The Origins of the Cold War
University of Virginia
VUS.12b - The student will demonstrate knowledge of the United States foreign policy since World War II by explaining the
origins of the Cold War: the Truman Doctrine and the policy of containment of Communism, the American role in wars in Korea
and Vietnam, and the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe.
The origins of the Cold War is one of the most written about, yet least agreed upon subjects in diplomatic history. Was the
Cold War "the brave and essential response of free men to Communist aggression," as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once described
it? Or did the United States contribute to the onset of the Cold War in its pursuit of an "Open Door" empire? These questions
about Soviet and American culpability, and about the motivations underlying the two nations' foreign policies, have fueled
a historiographical debate over the causes of the Cold War that has evolved alongside the struggle itself.
I. The Causes of the Cold War: The Great Debate and Beyond
The divide between capitalism and Communism, and the elimination of a common enemy at the end of World War II, do much to
explain the Cold War's onset, but each explanation minimizes the complexity of the situation. As historian William A. Williams
framed the issue: "which side committed its power and policies which hardened the natural and inherent tensions and propensities
into bitter antagonisms and inflexible positions?" Scholars have provided several answers, and while many would eschew such
labels, it is helpful to think of their positions as representing three general view points: orthodox, revisionist, and post-revisionist.
Orthodox historians, many of whom were former Roosevelt or Truman administration officials, place primary responsibility for
the Cold War on the Soviet Union. According to this view, Moscow's aggressive and expansionist tendencies stood in stark
contrast to Washington's passive and defensive behavior. Herbert Feis' studies, such as Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin: The Wars They Waged and the Peace They Sought and From Trust to Terror: The Onset of the
Cold War, 1945-1950, exemplify this perspective. These works emphasize Stalin's "ruthlessness," "spirit of mistrust," and revolutionary goals.
Louis Halle presents a more nuanced though generally traditional interpretation in The Cold War as History. While rooting his analysis in "realism" and refusing to find fault with either side, he nonetheless presents the Cold War
as a "power contest in which one expanding power has threatened to make itself predominant, and in which other powers have
banded together in a defensive coalition to frustrate it."
In the late 1950s, a few scholars began to question the orthodoxy of American passivity and Communist aggression. These "revisionists"
rejected the notion that the Soviet Union was solely to blame for the Cold War, suggesting instead that the conflict emerged
more from America's pursuit of its own global economic and strategic agenda. William A. Williams spawned the revisionist school
with his classic and controversial work The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. Williams argues that the United States "crystallized" the Cold War in its determination to further its traditional policy
of Open Door expansion. Driven by the need to sustain economic prosperity and democracy at home, policymakers sought to create
a global, free-market economy and to impose American political values on the world. Those who would not accept the American
view were not only wrong but "incapable of thinking correctly." Faced with this unrelenting pressure to open their markets
and societies to western goods and ideas, the Soviets were left with "no real choice on key issues." Walter LaFeber provides
a readable revisionist interpretation in America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1992.
Subsequent scholarship has melded the orthodox and revisionist views into a "post-revisionist" synthesis, although the results
have hardly generated a historical consensus. John Lewis Gaddis, the first and foremost proponent of this view, concludes
that the conflict grew out of external and internal conflict in both the Soviet Union and the United States. In The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947, Gaddis argues that the two nations' power positions in Europe after World War II meant that disagreements would inevitably
arise; the Soviet quest for security, its ideology, and Stalin's leadership, combined with America's "illusion of omnipotence,"
built upon ideals, economic strength, and possession of the atomic bomb, ensured that the confrontation would be hostile.
In a more recent book, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, Gaddis shifts back toward a more traditional interpretation of the Cold War and restores Josef Stalin and the role of ideology
to the center of his account; "as long as Stalin was running the Soviet Union," Gaddis concludes, "a cold war was unavoidable."
He also suggests that great numbers of people, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, viewed the Cold War as a "contest of good
and evil." While the United States did create a kind of Cold War empire, the civility, democratic tendencies, and humane behavior
involved in its operation stood in sharp contrast to the coercive and repressive attributes of the Soviet sphere of influence.
In the words of historian Geir Lundestad, America's Cold War domain was an "empire by invitation."
In Preponderance of Power, Melvyn Leffler offers his own post-revisionist interpretation by focusing on the concept of "national security." Leffler
agrees with Williams that the United States should assume great responsibility for the onset of the Cold War. However, he
thinks that American policymakers were "prudent" in their course of action. Leffler stresses that Soviet military conquest
was not an immediate threat and that Moscow's actions displayed a mixture of aggression and conciliation. Indigenous Communism,
however, had great appeal in war-torn countries mired in poverty and instability. Thus, if the western powers acquiesced to
Communist political power, the situation would have likely redounded to Moscow's long-term benefit as Communist countries
aligned themselves with the Soviet Union. Over time, Soviet control of Eurasian resources could have threatened America's
own security, economic prosperity, and democracy—as had been the case earlier with imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Driven
by this fear, the United States engaged in a strategy of preponderance. It sought to integrate Western Europe, the western
occupation zones of Germany, and Japan into the American orbit, and link this "industrial core" with the Third World "periphery"
and its vital markets and raw materials. These steps inhered substantial short-term risk because the strategy would almost
surely appear threatening and aggressive to the Soviet Union. However, bolstered by a brief atomic monopoly, policymakers
pursued the creation of a world order hospitable to America's values and interests. In other words, to ensure the long-term
national security of the United States, policymakers were willing to risk antagonizing Moscow. In so doing, they precipitated
a cold war.
Without casting aside these important issues of causation, recent study has begun to shift the examination of the Cold War
in new directions by exploring different facets of the conflict. John Fousek combines culture and ideology to examine the
development of the domestic "Cold War consensus" in To Lead the Free World: American Nationalism and the Cultural Roots of the Cold War. Fousek identifies an "American nationalist ideology" consisting of national greatness, global responsibility, and anti-Communism.
Determined to make the "American Century" a reality, the people of the United States, Fousek argues, fought the Cold War in
the name of an American nationalism threatened by the Soviet Union. Thomas Borstelmann also looks at culture and the connections
between domestic and international issues in The Cold War and the Color Line. The African-American struggle for racial equality at home and the African anti-colonial fight for independence were both
inescapably linked to the Cold War, Borstelmann argues. The United States faced "no greater weakness" in the battle for hearts
and minds in the developing world than its domestic race problems, while Washington's determination to maintain stable anti-Communist
governments at times slowed the pace of ending white rule in Africa. Over the long run, the Cold War "provided the context
in American public life and in international affairs of the historic conflict between racial hierarchy and racial equality."
While signs of Soviet-American tension were evident in the immediate aftermath of World War II (See VUS 12a), the "Cold War"
did not clearly emerge until the United States had decided that cooperation with its erstwhile ally was no longer possible.
Adopting a policy of "containment"—a nebulous and constantly evolving concept—U.S. policymakers sought to limit Communist
expansion, indirectly challenge the Soviet empire, and ultimately force the Soviet Union to alter its attitudes and actions.
State Department official George Kennan introduced the concept to the public in a widely read 1947 article, "The Sources of
Soviet Conduct." Writing under the pseudonym "Mr. X," Kennan called on the United States to introduce a "policy of firm containment"
that would "confront the Russians with unalterable counterforce, at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon
the interests of a peaceful and stable world." Over time, he hoped, such a strategy would force Soviet policy to "mellow."
Influential journalist Walter Lippmann immediately attacked containment as a "strategic monstrosity." In a series of articles,
he questioned policymakers' ability to distinguish between peripheral and vital interests, recognize the difference between
military and political efforts, and their wisdom in relying on "a heterogeneous array of satellites, clients, dependents,
and puppets." While Kennan's argument captured the essence of American strategy for the duration of the Cold War, Lippmann's
concerns proved remarkably prescient throughout the struggle.
Policymakers undertook their first major effort to contain Communism with the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine. Great Britain,
unable to shoulder the burden of empire any longer, informed the United States that it could not maintain its support of
Greek efforts to suppress Communist insurgents or its support of Turkey, an ally strategically located between Europe and
the Middle East. Combined with the widespread belief that the Soviet Union had designs on Iran, the "Northern Tier" seemed
to be under Communist assault from without and within. Thus, in March 1947, proclaiming it America's duty to "support free
peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures," President Harry S. Truman asked
Congress to appropriate the monies necessary to secure the strategic gateways to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and
thereby stem Communist subversion and Soviet expansion.
According to Howard Jones' A New Kind of War: America's Global Strategy and the Truman Doctrine, the $400 million in U.S. military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey marked a key turning point in U.S. foreign policy.
As a determined effort to meet any challenge to self-determination and by supporting any people resisting totalitarian rule,
the Truman Doctrine ended America's long-standing peacetime isolation from European affairs and gave its foreign policy a
more active cast. According to Jones, the Truman Doctrine was "realistic in application and idealistic in purpose." America's
action ushered in a global containment strategy, but one that was "flexible, restrained, and not recklessly military in tone."
Bruce Kuniholm, in The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East, traces the history of America's assumption of the British mantle in Greece, Turkey, and Iran. His conclusions conform with
Jones' short-term assessment, but Kuniholm believes that the lessons policymakers drew from their "pragmatic" approach in
this instance had unfortunate consequences in later years. The Truman administration and its successors used the Doctrine
incorrectly as a model for confronting the Soviet Union and its "apparent satellites" such as Korea and Vietnam, failing to
place limits on American aid and to consider the appropriateness of the historical comparison.
Communist activity along the Northern Tier contributed to America's growing suspicion of Moscow's overall behavior and shaped
the context in which policymakers viewed events elsewhere, particularly in Europe. Marc Trachtenberg's A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 traces the origins and development of the Cold War in Europe, placing special emphasis on Germany—"the heart of the Cold
War." While Germany had been partitioned at the end of World War II, with the four occupying powers controlling their zones
as each saw fit, the emerging tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western powers over war reparations and economic planning
led Washington to pursue a "western strategy." By "organizing" western Germany into a distinct political and economic unit
under the protection of the Western powers and tying it to the rest of Western Europe, American policymakers hoped the region
could withstand Communist pressure and provide the United States with a healthy economic partner. It is worth emphasizing
that policymakers did not fear direct Soviet military aggression. Instead, as Melvyn Leffler explains in The Specter of Communism, they worried about "vacuums of power, financial hardship, exchange controls, and Communist parties" in war-torn regions
"play[ing] into the hands" of the Soviet Union. The United States thus initiated the Marshall Plan to help reconstruct Europe
and integrate western Germany into the Western European economy. They also "reversed course" in Japan, prioritizing economic
strength over democratic reform in an effort to revitalize the international economy (a practice also adopted in western Germany)
and to thwart Communism's appeal (See VUS 12.a for a discussion of America's postwar vision in the aftermath of World War
Gaddis' classic examination of U.S. Cold War policy, Strategies of Containment, juxtaposes these two early cold war strategies—the Truman Doctrine's global strategy and a more targeted, "strong point"
strategy that focused on the rehabilitation of Western Europe and Japan. Criticizing the Truman Doctrine's expansive goals
in an era in which the United States military was still demobilizing after the war, Gaddis suggests the pronouncement made
little effort to reconcile its ambitious ends with America's limited means. In contrast, by focusing on the economic rehabilitation
of Western Europe and Japan and by avoiding excessively ideological rhetoric, containment's practitioners wisely contracted
their ends to match their means.
In 1949 and early 1950, anxiety in Washington rose as Mao Zedong's Communist forces gained control of mainland China, the
Soviet Union conducted its first atomic test, and economic woes plagued the American economy. With events seeming to tip
in Moscow's favor, containment underwent an important reevaluation. Policymakers articulated a new, comprehensive security
strategy in a national security memorandum entitled NSC-68. This paper framed the conflict in stark terms, charging that
the Soviet Union was "animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own," and sought "to impose its absolute authority
over the rest of the world." NSC-68 recommended a massive buildup of U.S. strategic and conventional military forces, the
expansion of U.S. economic and military assistance programs, and the initiation of covert operations against the Soviet Union
and its allies. It called, in other words, for economic, military, and ideological containment on a global scale.
The Korean War turned these recommendations into realities and represented a turning point in U.S. Cold War strategy. The
first military engagement of the conflict seemed to confirm America's worst fears about international Communism and eased
the adoption of NSC-68. When Kim Il Sung's forces crossed the 38th parallel into the southern half of Korea in June 1950,
the Truman administration acted quickly to obtain a United Nations Security Council Resolution denouncing the aggression and
committing troops to defend the Korean peninsula from what it believed to be Moscow-directed Communist expansion. Following
three years of bloody stalemate, the division of North and South Korea was reestablished, although not before China had intervened
and the regional conflict threatened to escalate into a wider war.
According to Bruce Cummings' two-volume study The Origins of the Korean War, the U.S. decision to intervene was driven by internationalists and containment advocates determined to sustain and expand
a world-market system. This "global vision" prevented policymakers from viewing the conflict for what it was: a Korean civil
struggle with a history that predated 1950. Neither the Soviet Union nor China controlled Kim's decision to invade the South;
rather, North Korea acted with minimal external involvement. William Stueck sees the conflict differently. In The Korean War: An International History, Stueck emphasizes the multilateral nature of both its origins and evolution. American and Soviet involvement in Korea after
the Second World War fueled the political tension between north and south, and the war was inextricably linked to wider Cold
War considerations. Korea represented a "substitute for World War III."
The Korean War was a decisive step in the militarization and globalization of containment. Nowhere was its impact greater
than on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. According to the organization's preeminent scholar, Lawrence Kaplan, Korea
put the "O" in NATO. In The United States and NATO: The Formative Years, Kaplan traces the evolution of NATO from an "ungainly alliance" into a real military organization. NATO was created in 1949
as a "band aid" to help Europe cope with internal national problems by bolstering its economic recovery under the umbrella
of American political and military involvement. There was no military organization or alliance to speak of. After Korea, however,
American policymakers believed that the next Soviet "test" of strength might come in central Europe; NATO was given military
teeth and expanded to include Greece, Turkey, and, soon thereafter, the Federal Republic of Germany. The threat of Soviet
military power dictated the integration of Western Europe's defense under American leadership. For the United States, NATO
represented the end of its long-standing aversion to "entangling alliances." NATO gave American troops a permanent presence
in Europe and helped to solidify an "Atlantic community."
When the Eisenhower administration took office, it bombastically declared it would "roll back" Communism but quickly accepted
the tenets of its predecessor's containment strategy. Eisenhower did, however, worry about the financial and psychological
cost that global commitment entailed for American society. Aaron Friedberg's In the Shadow of the Garrison State: America's Anti-statism and its Cold War Grand Strategy traces the tensions between the economic, social, and political demands of a muscular and active foreign policy to combat
Communism and the threats posed by such a policy to democracy at home. Containment entailed the expansion of the military's
role in society and the increasing reliance on a military-industrial complex, both of which seemed to threaten longstanding
American values. Seeking to reconcile domestic concerns with national security imperatives, the Eisenhower administration
gave containment a "New Look." By expanding the nuclear arsenal and relying on covert operations, the president hoped to implement
a "cheaper" containment policy that was less burdensome to the American way of life and economy.
Campbell Craig explores the U.S. decision to rely on nuclear deterrence in Destroying the Village: Eisenhower and Thermonuclear War. Paradoxically, Craig explains, Eisenhower viewed a reliance on atomic power as the only feasible way to avoid war with
the Soviets. The prospect of MAD—"mutually assured destruction"—negated any advantage either side could gain from a nuclear
first strike, while the looming threat of nuclear war acted to deter the Soviet Union from taking lesser actions that could
rapidly escalate to the point of an atomic standoff. The perils of "brinksmanship" became clear in the 1954 Taiwan Straits
Crisis, as the prospect of nuclear war over a peripheral interest—the Chinese nationalist stronghold of Taiwan and nearby
islands—became all too real. Such nuclear saber rattling culminated in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as policymakers confronted
the possibility of war with the Soviet Union over the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Policymakers' evident concern
during those thirteen days in October (and several more in November) marked an important shift in American and Soviet efforts
to lessen the danger of nuclear war. In a lively international history of the crisis, "One Hell of a Gamble": Krushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964, Timothy Naftali and Alesandr Fursenko explain how close the superpowers came to a nuclear exchange and their efforts to
pull back from the brink.
The danger of an over-reliance on nuclear power to futher national interests confirmed America's need to seek a "flexible
response" to the Communist challenge, particularly along the Cold War's periphery. The Third World presented the United States
with intractable problems and became an increasingly important focus of the containment strategy. Believing that if one friendly
nation—or "domino"—fell to Communism an entire region could topple, the United States refused to accept the Communist domination
of developing countries. Yet the situation was complicated. Though the revolutionary nationalism unleashed by Asian and African
decolonization was indigenous in origin, it took on ominous signs of Communist sympathy as countries unwilling to align themselves
with the "free world" became cause for suspicion. Touted as a path toward rapid economic modernization, Communism represented
an appealing developmental model for Third World nations.
Eisenhower was intent on avoiding the frustration of limited war so clearly evinced in Korea, yet he was driven by the desire
to prevent the expansion of Communism into the developing world. Nowhere was the fear more acute than in America's backyard—the
Western Hemisphere. In Eisenhower and Latin America: The Foreign Policy of Anti-Communism, Stephen Rabe concludes that "winning the cold war took precedence over being a good neighbor." While supportive of democratic
and economic reform in principle, the administration more often than not relied on repressive dictators, covert action, and
military aid to secure short-term security at the cost of human rights, political freedom, and economic opportunity. More
broadly, Zachary Karabell's Architects of Intervention shows that the Eisenhower administration consistently erred in its misapplication of containment in the Third World, with
the "architects" of American efforts often being indigenous actors exploiting anti-Communism and American fears for their
Kennedy entered the White House even more determined than Eisenhower to confront Third World Communism. "The Revolution of
Rising Expectations" in the developing world had to be met, and Kennedy set out to preempt Communism by helping usher the
Third World into prosperity. Michael Latham's Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and "Nation Building" in the Kennedy Era traces the administration's efforts to apply the academic theory of modernization to diagnose and alleviate the conditions
that bred Communist revolution. "Modernization" became an ideology that manifested itself in programs like the Alliance for
Progress in Latin America, the Peace Corps, and the Strategic Hamlet Program in Vietnam. As Latham shows, a key element of
containment was the effort to create liberal, democratic, and capitalist societies around the world.
No episode better exemplified the perils of the containment strategy in the Third World than America's involvement in Vietnam.
Fearful that the fall of South Vietnam to Communism would topple the rest of Southeast Asia like so many dominoes, and certain
that the failure of the United States to stand firm in Vietnam would embolden Communists elsewhere, policymakers plunged the
United States into "America's Longest War." George Herring's concise book by that title provides a good overview of its events,
and concludes that America's basic assumptions and premises about the war were flawed. Robert Schulzinger's A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975 explores the concept of "credibility" as it pertained to American engagement in Southeast Asia. According to Schulzinger,
from its support of the French colonialists, through its nation-building project in South Vietnam, to the decision to bomb
North Vietnam and escalate the war, and finally through Nixon's attempt to find "peace with honor," the United States set
out to demonstrate its toughness and determination in Vietnam to ensure that its power not be devalued elsewhere in the world.
Even though officials were wedded to long-held Cold War assumptions about credibility, dominoes, and Communism, Fredrik Logevall's
illuminating work, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam, demonstrates that there was nothing inevitable in the Johnson administration's decision to escalate the war. Viable political
and diplomatic options existed to resolve the conflict short of massive American involvement, had government officials not
been so rigid and the proponents of a political solution not so timid. Jeffrey Kimball carries American involvement in Vietnam
to its ignominious conclusion in his study, Nixon's Vietnam War. Nixon shared the same Cold War outlook as many of his predecessors and was determined to preserve America's global credibility
by finding "peace with honor." The administration both escalated the war with massive air campaigns and incursions into Cambodia
and Laos, and decreased American involvement by slowly withdrawing U.S. troops and replacing them with indigenous soldiers
trained and equipped by the United States. Finding the North Vietnamese unresponsive to his "madman" strategy, and the "Vietnamization"
of the war undermined by South Vietnamese corruption, indifference, and low morale, Nixon settled for a "decent interval solution."
Weary of war, the United States ended its involvement with the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement in 1973. Two years later,
the government of South Vietnam collapsed.
While the Cold War would rage through three subsequent presidential administrations, after Vietnam policymakers could no longer
count on the "Cold War consensus" to follow where the containment doctrine led. Not surprisingly, scholarly assessments of
containment and America's Cold War strategy have been mixed. In Strategies of Containment, Gaddis concludes optimistically that despite its "contradictions, mutations, and irrationalities," containment was a "surprisingly
successful strategy." The post-World War II era was, after all, "one of the more stable and orderly of modern times." H.W.
Brands questions whether mere stability should be the appropriate benchmark. In The Devil We Knew, he suggests that by consistently cutting "moral corners" in fighting the Cold War, the United States abdicated its role
in the eyes of the world as a moral leader and a beacon of humanity. After forty-years devoted to containing Communism at
all costs, the United States convinced most of the globe that America "could be counted on to act pretty much as great powers
always have." Whether that was a reasonable price to pay is a matter for continued debate. What is certain is that current
and future historians will fight over the legacy of containment—its purposes, merits, and costs—with the same vigor that traditionalists,
revisionists, and post-revisionists have displayed in contesting the origins of the Cold War.
Borstelmann, Thomas, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.
Brand, H.W. The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Campbell, Craig. Destroying the Village: Eisenhower and Thermonuclear War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
Cullather, Nick. Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.
Cummings Bruce. Origins of the Korean War, Volume 2. The Roaring of the Cataract, 1947-1950. Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 1981.
Feis, Herbert. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin: The Wars They Waged and the Peace They Sought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.
---. From Trust to Terror: The Onset of the Cold War, 1945-1950. New York: Norton, 1970
Fousek, John. To Lead the Free World: American Nationalism and the Cultural Roots of the Cold War. Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
Friedberg, Aaron. In the Shadow of the Garrison State: America's Anti-Statism and its Cold War Grand Strategy. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2000.
Fursenko, Aleksandr, and Naftali, Timothy. "One Hell of a Gamble": Krushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.
Gaddis, John Lewis. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
---. The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.
---.Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Gardner, Lloyd, Arthur Schlesinger, Hans Morgenthau. The Origins of the Cold War. Waltham, MA: Ginn-Blaisdell, 1970.
Halle, Louis. The Cold War as History. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.
Herring, George. America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. New York: McGraw Hill, 1996.
Jones, Howard. "A New Kind of War": America's Global Strategy and the Truman Doctrine in Greece. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Kaplan, Lawrence, The United States and NATO: The Formative Years. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.
Karabell, Zachary. Architects of Intervention: The United States, the Third World, and the Cold War, 1946-1962. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1999.
Kimball, Jeffery. Nixon's Vietnam War. Lawrence, KA: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
Kolko, Gabriel. Confronting the Third World: United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1980. New York: Pantheon Books, 1988.
Kuniholm, Bruce. The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East: Great Power Conflict and Diplomacy in Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.
Latham, Michael. Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and "Nation Building" in the Kennedy Era. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1992. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2002.
Leffler, Melvyn P. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.
---. The Specter of Communism: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994.
Lippman, Walter. The Cold War: A Study in U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. (Also contains George Kennan's essay "The Sources of Soviet Conduct")
Logevall, Fredrik. Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.
May, Ernest, and Zelikow, Philip, editors. The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997.
Rabe, Stephen. Eisenhower and Latin America: The Foreign Policy of Anti-Communism. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.
Schulzinger, Robert. A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Stueck, William, The Korean War: An International History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.
Williams, William A. The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1962.
*The text of NSC-68 can be found on several websites including: www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsc-hst/nsc-68.htm