Cold War 4 Essay, Research Paper
The Cold War was the result of Stalin adopting a policy contrary to the Yalta Agreement.
Certainly to many supporters of the Orthodox view, this statement will appear rather obvious. In their view, the origins of the Cold War, however, do not essentially lie in the aftermath of Yalta, but in the inevitable clash of capitalism and communism. The fact that Stalin adopted a, in their opinion aggressive, policy was not so much the result of security, but the expansionist nature of Lenin-Marxism.
Yet an analysis of a time of such incredible tension is not that simple. It could, naturally, be argued that sooner or later the United States would clash with Soviet Russia. As a matter of fact, the distrust between the two powers has its early origins in the Russian Civil War, where the Western Allies of World War One sent in supplies and men to help the anti-Bolshevik “Whites” defeat the Red Army. This was seen as an attempt to destroy communism in its early years and deeply resented by the Bolsheviks.
The Second World War changed the situation. When Hitler launched “Operation Barbarossa”, it was estimated that Russia would be defeated within weeks, months at latest. Churchill, the British prime minister, immediately provided help to Stalin. The United States joined the Allies and the impossible had become reality: capitalism and communism working hand in hand. The “Lend Lease” arrangement was extended to Russia and all in all ten million tons of war materials were sent by the US to Russia. It seems rather far-reaching to propose that circumstances were all that well until Yalta, and that the agreements reached there actually led to the Cold War. Already during the Second World War there was a growth of distrust between the USSR and the two western powers, Britain and the USA. Since late 1941 Stalin urged Churchill to “open” a second front and thus relieve the Red Army. To the Soviets the denial of a second front meant that the USA and Britain were deliberately aiming to weaken the Russians. Although Sicily was invaded, Italy eventually liberated and D-Day launched, the Red Army was by that time already advancing towards Germany. Another factor that created friction was US capital and the “Lend-Lease” agreement. As compensation for delaying an opening of a second front, the Russians proposed a US loan of $1000 million at 1.25% interest rate over a period of twenty-five years. The US Congress rejected the proposal: for one, reserves were exhausted and post-war credits seemed to great a risk, and secondly, given the current inflation rates, the terms would equal more to a present. Although “Lend-Lease” was granted to Russia, bringing in arms, foods and raw materials, a requested loan of $6000 million could not be agreed on due to the conflicts with the interest rate. Before the war, the US government was inexperienced and rather perplexed on how to deal with Soviet Russia. The results were little to no relations between the two countries. World War Two merged the two countries into an uneasy co-operation. Whether these events caused friction or were simply the results of distrust remains disputed. Clearly, according to the Orthodox view, it was the Marxist-Leninist natural hostility towards capitalism that contributed to the rise in tension: unacceptable terms for loans were proposed, and after being rejected, resented. However, Soviet claims that the Allies deliberately held back a second front could equally be justified, or at least partially, when misunderstood. Nevertheless, although distrust had developed, destroying the common enemy, Nazi Germany, was an aim prior and above anything else.
Yet as Yalta came, the situation had changed: the Wehrmacht was being pushed back on all fronts and Germany found herself on the verge of defeat. Time was ripe to discuss post-war plans. The common enemy had united them could this status be prevailed during times of truce?
The positions and policies were very much set before the meeting in the Crimea. An analysis of each of the approaches helps understand the difficulties the powers had in settling problems. Following the air raid against Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, Hitler promptly declared war against the United States. The United States, unlike Russia, was pushed into the struggle following an invasion. The USA desired to stabilise the power in Europe by safe-guarding an equilibrium against those who wished to destroy it. Besides that, Roosevelt and Churchill had signed the “Atlantic Charter” in which the wilsonian principles of self-determination and free democratic elections within a liberal-capitalist economy should be imposed on to all countries liberated from Nazi rule. Western ally policy, therefore, would consist in restoring a power equilibrium in Europe and by structuring European countries, including the Eastern states, with democratic institutions based on the American one. The USSR, all ahead Stalin, held a completely different attitude towards future Europe. Russia had been invaded twice within the last thirty years and was bound to create a security network around it. This involved the installation of friendly, pro-Soviet, in other words (at least partial) communist, governments.
The two most serious disagreements between the USSR and the Western Allies were the questions of Poland and Germany. As already stated, Germany had invaded Russia twice within a short period of time and Stalin sought to never let that happen again. This meant that Germany would have to be vast sums of reparations and have its resources exploited by the Allied powers. This was contrary to Anglo-American policy which targeted to restore status quo in Europe by helping Germany (and the rest of Europe) to recover economically. One of the major weakpoints of Yalta was that no specific agreements were reached concerning the two major problems. Germany, it was decided, should be divided into three zones a British, an American and a Russian whereby an additional French one would be cut out from the Anglo-American share. Similarly the capital, Berlin, would be parted into four sectors. Stalin furthermore urged for the reparations payments to be fixed at $20,000 million which Churchill opposed to, feeling it would leave Russia too strong economically. Not very efficiently tackling the problem, the proposed figure was left as a basis for future discussions. What the decisions meant in effect was that Germany would be geographically divided and the different policies of East and West would be stamped onto either zone or sector. The British, Americans and French would join to rebuild Germany economically for a united, stable Europe, while the Russians would cripple their partition by exploiting the resources they believed adequate to the agreed reparations. Even more, if problems would arise, then Berlin would be the main area of confrontation: it was geographically located inside the Soviet zone, but was under rule of four different sectors. This is precisely what happened during the Berlin Blockade. In March 1946, General Clay, in charge of the US sectors, withheld reparations as the Soviet Union refused to send in food supplies (as agreed at the Potsdam Conference). The forming of the Socialist Unity Party caused fear of the spread of communism onto Germany, while on the other hand the election of Ernst Reuter as Mayor by the whole of Berlin was not accepted by the Stalin due to his anti-Soviet remarks. The division between East and West centralised and reflected onto Germany. When the Americans and the British (and soon after the French too) integrated their zones economically, it was seen as a threat by the Soviets of an Anglo-American domination. After a secret meeting, where the Western Allies agreed on creating a unified West German state with a strong economy, they refused to report the outcome of the meeting to Marshal Sokolovsky, he walked out in protest during an Allied Control Council. The Allies were well aware that their economic plans to rebuild Germany would ultimately clash with Stalin s idea of exploiting German resources. The Russians introduced the blockade after the Western Allies introduced the new Deutsch-Mark as a currency in their sectors. Sokolovsky described it quite rightly as a,” breach of the Potsdam agreements,” where it had been settled that Germany would be treated as a single economic unit. The result was a serious period of tension, with East and West on the brink of war, and it all derived from the inability to reach concise decisions at Yalta concerning the reparations sums.
The other major area of importance was Poland. The “Atlantic Charter”, as described already, was the policy of the Western Allies. Ensuring that the Provisional Government, which had lived in exile in London during the war, would return to Poland and that free, secret suffrage could be held were the principle aims for the Americans and the British. To Stalin, however, Poland was more of strategic importance. Poland had always been the “corridor” for invasions of Russia and it meant for Stalin that she should remain friendly and loyal to the Soviets. As the Red Army had partially occupied Poland, it had already set up a government, known as the “Lublin Government”, which was basically a communist one. At Yalta, the difficult issue was settled by integrating both governments in a more democratic way; free elections would be held later. Soon after the agreements, however, the mixed government was overthrown and replaced by a completely communist one. The Polish example was not an exception: the entire Eastern European states that had been liberated by the Red Army (that excluded Yugoslavia) fell either by immediately creating a communist regime or by first creating a coalition government that was then overthrown by communists. While it could be argued that the communist parties in each country had acted on their own, the Red Army possessed enough power stop this process. The fact that this was not the case and that free elections were not held, all contrary to the Yalta agreements, can be blamed on Stalin. He was able to interrupt the processes yet did not. Although according to Stalin communism was the true form of democracy (it expressed the will of the people), the institutions and governments were in contrast to the “Atlantic Charter” as proposed at Yalta. This creation of the “Iron Curtain”, i.e. a border separating East from West, was a major source of tension for the Cold War and it, no doubt, was the result of Stalin adopting a policy contrary to Yalta, even if it was in the name of Soviet security.
It could, however, be argued that the events in Eastern Europe, i.e. the communist take-overs, where the result of Stalin adopting a counter-policy towards the “Truman Doctrine”. The US policy as defined by president Truman was essentially formed by “Kennan s Long Telegram” stating that it was Soviet intention to undermine Western policies and Churchill s “Iron Curtain Speech” which requested armed forces for the United Nations, demanded a right for democracy in every country and warned of Soviet expansion. To Stalin Churchill s speech and hence the “Truman Doctrine”, was a hostile attack on Russia, regarding it as, “a dangerous move, calculated to sow discord among the Allied states and to make co-operation difficult,” and that Churchill had in effect, “taken the position of a war-monger.” This was basically the revisionist view on the origins of the Cold War: Russia was not to blame for her desire for security. After all, the United States was economically stronger and possessed the A-bomb. There was no initial intention to sovietise Eastern Europe, but the American capitalist expansion was feared as an attempt to dominate Europe and a direct threat to the USSR and had to be countered. This was especially true when Truman announced in his doctrine to give economic aid to any country threatened by “totalitarian” regimes, clearly meaning Russia.
In a completely different area of the world there developed a new source of tension this time actually the cause of Stalin adopting a policy according to the Yalta agreement. At Yalta, Stalin agreed that war would be declared on Japan three months after Germany s defeat. This was done and resulted in a Soviet occupation of the northern part of Korea. Like Germany, Korea was now a division between capitalism and communism the Soviets installed a socialist government while the US placed a democratic system onto the southern part. Although the installation of a communist regime was once again a counter-action towards Yalta, Stalin did declare war on Japan. Despite the departure of both Soviet and US troops from the country in the summer of 1949, the two types of government were left behind. In June 1950, the North attacked the South and soon the Seoul, the capital was taken. US President Truman instantaneously ordered troops to Korea and proposed to the United Nations to do the same. Interestingly enough, the foundation of the United Nations was yet another agreement of Yalta. The organisation would, once the war was over, guarantee peace. The Allied powers, however, could use a “veto” to block any action taken by the United Nations. This meant that Stalin could have actually hindered the Korean War by use of the veto; yet, the Russian delegate was not present at the Security Council Meeting, in protest of the fact that the new “People s Republic of China” was not accepted as the official Chinese government.
It was shown that the decisions made at Yalta were very controversial. On one side they made no specific plans on the future of Germany and the reparations to be made by her. On the other, Stalin signed his agreement towards the principles of the “Atlantic Charter” and misinterpreted their idea of “democracy” and let communist regimes be installed contrary to the promises made. Furthermore, the encouraging of the USSR to join the war against Japan left its seeds in Korea creating a major area of tension during the Cold War. Nazi-Germany as a common enemy drew the Allies together and, as it can be seen, was the only mean of actually keeping intact this alliance. When, at Yalta, the outcome of the war had basically been decided and important post-war decisions could be made, the true intentions of both sides revealed. The rivalry between the superpowers was born long before, but the decisions at Yalta eventually created two blocs, East and West the main opponents during the Cold War.