US objectives during the Cold War were to prevent Soviet attacks on the United States and its allies and to prevent the spread of communism as a political and economic system to other countries, whether by force or by threat, subversion, persuasion, or bribery. The principal instrument to prevent attack was an extensive build-up of defensive and retaliatory military forces, combined with political and military alliances that extended US protection to other countries in exchange for their engagement and support. The principal instruments for preventing the spread of communism by non-military means involved building an international economic system conducive to economic prosperity; engaging in persuasion, providing incentives, and occasionally imposing economic sanctions; and, not least, promoting a robust US economy that could serve as a stimulant to others and as a beacon for the benefits of a free, enterprise-based, market-oriented economy.
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