, Research Paper
“We must build a new world, a far better world —
one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected.”
– President Harry S. Truman, 1945
The Cold War was the most important political issue of the early postwar period. It grew out of longstanding disagreements between the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1918 American troops participated in the Allied intervention in Russia on behalf of anti-Bolshevik forces. American diplomatic recognition of the Bolshevik regime did not come until 1933. Even then, suspicions persisted. During World War II, however, the two countries found themselves allied and thus ignored their differences to counter the Nazi threat.
At the war’s end, antagonisms surfaced again.
- Stalin does not keep promises from Yalta’s conference
- Expansionist vs. Revisionist Perspectives
- Containment & Kennan s famous Mr. X Article – Foreign Affairs 47
- The Truman Doctrine 47
- The Marshall Plan 47
- The National Security Act of 47
- “Iron Curtain”
- Dispute in Germany
- Divided into occupation zones after WWII
- Both nations begin to spread influence
- Establishment of NATO 49 &Warsaw Pact 55
The Cold War developed as differences about the shape of the post war world created suspicion and distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union. The first such conflict occurred over Poland. Moscow demanded a government subject to Soviet influence; Washington wanted a more independent, representative government following the Western model. The Yalta Conference of February 1945 had produced a wide-ranging agreement open to different interpretations. Among its provisions was the promise of “free and unfettered” elections in Poland.
Yalta revealed cracks in the Grand Alliance. Only the common objective of defeating Hitler had kept it together.
At his first meeting in the White House with Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov, Truman revealed his intention to stand firm on Polish self-determination, lecturing the Soviet diplomat about the need to carry out the Yalta accords. When Molotov protested, “I have never been talked to like that in my life”, Truman retorted, “Carry out your agreements and you won’t get talked to like that”. The Soviets now understood that the era of wartime collaboration was over. Washington officials realized that the new president would steer a course different that of his predecessor.
On the eve of Potsdam Conference, July the 16th 1945, an atomic bomb was successfully tested. Truman told Stalin that USA has a new weapon. Stalin new it was a nucler weapon of mass destruction. Whithin days, he had ordered Molotov to speed up the Soviet bomb project. This was the beginning for an Arms race, escalation of the weapon of mass destruction.
During the closing months of World War II, Soviet military forces occupied all of Central and Eastern Europe. Moscow used its military power to support the efforts of the communist parties in Eastern Europe and crush the democratic parties. Communist parties beholden to Moscow quickly expanded their power and influence in all countries of the region, culminating in the coup d’etat in Czechoslovakia in 1948.
Public statements defined the beginning of the Cold War. In 1946 Stalin declared that international peace was impossible “under the present capitalist development of the world economy.” Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister of Great Britain, delivered a dramatic speech in Fulton, Missouri, with Truman sitting on the platform during the address. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” Churchill said, “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” Britain and the United States, he declared, had to work together to counter the Soviet threat.
Devastated by the struggle in which 20 million Soviet citizens had died, the Soviet Union was intent on rebuilding and on protecting itself from another such terrible conflict. The Soviets were particularly concerned about another invasion of their territory from the west. The Soviet Union now demanded “defensible” borders and regimes sympathetic to its aims in Eastern Europe. But the United States had declared the restoration of independence and self-government to Poland, Czechoslovakia and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe one of its war aims.
Containment, Truman Doctrine, Marshal Plan
Mutual suspicion had long existed between the West and the USSR, and friction was sometimes manifest in the Grand Alliance during World War II. After the war the West felt threatened by the continued expansionist policy of the Soviet Union, and the traditional Russian fear of incursion from the West continued. Communists seized power in Eastern Europe with the support of the Red Army, the Russian occupation zones in Germany and Austria were sealed off by army patrols, and threats were directed against Turkey and Greece.
Containment of the Soviet Union became American policy in the post war years. George Kennan, a top official at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, defined the new approach in a long telegram he sent to the State Department in 1946. He extended his analysis after he returned home in an article published under the signature “X” in the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs. Pointing to Russia’s traditional sense of insecurity, Kennan argued that the Soviet Union would not soften its stance under any circumstances.
The first significant application of the containment doctrine came in the eastern Mediterranean. Great Britain had been supporting Greece, where communist forces threatened the ruling monarchy in a civil war, and Turkey, where the Soviet Union pressed for territorial concessions and the right to build naval bases on the Bosporus. In 1947 Britain told the United States that it could no longer afford such aid. Quickly, the U.S. State Department devised a plan for U.S. assistance. But support for a new interventionist policy, Senate leaders such as Arthur Vandenberg told Truman, was only possible if he was willing to start “scaring the hell out of the country.”
Truman was prepared to do so. In a statement that came to be known as the Truman Doctrine, he declared, “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” To that end he asked Congress to provide $400 million for economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey, and the money was appropriated.
Containment also called for extensive economic aid to assist the recovery of war-torn Western Europe. With many of the region’s nations economically and politically unstable, the United States feared that local communist parties, directed by Moscow, would capitalize on their wartime record of resistance to the Nazis and come to power. In mid-1947 Secretary of State George Marshall asked troubled European nations to draw up a program “directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.” The Soviets participated in the first planning meeting, then departed rather than share economic data on their resources and problems, and submit to Western controls on the expenditure of the aid. The remaining 16 nations hammered out a request that finally came to $17 thousand million for a four-year period. In early 1948 Congress voted to assist European economic recovery, dubbed the “Marshall Plan.
On July 25, 1945, two months after Germany had surrendered, the Big Three — Churchill, Stalin and Truman — met at Potsdam in order to discuss the fate of Germany. By 1945, Stalin was the veteran revolutionary, a man who had held the reins of Soviet power and authority for nearly twenty years. Harry Truman, on the other hand, had been President barely three months. The crucial issue at Potsdam, as it had been at Versailles in 1918 and 1919, was reparations. The Soviet Union, as to be expected, wanted to rebuild their near-destroyed economy using German industry. The United States feared it would have to pay the whole cost of rebuilding Germany, which in turn would help rebuild the Soviet Union. So, after all the discussions had ended, a compromise was reached and Germany was to be partitioned into four occupied zones. Britain, France and the United States would occupy parts of western Germany while the Soviet Union would occupy east Germany.
By 1946, the United States and Britain were making every effort to unify all of Germany under western rule.
Parish conference of April 1946 and Peace conference since July 29 – October 15 1946 were devoted to the solution of the German problem. Just before the conference was opened, the United States detonated two atom bombs in the Pacific, still enjoing atomic monopoly. The conference did not succeeded in bringing West and East together. The Big Four were to meet again and again, but the strains of the developing Cold War prevented finalisation of any comprehensive postwar treaty. On 1st of January 1947 Britain and USA united thier zones into one common. Situation became even worse because of the direct aid from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania to Greek communist partisan movement. Also the USSR exerted pressure upon Turkey in order to control the straights in order not to allow hostile governments to use them. USA sent a large army of navy in that region. Parish and London supported USA. USSR had to retreat.
The Soviet Union responded by consolidating its grip on Europe by creating satellite states in 1946 and 1947. One by one, communist governments, loyal to Moscow, were set up in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Stalin used Soviet communism to dominate half of Europe.
Post war Germany was divided into U.S., Soviet, British and French zones of occupation, with the former German capital of Berlin (itself divided into four zones), near the centre of the Soviet zone. The United States, Britain and France had discussed converting their zones into a single, self-governing republic. But the Soviet Union opposed plans to unite Germany and ministerial-level four-power discussions on Germany broke down. When the Western powers announced their intention to create a consolidated federal state from their zones, Stalin responded. On June 23, 1948, Soviet forces blockaded Berlin, cutting off all road and rail access from the West.
American leaders feared that losing Berlin was but a prelude to losing Germany and subsequently all of Europe. Therefore, in a successful demonstration of Western resolve known as the Berlin Airlift, Allied air forces took to the sky, flying supplies into Berlin. U.S., French and British planes delivered nearly 2,250,000 tons of goods, including food and coal. Stalin lifted the blockade after 231 days and 277,264 flights.
Throughout 1946-47 tension grew. Soviet Union did not fullfill any promice given. For the West answer was simple: Soviet Union constitutes a real menace to freedom in this world; freedom in Europe; freedom in US. So we must be prepared for it.
The climax came in March 1948. A communist coup in Czechoslovakia overthrew a democratic government and the Soviet Union gained a foothold in central Europe.
Given the experience of World War Two itself, this division of Europe was perhaps inevitable. Both sides wanted their values and economic and political systems to prevail in areas which their soldiers had helped to liberate. If both sides had accepted these new spheres of influence, a cold war might never have occurred. But the nations of western Europe and the United States still had Hitler on their minds and they soon began to see Stalin as a similar threat.
Soviet domination of Eastern Europe alarmed the West. The United States led the effort to create a military alliance to complement economic efforts at containment. In 1949 the United States and 11 other countries established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance based on the principle of collective security. An attack against one was to be considered an attack against all, to be met by appropriate force.
So why did the Cold War started after the WWII?
After the war allies were strong, and had destructive weapon. It was clear that a new war would be too expensive. Nevertheless, the wish to exterminate the opponent did not disappear. The strong USSR trying to spread communism all over the world was an unpleasant surprise for the West.
Allied forces saw that half of the Europe is under the influence of Soviets, with communists regime appearing very fast is not in harmony with the democracy. Secondly, a strong anti-colonial movement appeared reaching the hand of the USSR support. Thirdly, the world was polarised into a two polar world. One regime against aother. Fourthly, the world stage received two superpowers, whose economic-military power gave a significant advantage over the others. In addition to that, countries of the West start to feel interests of the USSR in different parts of the world. That new state of the world which was created after the WWII, Churchill saw first and called the Cold War.
Jeremy Isaacs & Taylor Downing Cold War
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