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Origins of the Cold War Kevin J. Benoy.

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1 Origins of the Cold War Kevin J. Benoy

2 War’s End The Soviet Union and the Western Allies were never entirely comfortable with each other, though each knew that the other was essential for victory. As the war came to an end it was clear that mutual distrust was leading to a break-up of the alliance -- though neither side anticipated the scale of the antagonism to come.

3 Cold War Historiography
Soviet and Western historians, naturally, differ in their interpretations of what went wrong. Soviet historians tended to reflect the conventional views of the Communist Party that the nasty and conspiratorial western capitalists sought to take advantage of their greatly strengthened position at the end of the war to deprive the USSR of the fruits of victory, prior to an eventual attack on the national bastion of Communism.

4 Cold War Historiography
Ponomareyev claimed that American liberal capitalist imperialism was trying to impose itself on the World. He says the Soviet response was purely to preserve the USSR and the Eastern European Social Democracies.

5 Cold War Historiography
Operating in a freer environment, Western historians had a more interesting range of views. There were, effectively, three positions: Conservative Liberal Progressive (Leftist)

6 Conservative View There are effectively two positions on the Right:
“Cold Warriors” stress the evil of communism and its atheistic ideology. Proponents include John Foster Dulles (former Secretary of State), J. Edgar Hoover (FBI head), Henry Luce (Publisher of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated) and Ronald Reagan. This group is rather propagandistic, but historian John Lukacs gives a more sophisticated viewpoint. “Realists” stress balance of power politics. They note traditional Russian expansionism and want to see it “contained”. They tend to avoid comment on morality and see filling power vacuums as natural. Prominent realists include Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, historians John Wheeler-Bennet and Louis Halle and Winston Churchill.

7 Liberal View Liberal historians tend to see ideological factors as primary. They see Western European and American liberalism as ranged against Soviet totalitarianism. Liberals are sympathetic to Roosevelt – seeing him as being in the Wilsonian tradition. They see free trade as the key to a peaceful world. They see the Soviets as ruining the UN through their non-rational use of the veto. Some see Soviet ideology as perverse and warping reality and Stalin’s actions as irrational. Cold Warriors and particularly ideological Liberals have recently come together and are referred to as “Neo-Conservatives” -- Neo-Cons. Famous Liberals include Thomas Bailley, Arthur Schlessinger, Walt Rostow, Lester Pearson and John F. Kennedy.

8 Progressive View Sometimes this view is called “Revisionist” or “New Left.” Some proponents are Marxist. They stress economic influences in the development of the Cold War. Generally they see US business as seeking to expand markets and influence after guaranteed war-time markets were lost. They see the US as actively fostering this activity – even using the post-war US nuclear monopoly to ensure it. They see American liberal internationalism as a rationalization of capitalist goals. The denial of US credits to the USSR is seen as an attempt to keep the Soviets down, while credits to Western Europe served to stimulate US industry. Containment, to them, is synonymous with counter revolution. Important Progressive writers include historians William Appleman William and Gabriel Kolko. A less extreme Progressive is Walter LaFeber.

9 Origins of the Cold War When WWII ended, relations between East and West became increasingly difficult – though the two sides did not come to blows. The phrase “cold war” came to refer to a war or propaganda and economic confrontation, rather than one in which the opponents fire upon each other. Both powers sought to gather allies in the struggle. Both saw the struggle as a zero sum game in which any gain to the other was a loss to ones’ self. Anything the other did was seen as threatening. Though the Cold War thawed on a number of occasions, the basic antagonism remain in place and was a constant of internatonal politics until the collapse of the USSR.

10 Causes of the Cold War Stalin’s Foreign Policy
The official American view was that Stalin sought to take advantage of the military situation at the end of the war to grab and hold new land. Some see this expansion as being in the tradition of the Tsars; others see it as an attempt to export communism now that “socialism in one country” was well-established. The Soviets and some western progressives see Stalin’s motives as being an attempt to establish secure western frontiers – in light of 3 western invasions in the last 40 years. The US atomic monopoly left Stalin with no choice but to maintain the balance through a high level of conventional arms.

11 Causes of the Cold War Western Aggression
Western political leaders after the death of Roosevelt were invariably hostile to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill was a key proponent of the early intervention in the Russian Civil War that nearly stifled the early communist state. President Truman made his suspicions of Soviet motives clear from the start.

12 Cold War Chronology Yalta (February, 1945)
Most people date the Cold War to this conference. All parties went away with different notions of what had been agreed. Roosevelt counted on post-war cooperation in the UN. Stalin expected a protective buffer of friendly Eastern European states. Churchill counted on US support in the post-war world. Territorial concessions to the Soviets were agreed, but much else was left unclear.

13 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Potsdam (July 1945)
Stalin, Truman and Churchill (later replaced by Atlee) met in a much changed atmosphere. Russian help was no longer essential to the Allied war effort against Japan. Western leaders resented Stalin’s actions in Eastern Europe. The Americans saw Stalin as betraying their liberal plans for the future as outlined in the Atlantic Charter (even the British view of this did not square with the Americans).

14 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech (March, 1946)
In a speech at Fulton, Missouri, Churchill said “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” He called for a western alliance to resist this threat. Stalin responded by labelling Churchill a warmonger. British Labour politicians criticized the Conservative leader for making inflammatory statements. Most Americans agreed with Churchill’s statement.

15 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Soviet’s Tighten Control in E. Europe
Soviet troops and secret police were active in occupied areas. Stalin installed “friendly” governments. In most cases this meant communist regimes – but not in all (Finland and Czechoslovakia). Security appeared to be Stalin’s chief concern.

16 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Soviets Tighten Grip in E. Europe
In Bulgaria, Nikolai Petkov, leader of the Agrarian Party, was arrested and hanged. In Poland, the coalition government of London and Lublin Poles broke down. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk fled to London The Soviet zone in Germany was stripped of everything of value by the Soviets – who shipped it Eastward.

17 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Soviets Tighten Grip in E. Europe
Finland was firmly committed to benevolent neutrality. Czechoslovakia had a coalition government headed by a communist Prime Minister and a bourgeois President. Jugoslavia had a communist leader who liberated his own country and was beyond the reach of the Red Army and the NKVD. Stalin argued he was only doing what Churchill agreed to in their war-time percentages agreement. His acquiescence in Britain’s suppression of the Greek communists supports the idea that Stalin was prepared to honour their sphere of influence deal.

18 Cold War Chronology to 1949 The Truman Doctrine (March, 1947)
The continuing Communist insurrection in Greece was draining British resources to the breaking point. British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin called on the US to help. Truman replied that America would “support free peoples who are resisting subjegation by armed minorities or outside pressures.” Greece was given arms and other material – which helped pacify the country by 1949. Turkey was also sent help. America was committed to a policy of containment. To stop Soviet expansion anywhere.

19 Cold War Chronology to 1949 The Marshall Plan (Announced in June, 1947)
Tied to the Truman doctrine was the Marshall Plan – a programme of massive economic aid. The ERP (European Recovery Programme) was to restore European economic prosperity as a prosperous Europe could resist communist influence from without and within. Communist parties were particularly popular in Italy and France. A rebuilding Europe would also be a market for American goods. If accepted by Eastern European countries, Marshall Plan aid might help to roll-back Soviet influence there.

20 Cold War Chronology to 1949 The Marshall Plan (Announced in June, 1947)
By September, 16 nations applied for the aid: Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the 3 Western zones of Germany. $13,000 million of US aid entered Western Europe in the next 4 years. The Soviets did not allow their satellites to take advantage of the American offer, calling it “dollar imperialism.” Even Czechoslovakia, which was interested in the plan, chose not to antagonize Stalin by taking part.

21 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Cominform – Communist Information Bureau (September, 1947)
Needing to respond to the Marshall Plan in some way, rather than lose the propaganda war, the Soviets formed their own organization of European communist parties. Stalin had to solidify his hold on client parties. Eastern Europe would be moulded according to the Soviet model. Most Eastern European parties fell into line. Jugoslavia refused to submit to Stalin’s leadership and was expelled from Cominform in 1948.

22 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Communist Coup in Czechoslovakia (February, 1948)
Westerners didn’t regard Czechoslovakia as an Eastern nation. Its cultural traditions were closer to Austria and Germany than Russia. The coup of 1948 was a shock to the world.

23 Workers protest the February coup
Cold War Chronology to 1949 Communist Coup in Czechoslovakia (February, 1948) Prior to the coup, the government had been a democratic, with the Communists holding 1/3 of the cabinet posts – including Klement Gottwald as PM. President Benes, who served in the same post before the war, and Jan Masaryk the Foreign Minister represented bourgeois viewpoints. Rejection of the Marshall Plan just before elections was unpopular and the Communists looked to pay the price. With Soviet assistance they chose to act. Workers protest the February coup

24 Cold War Chronology to 1949 Communist Coup in Czechoslovakia (February, 1948)
Using their control of the unions and police, they seized control of Prague. Benes and Masaryk did not resign with the other non-communist ministers. A few days later, Masaryk “fell” or “jumped” from his office window and died. When the Czech archives opened in 1968 it was revealed that he was murdered. Benes resigned and Gottwald became President. Red Army troops moved to the Czechoslovak frontier corresponding conveniently with the coup.

25 Cold War Chronology to 1949 The Berlin Blockade June 1948-May 1949
This crisis very nearly made the Cold War hot. In early 1948 the Western allies brought in a new currency and put an end to rationing and price controls in their occupation zones – which included zones in the heart of East Germany, in Berlin. Prosperity returned to the Western sectors, proving acutely embarrassing in Berlin, where movement between the zones was easy

26 Cold War Chronology to 1949 The Berlin Blockade June 1948-May 1949
To force western governments to pull out, Stalin ordered that all land and canal links between the western zones and Berlin be cut. Without supplies it looked as though the West would have to give in or condemn West Berlin to starvation. Rather than back down, the Western Allies decided to stand firm – no matter what the cost.

27 Cold War Chronology to 1949 The Berlin Blockade June 1948-May 1949
With only air lanes open, everything was flown in. 2 million tons of supplies were sent in the 10 months of the blockade. Everything from food to coal entered via the 2 (later 3) airports. Eventually Stalin tired of the effort and the blockade ended in May, 1949.

28 Cold War Chronology NATO (April, 1949)
In March, 1949 talks concluded and a defence pact was set up in Western Europe – the Brussels Treaty Organization – including Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Joint British/American efforts led to expansion of the organization to include, the USA, Canada, Portugal, Demnark, Ireland, Italy and Norway in the larger North Atlantic Treaty Organization,. Greece, Turkey and West Germany would join later.

29 Cold War Chronology NATO (April, 1949)
The Soviets responded by expanding the role of Cominform. East European armed forces were effectively under Soviet Command in any case. In 1955 the Warsaw Pact was formed, formalizing the command structure.

30 Cold War Chronology The Soviet Bomb (August, 1949)
In 1945, when the Americans had an atomic bomb monopoly, it was known that the Soviets had a nuclear programme. Under the supervision of NKVD head Lavrenty Beria, the progamme linked the work of free Soviet scientists, technical inmates of the Gulag prisons, and intelligence gleaned from Soviet agents within Western nuclear programmes.

31 Cold War Chronology The Soviet Bomb (August, 1949
Though it was thought that it would take around 5 years for the Soviets to build a bomb, there was still surprise when the Soviets did so in August, 1949. The first test was of a weapon remarkably like America’s Fat Man bomb. The Semipalatinsk explosion had a yield of 22 Kilotons. The Cold War now too on a new and more dangerous aspect.

32 finis

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