Why did the Cold War begin?

Notes on why it began.

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  • Created on: 02-06-14 14:19
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Why did the Cold War Begin? ­ SUMMARY
Two ideologies of capitalism and communism are inherently opposed.
Impossible for them to inhabit large parts of the same world without
Marxist-Leninism explicitly aimed for the overthrow of capitalism in a
world revolution
As an ideological conflict the origins lie in the Bolshevik revolution of
1917 when for the first time there were states representing both
ideologies and the USA had backed the white movement during this
war. The red scare in 1919 in the USA shows how deep rooted
anti-communist sentiment was in the USA. Events of 1947 are thus part
of a sequence that had deeper roots.
Ideology gave the attempts to fill the vacuum an additional edge
Too simplistic of an argument to suggest ideology caused the CW as the
leaders seemed to act pragmatically ­ Stalin didn't help Mao event
though he was communist
Soviet Aggression
Broke agreement made at Yalta Conference of 1945 to hold free
elections and set up pro communist govts in Poland, Hungary, Romania,
Bulgaria and Albania
o Did this by allowing communist positions to hold key positions
in coalition governments before elections were held. Elections
could then be manipulated to ensure communists controlled
levers of power
o By end of 1947 every state in E Europe was controlled by a
communist govt with the exception of Czechoslovakia
o However, this was a legitimate sphere of influence for Stalin as to
have hostile govts on its borders would be unacceptable.
In Germany, Stalin forced formation of Socialist Unity Party. This
occurred after 20,000 social democrats had been interrogated,
imprisoned and even murdered. Only served to confirm West suspicions
of Soviet policy ­ that they would enforce communism on areas that
were unwilling.
Potsdam Conference USSR continued aggressive moves by proceeding to
transport Poles ­ who now found themselves in the Soviet Union ­ west
behind the new border as well as 5 million Germans being expelled
from Poland by USSR once the West agreed to move western frontier of
Poland to Oder-Neisse line.
o Clearly Soviets were taking advantage of agreements made at
Yalta and Potsdam and twisting them to allow them to expand
communism and the power of the USSR
1947-8 The Yugoslav-Soviet split occurred. Stalin suspicious of Tito and
his attempts to play an independent communist role in the Balkans.

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Accused Tito of long list of ideological and political crimes and put
pressure on other E bloc states to support Soviet line.
o Shows how Stalin was determined to be single most powerful
communist and did not want any challengers.
Further evidence of Soviet expansion revealed by events in Greece in
1947 when Yugoslavia and Albania sent aid to the Greek communists.…read more

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USA defeat Japan- now meant that USSR had no part in
occupation of Japan. All this did was encourage Stalin to develop his own
bomb as soon as possible
Aggressive actions of US came as early as 1946 with George Kennan's
`Long Telegram'.…read more

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Radio Free Europe broadcast anti-Soviet propaganda to the states
behind the Iron Curtain and was set up and paid for by US
USA knew that the unity of the Soviet bloc was relatively fragile
compared to the West as it was essentially held together by coercion
and had no international organisations comparable to NATO, OECC
(organisation for European Economic cooperation) ­ Cominform which
was set up to bring ideological unity was rapidly lapsing into inactivity
and Comecon was essentially just a paper organisation.…read more

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Situation in Europe provided Stalin with an opportunity to create
a buffer zone
o In this respect the policy should be seen as the product of Soviet
weakness rather than its strength.…read more

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Circumstances produced by WW2 were very unique: power vacuum,
devastated economies needing reconstruction, increase in mistrust and
suspicion. Thus situation provided plenty of opportunities for a Cold
War to develop.…read more


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