Fears, ideas and norms are quite common during historical events. The cold war was a war of conflicting principles and was meant to prove superiority between the two sides. It involved rivalry between the Soviet Union, the communists, and the United States, the capitalists. The cold war redefined the political ideology, the American foreign policy and the citizens’ personal lives. The cold war led to the ‘Red Scare’ which is the advancement of fear of the upsurge of communism by society. The citizen’s on their part were influenced by the politicians towards discrimination and unnecessary fear. Lastly, the government’s reaction in the foreign and local policies enhanced the ideologies against communism and justifying themselves in the building of nuclear weapons at the expense of its citizens.
The citizens lived in fear that was as a result of the cold waraggravated by the Red Scare. They were always afraid that the rise of the communism would interfere with their rights and freedoms.There was the belief that the communists wanted world domination by all means, which was a threat to the individuality of the American way of life.In addition to this, the most significant was the fear of an impending nuclear attack by the Soviet. It led to people building bunkers to prepare themselves and protect them from an imminent nuclear attack.Also, the students had to do “duck and cover” drills to practice for impending attacks. They were always worried about their security and even had drills in case there was an attack.
The government, in its pursuit of their ideologies and pursuit of a faceless enemy, implemented policies that did nothing to allay the fears by the people but amplified them. The international policies included; the Truman doctrine which charted the containment plan around the world, The marshall plan which outlined the economic policies in Western Europe and the NATO showed the mechanisms to be put in place for military defence. In his Presidency, Truman declared executive orders that were aimed at fighting communism within the country as well as internationally. The government, with the help of the media, propagated ideologies that the country was under threat by communists to silence any opposition. Several groups such as civil rights groups and church unions were legally dismantled for a mere fact of having any association with perceived communism. The National Security Council was established, the defence department was empowered to help the country prepare for an attack even though the war had ended. During this time the rise of McCarthyism took place where wild allegations of people being involved in communism
Politics of fear are strategies used by governments to push an agenda. In the late twentieth century, the cold war was propagated by propagandas and politics of fear. The rise of McCarthyism era led to an increase in discrimination of anyone thought to have connections with communists even without actual evidence. This strategy is still at play in the 21st century. The approach involves exaggerating the facts presented. A good example might be the use by the Bush administration in grossly exaggerating the fear by the American peopleover the actual threat posed by Iraq. This fear campaign in 2002 might have fueled the invasion into the Middle-East country.
In conclusion, the politics of fear as a strategy is effective in allowing the government to gain support from the public to implement certain ideologies. The cold war used the approach to impact fear among the people. The cold war lasted from 1948- 1991 and all America gained from them was fear of nuclear warfare and a huge US debt to finance the policies set up by the administrations. It also caused discrimination of immigrants from Europeeven without evidence as well as American citizens. Americans need to learn from the past for them to be able to discriminate facts of reality from propaganda.
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