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Robert Kennedy's United States History Class

The Cold War, Containment and Vietnam 1945-1973



In a 6-10 paragraph essay, respond to the following. Be sure to include in your discussion all the of the Learning Objectives Essay Prompt


Discuss the background leading to and the four phases of the Cold War from 1945-73. Identify how the Cold War was the result of shared responsibility between the USA and Soviet Union (SU). And identify how the Vietnam War was a by-product of the Cold War. Finally, discuss, the challenges the Vietnam War posed for American Society as identified by Martin Luther King Jr.

Learning Objective I

Discuss the origins of the Cold War 

Learning Objective II

Discuss the policy of “containment” and the FIVE Phases of its development:


The Truman Doctrine 1947-53


Eisenhower 52-61 “Competitive Coexistence” 


Kennedy& Johnson

"Flexible Response" (on to Vietnam)

Phase Five:

Nixon Vietnam 63-73 

Learning Objective III


Describe the legacy and consequences of the Cold War

Despite a proposed slashing of U.S. Army personnel to pre-World War II levels, American military might is beyond question.


This chart from April 2013, which is making the rounds again, shows that America's 2012 defense budget surpassed that of the next 10 countries combined.


Read more:


Learning Objective Three 

Learning Objective IV

Listen and read Dr. King’s speech here and address the prompt below


Martin Luther King, Jr. Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence


1. Identify the six reasons Dr. King provides to explain his difficult decision to come out against the war.


2. Who does he speak for, specifically, (not just the "voiceless") to address his concerns about the war in Vietnam and for Americans to better understand the conflict? Why does he feel it important to speak for these people?


3. Describe the history of how the United States got involved in Vietnam, as King explains it. How did World War II cause the war in Vietnam?


4. The speech is called "Beyond Vietnam". Why? How was, according to King, "Vietnam ... a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit"


5. According to Dr. King, what would a "Radical Revolutionary of Values" entail? Offer examples and be specific.


6. What does Dr. King’s family believe about his assassination? What leads them to that belief?

In the News

(not required viewing but recommended)