The USSR was communist, whereas the USA was capitalist which was a contributing factor in these contries' dislink fo each other. These are the differences explained
- In communism, there is state control of industry and agriculture, but in capitalism, private enterprise in valued, linking to the american dream of that anyone can be wealthy and successful
- Communism wants everyone to be equal- equally poor (although this is often corrupted)- in capitalist contries, there is an enormous difference in wealth- the very rich and very poor
- Communism means a one party state but the USA values political freedom
- Communism aims for a communist world revolution, which was a threat to US democracy, likewise, communists feared american influence
The arms race
Each contry, USA and USSR alike, wanted the biggest, most powerful weapons to defend themselves with. This started with the America development of the atomic bombs which were used against Japan. These had been kept secret by america for many years, making America the world's only nuclear power. Then in 1949, Russia made an atomic bomb that was more powerful, which lead to the development of the H-bomb by the americans in 1952, and then the Russians developed one of their own in 1955. It was predicted that 20 million Americans would die in a nuclear attack. There was also a space race at this time.
This arms war was greatly feared by people all over the world as it would lead to anhillation of everyone. Schoolchildren were taught to 'Duck and Cover' in case of an attack, which was just a method of avoiding panic.
Stalin and Truman
Stalin and Truman did not get on, unlike Stalin and Roosevelt. This influenced the tensions between their two countries.
Truman thought: Stalin is another Hitler; people have the right to free elections and democracy; it's more important to do the right thing; Stalin has no intentions of holding freee elections in poland; and Communism is wrong, capitalism is the way to go.
Stalin thought: Truman is no Roosevelt, he can't be trusted; Russia should be allowed to install a government in Poland like Britain is doing in Greece; Cpatitalism is wrong and you can't trust America; society is more important than the rights of the individual; and for Russia to influence Poland it has to be communist, and it was agreed that Russia could influence Poland.
The Truman doctorine and Marshall aid
Background: By 1946, Greece was one of two non communist countries in eastern europe. Their government was fighting communists in a civil war supported by the British. In Feb. 1947 The British told Truman they couldn't afford the war, so the US paid for the British in Greece.
This marked a change in US behavior- in the 30's it had kept out of europe's business. On 12th March 1947 Truman told Americans that it was their duty to interfere and "help free peoples". They now had a policy of containment towards the USSR, the Truman Doctorine.
In June 1947, General Marshall went to europe & found countries so poor they were in danger of communistm. He suggested the US give $17 billion to help, but congress refused. However, when Czechoslovakia was taken over by communists in 1948 congress changed their mind. This seemingly alturistic move would help US businesses & the economy.
Stalin's Control of Eastern Europe
After WWII, Stalin wanted control of eastern european contries because: he could trade with them & recover economicaally; they offered protection as a buffer zone; he could have communists in police & courts; he mistrusted America; he wanted friendly neighbours; & so he could install communist governments in other countries and create an empire.
Stalin controlled Eastern Europe using the secret police to imprison those who opposed communism. In Oct 1947 he set up the Coniform to coordinate communist parties, leaders of countries were brought to Moscow to be briefed. He only wanted people loyal to him and the red army was placed in strategic spots to police countries. Support was given to help local communists to come into power & Comecon was set up to organise economic affairs.
In 1945 many people welcomed communism as it brought a stability, security & industrial growth. they thought things would be better if protected by one of the world's superpowers. However, by 1953 most people hated communism as the reality of it was harsh & oppresive & they hadn't recieved Marshall aid. When Krushchev replaced Stalin in 1955 people felt hopeful as he was very different & reduced expediture on arms. These hope were justified when Krushchev attacked Stalin & began de'stalinisation, and when he withdrew from Poland.
The Iron Curtain
In 1946 Churchill gave his famous 'Iron Curtain' speech, saying that 'an iron curtain has descended across the continent' which divided capitalism from communism, and that Soviet power was growing and had to be stopped.
In response Stalin said that Churchill was trying to create war, and others were behind him. He likened Churchill to Hitler saying that countries in the west want "to decide the destinies of the entire world."
This speech was the first time that the cold war had officially been acknowledged and seems to mark the start of the war.