Misjudgement and Misinterpretation during the Cold War

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  • Misjudgements and misperceptions
    • USA
      • Had  no neighbouring enemy and had not been invaded for centuries, so found it hard to sympathise with USSR insecurity
        • US mistakenly assumed Stalin had engineered the Korean War
      • Marshall Plan: the USSR were unable to offer similar help so felt threatened as their economic weakness was exposed
      • US perceived that Stalin was trying to Bolshevise Eastern Europe
        • Interpretted that his actions were aggressive and expansionist
      • US foreign policy assumed that communist ideology and not national security was the driving force behind USSR foreign policy
        • Ignored evidence to suggest otherwise
      • Truman Doctrine exaggerated global communist threat to persuade congress to support the policy of substantial aid
    • USSR
      • Stalin's 1946 speech warned of a possible future war against capitalism
        • USA interpreted this as a threat of war. His speech lacked clarity and his goals were ambiguous
        • From the 1930s, Stalin showed signs of paranoid and became intensely suspicious
          • He interpreted many legitimate US policies as deliberate attempts to weaken the USSR
      • Marshall Plan interpreted as a calculated attempt to weaken soviet security interests
        • USSR responded with COMECON, seen by the US as an attempt to spread the soviet economic model
      • Stalin had been given unspoken approval for a buffer zone. He therefore felt that the USA were shifting their position unfairly
      • USA's military superiority convinced Stalin that they would attack.
        • Triggered the arms race
        • However the USA didn't see the USA as a likely threat


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