• Jai Kasera

The Cold War: A Fight for Principles


The Cold War lasted from around 1947 to 1989, and one of the United States’s primary goals during the war was to contain the spread of communism. To try to prevent the domino theory, in which one country going communist would cause others around it to “fall” as well, the U.S. strongly believed that it was its duty to intervene in various countries and fight against communism globally. This ideology was intensified when President Ronald Reagan created the Reagan Doctrine, which allowed and encouraged the U.S. to provide support to anti-communism movements in countries around the world. Anti-communism is a U.S. principle because the fall of communism provides greater opportunities for the U.S. to promote democracy in other countries. Because of this, the U.S. upheld its principles during the Cold War, because in both the wars it won and lost, it fought them in order to stay true to its principles.

The U.S. implemented various policies during the Cold War that helped it live up to its principles. For instance, in 1948, the U.S. enacted the Marshall Plan, through which the nation provided over $12 billion in helping repair Western Europe. The U.S. specifically helped rebuild non-communist nations, which would allow it to have leverage in those countries and spread democracy. Although the Marshall Plan also provided the U.S. with more power, this power allowed the U.S. to further pursue its principles. President Harry Truman emphasized this in his letter to Congress on the Marshall Plan, stating that Truman shows that without helping European countries devastated by World War II, they might fall to communism, and because of this, it was the duty of the U.S. to help in their recovery. The U.S. also passed the Reagan Doctrine in 1985, which showed that the U.S. was willing to put more effort into rolling back communism. Under the Reagan Doctrine, the U.S. helped intervene in countries such as the Philippines, South Africa, and Chad. Through the Reagan Doctrine, the U.S. hoped that it could stop communism before it could even attack a country, which shows the extent to which the U.S. fought for its principles. President Ronald Reagan “We must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He noted that countless battles were being fought in different countries against communism, and that the U.S. had to support those who were risking their lives.

The U.S. also fought various wars to contain communism, and highly successful wars for the U.S., both politically and militarily, include the Korean War and invasion of Grenada. In 1950, the U.S. sent naval and air force troops to Korea to aid the South against the communist North threatening to take over the entire country. The war was a success for the U.S., as it retained a democratic South Korea and created an official border separating North and South Korea. Member of the Canadian House of Commons Pierre Poilievre described the Korean War as a success as well, saying that “our soldiers fought in the Korean War to push back communism. As a result of their effort and the effort of our allies, South Korea is free today.” The U.S. invasion of Grenada was also a successful attempt at containing communism. The U.S. justified its invasion by citing that various U.S. medical students in Grenada were in danger. However, by invading and taking control of Grenada in just a few days, the U.S. was able to eradicate communist Cuban influence there, protecting its principles of anti-communism. The Reagan Administration also called the Grenada War “a clear success.”

Although the U.S. also lost various battles during the Cold War, the U.S. still lived up to its principles because its main purpose for most of the wars was to attempt to contain communism in the country it was invading. For example, Vietnam was a strategic failure for the U.S. and caused intense controversy within the American public. In fact, Robert McNamara, the U.S. Secretary of Defense during the 1960s, called the Vietnam War the biggest mistake in American foreign policy and that we “did not understand asymmetric warfare” and were “ignorant of the people, history, and politics of our friends and foes.” Although these descriptions demonstrate the military failure of the U.S. in the Vietnam War, the U.S. still attempted to aid South Vietnam against North Vietnam because of its anti-communist principles. Because of this, the war was still consistent with U.S. principles. Another infamous example of a U.S. cold war failure is the Bay of Pigs Invasion. In 1961, the Cuban soldiers trained by the CIA launched an attack on the Bay of Pigs, on the southwestern coast of Cuba, but were all killed by Fidel Castro’s revolution. This invasion is cited as a very unsuccessful U.S. battle; however, the U.S. still stayed true to its principles because it attempted to fight off Fidel Castro’s communist regime.

Although the U.S. had both successes and failures during the Cold War, the U.S. almost always pursued its principles of anti-communism during the war. Because of this, the Cold War was a success from a principles viewpoint, despite the various military failures in instances such as the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs.

Works Cited:

Magazine, Smithsonian, and Kat Eschner. “How Robert McNamara Came to Regret the War

He Escalated.” Smithsonian Magazine, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-


“Poilievre Backs Site of Victims of Communism Memorial.” Ottawacitizen,



“Reagan Doctrine.” Wikipedia, 15 Nov. 2021. Wikipedia,


Special Message to the Congress on the Marshall Plan. | The American Presidency Project.