Paradoxically while american military commitments

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military commitments strained the balance of payments, they also increasingly bought the UnitedStates freedom from the pressure of worrying about the issue. No matter the cost to West Germany and other countries of absorbing dollars, the reality of the American defense umbrella together with freedom from controversial domestic decisions more than made up for it. Now that the Cold War has become history, we may find that being the only superpower is far more expensive proposition than living in a bipolar world.Meanwhile, at home, Cold War defense spending had become a permeant part of the national budget, an undeniable drain on tax revenues but an important element in the government contribution to economic prosperity. If the nuclear arms race remained a cause for anxiety, joinedby more personal worries about the changing patterns of family life, a sense of relative security nevertheless spread. Socially, the civilian population in America was subject to air-raid drills andencouraged to build personal bomb shelters in the 1950s. This level of concern faded; however, awareness of the war was a constant. Prospects for world peace had dimmed, but the worst nightmares of the 1940s had eased as well (History of the American People, 590-600).America in 1963 still enjoyed its postwar economic boom. To be sure, millions of Americans, particularly African Americans and Latinos, did not share in the good times. But millions ahd managed to reach the middle class since the early 1950s. An expanding economy, cheap energy, government subsidies, and dominance in the global marketplace had made the “good life” available to more Americans than ever. The postwar “American dream” promised home ownership, college education, secure employment at decent wages, and many other thing. The
9 Drew Bledsoe The Events of the Cold War: Foreign and Domestic Prompt 1presidential transition of 1961—from grandfatherly war hero Eisenhower to charismatic young war hero Jack Kennedy—symbolized for many a generational shift as well. By 1963, young people had more influence than ever before in shaping the nation’s political life.For twenty years American leaders, preoccupied with promoting national security throughout the globe, relied on a strategy of global containment and deterrence, trying to preventSoviet communism from expanding its empire. American policymakers believed that protecting other countries from the Soviet threat indirectly protected the United States and enhanced its national security. Hence, lines were drawn, countries were labeled friend or foe, and national commitments to friendly regimes were made. And when foreign threats were perceived, the United States responded. This policy of global containment inevitably led to American interventionism abroad and its tragic involvement in the Vietnam War.

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