US foreign policy since World War II

This series groups two in-depth articles by the late Jerry Grevin examining the evolution of US foreign policy since the war

International situation: notes on the history of US imperialist policy since World War II, part ii

Vietnam War: divergences on imperialist policy shake US bourgeoisie

American involvement in Vietnam began following French imperialism’s defeat in Indochina when the US moved in to pick up the pieces for the West. The strategy, again a manifestation of containment, was designed to prevent what Eisenshower’s Secretary of State Dulles had called the “domino theory” – one country after an another falling to Russian imperialism like dominoes. The aim was to transform the temporary separation of Vietnam into a northern and southern zone created by the Geneva agreements into a permanent division, as in the Korean peninsula. In this sense the American policy of subverting the Geneva agreements began under the Republican Eisenhower regime and continued under Kennedy, who began dispatching military advisers to Vietnam in the early 1960s. The Kennedy administration played an integral role in running the country, even authorising a military coup and the assassination of President Diem in 1963. The impatience of the White House with the general who delayed in assassinating Diem, has been well documented. Following the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, Johnson continued the American intervention in Vietnam, which mushroomed into America’s longest military war.

History of US foreign policy since World War II

The world has come a long way since the collapse of the bipolar division of the world that characterized the 45-year period of the Cold War. The era of peace, prosperity and democracy that the world bourgeoisie promised with the collapse of the Russian bloc in 1989 has of course never materialized. Indeed the decomposition of capitalist society, which was a consequence of the stalemate in class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie after two decades of open economic crisis and triggered the collapse of Stalinism, has relentlessly spiraled deeper and deeper into chaos, violence, death and destruction, as humanity is brought closer and closer to a future of barbarism. At the time of the writing of this article, President George W. Bush has just announced that the United States was ready to invade Iraq, with or without international support, even in the face of a failure to get a Security Council sanction for its military action. The breach between Washington and the capitals of major European countries, and even China, on the question of this imminent war is palpable. It is particularly appropriate at this conjuncture to examine the roots of American imperialist policy since the end of World War II, so as to better understand the current situation.

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