Post World War Ii Decades’ Top Events essay

These were selected as top event for each of the post World War II decades, because they produced the biggest impact on the lives of Americans, and the lives of many around the world. Korean War and Vietnam War resulted in millions of lives lost and billions of dollar spent, plus great political and economical dislocations they produced. Dissolution of USSR ended the Cold War and left USA as the only world superpower. Watergate Scandal was not an ordinary snooping act, but was a result of deeper problems that almost divided the nation. Globalization and Internet changed ways of life of many, not just in United States.

And these will continue to affect their lives even in the future. Post World War II 3 1950-1960: KOREAN WAR Korean War was declared on June 27, 1950 and ended on July 27, 1953. North Korea and South Korea existed with provisionary governments that were competing to control the whole Korean Peninsula. The conservative South Korea was attacked by the radical and Russia-China supported North Korea. USA was sucked into the conflict due to its fear that Korea will fall into communism. Korean War was unpopular here at home. Prior to 27 June l950, President Harry S.

Truman had no notion of fighting a major land war in Asia or for that matter, engaging the nation in an exorbitant Cold War rearmament program. In September, the Soviets surprised the world and obliterated the U. S. atomic monopoly by exploding their first atomic bomb. Then came in October, the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War; and which was quickly followed by the permanent division of Germany. The monetary and psychological costs of this massive military effort would prove enormous. By end of 1951, the annual defense budget quadrupled from $13.

5 billion to $ 50 billion. As a result, the economy began to overheat. Casualties for all Koreans were estimated at 3 million, while the United States lost 34,000 or more of its soldiers for the three years war (Pierpaoli, Paul, Jr. , Truman’s Other War: The Battle for the American Homefront, 1950-1953. ) Post World War II 4 On July 27, 1953, the United States, China, and North Korea signed the Korean War Armistice Agreement (KAA). However, South Korea refused to sign it, leaving the two Koreas separate and technically still at war to this day.

However, to reinforce the United States’ commitment to the Republic of Korea (ROK), it signed The Mutual Defense Treaty on 1 October 1953 (Sanford, John M. , The Korean Armistice: Short Term Truce or Long Term Peace? ). Korean War is the first armed conflict as a result of the Cold War between Democratic and Communist countries; each side, aiming for a larger share of the spoils of World War II. 1960-1970: VIETNAM WAR. The Second Indochina War, 1954-1975, grew out of the long conflict between France and Vietnam. In July 1954, after one hundred years of colonial rule, a defeated France was forced to leave Vietnam.

Nationalist forces under the direction of General Vo Nguyen Giap trounced the allied French troops at the remote mountain outpost of Dien Bien Phu in the northwest corner of Vietnam. This decisive battle convinced the French that they could no longer maintain their Indochinese colonies, and Paris quickly sued for peace. Because of outside pressures brought to bear by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam’s delegates to the Geneva Conference agreed to the temporary partition of their nation at the seventeenth parallel to allow France a face-saving defeat The Post World War II 5

United States, however, had other ideas. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles did not support the Geneva Accords, because he thought they granted too much power to the Communist Party of Vietnam. Instead, Dulles and President Dwight D. Eisenhower supported the creation of a counter-revolutionary alternative south of the seventeenth parallel. The United States supported this effort of nation-building through a series of multilateral agreements that created the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Using SEATO for political cover, the Eisenhower administration helped create a new nation from dust in southern Vietnam.

In 1955, with the help of massive amounts of American military, political, and economic aid, the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN or South Vietnam) was born by late September. Buddhist protested Diem’s corruption, and created dislocation in the south, that caused the Kennedy administration to support a coup. In 1963, some of Diem’s own generals in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) approached the American Embassy in Saigon with plans to overthrow Diem. With Washington’s tacit approval, on November 1, 1963, Diem and his brother were captured and later killed.

Three weeks later, President Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas. The continuing political problems in Saigon, however, convinced the new president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, that more aggressive action was needed. Perhaps Johnson was more prone to military intervention or maybe events in Vietnam had forced the president’s hand to more direct action. Republican challenger Richard Post World War II 6 Nixon who claimed he had a secret plan to end the war. Nixon’s secret plan, it turned out, was borrowing from a strategic move from Lyndon Johnson’s last year in office.

The new president continued a process called “Vietnamization”, an awful term that implied that Vietnamese were not fighting and dying in the jungles of Southeast Asia. This strategy brought American troops home while increasing the air war over the DRV and relying more on the ARVN for ground attacks. The Nixon years also saw the expansion of the war into neighboring Laos and Cambodia, violating the international rights of these countries in secret campaigns, as the White House tried desperately to rout out Communist sanctuaries and supply routes.

The intense bombing campaigns and intervention in Cambodia in late April 1970 sparked intense campus protests all across America. In early January 1973, the Nixon White House convinced the Thieu-Ky regime in Saigon that they would not abandon the GVN if they signed onto the peace accord. On January 23, therefore, the final draft was initialed, ending open hostilities between the United States and the DRV. The Paris Peace Agreement did not end the conflict in Vietnam, however, as the Thieu-Ky regime continued to battle Communist forces.

From March 1973 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, ARVN forces tried desperately to save the South from political and military collapse. The end finally came, however, as DRV tanks rolled south along National Highway One. On the morning of April 30, Communist forces captured the presidential palace in Saigon, ending the Second Indochina War. (Brigham, Robert; Wars for Viet Nam: 1945 to 1975, Vassar College. ) Post World War 7 “No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much.

Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic. ” [Pres. Richard Nixon) 1970-1980: WATERGATE SCANDAL. The context of the Watergate scandal was a profound social and political crisis of American capitalism reflected in three interconnected phenomena: the defeat of American imperialism in Vietnam; the weakening international economic position of the United States; and the increasing social conflicts within the United States, especially the unrest in the labor movement and among students. (www. rotten. com/library/history/political-scandal/watergate)

In 1971, the Nixon White House tried to suppress the Pentagon Papers, a Pentagon internal history of the Vietnam War that confirmed the systematic lying about the war by a series of US administrations. A dissident Pentagon analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, leaked the documents to the New York Times, which published them after a unanimous Supreme Court decision rejecting the White House demand for censorship. After this debacle, Nixon formed the illegal “plumbers” unit, a group of ex-intelligence operatives and Cuban exiles recruited for undercover jobs against political targets. The plumbers broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s

Post World War 8 psychiatrist and rifled his papers. Nixon ordered them to do the same to the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank. The Watergate break-in was another in that series of “black bag jobs” by the plumbers. The five men arrested were apparently seeking to retrieve or repair an electronic bugging device in the offices of Democratic National Committee chairman Lawrence O’Brien. It was clear that the “President’s Men” had been directly involved in the “Plumbers’ actions, as McCord started naming names, including top Nixon adviser John Erlichmann and White House Chief of Staff H. R.

Haldeman, Nixon lawyer Charles Colson, Nixon campaign chief John Mitchell, deputy campaign manager Jeb Magruder. Two days after the arrest of the five burglars, Mark Felt was in contact with Bob Woodward at the Washington Post and began providing information derived from the FBI investigation of the break-in. Felt’s role in this unfolding crisis expressed a definite political agenda. It was the outcome of a protracted conflict between the Nixon White House and the FBI, going back at least to 1970, when J. Edgar Hoover blocked Nixon’s initial efforts to organize political surveillance and dirty tricks against opponents of the Vietnam War.

( WSWS : News & Analysis : North America Watergate in historical perspective: Why does today’s criminal White House face no similar challenge? By Patrick Martin3 June 2005) Post World War 9 1980-1990: U. S. S. R DESOLVED. Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich (1931- )Russian politician, leader and president of the USSR 1985–91. He attempted to revive the faltering Soviet economy through economic reforms (perestroika) and liberalize society and politics through glasnost (openness) and competition in elections, and to halt the arms race abroad through arms reduction agreements with the USA.

He pulled Soviet troops out of Afghanistan and allowed the Soviet bloc states in central Europe greater autonomy, a move which soon led to the break up of the USSR and end of the Cold War. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1990 for promoting greater openness in the USSR and helping to end the Cold War. His reforms failed to improve the economy and resulted in ethnic and nationalist tensions within the USSR, culminating in demands for independence in the Baltic and Caucasus regions.

Communist hardliners briefly overthrew Gorbachev in August 1991 and within months the USSR had dissolved and Gorbachev resigned as president. (Hutchinson Encyclopedia of World History. © Research Machines plc [2006]) The following is a report given by David North, chairman of the World Socialist Web Site editorial board, to a well-attended public meeting at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on October 1, 2002. On September 17, 2002 the Bush administration published its “National Security Strategy of the United States of America.

” So far, there has been no Post World War II 10 serious examination of this important document in the establishment media. This is unfortunate, to say the least, because this document advances the political and theoretical justification for a colossal escalation of American militarism. The document asserts as the guiding policy of the United States the right to use military force anywhere in the world, at any time it chooses, against any country it believes to be, or it believes may at some point become, a threat to American interests.

No other country in modern history, not even Nazi Germany at the height of Hitler’s madness, has asserted such a sweeping claim to global hegemony—or, to put it more bluntly, world domination—as is now being made by the United States. Desolution of U. S. S. R. made the United States the only superpower in the world, with a herculean job of putting world affairs in order. 1990-2000: (GLOBALIZATION OF FREE TRADE). Since 1950, for example, the volume of world trade has increased by 20 times, and from just 1997 to 1999 flows of foreign investment nearly doubled, from $468 billion to $827 billion.

Distinguishing this current wave of globalization from earlier ones, author Thomas Friedman has said that today globalization is “farther, faster, cheaper, and deeper. ” Post World War II 11 Since the end of WWII, in part due to industrial supremacy and the onset of the Cold War, the US government has become one of the most consistent proponents of reduced tariff barriers and free ‘managed’ trade, having helped establish the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and later the World Trade Organization (WTO); although it had rejected an earlier version in the 1950s (International Trade Organization or ITO).

. A significant portion of U. S. international trade is conducted by multinational firms; studies show that these firms generally pay higher wages than purely domestic firms, both in the United States and in developing countries (Doms and Jensen, 1998; Bhagwati, 2004, p. 172). U. S. firms with a global reach tend to be better diversified and are better able to respond to new market opportunities wherever they may arise. (Speech Chairman Ben S.

Bernanke at the Montana Economic Development Summit 2007 Butte, Montana May 1, 2007) Even supposing this to be true, should one assume that the nation is better off with more revenue in the government’s coffers instead of the hands of foreign buyers and sellers? If the government could tax a billion dollars away from, say, Sony or BMW would that exaction benefits the general public of the United States. (Irwin, Douglas A. , Tide: An intellectual History of Free Trade; Princeton University Press) Post World War II 12

“ The United States has filled various roles at the World Economic Forum over the past decade: dot-com dynamo, benevolent superpower, feared aggressor, and now, wounded giant”- George Soros, the financier, said Wednesday at Davos that the U. S. downturn would end the status of the dollar as the world’s default currency (January 23, 2008; Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News) 2000-PRESENT: INTERNET Internet has changed and revolutionized ways of life allover the world. North America has the largest Internet penetration which is 70. 1%, followed by Australia with 57. 3% and 42. 9%.

But in terms of numbers of users, Asia tops with 36. 6% followed by Europe with 27. 2%. But in terms of usage growth, Middle East tops with 920 %, followed closely by Africa with 879 %. (www. InternetWorldStats. com). “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. ” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19) This shows that this powerful technology is fast spreading out its benefits all over the world.

With information data exchange, easily accessible to all, this is a great equalizer for everybody, even for these in the remote areas. And this trend Post World War II 13 seems to have a force of an avalanche. A force that will grow stronger in the future. This will remove all boundaries, and will make us all brothers and sisters. Post World War II 14


Pierpaoli, Paul, Jr. , Truman’s Other War: The Battle for the American Homefront, 1950-1953 Sanford, John M. , The Korean Armistice: Short Term Truce or Long Term Peace? Brigham, Robert; Wars for Viet Nam: 1945 to 1975, Vassar College.