The Cold War starting from 1945 to its end had lasted for 44 years. 44 years of different degrees and stages of tension between the two Superpowers. Who was to blame for the outbreak and development of the Cold War? Both sides were to blame, and the Soviet policies between 1945 and 1949 were, thus, responsible for it to a certain extent.
Economically, the Soviets did not allow its Eastern Bloc to receive the US’s Marshall Plan aid, and set up Comecon to oppose it, and these actions by the Soviets increased the tensions between the US and the USSR. Marshall Plan was first introduced by Secretary of States George C. Marshall at Harvard University on June 5, 1947 and was passed by the US congress in March 1948. The Marshall Plan was aimed to help the reconstruction of the post-war European countries, and the countries that needed it. It was an economic and technical aid. 10% of the American GDP would go into the aid. As the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had once said, “It was the most unselfish act in history, and it was a stunning success.” However, the Russian historians can argue that it was not the most unselfish act in history.
Their reason was that if the countries wanted to receive the aid, it had to open up to America and would give America a chance to look into their infrastructures and how damaged the countries were. This was not what Stalin wanted; he did not want the USA to know about how devastated Soviets was. Therefore, the USSR foreign minister, Vyancheslav Molotov, called the Marshall Plan “the Dollar Imperialism”. The USSR then in 1949 set up Comecon as a counter-Marshall Plan organization formed primarily to prevent the Central European countries that had expressed interest in the Marshall Plan from getting the money. Thus, the increased in tension because of the USSR preventing countries from taking the Marshall aid could not fully blamed on the USSR.
Politically, Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, gave the Fulton Speech, which only contributed to the increasing tension between the two superpowers. On March 5 1946, Mr. Churchill gave his “Sinews of Peace” in Fulton, Missouri, which was the famous “Iron Curtain” Speech, and in which he condemned the USSR for taking over other countries and called for the union of “English-speaking” countries to fight it. For this, the Russian called Churchill a ‘warmonger’. The reason why this happened was because on October 9, 1944, Stalin and Churchill had a secret pact in Moscow where they agreed on the ‘Spheres of influence in Balkans’. In other words, Churchill gave Soviets the part which it took over later on, and condemned Stalin for doing what he agreed on. His was acting as a hypocrite. Therefore, the decline in the relation between the USSR and the West was not solely because of the USSR.
Militarily, the Berlin Blockade in June 1948, which was the closest point where the World War Three might break out before Cuban Missile crisis, was started by Stalin, so one may argue that it was Stalin’s fault. In the orthodox point of view, it was Stalin who started the Blockade and nearly pushed the world into WWIII, so it was his fault. However, when the causes of the Blockade were examined, one may argue otherwise. On June 1, 1948, America and France announced that they were going to combine their zones in West Germany and create a new zone call the ‘Bizonia’. They broke the agreement they signed with the USSR in the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, in which they agreed that they would split Germany into four zones so that Germany would not be strong enough to stand up and start WWIII again like what Hitler did.
They broke the agreement and broke the remaining trust between them and the USSR. Furthermore, in Potsdam Conference, they also agreed that the USSR could take 10% of the other three German zones GDP as reparation, but they never paid the money. Even Stalin himself said that the real reason why he started the Blockade was because of American and France’s introduction of the new currency in the West zone which directly cost the East Germany a lot of skilled workers because they all fled to the West zone, the effect of the two causes listed previously above could not be neglected. Therefore, even though it was Stalin who started the blockade but it was not entirely his fault in doing so.
From the reasons above, examined from military, economic and political point of views, the outbreak and development of the Cold War was not only the USSR’s fault, but also the West. Therefore, the Soviets was responsible for it to only an extent.