The term Cold War was first introduced by Bernard Baruch, an American businessman and political adviser to every President from Woodrow Wilson to John F. Kennedy (“Bernard Baruch”). It was a time of mutual distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies which begun after World War II. From Democracy in America’s author, Alexis de Tocqueville, “There are now two great nations in the world, which starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. . .
. Each seems called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world” (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). The primary concern of the United States during the early years of the Cold War was the political threat of the spread of Communist ideology from the Soviet Union (Zinn, 1980). Further back in its history, Russia exhibited radical tendencies by overthrowing Tsar Nicholas, followed by the Bolshevik Revolution, the unification under Lenin where Communism’s seed began to sprout and continued by Stalin (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”).
A history of military intervention in Eastern Europe climaxing in 1948 in the overthrow of the democratic government in Czechoslovakia by a communist coup were thrown as examples of Soviet expansionism. This reminded the American public of the atrocities of Hitler (Zinn, 1980). And with him in mind the United States and its western European allies began to see Stalin as a threat (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). The more fearful concern was the Soviet Union’s revitalizing industry after badly scathed by the aftermath of World War II and its increasing military strength (Zinn, 1980).
The United States slowly exercised its economic might by refusing to aid any post-war reconstruction in Russia as approved by the U. S. Congress in 1945, a major about face in policy under the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 wherein the U. S. shipped huge amounts of war equipments to Russia (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). Coming from the huge gains of World War II, the United States was also wary of regimes opposed to its capitalist structure.
That fear was best exhibited by the emergence of Soviet Union as a global power with an ideology opposed to democratic and industrial capitalist principles of the United States (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). Americans generally fear revolution. They fear “change — real, fundamental social, economic and political change” (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). Fro all its democratic talk, America has a history of suppressing true liberalism and radicalism. The Soviets also had their share of fears in the early years of the Cold War.
After World War II, Stalin feared that democratic principles would be forced upon the Communist tenets of the Soviet Union. He believed the two principles cannot co-exist. As he warned in his speech, capitalism and imperialism made future wars inevitable (“Episode 2: Iron Curtain 1945-1947”). Stalin also was aware of the United States expanding influence all over the world. He was wary of this move and pressured Turkey, a country located strategically on the southern borders of Soviet Union, for a Soviet military presence in the Darnanelles and the Bosporus.
Turkey was then influenced by Great Britain and eventually aided by the United States. The atomic bomb that was dropped in Japan started the concept of the nuclear arms race which the Soviet Union was interested to join. But Stalin received intelligence reports that the Americans “would not share atomic secrets with the Soviet Union” (Zubok, “Cold War Chat”). The mutual distrust and fears of both the United States and the Soviet Union resulted in actions that further shaped the history of the Cold War.
The United States’s fear of the possible spread of Soviet Communist ideology led to their policy of containment. What is now known as the Truman Doctrine paved the way to the formal declaration of cold war against the Soviet Union. This was the famous speech of President Truman to the U. S. Congress asking for $400 million to aid Greece and Turkey’s fight against communism (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). The containment policy of the United States involves military interventions to countries where Communism was viewed to thrive.
The most famous display of the containment policy was the Vietnam War which started in 1950 under President Truman’s administration. Armed with the U. S. Congress resolution named Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, President Johnson further escalated the war by bombing North Vietnam and continuing to send as many as 540,000 troops by the end of 1968. As more Americans left and died in Vietnam, the anti-war sentiments back home put pressure on the government. The Nixon years saw the continuance of the Vietnam War with the expansion of hostilities in Laos and Cambodia.
Nixon’s Vietnamization policy of providing military aid but not troops proved to be a temporary success. A 1972 preliminary peace draft in Paris was initially rejected. By 1973, Nixon convinced Hanoi and Saigon’s President Nguyen van Thieu to sign the Paris Peace Agreement which ended the hostilities between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The containment policy also played a role in the creation on April 4, 1949 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), currently an alliance of 26 countries from North America and Europe.
This was the outcome of Europe’s fears of another Soviet aggression in the guise of Stalin when they were just about to rebuild after Hitler’s dictatorship. Western Europe also needed the assurance of the United States’s protection while they started to rebuild from the ruins of World War II. NATO members’ common grounds are said to include the same democratic ideology and capitalist structure of economy (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). In the late 1940s to 1950s both the United States and Soviet Union sought to build their military arsenal.
For the United States, this gave way to military integration, the passing by Congress of the National Security Act in 1947 which created the Department of Defence, the National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). On the Soviet side, they detonated an atomic bomb of their own in 1949. The first H-bomb was also detonated by the United States in 1952. Not to be outdone, the Soviets detonated a fusion bomb in 1953 (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”).
NSC-68, a policy the United States adopted in 1950 raised defense spending to staggering amounts, up to $60 billion dollars, “a symbol of America’s determination to win the cold war regardless of cost (Kreis, “The Origins of the Cold War”). Although the Cold War has now officially ended, the United States, the only legitimate superpower left, continues to establish a world order that caters to its capitalist structure. Military interventions have been part of its policy if it serves U.
S. interests. During the Cold War, the goal was the containment of Communism. At the present, terrorism is the new battle cry. It is said the United States owns a very large percentage of the world’s wealth while it tries to suppress those who oppose to its capitalistic tenets. Currently, we are seeing the emergence of a possible superpower like China. It has been known as the sleeping giant and could be a contender to displace the United States from its current status.
Whether there will be another Cold War by any other name, only time will tell. References Bernard Baruch. Answers. com. Retrieved 10 December 2006 from the Web: http://www. answers. com/topic/bernard-baruch Cold War (1998). CNN. com. Retrieved December 10, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://www. cnn. com/SPECIALS/cold. war/episodes/02/ The Origins of the Cold War (2006). TheHistory Guide Website. Retrieved December 10, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://www. historyguide.
org/europe/lecture14. html Zinn, Howard. (1980). A People’s History of the United States. Retrieved December 10, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://www. writing. upenn. edu/~afilreis/50s/zinn-chap16. html Zubok, Vladislav Dr. (1998, October 4). [COLD WAR chat moderated by COLD WAR reporter Bruce Kennedy for CNN’s COLD WAR series]. COLD War Chat: Dr. Vladislav Zubok, Historian. Retrieved December 10, 2006 from the Web: http://www. cnn. com/SPECIALS/cold. war/guides/debate/chats/zubok/