Telegrams and Propaganda

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Long Telegram

February 1946

Foreign Diplomat in Moscow George Kennan

Kennan favoured a hardline against the USSR. He was asked to write an analysis of Soviet outlooks and policies. The telegram was 8,000 words long.

The report detailed that a USA-USSR compromise would be impossible due to previous events (Nazi-Soviet Pact 1939) and Stalin's portrayal of the UK and USA (Stalin was comparing them to Japan and Germany). He felt that the USA should be prepared to threaten and use military force, ensure their allies' support and take a protective role in Europe. He felt that all of this should be done urgently. Truman saw the USSR as a threat to freedom and national security.

Kennan wrote the 'X' Article, which outlined the theory of systematic containment in the face of aggressive Soviet policy.

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Novikov Telegram

September 1946

Foreign Ambassador in Washington, Nikolai Novikov

Reported an increase to the US defence budget (he portrayed these as war preparations), he extension of US influence into international waters and claimed the USA was manipulating other countries for its own purposes.

Novikov copied Kennan's 'breathless' and 'apocalyptic' tone to enhance the sense of urgency.

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The 'Iron Curtain' Speech

5 March 1946

Winston Churchill

Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, USA

Stated that Europe was divided into two 'camps' because of Stalin's oppressive influence in Eastern Europe but that it could be contained if Western Europe and the USA united against it. The speech was intended to test US reactions to anti-Soviet propaganda.

Stalin branded Churchill a warmongerer and aimed to present the USSR as a peaceful nation that wanted to protect itself from any potential future invasions. He also accused the West of trying to forget Soviet sacrifices during the war. The USA was branded imperialistic and the Declaration on Liberated Europe fully abandoned.

In response, the USA portrayed the USSR as a demon state and the Truman Doctrine was announced.

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The Truman Doctrine

A reaction to the Greek Civil War, where communists were attempting to overthrow the monarchy and nationalists. The UK had been supporting the nationalists but had to withdraw financial and military aid. Stalin had adhered to the Percentages Agreement and not intervened. Greece was important because it was part of the British oil route.

February 1947

The Doctrine is the official start of the Cold War. It was meant to convince Congress to approve an interventionalist approach to foreign policy. It was controversial because it would have been funded by the taxpayers. The Doctrine reiterated Churchill's 'two camps' comparison and essentially demonised communism. It was seen as a peaceful approach to containment and had an appealing rally cry tone to it which emphasised necessity.

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The Marshall Plan

Formulated by: General George Marshall, Secretary of State for Defense.

Formulated after Marshall took a trip to Moscow, where meetings were held about Germany. After weeks of meetings, Marshall was convinced that the USSR was stalling so as to create dissent in Germany which would encourage a communist government.

What was the plan: provide economic aid to European countries.

The Marshall Plan proposed that the USA give economic aid to countries who desired it. Requirements for receiving Marshall Aid were that the recipient country provided the USA with their economic statistics and became trading partners with the USA. Sixteen countries across Europe - including the USSR - took the help.

The USSR received an offer that was purely for show. Documents necessary for applying were withheld. Stalin became convinced that the USA wanted to dominate Europe. As such, he revived Cominform and Comecon and encouraged Western communists.

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