Effects of WWI, WWII, and the Cold War on the United States’ Policies and its Citizens

Effects of WWI, WWII, and the Cold War on the United States’ Policies and its Citizens

The foreign policies taken by the US government between 1917 and 1950s, had profound impacts on the country’s domestic policies and behaviors of its citizens. Initially, the US government assumed a neutral role in World War I which forced it to take the mediation leader role even as it focused primarily on improving the country’s economic status. With such neutral foreign policy on global issues, the US government invested massively in its manufacturing sector, which resulted in the expansion of its middle income, reduction in the unemployment rate. Later, the government changed its foreign policies by directly involving itself in various global issues, an aspect which enhanced the level of patriotism among its citizens and further enhancing their trust and loyalty towards their government. With such focus on foreign policies, the US citizens were assured of achieving the American dream, a factor which motivated most of them to work hard resulting in recognition of the US as a superpower, both economically and politically. However, the continued foreign intervention policies and differences in ideologies with the USSR created some degree of fear domestically among its citizens who were concerned of attacks by the Soviet Union. This was evident in the various science fiction movies that were produced during the period which mainly revolved around the US going to war with Russia.

The participation of the US in WW1, WWII, and the Cold War had significant implications on the lives of the ordinary American citizens. The events of the WWI and WWII, for instance, changed the racial prejudice against the black people in the country. In WWII, the US wanted to be seen as a superpower country with the best ideologies that could be imitated by other nations to achieve economic prosperity, national unity, and global influence. President Truman “noted that if the United States were to offer the ‘peoples of the world’ a ‘choice of freedom or enslavement’ it must ‘correct the remaining imperfections in our practice of democracy” (Foner, 2017, p. 857). This resulted in the enactment of laws in the US which established fair employment opportunities and banning racial segregations in public institutions such as school. The events of the Cold War promoted the use of propaganda among the US citizens and the media. For instance, the US government, through various national security agencies, encouraged filmmakers to produce films which advocated for patriotism and togetherness among the US citizens. They were also encouraged to produce anticommunist movies which were to depict USSR and its allies as dictatorial nations with no positive agenda to transform the world (Foner, 2017, p. 851).

In all these wars, the US wanted to portray itself as a country that safeguards human rights and freedom by offering the best governance and economic systems; which are a democratic form of governance and capitalism economic system respectively. While it was grappling with a high rate of racial inequalities between the black and the whites coupled with high-income equality between the rich and the poor, the US government saw it wise to adopt various economic and social reforms that would help address these issues. For instance, it adopted fair employment practices which were to reduce the racial discrimination against workers based on their races or gender. Also, it reformed the public sector by abolishing various racial laws which would portray the country as an imperfect nation. The US government even allowed non-native American citizens like Chinese, Mexicans, and Africans to participate as voters, thus expanding the country’s political freedom space.

Economically speaking, the involvement of the US government in WWI, WWII, and the Cold War, had both positive and negative implications on its economy. The neutrality of the US in WWI accelerated the country’s rapid economic growth as it acted as a producer of various military equipment that were used by both rivaling sides during the war. The US government also allowed its commercial banks and other financial institutions to lend money to the two warring sides. As the European countries engaged in the World War I, they were unable to produce enough consumer goods, hence relying heavily on the exports from the US, a factor which also propelled the latter’s economy to greater heights. During World War II, the US economy was adversely affected because of the vast financial resources that were used in financing the war. The recruitment of thousands of able men into the military to reinforce the US military strength also affected the country’s economy negatively as most industries could not get sufficient labor supply. During the Cold War, the US enhanced its consumer buying culture by encouraging American citizens to portray their patriotic duty by purchasing US domestic manufactured goods to help grow the economy. Consumer culture demonstrated the superiority of the American way of life to communism and virtually redefined the nation’s historic mission to extend freedom to other countries” (Foner, 2017, p. 878). Hence, it is evident that the events of these wars had significant implications in the US economy.

It is evident that the participation of the US government in World War 1 and II, and the Cold War, had significant implications on both its foreign and domestic policies. Additionally, from the above discussion, it is evident that the events of these wars had both positive and negative implications on the country’s economy, politics, and social affairs, which had corresponding effects on its citizens’ behaviors. In conclusion, therefore, the events of these wars, enhanced the degree of patriotism among the citizens, reduced racial prejudice and discrimination, propelled and also undermined the economic growth, and lastly, enhanced the stature of the country as “the most powerful nation” globally.



Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History: Seagull Fourth Edition. Vol. 2. WW Norton & Company, 2017.