US Foreign Policy, 1945 - 1972

Leaving Cert > The United States and the World > US Foreign Policy, 1945-72
The Korean War (1950-53) was the first major conflict the US participated in
after the end of World War II in 1945.
You might remember your parents watching the news as you grew up, with constant headlines and reports about the Iraq War, or the war in Afghanistan. Both of these conflicts arose after the events of 9/11, and they're both cases of American involvement in conflicts in different parts of the world. Since the end of World War II, the US has been seen as something like a policeman of the world, intervening in other countries' conflicts and affairs when it thinks it's necessary to do so. People have a lot of different opinions on whether this is a good thing or not, but no matter what your opinion is, in this part of the course you examine the origins of this foreign policy.

In the months after the end of World War II, the US and the Soviet Union soon turned from allies to enemies. Both countries were able to develop nuclear weapons, and a war between them with these weapons would have disastrous consequences for the entire world. The conflict between the two countries became known as the Cold War, because it involved very little actual fighting. There were incidents which nearly turned the Cold War hot, however, and you will look at them here...

Continue to Domestic Factors in US Foreign Policy, 1945-72


  • Truman's Foreign Policy (1945-53)
    • The atomic bomb: Why did Truman use it?
    • How relations with Russia deteriorated and the effect of the Keenan Long Telegram.
    • The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan: What were their goals? What were their effects?
    • The Berlin Airlift: How did Truman respond to the crisis?
    • The Korean War: Why did the US get involved? What happened during the war? How did it end?
  • Eisenhower's Foreign Policy (1953-61)
    • The Domino Theory and the policy of deterrence.
    • Peaceful coexistence between the US and the Soviets.
    • The U-2 spy plane: What happened and what was its effect?
  • Kennedy's Foreign Policy (1961-63)
    • The Cuban Missile Crisis: How did it begin? What was Kennedy's response? What was Khruschev's response? How did it end?
    • US involvement in Vietnam: Why did the US become involved? Why did Kennedy increase the number of US troops?
  • Johnson's Foreign Policy (1963-69)
    • The Vietnam War (see the Case Study)

Case Study:  
Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam, 1963-8

Key Personalities: 
Harry S. Truman
Lyndon Johnson 

Soviet Premier Khrushchev (left) and US President Kennedy (right), deadlocked in a cold war...
 
Higher Level (100 marks each)
2016: Who was the greater president, Truman or Johnson? Argue your case, referring to both in your answer.

2015: During the period 1945-1989, what was the importance for US foreign policy of one or more of the following: Berlin; Korea; Cuba?

2014: What were the strengths and weaknesses of Lyndon Johnson as a political leader?

2013: Which president was more successful in his handling of US foreign policy, Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson? Argue your case, referring to both.

2012: What part did one or more of the following play in US foreign policy: Korea; Cuba; SALT and Star Wars?

2011: Why did the US lose the Vietnam War?

2010: What were the successes and failures of the presidency of Lyndon Johnson?

2006: Which had a greater impact on the United States: involvement in Korea or involvement in Vietnam? Argue your case, referring to both.

Ordinary Level:
2016, The United States and the World, Part C:
Why did President Lyndon Johnson fail to achieve US aims in Vietnam, 1963-1968?

2015, The United States and the World, Part C:
What policies did Lyndon Johnson follow in relation to the war in Vietnam? (40)

2013, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Harry Truman. (30)
2013, The United States and the World, Part C:
What problems did one or more of the following pose for the US: Berlin; Korea; Cuba? (40)

2016, The United States and the World, Part C
2012, The United States and the World, Part C:
How did President Harry Truman conduct foreign affairs between 1945 and 1953? (40)
What problems did President Johnson encounter in dealing with Vietnam? (40)

2011, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on the Cuban Missile Crisis. (30)

2011, The United States and the World, Part C:
What did Harry Truman achieve as President of the United States? (40)

2010, The United States and the World, Part C:
How successful was Lyndon Johnson as a political leader at home and abroad? (40)

2007, The United States and the World, Part C:
What part did President Truman play in the history of the United States? (40)

President Kennedy and the man who succeeded him, Vice President Lyndon Johnson.

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