Who is to blame for the Cold War?

September 10, 2017 September 1st, 2019 Free Essays Online for College Students

The USA and Russia as allies achieved and celebrated victory in European part of WWII in May 1945. But as enemies, they effected and determined the events in the world in the following 41 years. Those 41 years was the time of the Cold War. It was the time when war between the two ‘superpowers’ was close to reality, when there was extreme tension between the dictator of USSR and the president of USA. It is uncertain when the Cold War started, but how much degree was Communist Russia and Capitalist America was to blame can be concluded by determining which country created more tension.

The difference between communism and capitalism in terms of how their country is run involves elections, industry and individual rights. In a communist country, there is freedom of election but all candidates must be communist unlike a capitalist country. The industry in a communist country is state owned while capitalist is private. In capitalism, everyone being equal is not as important than being free from government control, which in communism is opposite. Because of the difference of beliefs, war between the USA and USSR seemed inevitable. But even before the Cold War such as in the 1920’s, they had these beliefs and were not in the tense state like the Cold War. So the differing beliefs doesn’t entirely explain the cause nor does it determine the degree of blame.

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After the allied victory in Europe in WWII seemed close, the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin) met at Yalta to plan what shall happen to Europe and discuss how to keep peace in the world. Since the Big Three included leaders from USA and USSR, disagreements may have an impact on the Cold War. Majority of the Yalta conference went smoothly with agreements but despite all the agreements there were tension over Poland. The USSR, Britain and USA as an attempt to sort out the world instead increased tension and with too much tension, a Cold War can develop. The case in the Potsdam conference, which was held after Germany surrendered, was far worse than Yalta. The conference met with many disagreements. They disagreed about Germany – Stalin wanted to cripple Germany and make them pay a lot of reparation to USSR but USA did not want to make the same mistake as in the Treaty of Versailles and Stalin wanted more say on Ruhr.

They disagreed about Japan – USSR wanted to be involved in the occupation of Japan but USA did not. They also disagreed about Soviet policy in Eastern Europe which USA was not happy about Stalin’s intention. The disagreements wasn’t mainly due to Britain, because Britain had a new Prime Minister (Atlee) who was lacking experience in foreign affairs therefore didn’t have much say in the conference, but mainly due to the USA. Truman, as new president of USA, didn’t help make the Potsdam conference reach many agreements because of his anti-Communist attitude which is more than Roosevelt. He even informed Stalin about the first atomic bomb, which USA had recently tested, just to prove that USA was far more powerful. So rather than sorting the world and do political business, Truman, representing USA, increased tension.

Having mentioned atomic bomb, USA’s purpose of dropping the atomic bomb in Hiroshima was not only to end the war with Japan, but also to scare Stalin. This move made by USA led to the arms race where both sides, USSR and USA, was developing Nuclear weapons, the weapons to be used when the Cold War became ‘Hot’. At this period of the Cold War, there was enormous tension not only in politicians but also in civilians, who lived on a daily-basis with a fear that their enemy may launch a nuclear weapon upon them.

Stalin, having his Soviet troops positioned in all over Eastern Europe, was able to control the countries without much the capitalist nations interfering. He made USA and Britain angry by setting up communist governments in those liberated countries without having free elections on what governments the country should have, which broke the agreement made in Yalta. This is obviously a good way to start a Cold War, which is part of the USSR’s share for the blame. Also Stalin’s attempt to further takeover Eastern Europe including Greece increased tension to develop into a Cold War.

However, USA’s reaction to this increased tension as well. Truman saw this takeover as a spread of communism and stepped in to stop this. The first action Truman took was in Greece where he tried to resists Stalin’s takeover. This reaction was the start of the new era of America’s political attitude, otherwise known as ‘The Truman Doctrine’. Truman was prepared to put in money to help any country which is in danger of a Communist takeover. His aim to stop the spread of communism led to major wars such as the Vietnam War and the Korean War, two good examples of Cold War tensions created by USA. This policy to contain communism was known as Containment.

Communist violent takeover of Czechoslovakia, which involved murder and purges of anti-Communist leaders, caused an American reaction – Marshall Aid. Marshall Aid is where USA would offer large amounts of money to European Countries who would rebuild their country. It was a generous act but also the purpose was to develop American ties therefore those countries wouldn’t become communist as well as to create new markets for American goods. Stalin was suspicious of this and sees it as a way to weaken his control of Eastern Europe. So he forbade any Eastern Europe to have Marshall Aid. This clearly shows Stalin’s attitude, which is full of distrust and accusation towards America, and this kind of attitude is the kind to create a Cold War, so Stalin has a large degree of blame. Besides Truman’s determination to contain communism was caused by Stalin’s determination to spread communism.

Tension in Germany had already existed ever since they split it into two parts, Communist East Germany and Capitalist West Germany, but in 1948 tensions almost came dangerously close to war. Stalin started the tension by blocking links between West Berlin and West Germany in order to make Berlin entirely dependent on USSR for supplies. Stalin started the tension but Truman’s reaction to this further increased the tension. For ten months, Truman transported supplies to West Berlin via aircraft. There was tension with every aircraft flown above Soviet territory because there was a fear of the Soviet shooting down the aircraft. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and when Stalin realise that the Western allies was not going to give up West Berlin, he re-opened links. This marks how close they were to war.

During this blockade, USA and other capitalist powers formed NATO. When most of Western Europe and USA working together, this means Europe officially has two separate hostile groups, the Eastern Communist countries and members of NATO consisting of Western powers. This diversity would have increased tension. USA, as part of the establishment of NATO, can be blamed for this further increase of tension.

Looking at an overview of the events in the early years of the Cold War (1945-1949) there appears a pattern of how the events came about. The pattern – every communist action met with a capitalist reaction. USSR attempting to takeover Greece met with USA trying to resist this takeover. When USSR took over Czechoslovakia, USA reacted by introducing Marshall Aid. When USSR blocked West Berlin links to West Europe, USA supplied West Berlin by using aircraft. When USSR set up communist governments without free elections in liberated countries, USA developed a ‘get tough’ attitude supported by the Containment policy and the Truman Doctrine. When USA showed off its atomic bomb, USSR too started to develop weapons – the arms race period. So the blame for the Cold War could be USSR for its action. Or the blame for the Cold War could be USA for its reaction. But the blame should really be put upon both USSR and USA equally, since it takes at least two enemies for a war to exist which in this case, is called the COLD WAR.


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