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War and Politics

In: Other Topics

Submitted By ryan0405
Words 1777
Pages 8
Jamie Johnson
War through the 1970’s
History 105
Professor Nowak
Strayer University
June 2, 2013, 2013

The United States went through a major transformation between the period starting with World War II and ending in the 1970’s. Two major turning points that changed America as well as the entire world forever were the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the moon landing of Apollo II in 1969. On August 6th, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese industrial city of Hiroshima. The intent of President Harry Truman was simple: He wanted to end the war, end it decisively and end it without a large amount of American casualties. It was determined by the President and his military commanders that a full blown ground invasion of Japan could risk the loss of up to one million American lives. The atomic bomb, however, could bring the war to a swift end with minimal loss of American life. After the first bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy” was dropped, Japan refused to surrender. Three days later, America dropped the second atomic bomb, “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. The following day, Japan offered its surrender to the Unites States. These bombings had both positive and negative effects within the United States and abroad. On one hand, the American allies saved many lives by avoiding a full blown ground invasion of Japan. They also sent a message to the international community that they had the firepower necessary to defend or destroy. They also had the scientific knowledge to create a weapon of mass destruction. Internationally, the killings of many civilians presented the Americans in a negative light. Another feat accomplished by American scientists took place on July 20th, 1969, when two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. The first humans to ever land on the moon. The United States and the Soviet Union had a race going on. It was a battle that was ultimately won by America with the moon landing. Millions witnessed this event as it was broadcast live on television. This event was not without controversy. Many proposed the notion that the moon landing was a hoax, and never actually happened, believing it was staged and performed in a regular television station. The citizens of America, coming off of a victory during World War I, had no desire to enter into another global conflict. In fact, America, a nation where the economic structure was based on Capitalism, had no real desire to choose a side between two of the major European superpowers. Which were the Soviet Union and Germany, who preached communism and Nazism. Both ideals which were the contradiction of capitalism. The United States, before entering into World War II, had a policy of non-interventionism, which was a policy that was in place in efforts to try and avoid the establishment of international alliances in order to avoid being drawn into war. The American government passed the Neutrality Act of 1939, stating to take neither side in the international war. America was attempting to, at this time, practice isolationism, avoiding the alliances and the potential for war. However, it appeared as though America did not enter World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor. But in reality, the acts of the government did have major implications on the war efforts. The United States signed the Lend-Lease Act in 1940, which allowed England, an allied power, to borrow American ships for the war. In that same year, the United States stopped the export of iron and steel to Japan. Indirectly, the United States was helping the allied powers long before they were officially drawn into war in December 1941, despite the attempts to remain a neutral force. (Pearl Harbor and the road to war) Women had a significant impact on the United States efforts to win World War II. Approximately 350,000 women enlisted in the various branches of military, fighting both at home and abroad. For those women that did not enlist, many joined the industrial workforce. Their integration into the mostly male dominated industry was warranted due to the need for more men on the battlefields. So as men were required to leave their jobs, a great need was present to fill the gaps they left behind. Women performed admirably in the workforce, as well as, in the military. However, at the completion of the war, many women found themselves without jobs as the men returned home taking back many of the jobs they left before the war. Civil rights continued to be a major issue after the end of World War II. Many African American individuals risked their lives in the war to protect America. Upon the wars completion, they were again treated as nothing more than second rate citizens who were subjected to the lower standards of society. Two major breakthroughs created a turning point in the fight for racial equality. In 1954, the Supreme Court found that separate but equal educational facilities were not equal before the law. This decision found that the separation of black and white students was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and this decision was responsible for the integration of schools and other public facilities. A second breakthrough occurred between the years 1964 and 1965 with the passing of legislation that outlawed the inequality of the races. The Civil rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against African Americans in public establishments. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made it illegal to discriminate against voters based on their color, and did away with ridiculous voter registration tactics made famous by the South’s “Jim Crow Laws” such as having to pass a literacy test in order to be allowed to cast a ballot for an official running for a political office. Major African American leaders who backed these changes included Rosa Parks, whose refusal to move to the back of the bus and her subsequent arrest led to the Montgomery bus strike, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the March on Washington prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Laws. As the Civil Rights movement gained strength and support, it became clear that a shift in American Society was taking place. Americans were becoming increasingly weary of war. After World War II, however, America became involved in another international conflict known as the Korean War. This war unlike World War II saw the United States readily available to offer military support early on. The difference between the early action by America in the Korean War and the late action in World War II was that the Korean War presented an instant threat to the interests of the United States, as the spread of communism was one of the fears of the United States government. The results of this war were the death of almost 40,000 Americans. The next international conflict that America became involved in was the Vietnam War. Many American citizens were against the United States involvement in the war. The Vietnam War was the first war to have television coverage, and the average citizen, who had never been a part of combat, got a firsthand look at the gruesome brutalities of war. Which included the deaths of innocent men, women and children. Many young Americans refused to be drafted to fight in the war. Many felt that the draft, which was unfairly, targeted lower class citizens, blue collar workers and African Americans while largely avoiding the privileged. Many citizens took it even further than this, holding large demonstrations and protests to show their

displeasure with the government for being involved in the war. Others still simply felt that the United States should not be involved in international affairs which had no direct connection to us. The citizens did not believe that a difference in political ideas was a reason to participate in war, and even more importantly, the large loss of United States soldiers’ lives was enough to have many calling for a complete and total withdrawal of troops. This war, similar to the Korean War, was an American attempt to stop the spread of communism. Two programs created by President Johnson’s “Great Society” that are still in effect today are the Medicaid program and the Medicare program. President Johnson, who was an advocate for America’s “War on Poverty”, had the goal of trying to bring an end to poverty within the United States, by creating programs that centered on not only the creation of jobs but also the improvement of education and training for those jobs. One example of this was to ensure that individuals who were not working or who were poor would still be able to receive medical insurance. In 1966, the Medicaid Act was instituted which ensured individuals who were receiving welfare would still be able to receive medical treatment. On the other hand, Medicare is a federally run program which ensures that every citizen over the age of sixty five receives medical coverage. This program was an attempt by the United States government to “socialize” medical treatment. It was considered to be one of the most consequential legacies of the “Great Society”. President Johnson wanted to eliminate the troubles of the poor with his “Great Society” movement. Today, both programs continued to flourish. The Medicaid program provides medical services to millions of low income Americans keeping our country healthy. While the Medicare program continues to keep our Elderly off the streets once retired. Both programs for the most part, have taken us one step closer to becoming the “Great Society” that President Johnson hoped for. In conclusion, the United States underwent numerous transformations beginning with WWII and continuing through the 1970’s. Two atomic bombs were dropped. We had men land on the moon and the Civil Rights movement saw a major accomplishment with the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the integration of schools. All of these turning points in America’s history shaped our country and society into what it is today. A great country full of opportunity and change. ”

References 1. Schultz, Kevin M. (2012). Hist, Volume 2 (2nd Ed.) Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning. 2. “Medicare President Johnson’s Great Society Legacy” Retrieved from 3. “The Depression, The New Deal, and World War II” Retrieved from 4. “The Vietnam War and The Civil Rights Movement” Retrieved from 5. “Pearl Harbor –history” retrieved from

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