Cold War Essay Introduction
We live in a world that is oftenly characterized by constant conflicts. These conflicts at times grow into aggressive and destructive wars. Such wars in the past include: The Napoleonic wars, World War I and II and the Cold war. The Cold war was a global struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted from 1947 to 1991. Unlike other wars this one was a war of ideology and economic dominance whose weapons were intimidation, propaganda and espionage.
There was no military engagement between these two sides. The capitalist United States promoted free market and democracy while the communist Soviet Union promoted political domination. It extended beyond the two superpowers to their allies as well. On the communist side, there Cuba, Hungary and Poland among others while Canada, Britain and France among others were on the capitalist side. This paper will focus the causes of the Cold war.
Cold War Background
The United States and the Soviet Union were allies in the World War II of 1939 to 1945. It was their combined effort that made the defeat of the Nazis as well as the Japanese possible. However, towards the end of the war suspicion arose between the two. Each was afraid of the other’s power and was convinced that the other had a hidden agenda.
The mistrust kept growing overtime. The Soviet Union believed that the US was out to destroy communism. They believed that they had to fight capitalism. The United States government decided to block the Soviet Union from advancing its power to Eastern Europe and worldwide as per the recommendation of the US ambassador to Russia. This worsened the tension between the two combatants. This back and forth continued for decades until the USSR collapsed.
Causes and Reasons for the Cold War.
One of the major causes of the war was the Soviets’ believe that they had lost a lot in the World War II. This meant that they should therefore be well compensated. They had lost up to 21 million lives. The United States of America was seemingly dominating despite having lost the least. This is exactly what ignited tension between the two sides.
The Potsdam conference differences were led to continued distrust in the already delicate relationship between The USA and USSR. The conference was held in February 1945. It was attended by Harris S. Truman of USA, Winston Churchill of Britain and Stallion of the USSR. At this point, Germany had lost and Japan was the remaining threat.
The US president Truman was very anti communist and was very impatient with the Soviets. During this conference, the United disclosed that they had an atomic bomb that could be used to stop the war. They however would not share the technology with any other country a matter that infuriated Stalin. This led to an arms race between the two factions.
After Stalin was denied information about the American nuclear weapon, he was very bitter. He thus spearheaded the USSR’s nuclear project. The Americans as well as the Britons were well aware that Stalin would not be trusted with nuclear weapons. This contributed to the tension between the two sides. The Americans had to improve their nuclear technology.
The control of Eastern Europe was a matter that the two sides differed on. Joseph Stallion was gradually taking control of the region from Albania to Poland and Hungary (LaFeber pg 17). All this was achieved by use of threats, intimidation and murder. He spearheaded the formation of alliances of all communist countries that is the Cominform and Comecon. This was really strengthening communism in Europe. Poor countries were an easy target for communism.
The US on the other hand fought so hard to control of Greece after the withdrawal of British troops during the Greek civil war. If left alone the communists would have taken control of the country. The US grabs this opportunity and funds the British troops thus conquering the communists. All these widened the wedge between the former allies.
Truman doctrine used to subdue the communists. This doctrine had three main points namely: containment, cooperation and coexistence. The US would contain the spread of communism. This was supposed to be carried out on a country to country basis. If communism pops up, it is contained. On the second point, the US government would cooperate with all its capitalist allies to combat communism for example funding the British troops in Greece. And finally there is the point of coexisting with the communist countries instead of fighting against them that which would mean a World War III. The doctrine proved very successful in the fight communists.
The Marshal plan of 1947 was another cause of the cold war. The United States government would give $13 billion to European countries to prevent them from joining communism. This plan was an implementation of the containment plan and was also supposed to help recover the European economy after World War II. This was view by the communism was dollar imperialism and was heavily protested.
The Berlin Blockade of 1948 and 1949 also lead to more tension between the USA and the Soviet Union. As a term of the Potsdam conference, Germany was divided into 4 zones among France, United States, the Soviet Union, and Britain (Daley, C pg 108.). This applied to Berlin too even though was wholly in the Soviet’s zone.
The capitalists promoted the development in their region while the Soviet Union suppressed it. It went further and blockaded so to as to frustrate the capitalists thus forcing them to leave. The Capitalist on the other hand merged the zones they were controlling. To counter the blockade, they supply Berlin by use of air transport. Stallion had no choice but to open the blockade.
The end of World War II did not mean global peace as it was supposed to. The capitalist countries had to come together and formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization so as to protect themselves and their interest from the capitalists. The communist came together and signed the Warsaw Pact so as to counter that move. This was the nature of the tag of war between the two sides.
Communism vs Capitalism
The Soviets had a very strong urge to spread communism all over the world. They had a belief that this would be more probable with the United States out of the picture. Stalin thought that the best manner to achieve this is by beating them in the cold war. This would mean that American influence is weakened and thus leaving Russia as the superpower. They would therefore spread communism with no disruption of activities. This pretty much angered Truman.
The presence of the US troops in Europe. The Soviets were annoyed by American influence in Europe and it was not their home. This is a credible reason as to why the Soviets undermined Americans. They were in control of West Germany and well as they had helped conquer Greece. The Americans should leave and leave Europe to Europeans.
The Capitalists allowing Germany to build was another source of conflict. The capitalists ensured that the normal way of life was restored to be annoying to the Soviets. They wanted Germany poor so that they could establish communism. The Unites States on the other hand saw this as an opportunity to infiltrate Eastern Europe. The place was Communist dominated and having a capitalism there was quite a milestone.
Germany being allowed into NATO was another was another cause of the conflict. If Germany was part of NATO, it meant that they had fully conformed to capitalism and would not join in the Warsaw pact and communism at large. To the capitalist, this was a win.
This even worsened the conflict between the capitalists and the communists. Whereas many countries took sides during the war, there are some that choose to remain neutral. Such countries include Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden among others. This was despite the constant persuasion by both sides to join them. This counties enjoyed aid from both sides as each was trying to seducing them with grants.
Cold War Essay References
- LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War. Knopf, 1985.
- Daley, Christopher. British science fiction and the Cold War, 1945-1969. Diss. University of Westminster, 2013.