Historiography (CW)


Orthodox view

  • Attribute the outbreak of the Cold War to Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union
  • They argue that the soviet regime intiated the Cold War by seeking to expand and exert control over Europe and Asia
  • Argue that Stalin broke the agreements forged at Yalta and Potsdam, in order to expand Soviet communism into Eastern Europe and throughout the world. 
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Revisionist View

  • Attribute greater responsibility for the Cold War to the United States
  • US policy after WW2 was neither passive nor benign. It was driven more by economic considerations and national self-interest than the principles of democracy and self-determination
  • American policymakers pushed to contain soviet communism in Europe for selfish reasons: they wanted a European continent populated with capitalist nations open to trade and American exports. 
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Post-Revisionist view

  • Post Revisionist historians looked for middle ground between Orthodox and Revisionist histories of the Cold War
  • Believed that both countries were to blame for the start of the Cold War
  • A historian Gaddis identified several factors that contributed to the emergence of a US-Soviet cold war: historical problems pre-1941, including a lack of communication and formal recongition; the delay in opening up a second Allied front in Europe, leaving soviets three years to battle the Nazis unaided
  • Suggest that Stalin was an opportunist and a pragmatist, rather than an international revolutionary who hell-bent on exporting communism around the world. They also accept that American foreign policy often involved overreach and was driven, at least in part, by economic imperatives. 
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