Containment policy

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Harry S. Truman (1945)

The policy of containment or containment policy (English containment policy ) has been since 1947 by the United States against the Soviet Union persecuted and pressed in the Cold War from. The aim of this policy was to prevent or curb the spread of communism and Stalinism .


Already in the final phase of the Second World War there was tension between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union over the development of a European peace order. The USA and Great Britain referred to the right of peoples to self-determination on the basis of principles of international law . The communist Soviet Union, however, endeavored to create a sphere of influence of socialist satellite states . For example, socialist or communist regimes were established in the Eastern European countries of Poland (1944), Albania (1944), Bulgaria (1944), Hungary (1945), Czechoslovakia (1948) and Romania (1948). Their sovereignty was de facto withdrawn in favor of the Soviet Union. In addition, during the armistice of Moscow in 1944 , Finland had to cede large areas to the Soviet Union under Soviet pressure, break off its relations with the German Reich and in 1948 conclude a "friendship and cooperation agreement" with the Soviet Union .

Harry S. Truman countered the efforts of the Soviet Union for further expansion with a foreign policy concept, according to which the USA pursued a policy called " anti-imperialist ". To align US foreign policy on continued foreign minister ( Secretary of State ) George C. Marshall a foreign policy planning staff under George F. Kennan , a former ambassador to the American Embassy in Moscow, a. Kennan presented the containment policy "to contain Soviet imperialism" in the journal Foreign Affairs in July 1947 to a wider audience. In his article "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" (also referred to as the X article due to its publication under the pseudonym "X" ), Kennan pointed out the inherent weaknesses of the Soviet system and took the view that the US should reflect on its strengths Would accept their leadership role, they would be able to counter the Russian expansion tendencies with sufficient counter pressure.

American President Harry S. Truman had previously announced active support of other states against the threat of communist overthrowing attempts in the Truman Doctrine named after him on March 12, 1947 as the official line of American foreign policy.


The Marshall Plan with the aim of strengthening the European countries and thus preventing a coup-like takeover of Western Europe by the Soviet Union proved to be an important component of the containment policy . At the same time, the Marshall Plan pursued the goal of sustainable cooperation between the European states. The entry into force of the North Atlantic Pact on April 24, 1949 should also be seen as a security component of the containment policy. Citing the Truman Doctrine, the US supported the royalists in the Greek Civil War , South Korea in the war against the communist north and France in the Indochina War .

The containment policy was not only practiced in connection with Europe. Targeted economic aid from the USA was also given to developing countries , but without achieving the same positive economic effect as in Europe. Containment also failed in the case of the Republic of China : the key foreign politicians (George C. Marshall, George F. Kennan and Dean Acheson ) as well as President Truman came to the conviction that the corrupt and anti-reform military dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek could not be achieved even with American help was able to enforce more against the communist civil war armies. The example of China and US foreign policy in Latin American countries also shows that the US was ready to support dictatorships in order to contain the “communist danger” .

The containment policy of the Truman era was continued (and radicalized) in the Eisenhower era and the Eisenhower Doctrine named after it . The rather defensive principle of containment was modified in favor of the more aggressive rollback policy . At the beginning of the 1950s, containment no longer appeared as an opportune means of combating the Stalinist-communist expansionist policy . In fact, in the Eisenhower era there was a kind of mixed concept between containment and rollback.

Containment in international politics after the end of the Cold War

Containment policies were also used to contain the dictator Saddam Hussein ; Sanctions, the effectiveness of which were ultimately assessed differently, were intended to make armament impossible for the state and no-fly zones were intended to make it more difficult to use means of violence in one's own country.

Because of the Iranian nuclear program , Iran was imposed with sanctions. These should serve to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb. Wolfgang Ischinger explained that such a strategy always goes hand in hand with the risk of red lines being "tested". At the beginning of 2016, the sanctions against the country were ended on the basis of assurances from Iran.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Erich Angermann : The United States of America since 1917 . 7th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-423-04007-6 , pp. 303 .
  2. ^ Erich Angermann : The United States of America since 1917 . 7th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-423-04007-6 , pp. 307 .
  3. Carne Ross: Testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry , July 12, 2010
  4. ^ Containment: The Iraqi no-fly zones , BBC, December 29, 1998
  5. Wolfgang Ischinger: Germany, Israel and the Iranian bomb. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . March 6, 2012, accessed February 10, 2014 .
  6. What the end of the Iran sanctions means