Cold War continues: CIA and McCarthyism

The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) was formed after World War II to monitor the potential threat of communist countries and to monitor espionage activities around the globe. In addition to gathering information on Soviet plans and maneuvers, the CIA also involved itself in covert operations designed to prevent communist dictators from rising to power, as for example in Iran, the first such instance, when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was replaced by the American-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Similarly, when Jacobo Arbenz came to power in Guatemala and promised to relieve the farmers by redistributing land held by the American-owned United Fruit Company, a CIA-backed band of mercenaries overthrew him and established a military dictatorship.

Fear of communism intensified in the U.S.A after Alger Hiss, a high-ranking State Department official was convicted on espionage charges. Republican senator from Wisconsin Joseph R. McCarthy took advantage of the national paranoia by proclaiming that communist spies were omnipresent and that he was America's only salvation. His speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1950, started the era of McCarthyism. He proclaimed that he was aware of 205 members of the Communist Party who worked for the United States Department of State. In the 1950s, thousands of Americans who worked in the government, served in the army, worked in the movie industry, or came from various walks of life had to answer before a congressional panel the question, whether they are or have ever been a member of the Communist party.

McCarthy went even for questioning the loyalty of George Marshall and his accusations went on into 1954, when the Wisconsin senator focused on the United States Army and for eight weeks, in televised hearings, he interrogated army officials, including many decorated war heroes. The army then went on the attack, questioning McCarthy's methods and credibility. Fed up, McCarthy's colleagues censured him for dishonoring the Senate, and the hearings came to a close. Plagued with poor health and alcoholism, McCarthy himself died three years later. Books were pulled from library shelves, including Robin Hood, which was deemed communist-like for suggesting stealing from the rich to give to the poor. No politician could consider opening trade with China or withdrawing from Southeast Asia without being branded a communist. Although McCarthyism was dead by the mid-1950s, its effects lasted for decades.

The end of the Korean War in 1953 did not bring an end to global hostilities, but it saw Cold War continue even more frenzied. As the British and French Empires slowly got used to independence movements, a new Third World emerged. This became the major battleground of the Cold War as the United States and the Soviet Union struggled to bring new nations into their respective orbits. The United States's recognition of Israel in 1948 created a strong new ally, but created many enemies. Arab nations, enraged by American support for the new Jewish state, found support in the Soviet Union. When Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted to strengthen ties with the Soviet bloc, the United States refused to help Nasser construct the all-important Aswan Dam. Nasser responded by nationalizing the Suez Canal, which provoked British, French, and Israeli armies to invade Egypt. With Soviet influence growing in the oil-rich region, President Dwight Eisenhower issued the Eisenhower Doctrine, which pledged American support to any government fighting communist rebellions in the Middle East. Making good on that promise, he sent over 5,000 marines to Lebanon to put a stop to an anti-Western takeover.