A mere five years separated the close of the Second World War and the start of the Korean War. However, the five years between the two conflicts were incredibly eventful. By 1950, the Cold War had become pervasive both at home and abroad. In foreign policy terms the United States had asserted itself as the only major bulwark against communist expansion. In 1947 the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan confirmed the US commitment to keeping Europe free from communism. Then the United States signed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreement in April 1949, the first military treaty since the American Revolution, confirming American willingness to go to war if necessary to protect democracy from communist challenges. The events of 1949, when the Chinese communists emerged victorious from their civil war and the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb, seemed to confirm to the United States that communism was expansive and aggressive. The Berlin Blockade of 1948–1949 further suggested that the Soviet Union was interested in increasing its influence in a direct challenge to democracy. By 1950 old friends and allies, China and the Soviet Union had become enemies and old enemies, Japan and Germany, were now valued allies. In five short years the world had changed dramatically.
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