities have always been discriminate upon and they have had to struggle to get some of the most basic rights. Segregation was a serious issue and for a long time it actually hindered Americas progress. This changed however, with the civil rights movements taking a more active role. African Americans and other minority groups could now vie for various government positions and the people even elected an African American president, something that was unheard of several years back. Women have also enjoyed this privilege and they have taken top positions in government. Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental rights enjoyed by all Americans. This includes the media and the inception of twenty-four hour news channel provided a way for the people to know what was happening around the world and how the government was tackling different important issues. In a way, the CNN channel acted as a way for the people to monitor the government activities especially where foreign relations were concerned. The political climate determined the diplomatic relations between America and other nations of the world (Brands 163).

Foreign relations with the rest of the world have also changed. The Vietnam War was especially opposed by many people, both in America and in other countries. America’s strong position on various issues such as terrorism has also affected foreign relations, especially with Middle East countries. The Iraq war and subsequent wars against terror has brought misery and suffering to the affected countries and to the American families, whose loved ones are in the war. America’s involvement in different wars is entirely justifiable because being a great country with great economic wealth and world influence; it has faced many enemies in the past. There is also the risk of attack from some of the nations and America has a responsibility to protect itself and its citizens who are scattered in many places around the world.

Family structures changed especially in the period following World War II. This period is known as the baby boom era because many babies were born then. With the changes in family structure and the ease of life experienced at the time, culture was also bound to change. This generation did not know the suffering of the war or the economic suffering their parents had experienced during the great depression. They had an easier economic life than their parents did and they had access to a higher quality education. They also experienced more freedom and were more liberal in making decisions. America had long suffered segregation problems. Women did not enjoy the rights and privileges the same way the men did and racial discrimination was still very high. This compelled different groups to fight for their rights. There was an upsurge of civil movements as different groups sought equal status in the country (Brands 271). These changes had long time consequences. Women were accorded many rights and they had the same opportunities as men. African Americans were regarded as citizens and racial discrimination started declining gradually.

2. What strategies did the U.S. pursue to contain communism in Europe and Asia? How was each of these strategies successful or unsuccessful?

The U.S. had always exercised democracy and the leaders fought for other countries, which were under subjugation, to govern themselves as well. The U.S. and USSR were the two most powerful nations after World War II. While the US encouraged a system of democracy where people had the freedom of speech, the USSR promoted communism. The Soviet Union was already spreading its ideologies in Eastern Europe and it had already taken over several countries such as Poland and Hungary. Its policies had already taken effect in Bulgaria, Hungary and in Romania. The two nations could not agree on how they would resolve the crisis that was experienced in Eastern Europe (Brands 349).

As the Soviet Union moved to influence countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, the US moved to counteract their efforts by providing assistance to these countries. The US wanted people to govern themselves and experience political freedom and they developed strategies to ensure that the countries did not accept communism. Most of these strategies were employed as a way of reducing further spread of communism and not necessarily doing away with communism where it had taken root; these became known as containment. Some of the strategies employed by the US included economic and military strategies. While some of these strategies worked and they prevented the spread of communism, some of the strategies used proved ineffectual and they only caused suffering to the people.

The US spent a lot of money offering aid to countries that did not support communism. It spent money in different ways such as the European Recovery Program and NATO. Under the European Recovery Program, the US sent a lot of money to some European countries, to stop the expansion of communism. In some cases the countries affected by the two ideologies that were supported by the Soviet Union and the United States ended up being divided. For instance, Germany was divided into the east and west, with the US supporting West Germany. The US contained communism by giving favorable treatment to some of the countries that did not embrace communism. The US provided financial support to these nations and contributed to their economic development. One of the ways they did this was by opening up trade through provision of markets and capital in Asia. In Europe, America removed trade barriers, which improved trade between the countries. The wars had destroyed most European countries and they greatly needed all the financial support they could get (Brands 407).

The US also offered military support to the countries that were still involved in the war such as Japan and South Korea through the principle of collective security. The US also offered financial and military support to Greece. Fighting broke out in Korea between those who supported communism and those who did not. The US supported North Korea, which did not support communism. It offered military assistance by sending forces and asking for assistance from the United Nations. One of the ways through which the US tried to end the communism spread to Asia was participating in the Vietnam War. Presidents Truman and Kennedy believed that communism could be contained in Vietnam and they encouraged the use of the military. The US believed that if communism were allowed to take root in Vietnam, it would spread to the surrounding regions as well. This was commonly referred to as the domino theory and it had become a reality in Eastern Europe. America sent military aid to Vietnam and

Providing financial support to European countries was a clever strategy. The affected countries rebuild their nations and their living standards and economies improved. However, the United States had underestimated the power of communism in these countries. Communism was popular in turkey and Greece yet they had been the first countries to receive financial aid from the United States. Military support might have worked in some instances such as when the US helped South Korea when it was attacked by the South after the Korean War. However, this strategy failed in some cases such as during the Vietnam War. Financial support to some of the East Asian nations contributed to their economic growth. Countries such as South Korea and Japan benefited from this aid and it is from there that the countries were able to develop financially.

Works Cited

Brands, H. W. American Dreams: The United States Since 1945. New York, NY: Penguin Press HC, 2011. Print.

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