- The Iron Curtain – A political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union after World War II to seal off itself and its dependent eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other non communist areas. It was popularised by winston Churchill in 1946 in his speech. The blockade loosened after stalin’s death 1953, but in 1961 the berlin wall harshened it again.The soviets even jammed the west’s radio waves.the curtain was largely destroyed in 1990 when the soviet union broke up. The function of the curtain was to act as a buffer between the soviets and the west, since they feared another invasion like operation barbarossa by the nazis. The formation of the Berlin wall heightened west’s fears of soviet aggression so they formed a defensive military alliance called nato, with the basis that an attack on one of the allied countries would mean an attack on all of them. The soviets retaliated with the warsaw pact, also a military alliance.
- The Truman Doctrine, policy of containment, arms race – With the Truman Doctrine, President Harry S. Truman established that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces. The Truman Doctrine effectively reoriented US foreign policy, away from its usual stance of withdrawal from regional conflicts not directly involving the United States, to one of possible intervention in far away conflicts. It started when, in 1947 britain announced that they will not support military or economic aid to greece in its fight against communism. Truman urged congress to send aid to greece and also turkey because they were also fighting communism. Other factors also played a role in enforcing the doctrine like the soviets rejecting the Baruch plan for international control over nuclear energy and weapons in June 1946 and soviet attempts to pressure the Iranian Government into granting them oil concessions.
- McCarthy era – Senator Joseph McCarthy was a senator who, with the House Committee on Un-American Activities led a witch hunt for communist sympathizers during the cold war. McCarthy took advantage of the nation’s wave of fanatic terror against communism, and emerged on February 9, 1950, claiming he had a list of 205 people in the State Department who were known members of the American Communist Party. The American public went crazy with the thought of communists living within the United States, and roared for the investigation of the underground agitators. McCarthy was considered one of the least qualified and corrupt politicians in history. He basically went on a manhunt and the accused had 2 choices. Either to give out other names as russian spies to go free or to stay silent and deny, which would mean losing friends and jobs. The witch hunt accused many prominent figures such as oppenheimer and einstein. The era came to an end when mccarthy went too far by investigating the military, at which point the president, eisenhower understood that he must be stopped. The army fired back with critical accusations about abusing congressional privileges. The public soon turned on mccarthy along with critics and the media. the nation grew to realize that McCarthy was “evil and unmatched in malice.” He lost his position as chairman on the operations of the senate, and all his power in the media. He died 3 years later because of drinking.This era was allowed to happen because of the fear of communism.
- Korean War – The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953. The Korean War was actually called a police action by the United States since war was not officially declared by the Congress. In 1949 the Chinese communists won their civil war against the Chinese nationalists. They began to support armed communist conflicts near their borders as they considered the United States and all of its allies to be a threat to their security and political views. After World War II, North Korea was under Soviet rule and South Korea was under the rule of the US. Tensions grew between the two territories. On the 25th of June, 1950, North Korea, with Chinese help, invaded South Korea. Initially, the attack was powerful enough to drive back the unprepared forces of South Korea. In time, though, the US was able to repel the North Korean forces by employing air, naval and amphibian counter-attacks. Along with UN forces, the US marched onto North Korean territory where they were met with an army organized by China. The US forces were then pushed back onto South Korean territory. The US, however, was able to, once again, gain some more ground and fought its way to the 38th parallel. Here a front line was established. The two sides fought and were not able to gain any advantage over each other. An armistice was negotiated over and a demilitarized zone was established. This demilitarized zone serves as a border region for the two nations of North Korea and South Korea to this day.
- Role of J. F. Kennedy – He was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until he was assassinated in November 1963. He started the Peace Corps and gave NASA the job of getting to the Moon.
- Bay of Pigs and the Cuba crisis – US paratroopers descended upon a region on the coastline of Cuba called the Bay of Pigs. They were there to interfere with Fidel Castro’s rise to power (because he was communist and was organizing an uprising) but the attack failed and the American soldiers were imprisoned in Cuban prisons. The USSR saw how Cuba was being harassed and to deter Cuba from further harassment they put missiles there (because Fidel Castro was communist-minded, which the USSR supported). The US opposed that, since they considered missiles 90 miles away from US soil to be a slight safety hazard. So a (this is the closest the two sides ever got to having a direct conflict during the Cold War) negotiation was held between US and USSR and they agreed that all the missiles would be disassembled and returned to USSR and in return the US would get rid of their ballistic presence in Italy and Turkey (which the public didn’t know about, but was a threat to the USSR). The Bay of Pigs was largely lead by Minister McNamara.
- Space Race – The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the missile-based nuclear arms race between the two nations that occurred following World War II, enabled by captured German rocket technology and personnel. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned space probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. The competition began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the US announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite “in the near future”. The Soviet Union beat the US to this, with the October 4, 1957 orbiting of Sputnik 1, and later beat the US to the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961. The race peaked with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon with Apollo 11. The USSR tried but failed manned lunar missions, and eventually cancelled them and concentrated on Earth orbital space stations. A period of détente followed with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, resulting in the July 1975 rendezvous in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew. The end of the Space Race is harder to pinpoint than its beginning, but it was over by the December, 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, after which true spaceflight cooperation between the US and Russia began. The Space Race has left a legacy of Earth communications and weather satellites, and continuing human space presence on the International Space Station. It has also sparked increases in spending on education and research and development, which led to beneficial spin-off technologies.
- Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences) – At the time, Vietnam was a French colony. However, a communist rebellion started to emerge in the country and it repelled the French from Vietnam territory. The US, fearing communism’s rising control in the region, aids France’s effort to reclaim the region. However, the communist side is able to claim control over the conflict. A treaty between France and Vietnam is established: there is to be a northern (communist) region of Vietnam and a southern (western alignment) region of Vietnam. In 1964, missiles are fired at a US ship in the Gulf of Tonkin by Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson got congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which stated that military force could be used in Vietnam – initially only limited to bombings. At home, US citizens were mixed on the topic of the Vietnam war. Some believed that it did not make sense to be expending US lives and fighting for a foreign cause. Eventually the war was lost by the US The loss was obviously a detriment to the image of the US’s government, both at home and abroad. President Lyndon Johnson did not even rerun for president due to the controversy over the Vietnam War.
- Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair – Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis. The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such “dirty tricks” as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- The role of Henry Kissinger – An American diplomat and political scientist (national security advisor). Most of all, Henry Kissinger appeared throughout the global media as a genius, villain, and consummate manipulator who wielded power at the most important points in recent history. Henry Kissinger was Richard Nixon’s key foreign policy adviser. He was influential in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords which ended American involvement in the Vietnam War. Still to this day a very controversial figure in politics.
- Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock – Counterculture is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. Rebellion against the establishment appeared in many forms in the United States during the 1960s. Caught up in the rising frustration circling around America’s increased involvement in Vietnam, the racial unrest in many urban areas, and the pressure to conform, a growing number of the younger generation rejected the American way of life. The resulting movement, termed the counterculture, embraced an alternative lifestyle characterized by long hair, brightly colored clothes, communal living, free sex, and rampant drug use. Summer of Love is a phrase given to the summer of 1967 to try to describe the feeling of being in San Francisco that summer, when the so-called “hippie movement” came to full fruition.
“Full Metal Jacket” is one of many-many movies that are based on the Vietnam War. Although they all challenge the topics based on the same war, it feels as if “Full Metal Jacket” is completely different from the rest. FMJ particularly focuses on the Tet Offensive in 1968. Many Americans believed that the Vietcongs and the North Vietnamese would never attack during Tet which is what made the offensive that much more powerful.
The first part of the movie focuses on the training of the marines. I don’t think I am the only one who particularly enjoyed the boot camp part of the movie. It was not only brilliant because of the comedic elements to it but because of the emphasizing of the fact that they are there to become killers. That when they leave the camp, they will be absolute machines of war. It was, in my opinion, that brilliant because it upholds the harshness and the brutality of the American soldiers in the Vietnam War. The boot camp part of the movie also brings out the extreme training of the marines very well. WarMovieBuff shares the same opinion as me on the reality of the boot camp: “The boot camp segment is realistic as to Marine boot camp in 1967. If anything, the movie underplays the physical abuse.”
The same reviewer also shared his opinion on the technical parts of the movie: “The movie is technically brilliant. /…/ He (Kubrick) took years to make it and the care is on the screen. The cinematography is masterful. /…/ The score is used very sparingly, but effectively.” With his thoughts, I absolutely agree. The cinematography in Vietnam was sensational and very beautiful to watch, even by today’s standards. The music during the search for the sniper was incredibly eerie which fit perfectly to the situation. In me, it created a compelling feeling of dread and worry that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. And I watch a lot of horror/war movies.
The movie was perfectly balanced in terms of showing the horrors of war and displaying the feelings of the soldiers. Zane Phipps describes the balance and view on the film in his review as such: “Full Metal jacket presents a vision of the U.S. war in Vietnam that is stunningly realistic while at the same time suggestively surrealistic. By encompassing many stories, by making them one rather than cutting from one to another, /…/ The reality of Full Metal Jacket is its surreality. The U.S. war in Vietnam is a surreal story–metaphorical, metaphysical, temporally and spatially suspect–baffling and horrifying.”
Although the movie was not based entirely on true events, it is a brilliant film demonstrating the horrors of the Vietnam War; both technical and plot wise. It’s a dramatical, yet hilarious, terrifying, yet powerful roller coaster ride of emotions that you didn’t even know you can feel.
WarMovieBuff, The War Movie Buff – https://warmoviebuff.blogspot.com/2013/06/16-full-metal-jacket.html
Zane Phipps, for his website – http://mason.gmu.edu/~zphipps/fmjpaper.html