Superpowers in the Cold War Essay
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Which one of the Superpowers was most responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?
From the late 1940s to the early 1990s, the USA and the USSR were in a state of “Cold War”. The United States and USSR never fought each other in a direct military confrontation, but both superpowers threatened each other with nuclear annihilation and participated frequently in “proxy Wars” by supporting allied nations in numerous “hot” Wars. Such as, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, The Angolan War, etc.
What seems evident is that both Superpowers were promoting the endless Cold War, but which Superpower is to be blame for the start of this Cold War?
In February 1945, a conference in Yalta was held between the 3 Allies, UK, America and USSR. There were many discussions were held on the settlements of post War. Plans were made to determine the final strategies and future peace. During the Yalta conference, it became evident that the Soviets, were not planning on following any of the new treaties being created in support of self-determining governments in Eastern Europe.
Following this conference was the death of Franklin Roosevelt, a new Harry Truman and Stalin would not see eye to eye on almost anything and took a great disliking towards one another. Thus creating tension between the Allies.
A subsequent conference was held on June 1945, at Potsdam,Germany. Once again all 3 allies were present to discuss matters related to post War affairs. Disagreements between zones were made. However no agreement could be reach on the amount of reparations russia were allowed to make. It was agreed that Russia could take whatever it wanted from the Soviet zone, and 10 percent of the industrial equipment of the western zones, but Britain and the US thought this was too much. Truman feared Communism immensely. He feared that the Soviets would take over the U.S. and take away their freedoms. He established a policy of “containment” towards the Soviet Union. The policy was to retain from going to war with the Soviets, but rather to keep the Soviets within its own boundaries.
One of the many event that lead up to the embarkment of the Cold War was the American fear in Communism. Truman a person who could not find in him to like Stalin and his ideology in the first place, feared the worst of the Communist Regime, This fear was fed by the news media and politicians who portrayed the Soviets was bent on world domination. In communist nations, people were not allowed to own land, follow their religious beliefs, or speak and act freely. On the other hand, The Soviets were repellent towards the idea of Capitalism, as it was seen as a diminishing force within their everyday life. For example, a factory breakdown would often be attributed to a spy trying to or damaging the equipment.
Similar to a crop light, etc. Communism had its own cultural symbols, which were clearly defined and considered unchangeable, in the eyes of the Soviets. To counter this growing affection of western joys, the Soviets started to emphasize on the negative aspects of capitalism, such as racism, unemployment, homelessness, street violence, and of course the nuclear threat and general brawling. Both countries, had strong dislikings to one another, creating tension between themselves. America fearing Communism and The Soviets taking a bitter disliking toWards Capitalism. On top of each country hating one another ideologies, both leaders Truman, and Stalin, just did not have anything else in common.
The Alliance between Britain, America and the USSR, was no friendship but rather a way to survive the terrors of the World War. America and Britain wanted to keep nuclear secrets all to themselves.It made sense that, having spent billions to discover and create the most devastating weapon in history, they would want to protect this information. They feared that due the difference in ideologies the Soviets would use this information to their advantage. If this were true it would have meant the end of Western civilization. It becomes important for America to protect their weapons as measures of defence in case of future attacks.
On the 6th of August 1945, America dropped their first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. It was in America’s best interests for Japan to surrender to them, and to fear the Soviets with their nuclear weapons, but they did not. The American response was the dropping of the second bomb on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.This eventually led to the surrender of Japan on 15th August which was later confirmed on 2 september. The americans had control over Japan whilst the soviet aspired to control part of the country. Stalin wanting control decided to spring a surprise attack on Japan on the 8th of August 1945, attacking Manchuria, Korea and South Sakhalin. But soon after the american had dropped their bombs the Soviets were terrified of the power american held against them thus they started building up their own nuclear weapons. The arms race began.
On the 5th of march 1946 in Fulton, Missouri, Sir Winston Churchill delivered the Iron Curtain speech. During this speech, Churchill gave the very descriptive phrase that surprised the Americans and British, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” Before this speech, America. and Britain had been concerned with their own post War economies and had remained extremely grateful for the Soviet Union’s proactive role in ending World War II. It was Churchill’s speech, which he titled “The Sinews of Peace,” that changed the way the democratic West viewed the Communist East.
The Iron curtain divided up western europe and eastern, the capitalist from the communist. The Iron curtain was created because both America and Britain, feared the expansion of Communism in western europe. Stalin called Churchill’s speech a “declaration of War”. During 1946 to 1947, Stalin made sure that communist governments came to power, in all Eastern European countries. The communist referred to this process as “Slicing Salami”; gradually getting rid of the opposition bit by bit. By 1947, Stalin set up Comintern, an alliance of Communist countries designed to make sure they obeyed Soviet rule.
In 1947, the Marshall plan was established. The Marshall plan was an american response to the poverty and the hardship in post War Europe. It was thought that the conditions in which Communism thrived were, economies in ruins, shortage of goods, bread and food still rationed, coal shortages. This plan was a gesture of kindness from the Americans, however Stalin shut america down immediately. Stalin denounced the Marshall plan as an act of imperialism. He forbade communist countries to seek for financial aid. In October of 1947 USSR created “cominform”. It allowed Stalin to control communist parties in Europe. This naturally created more strain between America and the USSR as America was willing tried to aid the needy whilst Stalin was more concerned that America would infect Eastern Europe with capitalism.
In June 1948, Britain, France and America united their zones into a new country, they were joined by West Germany. On 23 June 1948, they introduced a new currency, which was meant to help trade. Within a couple of days, Stalin cut off all rail and road links to west Berlin, creating the Berlin Blockade. The west saw this as an attempt to starve Berlin into surrendering. So the English and Americans decided to supply West Berlin by air. The Berlin Blockade lasted 318 days.
During this time, 275,000 planes transported 1.5 million tons of supplies and a plane landed every three minutes at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport. On the 12th May 1949, Stalin abandoned the blockade. The Berlin Blockade was a reoccurrence of the potsdam Conference in 1945. Resulting from this the Allies decided to split Germany into four zones of occupation. The capital, Berlin, was also split into four zones. The USSR took huge reparations from its zone in eastern Germany. Stalin started blocking off all road and railroads to Berlin when the Bizonia was created in fear of capitalism.
After the Berlin Blockade, America and the USSR realized that they were in competition for world domination. The Arms race had begun. Both Sides were organised into two major military alliances. NATO in the West and the Warsaw Pact in the East. By 1955 the world this became a dangerous place. Each side fears the other. Therefore they start to build up their armies and weapons. As a result each side felt more threatened. Consequently more weapons were built. On August 29th, 1949 the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb. Americans did not think the Soviet Union was this far along in their nuclear development. Not long after in 1952 it was the United States turn to detonated the first Hydrogen Bomb. This was an even more powerful than the original nuclear bomb. The Soviets followed up by exploding their first hydrogen bomb in 1953.
Throughout the 1980s, the Soviet Union fought an increasingly frustrating War in Afghanistan. At the same time, the Soviet economy faces a continuous escalating costs of the arms race. Dissent in the USSR, while the stagnant economy faltered under the combined burden. There were many unsuccessful attempts to try and rebuff control of Eastern Europe. During 1989 and 1990, the collapse of the Berlin Wall took place, Borders opened and free elections ousted communist regimes everywhere in Europe. In the late 1991 the Soviet Union converted into component republics. Not long after the Iron Curtain was lifted and the Cold War was put to and end.
The USSR and America are at fault for the outbreak of the Cold War. The USSR was at fault because, Stalin had desired world domination under the influence of Communism. The Soviets takeover of Eastern Europe was seen to be his first step towards this. Whilst on the other hand, America was at fault because, they wanted to control and influence without any intervention by another nation yet they would not allow the USSR to do the same. As a result, any action taken on the part of the USSR was seen to be defensive. I think that the USSR is at fault for the outbreak and the ongoing Cold War because,t they did not want to cooperate peacefully with their allies. The Soviet had one thing on their mind and that was to expand their own communist interests. There was no room for discussion, about how they wanted the world to be.
Stalin force feed Communism into many Eastern European countries, he threatened to enforce to same things to the West. Only after the two atomic bombs were dropped did the Soviets started to learn their lessons. Having said that the Americans are not less guilty. It had kept the Cold War on going with its difference in ideology being a Capitalist. Stubborn as its opponent, the Americans together with the Allied countries, their nuclear weapons were used to kill innocent people. While Capitalism allowed the “freedom” of action to live one’s life, the leaders during the Cold War era had neither managed to stop the war, nor put a break to retaliation. There was anger after anger, attacks after attacks, retaliations after retaliations, defence on either side when there could have been discussions and agreements leading to a peace treaty.
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Notes taken in class.