International relations 1945-2004 Chapter 2

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Overview of US relations with Europe in 1945

  • Division of Europe scared the USA - they knew the USSR wouldn't enter into any meaningful dialogue over the future of Eastern Europe
  • Roosevelt's position became indefensible - grounded in self-determination for all nations and international security based on cooperation
  • Truman's initial focus was on European reconstruction
  • Secretary of State Stimson:"for only thus can concepts of individual liberty, free thought and free speech be nurtured"
  • No indication that USA saw Europe as a 'springboard' for the development of US power
  • USA was interested in expanding its economic intrests, in Europe and globally
  • In '45 America wanted a world order in which their economic strength would grow
  • There would be international cooperation based on the collective desire to keep peace
  • Power based on militarism would be irrelevent and the US would be able to exploit its economic influence freely on a global scale
  • Europe's power severely damaged by the war and a power vacuum had emerged
  • The USA was an economically dominant power
  • Failure of communication with the USSR meant the USA had to choose between isolationism or projection of its power
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'Long Telegram' February 1946

  • Truman already moulding US policy at the begining of 1946
  • Stalin had demanded USSR military bases in Turkey - this would have given the USSR control over Turkish straits and potentially, the whole Mediterranean
  • In a message to Secretary of State, Truman said "Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language, another war is in the making". 
  • On the 22nd February George F Kennan (a junior official in the US embassy in Moscow) sent a lengthy dispatch to the US state department in Washington. 
  • Kennan mentions he believes the USSR will attempt to set Western Powers against eachother and "undermine general political and strategic potential of major Western Powers"
  • Historians, e.g John Gaddis,see the Long Telegram as pivotal in shaping US policy towards the USSR and determining the USA's role as a global power.
  • Kennan called for the threat of use of force if necessary to ensure unity among its allies
  • Later, Kennan produced the'X' article in which he called for "a long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansionist tendencies"
  • Kennan's analysis (based on the ideas that Soviet Foreign policy was agressive and driven by ideology) resonated with Truman, as he thought the USSR was not only an enemy of Western Democratic values but a serious threat to the security of the USA. 
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The Truman Doctrine and Containment - 1947

  • Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' Speech reinforced Long Telegram
  • Soviet Ambassador Novikov "The Foreign policy of the United States ... is characterised in the post war period by a striving for world supremacy"
  • Novikov said an increase in US military spending was proof of this
  • Each side saw the other as a threat to national security + an expansionist and global strategic threat. 
  • Catalyst for reorientation of US foreign policy - Greek Civil War (USSR didn't support Greek communists - USA thought they did)
  • Truman Doctrine announced 12th March '47 to Congress - "I believe that it must be the policy of the United states to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation"
  • The Truman Doctrine was of fundemental importance in terms of IR from '47
  • Crockatt - "Bipolarity was not merely a matter of the structure of international relations but a state of mind"
  • Truman didn't turn to UN for help in Greece
  • Motives for introducing Truman Doctrine include: stop SU aiding Greek Communists, protect democracy and freedom, to demonise the SU + communism,provoke the SU and an important part of the US's aim to develop its global economic power
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The Marshall Plan - June 1947

  • Secretary of State Clayton - "Europe is steadily deteriorating" this was alarmist and showed economic importance of Europe to the USA
  • Plan known officially as the European Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) 
  • Over the next 5 years the plan provided $13.5billion to 16 countries, the main beneficiaries were Britain, France and West Germany
  • The help came in the form of goods as well as money
  • A condition of receiving aid was that some had to be spent on goods from the USA 
  • Some argue that the Marshall Plan was important to the establishment of the European coal and steel communities and subsequently the EEC
  • USA concerned about political and economic stability in Europe, especially France and Italy (French Communist party had 1.7million members by 1947)
  • Continuing hardship could lead to more support for communism which would give the SU an opening for influence in W Europe. 
  • July, the SU left Tripartite ERP Paris Conference and established Cominform within four days.
  • Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European states that had shown an interest in Marshall Aid were ordered to reverse their decision by Stalin. 
  • Marshall Plan accelerated the division of Europe
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Berlin blockade - June 1948 - May 1949

  • Economic issues key causal factor
  • Western allies wanted a stable and common currency across their zones - By 23rd June '48 the Deutschmark was introduced into W Berlin
  • On 24th June '48 all road and rail links to the W zones and W Berlin through the Soviet zone were blocked by the SU
  • British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin - key player in allied response
  • Argued that the SU were trying to spread communism across Germany - he was sure the allies should not use force to gain access to Berlin but should keep it supplied
  • US General Clay called into allied action - "If we mean to hold Europe against communism, we must not budge"
  • In all, around 275,000 flights carrying supplies landed during the airlift
  • At the height of the airlift, an allied plane landed around every 30 seconds 
  • Around 1.5million tonnes of supplies were flown in
  • Stalin ended the blockade in May 1949 
  • His aim had been to stop the creation of a seperate West German state - he had failed
  • Containment had been a success and by 1949 Europe and Germany were divided. 
  • By Oct '46 both E and W Germany existed as seperate and independent states
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NATO - April 1949

  • First step was Western European Union 1948 (Brussels Pact)
  • It aimed to prevent any German resurgence that could threaten Europe
  • Many historians see it as the main factor in the polarisation of the Cold War. 
  • By creating it, European states signalled that W. Germany and Europe was threatened by communism and the US should take a more proactive role
  • USA saw it as 'too European' and too small to protect western Europe - it was not sufficient for the US to join because it would be protecting Europe with little or no imput on policies
  • Burden on USA would be larger than any other member
  • April '49 - NATO established: Original members were: USA, Canada, Britain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Iceland
  • USSR said NATO went against UN
  • USA wanted W Germany in NATO - France initially resisted 
  • USA, France + Britain met in New York in Sept '50 - French put forward the Pleven Plan
  • Named for French Foreign Minister - allowed W Germany small no.s of troops under new EDC
  • In Dec, USA, France and Britain approved W German contribution to defence of the West
  • May 1952 - General Treaty set up an EDC in Paris 
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Korean War 1950-1953

  • Globalised Cold War and Militarised Containment
  • June 1950 - Communist N Korea invaded non communist S-Korea
  • UN Security Council called on member states to render assistance to the UN to end the war
  • Truman "The United States will continue to uphold the rule of law"
  • US forces under General MacArthur pushed North and reached Yalu River by late Oct '50
  • In November, China entered the war on N Korea's side
  • Stalin's death in '53 accelerated talks -  Malenkov replaced him + was more accomodating
  • Eisenhower became US president in 1952
  • In '53 ceasefire was officially agreed and the 38th parallel was restored as the border between N + S Korea
  • Sino-Soviet alliance clear evidence of growth and unity of international communism
  • Victory for containment - this reinforced USA's commitment to it 
  • Emphasised threat of communism globally
  • China saw itself as head of Communism in Asia - USSR not happy - relationship undermined
  • Features of Cold War in place by '53 - determined IR for the next 20 years
  • International alliance system established as basis for bipolar division
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