Advanced Placement United States History Cold War Document

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Advanced Placement United States History Cold War Document Based Question
This Document Based Question is modeled after the College Board and Advanced Placement Program’s released Advanced Placement United States History Exam as published on AP Central. Supplemental materials are modeled after the AP Reading and are created for teacher use when grading this Document Based Question. Primary Sources include sources from:
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library Richard Nixon Presidential Library Ronald Reagan Presidential Library The Herb Block Foundation The National Security Archive at George Washington University White House Office of Management and Budget Special thanks to the National Archives and Records Administration, the Presidential Libraries and the White House for providing open resources for public use.
Mission The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center (APLC) is committed to engaging the future leaders of America in the study of our nation’s democratic processes with the aim of developing proactive informed, educated,
and conscientious citizens and leaders. For more curriculum resources please check our website: For programming from the APLC please visit

(Suggested writing time—45 minutes) Percent of Section II score—45
Directions: The following question requires you to construct a coherent essay that integrates your interpretation of Documents A-J and your knowledge of the period referred to in the question. High scores will be earned only by essays that both cite key pieces of evidence from the documents and draw on outside knowledge of the period.
1. Analyze the effectiveness of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War through the actions of the office of the President of the United States. Confine your answer to the years 1947-1989.
Document A
Source: Rep. Mike Mansfield (D- Montana), Memorandum to Clark Clifford, ca. 1947.
In my conference with President Truman I told him some of the impressions I had received as a Member of the joint Senate-House Committee which had just returned from Europe. I pointed out the need of a greatly amplified information program to counteract the daily attacks, the distortions, and outright falsehoods being dispensed daily against us by the Communist press…
In every country visited there was evidence of malnutrition, tuberculosis, and disease. Germany and Rumania presented the biggest starvation areas; Poland the most devastated; and Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark the best off economically. The severe drought this past summer and fall has affected every country in Western Europe outside of Russian and the satellite countries…
If wheat is not forthcoming to take care of Western Europe, the bread ration will be reduced to such an extent that many people will find it difficult to live. Event at the present time the greater part of the Italian population is subsisting on a bread ration from 75 to 125 grams a day or from 2½ to 4½ ounces. When one realizes that bread is the stable diet in practically every European country and that various little in addition is eaten, one can begin to comprehend the seriousness of the situation.
Document B
Source: "Implementation of Soviet Objectives in Korea," Office of Reports and Estimates 62, November 18, 1947.
Soviet tactics in Korea have clearly demonstrated that the USSR is intent on securing all of Korea as a satellite. In pursuing this policy, the USSR has, since V-J Day, adhered to a definite program of infiltration, consolidation, and control. U.S. reaction to this policy has resulted in minor departures from the Soviet schedule of operations but has not forced any change in fundamental strategy.

Source: A 1949 Herblock Cartoon, copyright by The Herb Block Foundation
Document D Source: Llewellyn Thompson, Department of State Telegram Cable to John Foster Dulles, March 9, 1959. To begin with [the] more general problem of East-West relations, [it is] important [we] never forget we are dealing with Communists. Not being Communists I find that we, myself included, instinctively tend [to] treat Soviet Leaders as rational human beings, which they are not. They are committed to and hold power on basis of ideology which falls apart if they accept [the] indefinite existence [of the] capitalist world….Our only hope therefore of peaceful solution lies in [the] continuance [of] this evolution to [the] point where different type of leadership comes to power. By this I do not mean overthrow of Communist regime but rather [a] different breed of Communist, devoted more to Soviet Nationals[’] aims than to creed of international Communists. I therefore believe all our major policies should be examined in light of whether they contribute to this evolution.

Document E
Source: President John Kennedy, Letter to Chairman Nikita Krushchev of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, October 16, 1961.
The importance of this additional attempt to explore each other's view is well-stated in your letter; and I believe it is identical to the motivation for our meeting in Vienna. Whether we wish it or not, and for better or worse, we are the leaders of the world's two greatest rival powers, each with the ability to inflict great destruction on the other and to do great damage to the rest of the world in the process. We therefore have a special responsibility--greater than that held by any of our predecessors in the pre-nuclear age--to exercise our power with the fullest possible understanding of the other's vital interests and commitments. As you say in your letter, the solutions to the world's most dangerous problems are not easily found--but you and I are unable to shift to anyone else the burden of finding them. You and I are not personally responsible for the events at the conclusion in World War II which led to the present situation in Berlin. But we will be held responsible if we cannot deal peacefully with problems related to this situation.
Document F
Source: Clark Clifford, Memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson, May 17, 1965
I believe our ground forces in South Vietnam should be kept to a minimum, consistent with the protection of our installations and property in that country. My concern is that a substantial buildup of U.S. ground troops would be construed by the Communists, and but the world, as a determination on our part to win the war on the ground.
This could be a quagmire. It could turn into an open end commitment on our part that would take more and more ground troops without a realistic hope of ultimate victory… I continue to believe that the constant probing of every avenue leading to a possible settlement will ultimately be fruitful. It won’t be what we want, but we can learn to live with it.
Document G
Source: Minutes, National Security Council Meeting, January 25, 1969
The President stated, “Would like to get some recommendations on getting to the Soviets. In a tactical sense, we need a solution to bridge the gap but we also need strategic help in making Hanoi change its policy, a sort of carrot and stick approach. These efforts should be centered here in Washington. Talking on the strategic arms issue is certainly the carrot. We should get planning started on this immediately.”
The President said, "Another carrot with respect to the Soviets would be the Nonproliferation Treaty. As you know, we will go forward after discussing this here -first with the Soviets and then with our legislative leaders a week later. This will be a great symbol.”

Document H Source: President Richard Nixon, Cable to Henry A. Kissinger, November 24, 1972 Because of the expectations that been built up in this country that a settlement will be reached, we face a very difficult situation if the talks collapse. Consequently you should inform the Saigon representatives that all military and economic aid will be cut off by the Congress if an agreement is not reached. Inform them also that, under these circumstances, I will be unable to get the congressional support that is needed. You should proceed therefore on option two, playing your hand just as hard as you can recognizing that we have now reached the point where resumption of heavy bombing of the North is probably not a viable option for us. Obviously you must play out the hand as though it were still a viable option, but we have now reached the point, by reason among other things of my statement just before the election that we would soon reach agreement, that we must reach the best agreement we can.
Document I Source: President Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address to the Nation. January 11, 1989. Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech and turning away from the ideologies of the past. For them, the great rediscovery of the 1980's has been that, lo and behold, the moral way of government is the practical way of government: Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive… We must keep up our guard, but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust. My view is that President Gorbachev is different from previous Soviet leaders. I think he knows some of the things wrong with his society and is trying to fix them. We wish him well. And we'll continue to work to make sure that the Soviet Union that eventually emerges from this process is a less threatening one. What it all boils down to is this: I want the new closeness to continue. And it will, as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. If and when they don't, at first pull your punches. If they persist, pull the plug. It's still trust but verify. It's still play, but cut the cards. It's still watch closely. And don't be afraid to see what you see.


1947 1949 1951 1953 1955 1957 1959 1961 1963 1965 1967 1969 1971 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989

Source: U.S. Defense Spending as Percent of Total Government Expenditures, Office of Management and Budget
U.S. Defense Spending As a Percentage of Total Government Expenditures
80.0 70.0 60.0 50.0 40.0 30.0 20.0 10.0
0.0 Year

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Advanced Placement United States History Cold War Document