Who Started The Cold War And Why?

1246 words - 5 pages

Who started the cold war and why?

The Cold War was started by the principal victors of World War II: the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to a lesser extent Britain. The Cold War was essentially an ideological struggle which but soon adopted all facets of full international conflict with its geopolitical, economic and also scientific-technological aspects.

The earliest stages of the Cold War coincided with the final defeats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the first half of 1945. Both Communists and Capitalists were anxious to fill the power vacuums that the defeated Axis powers were leaving behind in Central Europe and the Pacific. From the ...view middle of the document...

The Russians had suffered terribly yet fought bravely during the war (Red Army suffered fifty-five times more casualties than did US forces.)3 and it was more than fair that they should be granted triumphant victory, material reward and political influence: "While the British and Americans held firmly ... the whole position in Africa and the Mediterranean ... and the whole of Western Germany ... they undertook by negotiation and diplomatic pressure to reduce Russia's position in Eastern Europe - which the Soviet Union had won because the Red Army had defeated two thirds of the German Army."4 In recognition of these achievements Roosevelt and even Churchill had accepted Stalin's claims for hegemony in East Europe - particularly Poland - at Teheran and also at Yalta. In return for Anglo acceptance of a "reorganised" government of National Unity "pledged to the holding of free and unfettered elections as soon as possible"5 Stalin had even signed Roosevelt's 'Declaration on Liberated Europe' which confirmed the Big Three's "...determination to build in cooperation with other peace-loving nations a world order under law, dedicated to peace, security, freedom, and the general well-being of all mankind."6

By the time the Big Three met again at Potsdam barely five months later, this vision of a new and ethical Europe was shattered by the inherently different and seemingly incompatible ideologies of East and West.

The West did not understand basic Soviet Russian concerns: Far from advocating perpetual revolution, Stalin had revoked the Leninist-Trotskyite approach in favour of 'Socialism in one country'. Stalin's primary concern, as he often stated, was security of Russia's borders, particularly in the west: "Twice in the last thirty years our enemies, the Germans, have passed through this corridor ... Poland is not only a question of honour but of life and death for the Soviet Union."7 Stalin's ultimate objective thus was to ensure that this should never happen again. Firstly by ensuring that Germany should remain decentralized and demilitarized, and secondly by tying the Eastern European countries into a defensive, Moscow-orientated buffer zone. After all, from the Russian point of view, if it had not been for the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 23rd August 1939, the Wehrmacht most probably would have taken Leningrad and Moscow in 1941. Thus as early as 1943, following the great reversals at Stalingrad and Kursk, Soviet bodies politique were already busily planning the post-war setting up of Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe whilst dealing with the main problem of how Germany was "to be rendered harmless."8 Therefore America's steady efforts from...

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