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Origins of the Cold War Essay

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A. Sources of American Soviet Tension

Had difference in view of post war world. US supported the view in which nations gave up traditional military alliances, and dealt with each other in a democratic process, with an international org. as mediator. Britain and Soviets favored view where system of traditional European balance of powers would reemerge.

B. War time Diplomacy

By Jan 1943 a strain in relations with soviets was evident as Stalin refused to meet with Churchill and Roosevelt. The 2 refused Stalins’most immediate demand to have a 2 european fronts, but assured him that they would have unconditional surrender of Axis powers and they would not leave soviets out of peace negotiations.

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In Teharan Conference relations between Stalin and Roosevelt became better as Stalin agreed to enter Pacific once hotstilities in Europe died down, and US agreed to 2 front western war. However there was tension on who would lead Poland once war was over. They avoided the issue by leaving it unresolved.

C. Yalta

In Feb. 1945the big three met in Soviet Union. Stalin was promised some territory lost in Jap Soviet war of 1904, in pacific. Also agreed to UN charter with a security council, with members from 5 major powers. Issue of Polish government was compromised. Soviets had occupied Poland and installed the pro communist Lubin Poles, but also agreed to let in some democratic London Poles into government.

The future of Germany was also unresolved. They agreed that after war each troop would control the part of the country they were in and reunification would occur at a later time. US wanted Germany to be reconstructed, and reunited, Stalin wanted heavy reparations. The Yalta conference sidestepped important issues, and made the three men feel like they signed an important document. Weeks after signing Roosevlt watched as Stalin installed procommunist governments in several nations and refused to make the changes he promised to Roosevelt in Polish government. Roosevelt was adamant that Soviets were flexible, but would suffer stroke and die in April 1945.

II. The Collapse of the Peace

A. The Failure of Potsdam

A few days after taking office Truman, much less patient with Soviets chastised foreign minister for violations of Yalta conference. However he had little leverage as soviets controlled central and eastern Europe and US was still in pacific war. Truman insisted on getting 85% of what he wanted but had to settle for much less. Truman conceded Poland and recognized the noncommunist forces in the Warsaw government. To settle issue of Germany Truman met with Stalin and Churchill in Postdam, he accepted the adjustments to the Polish German boarder and but refused Russians to claim reparations from parts of Germany controlled by US French or Britain. This stance made it clear that Germany would remain divided. The western zone friendly to US, the Eastern to Russia.

B. The China Problem

For US hopes of a peaceful world to come true, China had to be strong and independent, however the Chinese government under Chaing Kai Shek was feeble and incompetent. Chiang had isolated himself, unwilling to face the problem which were facing him. He was in prolonged rivalry with armies of Mao Zedong, which was in control of 1/4 the population. US would pump arms and money to the Chiang. Instead, US now looked to Japan as an alternative pro western force in Asia. US lifted all restrictions, promoting indusrial development, and economic growth.

C. Containment Doctrine

By 19445 the Grand Alliance was over, and US was now working on a new containment policy. Rather than creating an open world, they would work to contain the expansion of the Soviets. Truman issued his Truman Doctrine based on ideas of diplomat George f. Kennan. United States would help nations resisting sibjugation from outside sources or from armed minorities. He also asked for $400 million to help turkey and Greece, which would help them defeat communist insurgents, and established basis for US foreign policy for next 30 years.

D. Marshal Plan

American policy maker wanted to do something to strengthen pro American governments in Europe before communists insurgents destroyed them. In June 1947 Sec of State George C. Marshall proposed plan for economic assistance to all European nations even Soviets to join program of recovery. Soviets denied, but 16 other nations joined. Over three years, $12 billion would be given to help spark economic revival. European industry rose 64% and caused communist strength to decline and US trade opportunities to increase.

E. Mobilization at Home

Failed agreements with Soviets over international control of nuclear weapons, made America redouble its atomic research. The Atomic Energy Commison was to oversee all nuclear research civilian, and military, and in 1950 Truman aoorived development of ne H bomb stronger than one used in 1945. The National Security Act created a new Departmen of Defense which would oversee all armed services. A National Security Council out of thw white house would govern forign and military policy. CIA would replace wartime office of strategic services. And engage in covert methods of collecting onformation.

F. The Road to Nato

Truman reached an agreement with Britain and France to merge their Germany zones into a new western German Republic. Stalin responded by imposing a tight blockade of western berlin, Truman would drop supplied of food and fuel for ten months allowing a city of 2 million to survive during this time. Stalin would lift the blockade in spring of 1949. Germany was now divided into 2 nations, Federal Republic in west and Democratic Republic in east. In April 1949 12 nations signed agreement declaring an attack on one was an attack on all. Soviet would do the same with other communist nations in Europe called the Warsaw Pact in 1955.

G. Reevaluating Cold War Policy

A series of events at end of 1949 propelled cold war in new direction as Soviets announced that they had tested their first atomic bomb, and the Chiang Kai-Shek nationalist government collapsed and was replaced by a communist extension of Soviets. Us would refuse to recoginize Chinese government and diverted attention to revitalizing Japan as a buffer against Asian communism. During this escalated atmosphere of crisis Truman called for a through review of forign policy. The National Securty Report was issued in 1950. The doc said US should not rely on other nations to resist communism, US must stop expansion of communism in the world. It also called for 4x increase in US military budget.

III. America After The War

A. The Problems of Reconversion

Economic growth continued after 1945, saving from consumers during the war started a boom, as did a $6 billion tax cut. The GI bill of rights, or Servicemen’s Readjustment Act provided houseing, education and job training to vets and increased their spending. Serious inflation cause prices to rise 15 % annually, compounding this was labor unrest as major strikes were occurring in most industries. In 1946 John Lewis led the United Coal Workers out on strike for 40 days.

Truman demanded coal mine owners to agree to union demands, simulataneously the nation’s railroads shut down, however Truman threatened military intervention and the strike was over in a few days. Reconversion was difficult for women and minorities who entered during wartime. Now men where returning from war and wanted their old industrial jobs back, many women voluntarily gave them back but as much as 80% and all minority men wanted to keep jobs. Women would look to other areas of the economy, mainly the service sector.

B. The Fair Deal Rejected

The Fair deal was a 21 point domestic program calling for expansion of social security benefits, legal minimum wage increase from 40 to 65 cents… public works… and other programs. In all he wanted to declare an end to wartime moratorium on liberal reform. However the Republicans would regain control of house and senate and reduce government spending and many other reforms. The Taft Hawley Act would empower president to call a 10 day cooling period before a strike. Truman would veto it but congress overruled.

C. The Elections of 1948

Despites results of the 46′ election Truman was not ready to give up on new deal. In 1948 he proposed major civil rights bill but congress would defeat them all. Tuman was trying to build campaign issues. Truman had issue of unpopularity and weakening support in the democratic party. Souther democrats did not like the civil rights bills. Others did not like the way he dealt with Soviets. Republican had nominated Dewey, seemed to offer unbeatable alternative to Truman. Truman called republicans do nothing – good for nothing. To dramatize this he called special session of congress, mostly republican, they met for 2 weeks in which nothing was accomplished. Truman would win by a very slim but decisive margin.

D. The Fair Deal Revived

The new congress was still hesitant to fair deal but did give some of what Truman wanted. They increased min wage to 75 cents and hour, extended social security to 10 million more people, and National Housing Act built 810,000 homes for low income housing. However his efforts for civil rights, the abolishment of lynchings, poll tax, fair employment all failed. Truman did battle descrimination on his own, he ended descrimination in government jobs, and tried to dismantle it in armed forces. Allowed justice dept. to get involved in discrinitory statues.

IV. The Korean War

A. The Divided Peninsula

At the end of WWII US and soviets had troops in Korea, Russians in left a communist government with strong soviet troops, while us left an anti communist with a small military. The weakness of South Korea made north want to reunite the country. Truman reacted quickly to the invasion by sending limited American military assistance. Soviets protetested the UN Security Council for it refusal in acknowledging the Chinese government. This gave UN agreement to US for international assistance to South Korea. Truman would sed ground forces and General McArthur to command UN operations. Most UN troops were American. After driving communists out of south, Truman gave McArthur permission to go into North to make a uunified independent democratic Korea.

B. From invasion to Stalemate

The invasion went smoothly with the capture of Pyongyang in October. But Chinese government got weary as UN moved close to Chinese boarder, they would enter war and push Americans back past 38th parallel and take capital of Seoul. By Jan UN started moving back north and regained capital for 2nd time, then war went into stalemate. Truman did not want direct conflict with China which he thought would cause another world war. McArthur thought that it was a just that, a war with China, he thought heavy bombing on communists was necessary. McArthur would write letter to republican leader which caused Truman to relive him of command. 69% of Americans supported McArthur and was welcomed enthusiastically. There was hostility towards Truman until other military leader publicly showed support for his decision. Stalemate continued in Korea, negotiations began in 1951 but war would drag on until 1953.

C. Limited Mobilization

To fight inflation during wartime Truman set up the Office of Defense Mobilization. When its actions failed Truman took more drastic actions. When rail workers walked off the job he ordered government to take control. In steel strike he did same but supreme court ruled he had exceeded his power. The war brought economic boom as government pumped money into the economy. But made many Americans insecure, and anxious about communism. Did not know why boarder skirmish had gone on so long unresolved and 140,000 dead wounded. Led to second campaign against communism.

V. The Crusade Against Subversion

A. HAUC and Alger Hiss

Republicans wanted something to attack Democrats with and and democrats wanted to take issue away from the,. The House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, started publicized investigations of communist subversion. They started arguing that communists had infiltrated Hollywood, and when may former communists film maker refused to talk about their politicial beliefs, they were sent to jail for contempt. Another public investigation was against high ranking senate member Alger Hiss, when reports from a former communist agent said that Hiss had passed classified documents to him. Hiss sued for slander but Chambers produced images of the document. Do to statute of limitation, occurred over 7 years ago, Hiss was not prosecuted but was sent to prison for several years. This public believe that communists infiltration was possible. Nixon protected Hiss and made him well known and helped him win seat in senate.

B. The Federal Loyalty Program and the Rosenburg Case

To protect against republican attacks, Truman initiated a widely publicized loyalty review program of many federal employees, causing 2,000 to resign and 212 to be dismissed. This caused other attacks on subversion. Direct of FBI investigated alleged radicals. When Russians successfully detonated atomic bomb there was talk that information had been passed from America. Young british scientists testified he gave information, the trial eventually led to a couble, Rosenburgs, members of communist party. They were sentenced to death and after 2 years of appeals killed in electric chair, they maintained their innocence. All these cases came to grip the nation of subversion. The public was fearful of infiltrated communists and being accused of communism also. Out of this would come public figure of McCarthy.

C. McCarthyism

In a speech Joseph McCarthy declared that he had a list of 205 communists in the US senate, his statement was so bold, it made him a prominent figure and leader of crusade against subversion. McCarthy then moved to other agencies and was made chairman of special subcommittee on subversion in the government. He never proved conclusive evidence that anyone he accused was really a communist. Republican rallied that democrats had been responsible for 200 years of treason. Few spoke out against him, even Eisenhower who dislike him did not while running for presidency.

D. Republican Revival

Frustration in Korea, and a bad year in Democratic party caused Truman to drop out of Presidency race. Gov. Adali Stevenson would be nominated instead. Republican nominated Eisenhower, and as his running mate chosen Nixon. Nixon would attack the democrats for being cowardly in their attack against communism. Eisenhower and Nixon would win overwhelmingly, and republican would regain control of both houses. The election ended 20 years of democratic domination, and ended worst turbulence of post war era.

VI. Conclusion

Even during world war II US and Soviets had different views of what world should be like once war was over. Right after the war this difference in opinion became evident. US thought Stalin was like Hitler in their quest for world domination, Stalin thought US wastrying to protect their world dominance by not allowing Russia to be a world power. The result was high tensions and the Cold War. US would help revitalize the broken Europe by gioving economic aid through Marshall plan and protecting them from communism. At home hysteria of the infiltration of communists into American government was fueled by reports and publicized court cases.

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