The United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at the end of World War II, which to this day is still the only occasion of using nuclear weapons in war. The decision to use atomic bombs is still the subject of controversy and criticism, and was one of the most difficult decisions faced by President Truman at the time. The Allies demanded that the Japanese surrender, after occupying and firebombing Japanese cities, and fighting a war for years before, but when the Japanese rejected requests for unconditional surrender, the decision was made to do something that was fast and devastating.
Instead of being intimidated by the United States, the Soviet Union made it their mission to themselves become armed with nuclear weapons, which led to the nuclear arms race and the Cold War, a period of tension mainly between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was during this time that communism was also spreading and expanding. Communist leaders founded the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945, but it took them 30 years to gain control of the whole country. For much of this time, many people argued that communist control had to be stopped, not just for Vietnam’s sake but to prevent the spread of communism to neighboring countries.
Historically, being bordered by countries already under communist control increased the chances of communism spreading to that country. Therefore, people were concerned that if Vietnam were to become communist, other neighboring countries would be threatened, as would the rest of the world. President Eisenhower predicted that if Vietnam fell, a string of other countries would fall after it, which became known as the Domino Theory for this reason.
The Vietnam War was essentially the result of this belief that communism was likely to expand all over south-east Asia. President Kennedy supported the Domino Theory, and in his first public speech, stated that he would continue to fight against the spread of communism at any cost, and made it clear that other countries were at risk. America was unsuccessful in the Vietnam War, resulting in significant loss of life, negative political consequences, and Vietnam becoming a unified communist country, further cementing communism in the country. Many argue that the war was unnecessary and that the reasons for it were exaggerated and misguided.
This period in history brought about a new age of warfare and led several other countries to acquire nuclear weapons along with the United States, including the Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom, and France. This was also the main cause of the Iraq War, when the United States and the United Kingdom believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Although no such weapons were found, the war ultimately resulted in the overthrow of the country’s dictator, Saddam Hussein. There are also existing tensions with Iran, due to their experimentation and development of nuclear weapons.
Tensions between democratic countries and communist states are ongoing as well, particularly between the United States and North Korea, and many are still concerned about the potential expansion of communism.