Äèïëîì: Cold War
Äèïëîì: Cold War
Ministry of education, science and culture
High College of English
U.S. - Soviet relations.
Student: Pavlunina I.V.
Supervisor: Kolpakov A. V.
Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War. 5
1.1 The Historical Context.
1.2 Causes and Interpretations.
Chapter 2: The Cold War Chronology.
2.1 The War Years.
2.2 The Truman Doctrine.
2.3 The Marshall Plan.
Chapter 3: The Role of Cold War in American History and Diplomacy. 37
3.1 Declaration of the Cold War.
3.2 Ñold War Issues.
The reference list.
This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period.
Our purpose is to find out the causes of this war, positions of the countries
which took part in it. We also will discuss the main Cold War's events.
The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion and
misunderstanding by both the United States and Soviet Union, and their
allies. At times, these conditions increased the likelihood of the third
world war. The United States accused the USSR of seeking to expand Communism
throughout the world. The Soviets, meanwhile, charged the United States with
practicing imperialism and with attempting to stop revolutionary activity in
other countries. Each block's vision of the world contributed to East-West
tension. The United States wanted a world of independent nations based on
democratic principles. The Soviet Union, however, tried control areas it
considered vital to its national interest, including much of Eastern Europe.
Through the Cold War did not begin until the end of World War II, in 1945,
U.S.-Soviet relations had been strained since 1917. In that year, a
revolution in Russia established a Communist dictatorship there. During the
1920's and 1930's, the Soviets called for world revolution and the
destruction of capitalism, the economic system of United States. The United
States did not grant diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union until 1933.
In 1941, during World War II, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The Soviet
Union then joined the Western Allies in fighting Germany. For a time early in
1945, it seemed possible that a lasting friendship might develop between the
United States and Soviet Union based on their wartime cooperation. However,
major differences continued to exist between the two, particularly with
regard to Eastern Europe. As a result of these differences, the United States
adopted a "get tough" policy toward the Soviet Union after the war ended.
The Soviets responded by accusing the United States and the other capitalist
allies of the West of seeking to encircle the Soviet Union so they could
eventually overthrow its Communist form of government.
The subject of Cold War interests American historicans and journalists as
well as Russian ones. In particular, famous journalist Henryh Borovik fraces
this topic in his book. He analyzes the events of Cold War from the point of
view of modern Russian man. With appearing of democracy and freedom of speech
we could free ourselves from past stereotype in perception of Cold War's
events as well as America as a whole, we also learnt something new about
American people's real life and personality. A new developing stage of
relations with the United States has begun with the collapse of the Soviet
Union on independent states. And in order to direct these relations in the
right way it is necessary to study events of Cold War very carefully and try
to avoid past mistakes. Therefore this subject is so much popular in our
This graduation paper consist of three chapters. The first chapter maintain
the historical documents which comment the origins of the Cold War.
The second chapter maintain information about the most popular Cold War's
The third chapter analyze the role of Cold War in World policy and diplomacy.
The chapter also adduce the Cold War issues.
Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War.
1.1 The Historical Context.
The animosity of postwar Soviet-American relations drew on a deep reservoir
of mutual distrust. Soviet suspicion of the United States went back to
America's hostile reaction to the Bolshevik revolution itself. At the end of
World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had sent more than ten thousand
American soldiers as part of an expeditionary allied force to overthrow the
new Soviet regime by force. When that venture failed, the United States
nevertheless withheld its recognition of the Soviet government. Back in the
United States, meanwhile, the fear of Marxist radicalism reached an
hysterical pitch with the Red Scare of 1919-20. Attorney General A. Mitchell
Palmer ordered government agents to arrest 3,000 purported members of the
Communist party, and then attempted to deport them. American attitudes toward
the seemed encapsulated in the comments of one minister who called for the
removal of communists in "ships of stone with sails of lead, with the wrath
of God for a breeze and with hell for their first port."
American attitudes toward the Soviet Union, in turn, reflected profound
concern about Soviet violation of human rights, democratic procedures, and
international rules of civility. With brutal force, Soviet leaders had
imposed from above a revolution of agricultural collectivization and
industrialization. Millions had died as a consequence of forced removal from
their lands. Anyone who protested was killed or sent to one of the hundreds
of prison camps which, in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's words, stretched across
the Soviet Union like a giant archipelago. What kind of people were these,
one relative of a prisoner asked, "who first decreed and then carried out
this mass destruction of their own kind?" Furthermore, Soviet foreign policy
seemed committed to the spread of revolution to other countries, with
international coordination of subversive activities placed in the hands of
the Comintern. It was difficult to imagine two more different societies.
For a brief period after the United States granted diplomatic recognition to
the Soviet Union in 1933, a new spirit of cooperation prevailed. But by the
end of the 1930s suspicion and alienation had once again become dominant.
From a Soviet perspective, the United States seemed unwilling to join
collectively to oppose the Japanese and German menace. On two occasions, the
United States had refused to act in concert against Nazi Germany. When
Britain and France agreed at Munich to appease Adolph Hitler, the Soviets
gave up on any possibility of allied action against Germany and talked of a
capitalist effort to encircle and destroy the Soviet regime.
Yet from a Western perspective, there seemed little basis for distinguishing
between Soviet tyranny and Nazi totalitarianism. Between 1936 and 1938 Stalin
engaged in his own holocaust, sending up to 6 million Soviet citizens to
their deaths in massive purge trials. Stalin "saw enemies everywhere," his
daughter later recalled, and with a vengeance frightening in its
irrationality, sought to destroy them. It was an "orgy of terror," one
historian said. Diplomats saw high officials tapped on the shoulder in public
places, removed from circulation, and then executed. Foreigners were subject
to constant surveillance. It was as if, George Kennan noted, outsiders were
representatives of "the devil, evil and dangerous, and to be shunned."
On the basis of such experience, many Westerners concluded that Hitler and
Stalin were two of a kind, each reflecting a blood-thirsty obsession with
power no matter what the cost to human decency. "Nations, like individuals,"
Kennan said in 1938, "are largely the products of their environment." As
Kennan perceived it, the Soviet personality was neurotic, conspiratorial, and
untrustworthy. Such impressions were only reinforced when Stalin suddenly
announced a nonaggression treaty with Hitler in August 1939, and later that
year invaded the small, neutral state of Finland. It seemed that Stalin and
Hitler deserved each other. Hence, the reluctance of some to change their
attitudes toward the Soviet Union when suddenly, in June 1941, Germany
invaded Russia and Stalin became "Uncle Joe."
Compounding the problem of historical distrust was the different way in which
the two nations viewed foreign policy. Ever since John Winthrop had spoken of
Boston in 1630 as "a city upon a hill" that would serve as a beacon for the
world, Americans had tended to see themselves as a chosen people with a
distinctive mission to impart their faith and values to the rest of
humankind. Although all countries attempt to put the best face possible on
their military and diplomatic actions, Americans have seemed more committed
than most to describing their involvement in the world as pure and
altruistic. Hence, even ventures like the Mexican War of 1846 - 48 - clearly
provoked by the United States in an effort to secure huge land masses - were
defended publicly as the fulfillment of a divine mission to extend American
democracy to those deprived of it.
Reliance on the rhetoric of moralism was never more present than during
America's involvement in World War I. Despite its official posture of
neutrality, the United States had a vested interest in the victory of England
and France over Germany. America's own military security, her trade lines
with England and France, economic and political control over Latin America
and South America - all would best be preserved if Germany were defeated.
Moreover, American banks and munition makers had invested millions of dollars
in the allied cause. Nevertheless, the issue of national self-interest rarely
if ever surfaced in any presidential statement during the war. Instead, U.S.
rhetoric presented America's position as totally idealistic in nature. The
United States entered the war, President Wilson declared, not for reasons of
economic self-interest, but to "make the world safe for democracy." Our
purpose was not to restore a balance of power in Europe, but to fight a war
that would "end all wars" and produce "a peace without victory." Rather than
seek a sphere of influence for American power, the United States instead
declared that it sought to establish a new form of internationalism based on
self-determination for all peoples, freedom of the seas, the end of all
economic barriers between nations, and development of a new international
order based on the principles of democracy.
America's historic reluctance to use arguments of self-interest as a basis
for foreign policy undoubtedly reflected a belief that, in a democracy,
people would not support foreign ventures inconsistent with their own sense
of themselves as a noble and just country. But the consequences were to
limit severely the flexibility necessary to a multifaceted and effective
diplomacy, and to force national leaders to invoke moral - even religious -
idealism as a basis for actions that might well fall short of the
expectations generated by moralistic visions.
The Soviet Union, by contrast, operated with few such constraints. Although
Soviet pronouncements on foreign policy tediously invoked the rhetoric of
capitalist imperialism, abstract principles meant far less than national
self-interest in arriving at foreign policy positions. Every action that the
Soviet Union had taken since the Bolshevik revolution, from the peace treaty
with the Kaiser to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact and Russian occupation of the
Baltic states reflected this policy of self-interest. As Stalin told British
Foreign Minister Anthony Eden during the war, "a declaration I regard as
algebra ... I prefer practical arithmetic." Or, as the Japanese ambassador to
Moscow later said, "the Soviet authorities are extremely realistic and it is
most difficult to persuade them with abstract arguments." Clearly, both the
United States and the Soviet Union saw foreign policy as involving a
combination of self-interest and ideological principle. Yet the history of
the two countries suggested that principle was far more a consideration in
the formulation of American foreign policy, while self-interest-purely
defined-controlled Soviet actions.
The difference became relevant during the 1930s as Franklin Roosevelt
attempted to find some way to move American public opinion back to a spirit
of internationalism. After World War I, Americans had felt betrayed by the
abandonment of Wilsonian principles. Persuaded that the war itself
represented a mischievous conspiracy by munitions makers and bankers to get
America involved, Americans had preferred to opt for isolation and "normalcy"
rather than participate in the ambiguities of what so clearly appeared to be
a corrupt international order. Now, Roosevelt set out to reverse those
perceptions. He understood the dire consequences of Nazi ambitions for world
hegemony. Yet to pose the issue strictly as one of self-interest offered
little chance of success given the depth of America's revulsion toward
internationalism. The task of education was immense. As time went on,
Roosevelt relied more and more on the traditional moral rhetoric of American
values as a means of justifying the international involvement that he knew
must inevitably lead to war. Thus, throughout the 1930s he repeatedly
discussed Nazi aggression as a direct threat to the most cherished American
beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of
occupational choice. When German actions corroborated the president's simple
words, the opportunity presented itself for carrying the nation toward
another great crusade on behalf of democracy, freedom, and peace. Roosevelt
wished to avoid the errors of Wilsonian overstatement, but he understood the
necessity of generating moral fervor as a means of moving the nation toward
the intervention he knew to be necessary if both America's self-interest-and
her moral principles-were to be preserved.
The Atlantic Charter represented the embodiment of Roosevelt's quest for
moral justification of American involvement. Presented to the world after the
president and Prime Minister Churchill met off the coast of Newfoundland in
the summer of 1941, the Charter set forth the common goals that would guide
America over the next few years. There would be no secret commitments, the
President said. Britain and America sought no territorial aggrandizement.
They would oppose any violation of the right to self-government for all
peoples. They stood for open trade, free exchange of ideas, freedom of
worship and expression, and the creation of an international organization to
preserve and protect future peace. This would be a war fought for
freedom—freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of religion, freedom
from the old politics of balance-of-power diplomacy.
Roosevelt deeply believed in those ideals and saw no inconsistency between
the moral principles they represented and American self-interest. Yet these
very commitments threatened to generate misunderstanding and conflict with
the Soviet Union whose own priorities were much more directly expressed in
terms of "practical arithmetic." Russia wanted security. The Soviet Union
sought a sphere of influence over which it could have unrestricted control.
It wished territorial boundaries that would reflect the concessions won
through military conflict. All these objectives-potentially-ran counter to
the Atlantic Charter. Roosevelt himself-never afraid of inconsistency-often
talked the same language. Frequently, he spoke of guaranteeing the USSR
"measures of legitimate security" on territorial questions, and he envisioned
a postwar world in which the "four policemen"-the superpowers-would manage
But Roosevelt also understood that the American public would not accept the
public embrace of such positions. A rationale of narrow self-interest was not
acceptable, especially if that self-interest led to abandoning the ideals of
the Atlantic Charter. In short, the different ways in which the Soviet Union
and the United States articulated their objectives for the war—and formulated
their foreign policy—threatened to compromise the prospect for long-term
cooperation. The language of universalism and the language of balance-of-
power politics were incompatible, at least in theory. Thus, the United States
and the Soviet Union entered the war burdened not only by their deep mistrust
of each other's motivations and systems of government, but also by a
significantly different emphasis on what should constitute the major
rationale for fighting the war.
1.2 Causes and Interpretations.
Any historian who studies the Cold War must come to grips with a series of
questions, which, even if unanswerable in a definitive fashion, nevertheless
compel examination. Was the Cold War inevitable? If not, how could it have
been avoided? What role did personalities play? Were there points at which
different courses of action might have been followed? What economic factors
were central? What ideological causes? Which historical forces? At what
juncture did alternative possibilities become invalid? When was the die cast?
Above all, what were the primary reasons for defining the world in such a
polarized and ideological framework?
The simplest and easiest response is to conclude that Soviet-American
confrontation was so deeply rooted in differences of values, economic
systems, or historical experiences that only extraordinary action— by
individuals or groups—could have prevented the conflict. One version of the
inevitability hypothesis would argue that the Soviet Union, given its
commitment to the ideology of communism, was dedicated to worldwide
revolution and would use any and every means possible to promote the demise
of the West. According to this view—based in large part on the rhetoric of
Stalin and Lenin—world revolution constituted the sole priority of Soviet
policy. Even the appearance of accommodation was a Soviet design to soften up
capitalist states for eventual confrontation. As defined, admittedly in
oversimplified fashion, by George Kennan in his famous 1947 article on
containment, Russian diplomacy "moves along the prescribed path, like a
persistent toy automobile, wound up and headed in a given direction, stopping
only when it meets some unanswerable force." Soviet subservience to a
universal, religious creed ruled out even the possibility of mutual
concessions, since even temporary accommodation would be used by the Russians
as part of their grand scheme to secure world domination.
A second version of the same hypothesis—argued by some American revisionist
historians—contends that the endless demands of capitalism for new markets
propelled the United States into a course of intervention and imperialism.
According to this argument, a capitalist society can survive only by opening
new areas for exploitation. Without the development of multinational
corporations, strong ties with German capitalists, and free trade across
national boundaries, America would revert to the depression of the prewar
years. Hence, an aggressive internationalism became the only means through
which the ruling class of the United States could retain hegemony. In support
of this argument, historians point to the number of American policymakers who
explicitly articulated an economic motivation for U.S. foreign policy. "We
cannot expect domestic prosperity under our system," Assistant Secretary of
State Dean Acheson said, "without a constantly expanding trade with other
nations." Echoing the same theme, the State Department's William Clayton
declared: "We need markets—big markets—around the world in which to buy and
sell. . . . We've got to export three times as much as we exported just
before the war if we want to keep our industry running somewhere near
capacity." According to this argument, economic necessity motivated the
Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the vigorous efforts of U.S.
policymakers to open up Eastern Europe for trade and investment. Within such
a frame of reference, it was the capitalist economic system—not Soviet
commitment to world revolution—that made the Cold War unavoidable.
Still a third version of the inevitability hypothesis—partly based on the
first two—would insist that historical differences between the two
superpowers and their systems of government made any efforts toward postwar
cooperation almost impossible. Russia had always been deeply suspicious of
the West, and under Stalin that suspicion had escalated into paranoia, with
Soviet leaders fearing that any opening of channels would ultimately destroy
their own ability to retain total mastery over the Russian people. The West's
failure to implement early promises of a second front and the subsequent
divisions of opinion over how to treat occupied territory had profoundly
strained any possible basis of trust. From an American perspective, in turn,
it stretched credibility to expect a nation committed to human rights to
place confidence in a ruthless dictator, who in one Yugoslav's words, had
single-handedly been responsible for more Soviet deaths than all the armies
of Nazi Germany. Through the purges, collectivization, and mass imprisonment
of Russian citizens, Stalin had presided over the killing of 20 million of
his own people. How then could he be trusted to respect the rights of others?
According to this argument, only the presence of a common enemy had made
possible even short-term solidarity between Russia and the United States; in
the absence of a German foe, natural antagonisms were bound to surface.
America had one system of politics, Russia another, and as Truman declared in
1948, "a totalitarian state is no different whether you call it Nazi,
fascist, communist, or Franco Spain."
Yet, in retrospect, these arguments for inevitability tell only part of the
story. Notwithstanding the Soviet Union's rhetorical commitment to an
ideology of world revolution, there is abundant evidence of Russia's
willingness to forego ideological purity in the cause of national interest.
Stalin, after all, had turned away from world revolution in committing
himself to building "socialism in one country." Repeatedly, he indicated his
readiness to betray the communist movement in China and to accept the
leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. George Kennan recalled the Soviet leader
"snorting rather contemptuously . . . because one of our people asked them
what they were going to give to China when [the war] was over." "We have a
hundred cities of our own to build in the Soviet Far East," Stalin had
responded. "If anybody is going to give anything to the Far East, I think
it's you." Similarly, Stalin refused to give any support to communists in
Greece during their rebellion against British domination there. As late as
1948 he told the vice-premier of Yugoslavia, "What do you think, . . . that
Great Britain and the United States . . . will permit you to break their
lines of communication in the Mediterranean? Nonsense . . . the uprising in
Greece must be stopped, and as quickly as possible."
Nor are the other arguments for inevitability totally persuasive. Without
question, America's desire for commercial markets played a role in the
strategy of the Cold War. As Truman said in 1949, devotion to freedom of
enterprise "is part and parcel of what we call America." Yet was the need for
markets sufficient to force a confrontation that ultimately would divert
precious resources from other, more productive use? Throughout most of its
history, Wall Street has opposed a bellicose position in foreign policy.
Similarly, although historical differences are important, it makes no sense
to regard them as determinative. After all, the war led to extraordinary
examples of cooperation that bridged these differences; if they could be
overcome once, then why not again? Thus, while each of the arguments for
inevitability reflects truths that contributed to the Cold War, none offers
an explanation sufficient of itself, for contending that the Cold War was
A stronger case, it seems, can be made for the position that the Cold War was
unnecessary, or at least that conflicts could have been handled in a manner
that avoided bipolarization and the rhetoric of an ideological crusade. At no
time did Russia constitute a military threat to the United States.
"Economically," U.S. Naval Intelligence reported in 1946, "the Soviet Union is
exhausted.... The USSR is not expected to take any action in the next five
years which might develop into hostility with Anglo Americans." Notwithstanding
the Truman administration's public statements about a Soviet threat, Russia
had cut its army from 11.5 to 3 million men after the war. In 1948, its
military budget amounted to only half of that of the United States. Even
militant anticommunists like John Foster Dulles acknowledged that "the Soviet
leadership does not want and would not consciously risk" a military
confrontation with the West. Indeed, so exaggerated was American rhetoric about
Russia's threat that Hanson Baldwin, military expert of the New York Times,
compared the claims of our armed forces to the "shepherd who cried wolf, wolf,
wolf, when there was no wolf." Thus, on purely factual grounds, there existed
no military basis for the fear that the Soviet Union was about to seize world
domination, despite the often belligerent pose Russia took on political issues.
A second, somewhat more problematic, argument for the thesis of avoidability
consists of the extent to which Russian leaders appeared ready to abide by at
least some agreements made during the war. Key, here, is the understanding
reached by Stalin and Churchill during the fall of 1944 on the division of
Europe into spheres of influence. According to that understanding, Russia was
to dominate Romania, have a powerful voice over Bulgaria, and share influence
in other Eastern European countries, while Britain and America were to
control Greece. By most accounts, that understanding was implemented. Russia
refused to intervene on behalf of communist insurgency in Greece. While
retaining rigid control over Romania, she provided at least a "fig-leaf of
democratic procedure"—sufficient to satisfy the British. For two years the
USSR permitted the election of noncommunist or coalition regimes in both
Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Finns, meanwhile, were permitted to choose a
noncommunist government and to practice Western-style democracy as long as
their country maintained a friendly foreign policy toward their neighbor on
the east. Indeed, to this day, Finland remains an example of what might have
evolved had earlier wartime understandings on both sides been allowed to
What then went wrong? First, it seems clear that both sides perceived the other
as breaking agreements that they thought had been made. By signing a separate
peace settlement with the Lublin Poles, imprisoning the sixteen members of the
Polish underground, and imposing—without regard for democratic
appearances—total hegemony on Poland, the Soviets had broken the spirit, if not
the letter, of the Yalta accords. Similarly, they blatantly violated the
agreement made by both powers to withdraw from Iran once the war was over, thus
precipitating the first direct threat of military confrontation during the Cold
War. In their attitude toward Eastern Europe, reparations, and peaceful
cooperation with the West, the Soviets exhibited increasing rigidity and
suspicion after April 1945. On the other hand, Stalin had good reason to accuse
the United States of reneging on compacts made during the war. After at least
tacitly accepting Russia's right to a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe,
the West seemed suddenly to change positions and insist on Western-style
democracies and economies. As the historian Robert Daliek has shown, Roosevelt
and Churchill gave every indication at Tehran and Yalta that they acknowledged
the Soviet's need to have friendly governments in Eastern Europe. Roosevelt
seemed to care primarily about securing token or cosmetic concessions toward
democratic processes while accepting the substance of Russian
domination. Instead, misunderstanding developed over the meaning of the Yalta
accords, Truman confronted Molotov with demands that the Soviets saw as
inconsistent with prior understandings, and mutual suspicion rather than
cooperation assumed dominance in relations between the two superpowers.
It is this area of misperception and misunderstanding that historians have
focused on recently as most critical to the emergence of the Cold War.
Presumably, neither side had a master plan of how to proceed once the war
ended. Stalin's ambitions, according to recent scholarship, were ill-defined,
or at least amenable to modification depending on America's posture. The
United States, in turn, gave mixed signals, with Roosevelt implying to every
group his agreement with their point of view, yet ultimately keeping his
personal intentions secret. If, in fact, both sides could have agreed to a
sphere-of-influence policy—albeit with some modifications to satisfy American
political opinion—there could perhaps have been a foundation for continued
accommodation. Clearly, the United States intended to retain control over its
sphere of influence, particularly in Greece, Italy, and Turkey. Moreover, the
United States insisted on retaining total domination over the Western
hemisphere, consistent with the philosophy of the Monroe Doctrine. If the
Soviets had been allowed similar control over their sphere of influence in
Eastern Europe, there might have existed a basis for compromise. As John
McCloy asked at the time, "[why was it necessary] to have our cake and eat it
too? . . . To be free to operate under this regional arrangement in South
America and at the same time intervene promptly in Europe." If the United
States and Russia had both acknowledged the spheres of influence implicit in
their wartime agreements, perhaps a different pattern of relationships might
have emerged in the postwar world.
The fact that such a pattern did not emerge raises two issues, at least from
an American perspective. The first is whether different leaders or advisors
might have achieved different foreign policy results. Some historians believe
that Roosevelt, with his subtlety and skill, would have found a way to
promote collaboration with the Russians, whereas Truman, with his short
temper, inexperience, and insecurity, blundered into unnecessary and harmful
confrontations. Clearly, Roosevelt himself—just before his death—was
becoming more and more concerned about Soviet intransigence and aggression.
Nevertheless, he had always believed that through personal pressure and
influence, he could find a way to persaude "uncle Joe." On the basis of what
evidence we have, there seems good reason to believe that the Russians did
place enormous trust in FDR. Perhaps—just perhaps—Roosevelt could have found
a way to talk "practical arithmetic" with Stalin rather than algebra and
discover a common ground. Certainly, if recent historians are correct in
seeing the Cold War as caused by both Stalin's undefined ambitions and
America's failure to communicate effectively and consistently its view on
where it would draw the line with the Russians, then Roosevelt's long history
of interaction with the Soviets would presumably have placed him in a better
position to negotiate than the inexperienced Truman.
The second issue is more complicated, speaking to a political problem which
beset both Roosevelt and Truman—namely, the ability of an American president
to formulate and win support for a foreign policy on the basis of national
self-interest rather than moral purity. At some point in the past, an
American diplomat wrote in 1967:
[T]here crept into the ideas of Americans about foreign policy ... a
histrionic note, ... a desire to appear as something greater perhaps than one
actually was. ... It was inconceivable that any war in which we were involved
could be less than momentous and decisive for the future of humanity. ... As
each war ended, ... we took appeal to universalistic, Utopian ideals, related
not to the specifics of national interest but to legalistic and moralistic
concepts that seemed better to accord with the pretentious significance we
had attached to our war effort.
As a consequence, the diplomat went on, it became difficult to pursue a
policy not defined by the language of "angels or devils," "heroes" or
Clearly, Roosevelt faced such a dilemma in proceeding to mobilize American
support for intervention in the war against Nazism. And Truman encountered
the same difficulty in seeking to define a policy with which to meet Soviet
postwar objectives. Both presidents, of course, participated in and reflected
the political culture that constrained their options. Potentially at least,
Roosevelt seemed intent on fudging the difference between self-interest and
moralism. He perceived one set of objectives as consistent with reaching an
accommodation with the Soviets, and another set of goals as consistent with
retaining popular support for his diplomacy at home. It is difficult to avoid
the conclusion that he planned—in a very Machiavellian way—to use rhetoric
and appearances as a means of disguising his true intention: to pursue a
strategy of self-interest. It seems less clear that Truman had either the
subtlety or the wish to follow a similarly Machiavellian course. But if he
had, the way might have been opened to quite a different—albeit politically
risky— series of policies.
None of this, of course, would have guaranteed the absence of conflict in
Eastern Europe, Iran, or Turkey. Nor could any action of an American
president—however much rooted in self-interest—have obviated the personal and
political threat posed by Stalinist tyranny and ruthlessness, particularly if
Stalin himself had chosen, for whatever reason, to act out his most
aggressive and paranoid instincts. But if a sphere-of-influence agreement had
been possible, there is some reason to think—in light of initial Soviet
acceptance of Western-style governments in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and
Finland—that the iron curtain might not have descended in the way that it
did. In all historical sequences, one action builds on another. Thus, steps
toward cooperation rather than confrontation might have created a momentum, a
frame of reference and a basis of mutual trust, that could have made
unnecessary the total ideological bipolarization that evolved by 1948. In
short, if the primary goals of each superpower had been acknowledged and
implemented—security for the Russians, some measure of pluralism in Eastern
European countries for the United States, and economic interchange between
the two blocs—it seems conceivable that the world might have avoided the
stupidity, the fear, and the hysteria of the Cold War.
As it was, of course, very little of the above scenario did take place. After
the confrontation in Iran, the Soviet declaration of a five-year plan,
Churchill's Fulton, Missouri, speech, and the breakdown of negotiations on an
American loan, confrontation between the two superpowers seemed irrevocable.
It is difficult to imagine that the momentum building toward the Cold War
could have been reversed after the winter and spring of 1946. Thereafter,
events assumed an almost inexorable momentum, with both sides using
moralistic rhetoric and ideological denunciation to pillory the other. In the
United States it became incumbent on the president—in order to secure
domestic political support—to defend the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall
Plan in universalistic, moral terms. Thus, we became engaged, not in an
effort to assure jobs and security, but in a holy war against evil. Stalin,
in turn, gave full vent to his crusade to eliminate any vestige of free
thought or national independence in Eastern Europe. Reinhold Niebuhr might
have been speaking for both sides when he said in 1948, "we cannot afford any
more compromises. We will have to stand at every point in our far flung
The tragedy, of course, was that such a policy offered no room for
intelligence or flexibility. If the battle in the world was between good and
evil, believers and nonbelievers, anyone who questioned the wisdom of
established policy risked dismissal as a traitor or worse. In the Soviet
Union the Gulag Archipelago of concentration camps and executions was the
price of failing to conform to the party line. But the United States paid a
price as well. An ideological frame of reference had emerged through which
all other information was filtered. The mentality of the Cold War shaped
everything, defining issues according to moralistic assumptions, regardless
of objective reality. It had been George Kennan's telegram in February 1946
that helped to provide the intellectual basis for this frame of reference by
portraying the Soviet Union as "a political force committed fanatically" to
confrontation with the United States and domination of the world. It was also
George Kennan twenty years later who so searchingly criticized those who
insisted on seeing foreign policy as a battle of angels and devils, heroes
and blackguards. And ironically, it was Kennan yet again who declared in the
1970s that "the image of a Stalinist Russia, poised and yearning to attack
the west, . . . was largely a product of the western imagination."
But for more than a generation, that image would shape American life and
world politics. The price was astronomical—and perhaps— avoidable.
Chapter 2: The Cold War Chronology.
2.1 The War Years.
Whatever tensions existed before the war, conflicts over military and
diplomatic issues during the war proved sufficiently grave to cause
additional mistrust. Two countries that in the past had shared almost no
common ground now found themselves intimately tied to each other, with little
foundation of mutual confidence on which to build. The problems that resulted
clustered in two areas: (1) how much aid the West would provide to alleviate
the disproportionate burden borne by the Soviet Union in fighting the war;
and (2) how to resolve the dilemmas of making peace, occupying conquered
territory, and defining postwar responsibilities. Inevitably, each issue
became inextricably bound to the others, posing problems of statecraft and
good faith that perhaps went beyond the capacity of any mortal to solve.
The central issue dividing the allies involved how much support the United
States and Britain would offer to mitigate, then relieve, the devastation
being sustained by the Soviet people. Stated bluntly, the Soviet Union bore
the massive share of Nazi aggression. The statistics alone are overwhelming.
Soviet deaths totaled more than 18 million during the war—sixty times the
three hundred thousand lives lost by the United States. Seventy thousand
Soviet villages were destroyed, $128 billion dollars worth of property
leveled to the ground. Leningrad, the crown jewel of Russia's cities,
symbolized the suffering experienced at the hands of the Nazis. Filled with
art and beautiful architecture, the former capital of Russia came under siege
by German armies almost immediately after the invasion of the Soviet Union.
When the attack began, the city boasted a population of 3 million citizens.
At the end, only 600,000 remained. There was no food, no fuel, no hope. More
than a million starved, and some survived by resorting to cannibalism. Yet
the city endured, the Nazis were repelled, and the victory that came with
survival helped launch the campaign that would ultimately crush Hitler's
Such suffering provided the backdrop for a bitter controversy over whether
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