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    what was one way that america responded to the fear of nuclear attack in the postwar years?

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    Atomic fears and the arms race (article)

    Read about the impact of nuclear proliferation in the 1950s, including fears of atomic bombs and increasing militarization.

    Overview

    The US government's decision to develop a hydrogen bomb, first tested in 1952, committed the United States to an ever-escalating arms race with the Soviet Union. The arms race led many Americans to fear that nuclear war could happen at any time, and the US government urged citizens to prepare to survive an atomic bomb.

    In 1950, the US National Security Council released NSC-68, a secret policy paper that called for quadrupling defense spending in order to meet the perceived Soviet threat. NSC-68 would define US defense strategy throughout the Cold War.

    President Eisenhower attempted to cut defense spending by investing in a system of "massive retaliation," hoping that the prospect of "mutually-assured destruction" from a large nuclear arsenal would deter potential aggressors.

    The Doomsday Clock and the H-bomb

    Shortly after the US dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, the scientists who had developed the bomb formed the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an organization dedicated to alerting the world to the dangers of nuclear weaponry. Early contributors included J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project, and Albert Einstein, who dedicated the final years of his life to promoting nuclear disarmament. In 1947, they printed their first magazine, placing on its cover what would become an iconic symbol of the nuclear age: the Doomsday Clock. The clock purported to show how close humanity was to nuclear annihilation, or "midnight." When the clock first appeared, the scientists predicted that humankind was a mere seven minutes to midnight.

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    Image of the cover of the June 1947 "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists," showing an abstract rendering of a clock face, with the minute hand at 11:53pm.

    Cover of the first issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, with its rendering of the 'Doomsday Clock' at seven minutes to midnight. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

    But by 1953, the scientists had revised their estimate to just two minutes to midnight. Their reason for this panicked prognosis was the United States' decision to develop and test a hydrogen bomb, or H-bomb, a nuclear weapon one thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb that had leveled Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Although scientists and some government officials argued against it, US officials ultimately reasoned that it would be imprudent for them not to develop any weapon that the Soviet Union might possess.

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    The development of the H-bomb committed the United States to an arms race with the Soviet Union. Despite the specter of nuclear holocaust, both the United States and the Soviet Union vied to build ever more powerful nuclear weapons.

    NSC-68

    The development of the H-bomb was just one part of the US project to increase its military might in this period. In 1950, the newly-created National Security Council issued a report on the current state of world affairs and the steps the United States should take to confront the perceived crisis.

    Their report, "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security," or NSC-68, cast the tension between the United States and Soviet Union as an apocalyptic battle between good and evil. "The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself," the report began. It went on to assert that the ultimate goal of the Soviet Union was "the complete subversion or forcible destruction of the machinery of government and structure of society in the countries of the non-Soviet world and their replacement by an apparatus and structure subservient to and controlled from the Kremlin."

    [Read an excerpt from NSC-68]

    The report concluded by recommending that the United States vastly increase its investment in national security, quadrupling its annual defense spending to $50 billion per year. Although this proposal seemed both expensive and impractical, the US entry into the Korean War just two months later put NSC-68's plans in motion.

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    NSC-68 became the cornerstone of US national security policy during the Cold War, but it was a flawed document in many ways. For one thing, it assumed two "worst-case" scenarios: that the Soviet Union had both the capacity and the desire to take over the world—neither of which was necessarily true.

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    Atomic fears

    With both the United States and Soviet Union stockpiling nuclear weapons, fears of nuclear warfare pervaded American society and culture in the 1950s. Schools began issuing dog tags to students so that their families could identify their bodies in the event of an attack. The US government provided instructions for building and equipping bomb shelters in basements or backyards, and some cities constructed municipal shelters. Nuclear bomb drills became a routine part of disaster preparedness.

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    The civil defense film Duck and Cover, first screened in 1952, sought to help schoolchildren protect themselves from injury during a nuclear attack by instructing them to find shelter and cover themselves to prevent burns. Though "ducking and covering" hardly would have helped to prevent serious injury in a real atomic bombing, these rehearsals for disaster gave American citizens an illusion of control in the face of atomic warfare.

    Source : www.khanacademy.org

    K12 5.09 Lesson Checkpoint: The West in the Postwar Era, World History, Semester 2 Flashcards

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    What was one way that America responded to the fear of nuclear attack in the postwar years?

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    Congress began investigating people suspected of being communists or communist sympathizers.

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    What was one reason for Western Europe's quick recovery from the devastation of World War II?

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    European nations cooperated to simplify commercial interactions among themselves.

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    What was one way that America responded to the fear of nuclear attack in the postwar years?

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    European nations cooperated to simplify commercial interactions among themselves.

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    Atomic Fears · Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists · Special Collections & Archives Research Center

    Atomic Fears

    After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the mood in America was a complex blend of pride, relief, and fear. Americans were jubilant that the war was over, and proud that the technology created to win the war had been developed in their country. But they were also beginning to understand how the terrible power of the atomic bomb could destroy their own world. As citizens began to work through the question of what might happen if the United States were threatened by the bomb, images and ideas of atomic destruction began to permeate the national discourse. The threat of personal and civil devastation hung over the nation's consciousness, and a paranoid fear kept its citizens on edge.

    Source : scarc.library.oregonstate.edu

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