Domestic Factors in US Foreign Policy 1945-72

Leaving Cert > The United States and the World > Domestic Factors in US Foreign Policy, 1945-72

So, while the United States was assuming a more active role in the world, what was happening back at home? The American people rejoiced at their victory at the end of World War II, but they quickly found themselves fearing a new enemy: communism. The involvement of US troops in wars against communist forces in Korea and Vietnam inspired a fear of communism reaching the US itself - anyone suspected of being a "commie" was regarded a traitor.

As time wore on, the American peoples' mood began to change. By the late 1960s the Vietnam War had become very unpopular, and the Anti-War movement began to gain strength. At the same time, public opinion was slowly turning against the segregation of white and black people, and a new civil rights movement was emerging.

In this section, you will look at how these events shaped and influenced the foreign policies you learned about in the last section. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson each had to deal with these issues. How did they deal with them, and what did that mean for America's place in the world?

Continue to US Foreign Policy, 1972-89

  • McCarthyism and the Red Scare
    • Who was Joseph McCarthy and how did he spread the Red Scare?
    • Who did he accuse? What were his investigations and hearings like?
    • What led to his downfall?
    • What influence did all this have on US foreign policy?
  • The Anti-War Movement
    • What reasons did people have for opposing the wars?
    • What impact did student protests have?
    • What impact did the Tet Offensive and Johnson's unpopularity have? What was the credibility gap?
    • Anti-war Politicians: Who opposed the war? What influence did they have?
    • Kent State: What happened here?
    • Loss of Trust: What impact did the My Lai massacre have on public opinion? What was President Nixon's response?
  • Race Relations
    • Desegregating the Armed Forces: Why did this happen?
    • Publicity and Image: Why were presidents concerned with how other countries saw segregation in the US?
    • The Vietnam War: What impact did the war have on black communities? What changes were made in the military? 

Key Concepts:  
Public Opinion
Military-Industrial Complex

Key Personalities: 
Joe McCarthy

An anti-war pin from the 1960s.

Higher Level (100 marks each)

2016: During the period 1945-1989, what was the impact on US society of McCarthyism and/or the anti-war movement?

2013: What were the main developments in race relations in the US, 1945 - 1968?

2012: How well did President Harry Truman or President Lyndon Johnson handle the challenges he faced?

2007: How did McCarthyism and/or the anti-war movement affect US foreign policy, 1945-1972?

Ordinary Level:
2015, The United States and the World, Part C
2013, The United States and the World, Part C:
How did Joe McCarthy contribute to a "red scare" in the US? (40)

2011, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Joe McCarthy and the "red scare". (30)

2007, The United States and the World, Part C:
What part did President Truman play in the history of the United States? (40)
How did Senator Joe McCarthy influence the direction of foreign policy in the United States? (40)

The Chicago Defender reporting on President Truman's order to desegregate the Armed Forces.
Note the second biggest headline - racism was still prevalent in many parts of America at this time.


  1. brilliant help!!

  2. Ah very useful and straight forward. Sorted for my history test tomorrow thanks.

  3. This was very helpful, thank you so much!