Hoodie History – Containment of Communism

Hey there! This is your teacher Mr. H., and you’re watching History in a Hoodie. Today’s episode is about the Containment
of Communism where we will learn all about how the US and western powers responded to
Communist expansion. I can’t wait to find out! Well then, let’s get this show started! What are we learning about today? The standard for today’s lesson asks the
students to explain the role of the United States in the rebuilding of Japan after WWII. Additionally, we will explain the reasons
for foreign involvement in Korea and Vietnam in terms of containment of communism. Before we start, let’s go over some vocabulary for today’s lesson. During World War II, the United States and
western nations allied with Soviet Russia. An uneasy alliance with Josef Stalin to be
sure and clearly a situation of the lesser of two evils. After Hitler and Nazi Germany were destroyed,
the war left two clear superpowers in the world – the US and the USSR. These two superpowers had very opposite ideas
about how countries should be run, and both saw the other viewpoint as a threat to their
very way of life. For this reason, the next half century would
result in an unprecedented rivalry between the two strongest nations on Earth. One way these nations attempted to demonstrate
their strength was by projecting their form of government to other nations. On August 6th and 9th, atomic bombs were dropped
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ending World War II. American President Harry Truman was presented
with the atomic bombs as an option for ending the war, and they did but at great cost. It has been debated for years whether it was
the right decision – killing Japanese civilians to spare American soldiers’ lives. Some historians say that Truman was told an
all-out invasion of the Japanese islands would result in over a million and a half lives
lost between American and Japanese soldiers and civilians. Some historians also suggest that Truman was
eager to end the war quickly because he didn’t want Russia to end the war and influence Japan
with communism in the peace deals. Because the American’s ended Japan’s war
aggression, the Americans got to determine what post-war Japan would look like. The United States rewrote Japan’s constitution. Yep, we had that much influence on their country. In that constitution, we eliminated Japan’s
monarchy and took all the power away from their Emperor. In his place, we created a parliamentary democracy. Japan now has a Prime Minister and a legislature
called the Diet which makes the laws for the nation. Also, in the constitution, we disarmed Japan’s
military. The text states that Japan may never have
an ‘offensive military’ again, but just a defensive one. Finally, we replaced their war industries
with a modern industry including automotive and technologies, and the US became Japan’s
biggest trade partner in their new economy. Thanks to US support, today Japan is one of
the top 5 economies world-wide and didn’t have to shoot a single weapon to get there. So, what? How did conflict with Soviet Russia affect
other countries? While the US dodged a bullet with Japan, other
territories were not so lucky. Following WWII, every territory that Japan
had annexed during the war was released and needed new governments. This included the peninsula of Korea and the
former French colony of Vietnam. As the Cold War heated up, these influenced
territories would become the battlegrounds for a war that the superpowers didn’t directly
want to fight. In the United States in the 1950s and on,
there was a legitimate fear of communism. Imagine how you knew that aliens were invading
Earth, but they looked just like regular people… that’s what the Red Scare was all about. Neighbors would accuse the guy down the street
of being a communist, and that person would be brought in for questioning witch-hunt style. This fear was extended by the view that the
USSR was determined to expand their influence. They already had Eastern Europe under their
control; then, both Korea and Vietnam were divided in half with the northern territory
controlled by Russian communists. There was legitimate concern that more nations
in Asia and Europe would fall like dominoes to communism (and this belief was called the
Domino Theory), and it was the job of the American superpower to stop the spread, or
to contain communism. The first major battlefield for the containment
of communism was Korea. In the aftermath of WWII, the peninsula was
divided into North and South Korea. Russia promoted communism in the north, led
by Kim il Sung (grandfather to Kim Jong Un), and the US promoted democracy in the south,
led by president Syngman Rhee. In 1950, the North Koreans invaded South Korea
intending to reunify the nation under communism. The North’s army marched nearly all the
way to the tip of the peninsula and was almost successful; however, South Korea had some
good friends. The United States and United Nations’ armies
reinforced South Korea and helped push back against the North’s army almost all the
way to the Chinese border. But then, the Communist Russians and Communist
Chinese joined in the war to equalize the forces. After 3 years of fighting, the countries’
borders remained in almost exactly the same place – the 38th parallel or line of latitude
– with millions having died in the war. Today, technically the war never ended. No peace treaty was signed to end the Korean
war – just a cease fire. Both sides still maintain most of their military
regiments at the border, called the DMZ or demilitarized zone, and are prepared for a
full-scale war to break out at any moment. South Korea has become another one of the
top economies in the world thanks to US support and trade; while North Korea has become the
most restrictive country in the world under the Kim family’s rule. North Koreans are not allowed to access the
full internet or television and media from other countries. They are taught in schools that North Korea
is the best country in the world and any problems the country has is the fault of western nations
like the US and European countries. Kim Jong Un and his father have spent more
money on developing nuclear weapons and a strong military than providing basic resources
for their people over the years. Vietnam started similarly as Korea. Following WWII, the nation was divided into
North and South Vietnam with Russian communism influencing the North and American democracy
influencing the South. A major difference, however, is that prior
to the superpowers’ influence, Vietnam was already experimenting with Communism. While a French colony, the nation began an
independence movement behind Ho Chi Minh, a communist revolutionary. The nation of Vietnam as a whole wanted communism
rather than being controlled by an outside power. Again, the US couldn’t see any Asian country
falling to communism because that might mean their neighbors would be interested in trying
it too, so the Vietnam War broke out in 1955 when American troops took over from the French
in trying to stop the communist revolution. Of course, the Russians would join in to assist
the communist Vietnamese to promote the spread of communism. It was immediately evident that the Korean
and Vietnam wars would go differently. In Vietnam, not only were the American troops
fighting against the communist armies, but also the civilian population, who again did
support the communist leadership. This war would not be a short one either. 20 years of fighting ended in 1975 when support
for the war was lost back home, and the American voters chose a president who promised to leave
Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh’s armies conquered the rest
of South Vietnam pretty much immediately following the withdrawal of American troops, and Vietnam
was reunified under communism. Today, Vietnam is still communist and still
liking it. Its neighbor, Laos, became communist also;
however, communism didn’t spread worldwide like the fears of the Domino Theory. In fact, today there are only 5 communist
nations remaining worldwide – Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, China, and Cuba. Over 40 current countries at one point were
communist countries and have abandoned the government system since. Communism has been contained effectively. Wow! So, learning about the Cold War era is really
important for me to understand. I’m glad I learned it today! Are you ready for some review questions? I hope all the rest of you learned a lot from
today’s episode of “History in a Hoodie” about Communism in Asia. If you did, don’t forget to like, subscribe,
and share…. Just kidding, I don’t care about that stuff. But do make sure you study this lesson. Bye now!

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