Over a very American dinner of rolls, ham, and mashed potatoes, I asked him what the Cold War was like. “We just supposed the missiles were coming, of course it was going to happen. But we just learned to live with it, just like anything else, we were not afraid of it, we just accepted it after a time.”
But not everyone took it so easily as a boy who grew up on a military base.
America was afraid of the Reds. Truly frightened. Not only were they afraid of the bombs, but also of the spies.
Spy rings were discovered. Alger Hiss was charged with selling off state secrets. Joe McCarthy would make a list of Communists in America in places such as the State Department. But that would be later, at the beginning no one was quite sure what to do.
Communism was truly antithetical to everything the West had stood for. It had to be stopped.
On February 22, 1946, G. F. Kennan, US Ambassador to Moscow, was asked why the Russians were refusing the new ideas of America for world peace. He responded with what became known as the Long Telegram. He explained that Russia was not a member of the Western Club, they saw themselves in a perpetual war on capitalism, which they would fight with any means. In their mind, there was no possibility of long term peaceful coexistence with the West.
In 1947, a massive uprising took place in Greece by labor backed workers and Communist agitators. The Socialists there did not know the Soviets would not aid them. They had already said they were not interested in a Red Greece at the secret high level talks with the West. However, Britain asked the US for aid against the rising, not trusting Stalin's promises of no aid to the Communists there. President Truman asked Congress for funds, saying that they would have to fight Communism anywhere and everywhere it attempted to establish itself.
Russia, on the other hand, although they did not set up a Communist government in Greece, began to support Communist governments in Eastern Europe. The West realized that peaceful coexistence would not happen in the current state of affairs, and a world united under a Red flag was unacceptable. It would now be a race between Russia and the rest of the world to snatch up third world countries.
Meanwhile little children learned how to hide under desks away from H-bombs. No one told the children that it would never work, wood cannot stop hydrogen. The Russians were trying to hide behind iron and away from freedom, and Stalin had forgotten to tell them it also would not work.
Andrew C. Abbott