Why Did The Cold War Break Out In The Aftermath Of World War Ii?

2116 words - 9 pages

Why did the Cold War Break out in the Aftermath of World War II? The disharmony between the United States and Russia, termed "˜The Cold War', did not develop unexpectedly in 1945, or even in 1917 with the communist victory in Russia. Difficulties between Russia and the United States date back to the late nineteenth century, when the two powers confronted each other concerning North China and Manchuria, ending a century in which the Americans had expanded westward across half the world and the Russians had moved eastward across Asia. Until this time the two nations had been good allies, developing a relationship where, should a conflict arise, the Russians retreated before the demands ...view middle of the document...

A week later Hitler invaded Poland, effectively lighting the touch paper of the Second World War.Over a period of eighteen months Russian-American relations hit an all-time low. In June 1941, Hitler's armies entered the Soviet Union in "history's greatest military operation". The United States' State Department deliberated for twenty-four hours before issuing a statement condemning the Soviet opinion of religion and declaring that "communist dictatorship" was as intolerable as "Nazi dictatorship" . Nevertheless, despite their poor relationship it concluded that the Russians must be helped as they posed a lesser threat than Hitler and the Germans did. This reasoning from the Americans was perhaps not the best attitude with which to forge a new relationship with the Russians, but such statements only exemplified fifty years of Russian-American hostility.Since the end of World War II, historians have struggled with the question of which side was more responsible for the onset of the Cold War, the Americans or the Russians. The more common, conventional view considers the Soviets, led by a paranoid dictator, aspired to dominate the world and that the Americans had no choice but to stand firmly in defence of their democratic, capitalist values. There was an innate rear that if communism was left to develop as it had any longer, the communist regime was going to spread and prevail over the world. William Bullitt, ambassador to Russia during the 1930s, likened Russia's expansionism to that of an amoeba, saying, "He moves where opposition is weak. He stops where opposition is strong. He puts out pseudopodia like an amoeba"¦. If the pseudopodia meet no obstacle, the Soviet Union flows on".By comparison, "˜revisionists' feel that Truman and the American economic imperialists were to blame. These historians believe that instead of maintaining Roosevelt's efforts to collaborate with Stalin, thus ensuring the continuation of alliance in the post-war world, Truman adopted an unnecessarily belligerent position and a radical foreign policy, seeking to create American predominance around the world. They feel that Truman and his advisors overstated the Soviet threat partly to justify an American military increase.Although there is no specific date to mark the beginning of the Cold War, the issue that gave it life and determined its early direction was Eastern Europe. For many decades the East and West had competed for control of the large land area running from the Baltic to the Balkans, an area that was rich in human and industrial resources. More importantly to the Central Powers and the Western Democracies however, was the strategical importance of such an area. To Russia, the land would act as a "˜buffer zone' against the West, and to the Allied Forces, it would be a gateway for an invasion on Russia. Both sides wanted a friendly government in Poland for firm strategic reasons, and Stalin was very clear about this at Yalta, saying,...

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