Chapter 25 American Foreign Policy After the War

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Chapter 25

American Foreign Policy After the War

---The untied Nations headquarters was built in New York City in 1952

After World War I, Americans did not want to become involved in the problems of other nations. The United States returned to a policy of isolationism.

But after World War II, the United States could not isolate from the rest of the world. The war had destroyed cities and town throughout Europe and Asia. Millions of people around the world were hungry and homeless. Other nations needed American’s help to recover from the war.

The democratic nations of the world also faced a new threat after the war- the expansion of the Soviet Union. Democratic nations needed America’s help to stop Soviet expansion

  • What was the purpose of the United Nations?

  • How did the United States stop Soviet expansion in Europe?

  • How did the United States help countries in Asia and the Middle East?

Key words you will be using these words in this chapter. Look them up in the glossary at the back of Part 2.



Human rights


The United Nations is Created

We seek peace-enduring peace. More than an end to war we want to end the beginnings of all wars.”

President Franklin Roosevelt wrote those words just before his death in 1945. He also wrote that America’s survival depends on “the ability of peoples of all kinds to live together and work together in the same world, at peace.”

Creating a New World Organization

During World War II, President Roosevelt and other leaders began work on a new world organization. It would replace the League of Nations. Its purpose would be to keep peace and help build a better world after the war. The new organization was called the United Nations (UN).

In April and May 1945, delegates from 50 nations met in San Francisco, California. Their job was to write a charter, or plan, for the UN. They had many disagreements. For example, delegates from small nations argued that large nations had to much power in the UN. But the delegates worked out their differences. On June26, 1945, the United Nation Charter was approved.

The Charter described how the UN would be organized. It also listed the goals of the UN. The most important goal was to end wars and keep peace the rights of all people. A third goal was to improve people’s lives around the world.

Looking Back

1. What is the purpose of the UN?

2. What are three goals that the Charter lists for the UN?


How the UN Works

The United Nations Charter set up six main bodies, or groups, in the UN. The largest body is the General Assembly. It is made up of delegates from each member nation.

The General Assembly meets each year to discuss world problems that member nation have.

The General Assembly can give advice. It can also recommend action. But it cannot force nations to go along with its recommendations.

The Security Council Keeps the Peace

The Security Council is another United Nations body. Its job is to keep peace in the world. The council has five permanent members: Great Britain, France, China the Soviet Union, and the United States. The Council also has ten temporary members that serve for two years. They are elected by the General Assembly.

Any member nation that has a problem. With another nation can come to the Council. The Council tries to settle the problem. It may ask the two nations to meet and work out a solution that the Council works out. But the Security Council has never forced nations to accept its recommendations.

If war breaks out, the Security Council tries to end the fighting. It may send a peacekeeping force into a troubled area. That force is made up of troops from UN nations.

Other Un Bodies

Other Un bodies help to carry out the goals of the UN.

The Economic and Social Council works to improve people’s lives around the world.

The International Court of Justice, or World Court, hears cases that concern international law.

The Trusteeship Council helps colonies and territories become independent nations.

And the Secretariat is a group of workers, such as secretaries and clerks, who help other UN bodies.

The UN Agencies

The United Nations also has many agencies, or organizations. One of them is the World Health Organization (WHO). Its job it is to improve the health of the people, especially in poor countries. WHO sends doctors, nurses, and health care workers into many countries.

Other agencies help in different ways.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) helps the world produce more and better food. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) helps feed and educate children in poor countries.

Protecting Human Rights

In 1948, the General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration stated that all people have certain human rights that should be respected by “all people and all nations.”

The Declaration of Human Rights listed many rights found in the American Bill of Rights. It called for freedom of religion, fair trails, and an end to torture and cruel forms of punishment. It also stated that people have the right to an education and to leisure time.

Nations in the UN agreed to protect the human rights listed in the Declaration of Human Rights.

Looking Back

1. What does the UN General Assembly do?

2. How does the UN Security Council try to keep the peace?

3. What did the Universal Declaration of Human Rights say?

4. What are some human rights described in the Declaration of Human Rights?


Soviet Expansion in Europe

After World War II, a new conflict began: the cold war. Countries in the cold war did not actually fight. But they were ready to do so. On one side were the United States and its democratic allies. On the other side were the Soviet Union and other communist countries.

Communist countries follow a political system called communism. Communism is based on the idea that all people should share their nation's wealth equally. There should be no social classes, or groups of people who are rich or well-off or poor. Everyone should work together for the good of the nation.

Under communism, people do not practice free enterprise or capitalism: A person usually cannot buy or sell property, own a business, or invest in stocks. Almost all property and businesses are owned and run by the government.

Communism in Russia

Russia was the first country to become communistic. In 1917, the Communist Party seized power and set up a government. Russia was renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It is often called just the Soviet Union.

V .I. Lenin, the leader of the Communist Party, became dictator. Under him, the communist government became totalitarian.

In 1924, Joseph Stalin became dictator. Stalin used terrorism to increase his control. During Stalin's long rule, millions of Soviet people were arrested and killed. Basic rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to a fair trial were abolished. Churches were closed and religious leaders arrested.

Lenin and Stalin believed that communism should spread throughout the world. They encouraged people in other countries to revolt and set up communist governments.

Communism Spreads to Eastern Europe

During World War II, the Soviet Union had been greatly damaged by German armies. When the war ended, Stalin wanted to protect the Soviet Union from ever being invaded again. To do that, he had to control the countries near it.

In the last two years of World War II, Soviet troops had fought the Germans in eastern Europe and had taken over the countries there. At the end of the war, the Soviet Union set up communist governments in those countries and made them its satellites-nations completely controlled by the Soviet Union.

An Iron Curtain Falls on Eastern Europe

The Soviet Union cut off communications between its satellites and western Europe. People from western Europe could not travel in communist eastern Europe. And eastern Europeans were not allowed to leave the communist countries.

In 1946, Winston Churchill said an "iron curtain" had fallen across Europe. That curtain separated Russia and its Soviet satellites from the democratic, or free, nations of the world.

Americans Oppose the Soviet Union

Americans were against the Soviet Union. Its political system was not democratic. It did not protect people's individual rights and freedoms.

Americans saw communism as a threat. It threatened free enterprise and capitalism. And it threatened to take over all governments in the world-including America's.

Looking Back

1. What was the cold war?

2. How did communism spread into eastern Europe?

3. Why did Americans oppose the USSR?


American Policy in Europe

President Truman and his advisors believed that the United States should try to keep communism from spreading. So, American foreign policy was developed to contain communism-keep it in eastern Europe and out of other European countries.

The Truman Doctrine

In 1947, President Truman spoke before Congress. He said that the United States should "support free peoples" in Europe. The United States should provide money, military supplies, and other aid to nations that were fighting against communism. That idea became known as the Truman Doctrine.

The Marshall Plan

World War II damaged the economy of many countries in western Europe. Their people were homeless, hungry, and out of work. Their money was almost worthless. To many of those people, communism seemed to be the answer to their problems.

In 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall announced a plan to help the countries of western Europe recover from the war. The plan became known as the Marshall Plan.

Under the plan, the United States sent over $10 billion to help rebuild the cities and industries of western European countries. When the economy of those countries became stronger, communism became less popular.

The Berlin Airlift

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided among the four major Allies. Britain, France, and the United States each occupied a western part of the country. The Soviet Union occupied the eastern part.

Each Ally also occupied a part of Berlin, the German capital. Berlin was located in the Soviet part of Germany.

In 1948, Britain, France, and the United States decided to combine the western parts of Germany into a new nation. Stalin then ordered a blockade of roads and rail lines into Berlin. He hoped to gain total control of the capital. He also wanted control of western Germany.

President Truman immediately ordered an airlift to Berlin. Every day, American planes flew food, coal, and other supplies to the western parts of the city. Nearly a year later, in May 1949, Stalin gave up his attempt to control all of Berlin. He reopened the roads and rail lines into the city.

New Alliances

In 1949, the United States, Canada, and ten western European nations set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). They agreed to aid any NATO nation that was attacked.

In 1955, the Soviet Union and its satellite nations created their own alliance. It was called the Warsaw Pact. Today, Europe remains divided between NATO and Warsaw Pact nations.

Military Forces Are Built Up

Both the United States and the Soviet Union believed that the cold war could escalate (grow) into a real war. They began to build up their military power.

The United States began building a ring of American military bases around the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Those bases were built in countries that were friendly to the United States. The United States built bases in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Looking Back

1. What was the Truman Doctrine?

2. What was the Marshall Plan?

3. Why did President Truman order an airlift of supplies to Berlin in 1948?

4. What was the purpose of both the NATO alliance and the Warsaw Pact?


American Policy in Asia

From 1945 to 1952, American troops occupied Japan. The occupation forces were led by General Douglas MacArthur. He became the military governor of Japan.

General MacArthur's job was to make sure that Japan would never again be a military threat. He removed Japan's military leaders from power and he abolished the Japanese army, navy, and air force.

Building a Democratic Government in Japan

General MacArthur was also given the job of building a democratic government in Japan. He set up an occupation government that was under tight American control. He filled government positions with Japanese leaders who supported democracy.

General MacArthur helped the Japanese bring about many reforms. For example, workers were allowed to form labor unions. Large landowners were forced to sell land to farmers. And, for the first time, women were given the right to vote.

With American help, the Japanese wrote a new constitution in 1946. The constitution set up a democratic government in Japan. In 1947, Japanese voters elected a new legislature.

Rebuilding Japan's Economy

During the occupation, the United States helped Japan recover from the war. Americans helped Japan rebuild its factories and merchant fleet. Americans also built schools and colleges in Japan.

In 1952, the United States ended its occupation of Japan. Today, the United States and Japan are allies. Japan has become the most prosperous nation in Asia. And the Japanese economy is one of the strongest in the world.

Opposing Communism in China

During World War II, China was ruled by a group called the Chinese Nationalists. The Nationalists had set up a republic in China in 1928.

Chiang Kai-shek was their leader.

In the 1920s, another group had also formed-the Chinese Communists. Their leader was Mao Tse-tung. The Communists tried to take over the republic, and war broke out between the two groups. When Japan invaded China in the 1930s, the two groups stopped fighting and joined forces. Their fight to control China began again when World War II ended.

The United States did not want a communist government in China. It supported the Nationalists. The United States sent money and weapons to the Nationalists. But, in 1949, the Nationalists were defeated by the Communists.

America Refuses to Deal with Communist China

Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters fled to the island of Taiwan, off China's southern coast. There, they set up a new Nationalist government.

The Communists took control of China. They set up a totalitarian government called the People's Republic of China. The United States refused to deal with that government. Instead, it treated Chiang Kai-shek's government in Taiwan as the official Chinese government.

Looking Back

1. How did General MacArthur bring democracy to Japan?

2. Describe Japan's economy today.

3. How did the fight between the Chinese Nationalists and the Chinese Communists end in 1949?


Problems in the Middle East

After World War II, United States foreign policy began to pay more attention to the Middle East. One reason was the discovery that the Middle East was rich in oil. Another reason was the birth of a new nation in the Middle East-Israel.

The UN Sets Up the Nation of Israel

After World War II, thousands of Jewish refugees left Europe for Palestine in the Middle East. Many of the refugees had survived the Nazi concentration camps. They were seeking a place where they could be safe from prejudice and persecution.

Those Jews moved to Palestine because they considered it their homeland. Jews had lived in Palestine since biblical times, more than 2000 years before. But Palestine had also been settled by Arab farmers called Palestinians. Their culture and religion were very different from the Jews: The Palestinians also considered Palestine their homeland. They fought to keep the Jewish immigrants out.

Palestine was under British control. But Britain could not keep peace between the Jews and the Palestinians. Britain asked the United Nations to end the dispute. In 1947, the General Assembly voted to divide Palestine: Part of it would become the Jewish nation of Israel. The rest would become a new Arab nation, Palestine.

The First Arab-Israeli War

The Jews accepted the UN plan to divide Palestine. In 1948, the nation of Israel was founded, and the British left Palestine. But the Palestinians would not accept the plan. In 1948, five Arab nations joined the Palestinians in an attack on Israel. The UN Security Council sent a peacekeeping force to stop the fighting, but the war continued.

In 1949, Israeli forces drove the Arabs from Israel. The Arabs agreed to end the war. But they refused to accept Israel's right to exist.

Truman's Middle East Policy

President Truman and most Americans supported Israel. Americans had been horrified by the murder of millions of Jews in World War II. Americans believed Jews should have a safe homeland. The United States sent millions of dollars in aid to Israel.

At the same time, President Truman wanted to win the friendship of Arab nations in the Middle East. The United States' NATO allies depended on the Middle East for oil. President Truman also did not want the Soviet Union to take over the Middle East.

The United States sent aid to many Arab countries. Some American money was used to build irrigation systems. The systems supplied water to dry areas, creating new farmland. In return for American aid, some Arab governments agreed to let the United States build military bases in their countries.

Looking Back

1. Why did Jewish refugees move to Palestine after World War II?

2. Why did Arabs attack Israel in 1948?

3. Why did the United States send aid to Arab nations?

4. Map work: What are some countries of the Middle East?


Chapter 25


Facts First

Choose the two endings that can complete each sentence.

1. The United Nations works to

a. keep peace among nations.

b. improve people's lives.

c. build better weapons.

2. The United Nations can

a. force nations to accept its decisions.

b. ask nations to work out their differences.

c. send troops to troubled areas.

3. The communist government of the Soviet Union

a. became totalitarian.

b. became democratic.

c. violated people's rights.

4. After World War II, the Soviet Union

a. got along well with the United States.

b. took control of eastern Europe.

c. became America's enemy.

5. To stop the spread of communism, America

a. attacked the Soviet Union.

b. sent aid to democratic nations.

c. joined NATO.

6. In Asia, the United States helped the

a. Japanese recover from the war.

b. Chinese Nationalists fight communism.

c. Chinese Communists fight against the Nationalists.

7. In the Middle East, the United States

a. sent aid to Israel.

b. sent aid to Arab nations.

c. refused to help Israel.

Word Check

Write the meanings of these words. Then use them in sentences.






Skill Builder

Find each of these Middle Eastern nations on the most recent map of the world. Which two nations share a border with the Soviet Union?







North Yemen


South Yemen




United Arab


Chapter 25 Notes

Read over the chapter. Find answers to these questions:

1. What is the purpose of the United Nations?

2. How did communism spread into eastern Europe?

3. What did the United States do to stop the spread of communism?

4. How did the United States help Japan after World War II?

5. What happened in China after World War II?

6. Why did war break out in the Middle East?

Be a Historian

What's happening in the Middle East today? Read a news article about the United States and a Middle Eastern country. Or listen to a news report on television or the radio.

Then give a news report.


1. With your classmates, write a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Include the rights you think all people should have.

2. Find out which countries in the world today have communist governments. Make a map showing them.


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