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The Cold War: A Face-off with Democracy
History 1050: American Civilization Since World War II
Professor Lynda Litogot
At the war's end we were physically the strongest nation on earth - and at least potentially the most powerful intellectually and morally. Ours could have been the honor of being a beacon in the desert of destruction- shining proof that civilization was not yet ready to destroy itself. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably and tragically to arise to the opportunity.
-Senator Joseph McCarthy
February, 1950 (Griffith and Baker, 50).
The failure Joseph McCarthy referred to in his 1950 "Soft on Communism" speech was the alleged disloyalty and communist leanings of senators - specifically democrats - who were undermining the moral strength of the United States during the Cold War and thereby stifling the nation's noble mission to reclaim the world to "freedom." However, a careful look at the pattern of American policies shows that during the Cold War the United States was not fighting for democracy and freedom but to protect the power of capitalism.
David Halbertstam recalls McCarthy's "Soft on Communism" speech in chapter three of his book The Fifties as the starting point for McCarthy's emotionally charged communist "witch-hunts" that were tolerated for the next four years despite being completely unfounded (Halberstam, 52). Halbertstam paints McCarthy as an "eager to please" pawn who knew how to "exploit the issue" and "took people who were at the worst politically naive and accused them of treason" (52-53). Halbertstam infers that McCarthy's investigations were a political stunt based on insecurities and a personal vendetta against "social snobbery" (56). Halbertstam shows two contradictory elements of McCarthy: the guy who just wanted to be popular and the relentless communist hunter who had no respect for decency (55-59). Although it seems that Halbertstam is trying to humanize McCarthy,...