The USA’s policy to stop Communism from spreading. This was the opposite of the policy of isolationism. President Truman offered help to any country that was under military threat, either from within or outside the country, in the hope that this would stop Communism from spreading.
The Secretary of State, George C Marshall, offered $13 billion in aid to the countries that were trying to reconstruct after the war. Through this, it was possible to implement Truman's containment policy. America believed that the countries of Europe would be more likely to come under the influence of Communism if the people were poor. Stalin accused the USA of trying to dominate the countries of Eastern Europe and so he refused to allow Soviet countries to accept aid.
Origins of the Cold War
During the Second World War, the USA and the Soviet Union fought side by side against Hitler and the Nazis, but they were not allies for long. These were the two most powerful countries in the world, but they were completely different to each other. The Soviet Union was a Communist country whilst the USA was a Capitalist country.
Because both countries had the atomic bomb it was impossible for them to go to war against each other. Instead, they engaged in a Cold War between 1945 and 1989 – a war without actual fighting between American and Russian soldiers. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, said that an iron curtain had fallen across Eastern Europe which was controlled by the Soviet Union and the USA.
The Domino Theory
America's concern was that once one country had fallen to Communism, nearby countries would follow suit and before long Communism would reach America.
The Berlin Blockade
- The blockade - The soldiers of the Soviet Union blocked access routes between West Berlin and West Germany on 24 June 1948. The aim was to force the West to surrender their region by depriving the people of food. This did not happen.
- The airlift - In response to the blockade aeroplanes were used to transport goods to three airports in West Berlin. The cargo included food, clothes, medical supplies and even petrol and coal. When the airlift was at its peak, an aeroplane was landing every 90 seconds.
- The end of the blockade - Stalin believed that it would be impossible for the West to continue supplying Berlin. He wanted the Americans to leave Berlin and he wanted to abolish the new currency. When he realised that the supplies were continuing to arrive, he lifted the blockade in May 1949.
After the Second World War Germany was split into four regions. By June 1948 the regions that were under the control of America, Britain and France had been combined and a new currency was introduced in order to try and make this new region a successful one. Stalin was worried that Berlin would bocome a capitalist centre within Communist Eastern Europe. Berlin was also split into 4 zones under hte control of America, Britain and France.
NATO- North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
- It was formed in 1949
- Its main members were USA, GB and France although other countries did join later on. The USA was formally committed to defending western Europe
- Article 5: 'An attack against one is an attack against all'
- Stalin saw NATO as an 'aggressive alliance' as the USA had built air bases in western Europe where nuclear weapons could be used against the USSR
- Angered USSR when West Germany joined NATO in 1955 which lead to the formation of the Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Pact
- Formed in 1955 when West Germany joined NATO
- Formed under new leader Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964)
- Was officially a defence organisation
- Eastern Europe signed a military alliance of communist states but it was used to control communist governments in eastern Europe
- The Red Army was based in all Warsaw Pact countries
- Dissolved in 1991 when the Cold War ended. It was no longer relevant