How and why did the Cold War begin? More on perceptions and changing policy

  • Created by: jessica7
  • Created on: 28-04-20 13:29

Long-term causes of Cold War

October Revolution of 1917 

  • Lenin's one party state, a command economy & cloed society were at odds with the US belief in multi-party politics, limited go intervention & individual freedoms. Communists were seen as extremists

Red Scare 1920s

  • The American Communist Party was founded in the US in 1919. Its members were seen as agents of Bolshevik Russia. In 1920, 6000 communists were arrested & imprisoned, many were later deported

Nazi Soviet Pact 1939

  • Americans saw this as the alliance of two dictators. They ignored the fact that Stalin had been driven into Nazi arms due to the reluctance of western powers to form an alliance with Stalin
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Tensions within wartime alliance

Anglo-American invasion postponed

  • The German invasion of the USSR in 1941 transformed US/USSR relations. A period of unprecedented cooperation began. However, despite being wartime allies the mistrust remained. Stalin was suspicious that the US promise of an invasion of France was repeatedly delayed - until D Day, 1944

During WW2, there were 349 agents for the USSR in the US

  • The extent of Soviet spying during WW2 reveals the extent of Stalin's mistrust of the US

USSR diplomatic code - VENONA

  • The US was equally suspicious of Stalin. In 1946, the US started to crack VENONA & some 2,200 messages were successfully deciphered, enabling the US to track down leading Soviet spies
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Collapse of wartime Alliance pt 1

Polish dispute - Stalin promised at Yalta to hold free elections in post war Poland signing the Declaration of Liberated Europe. Elections were not free & communism was imposed

  • Stalin's overriding concern was USSR security. He wanted to guarantee the safety of the Soviet Union by restoring its 1914 boundaries & by creating a belt of friendly states on its western perimeter. These states, if they shared the same political & economic ideas as the USSR, meant more security. 
  • This issue over security is illustrated by the Polish elections. In 1939, the Polish govt fled to Britain (known as the London Poles). Stalin ended relations with them in 1943 & in 1944 set up a pro-Soviet govt called the Lublin Committee.
  • Roosevelt was not honest with Congress or the American people over Polans. He said he has secured Stalin's cooperation at Yalta, but this was not strictly true. Stalin had not promised as much as Roosevelt claimed. Stalin referred to his commitment in signing the Declaration of Liberated Europe as statement of intent & not as a legally binding document. 
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Collapse of wartime Alliance pt 2

16 July 1945, the Americans successfully exploded an atomic bomb in the desert in New Mexico

  • Truman announced to Stalin at the Potsdam meeting an atomic bomb had been successfullly detonated. Stalin pretended to be unconcerned but was deeply worried & authorised an accelerated weapons development programme in the USSR

Personalities of Stalin and Truman

  • Truman did not get on with Stalin as well as Roosevelt had appeared to. Truman was very frustrated at Stalin's attitude. He believed that the news of the US atomic bomb would make Stalin more amenable at the Potsdam negotiating table. However, the Soviets refused to be intimidated into making concessions
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Collapse of wartime Alliance pt 3

At Potsdam the allies disagreed about the occupation of Germany and its industrial and economic output

  • Each side read different meanings into the agreements reached at Potsdam. Germany was divided into 4 zones of occupation. It was agreed that each occupying power would take reparations from its own zone. It was also agreed that the USSR would be given additional reparations from the other zones. It was also agreed that goods would move freely between all the zones, treating them as a single economic area.
  • However, the Soviets treated their zone as a separate economic entity & even removed German factories from it & rebuilt them in the USSR. The Soviets also complained they were receiving insufficients reparations from the other zones & so in turn refused to allow movement of goods from their zone.
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US fear of Soviet Power & search for US security 1

Red Army troops in charge of Eastern Europe 

  • The war whad led to a huge increase in Soviet power. Soviet troops were in control of Eastern Europe. US actions in China, Iran & Trieste suggest they were practising a policy of containment before it had been officially stated or named.

US protests to Tito about the movement of his troops into Trieste from Yugoslavia. Tito withdraws troops

  • In 1945, the Yugoslavia the communists led by Tito were dominant. In May 1945 Tito's troops had reached Trieste in Italy. This city had been historically disputed re ownership between Italy & Yugoslavia. The US did not want this important port to fall into communist hands & so protested.
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US fear of Soviet Power & search for US security 2

Stalin intervenes in the Chinese civil war showing support for Chinese communistss in Manchuria. US responds by sending 50,000 US marines o support the Chinese nationalists

  • The Chinese civil war had begun in the 1920s, between the communists & the nationalists. In the 1930s, the two sides united in their attempts to drive out the Japanese from China. When the Japanese were defeated in 1945, the Civil War resumed.
  • Manchuria is an example of the US pursuing a policy of preventing the Soviets extending their military power. In 1945, the US wanted to see a unified China which had strong relations with the US. They wanted the communist party to have as little influence as possible.

Soviet troops remain in Iran post WW2. They were reminded of the agreed date for withdrawal which was 1st March 1946

  • Under wartime agreements Soviet troops had been stationed in Iran to guard Persian oil fields. The US feared that the Soviets had remained, as they were attempting to create a sphere of influence similar to that on its western borders. The US & the British wanted the Soviets out, in order to maintain Iran as a buffer between the USSR & the oil fields of the Middle East. 
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New perceptions of the USSR - ally to enemy

Kennan's Long Telegram suggested the USSR was irrevocably expansionist & hostile to the West. The US must resist

  • George Kennan was an official in the US embassy in Moscow. He sent a telegram to the US state department offering an historical explanation for USSR foreign policy. He suggested the Soviets were inspired by Marxian theory. His ideas that the USSR was aggressive & inspired by communist ideology appealed enormously to Truman. It prompted him to create a tougher policy towards the USSR.

Churchill gave a speech in Fulton, Missouri in 1946 saying an Iron Curtain had descended across Europe

  • Churchill's speech helped to harden public opinion in the US. In 1946, opinion polls showed only 35% of the American public thought the Soviets could be trusted. In 1945 the figure had been 55%.
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New policy towards the USSR pt 1

Truman adopts a get tough policy with the USSR & sacks advisers who disagree with him

  • Get tough later becomes containment. Henry Wallace, Secretary of Commerce & James Bryne, Secretary of State are both fired for disagreeing with Truman. 

US refuses to destroy its existing atomic weapon stock pile until the USSR submit to inspections of its atomic weapons facilities

  • In June 1946, the Baruch Plan was presented to the UN. The plan laid down proposals for the control of atomic weapons. The plan provided for atomic weapon inspections in UN member states. This caused tension as the USSR refused to submit to inspections until the US destroyed its atomic weapons & the US refused to destroy its stockpiles until the USSR had been inspected. Some historians have suggested the Baruch Plan was deliberately designed to be unacceptable to the Soviets & to prolong the US monopoly. 
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New policy towards the USSR pt 2

US demands tougher measures in its loan diplomacy with the USSR 

  • The US attaches more stringent conditions to their loans to the USSR. E.g. the Soviets must drop trade barriers in Eastern Europe. In June 1946, all loan negotiations cease as the USSR was not interested in US loans on such terms. 

The US gets the UN to tell Stalin he has missed the deadline for troop removal from Iran

  • In March 1946, USSR troops were only 40 miles from Tehran & had not observed the 1st March deadline. Stalin is cross that the US went to the UN but does withrdaw his troops. The US helps Iranian troops to establish a grip in its northern provinces. 
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