Presentation on theme: "Orthodox / Traditional (Western Liberal) Revisionist"— Presentation transcript:
1 Orthodox / Traditional (Western Liberal) Revisionist Formal Antithesis to Orthodox1959, 1960s, 1970sPost-revisionist1970s+Post Cold War1989/1991+Reevaluate previous ideasAggressive expansionist actions of Stalin Break up of Grand Alliance, Russians responsible for Cold WarUntil 1947: USA = Passive & wanted cooperation w/ USSRCommunist aggression prompted USA to react & defend democracyUSA not motivated by self-interest or territory, innocent in world affairsPost-WWII policy of universalism rejected spheres of influenceSoviet union = responsible for the Cold WarUSSR = expansionist, Suspicious of the West, Marxist revolutionaries bent on world dominationStalin – violated Yalta & Potsdam & plotted to take over the world with Moscow at the centerThe US had to act defensively Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, NATOKey figures: Arthur M Schlesinger Jr, Louis Halle, Herbert Feis, Joseph Jones, WH McNiell, Hans MorgenthauEmergence of revisionists put Orthodox historians on the defensiveWilliam Appleman Williams: The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (considered heretical at the time)Sweeping re-evaluation of American policy since the 1890s (Open Door expansionism as basis for 20th century American empire)USSR & Stalin = not solely responsibleNot as simple as preserving freedom (such a view does violence to the historic record)FDR & Truman not innocentUS commitment to universalism = haphazard & hypocriticalUSA = responsible for the cold warDollar diplomacy – US actions tied to capitalismContainment of communism = driven by a US desire to secure markets for free trade and penetrate Eastern Europe (Williams)Open Door PolicySoviet actions less relevant to US policy – Capitalist drive (Kolkos)Coercion characterized US reconstruction diplomacy (Patterson)Stalin = pragmatic, would have made concessions if US had understood himKey Figures: Michael Parenti, Gabriel and Joyce Kolko, Fred Block, William Appleman Williams, Gar Alperovitz, Lloyd Gardner, Walter LaFeber, Barton BernsteinWisconsin School of diplomatic history: Williams, LaFeber, Gardner, McCormickMast Radical = Gar Alperovitz advanced theory by British Physicist PMS Blackett, A-bombs on Japan = not the end of WWII, but the start of the Cold War (Japan = already defeated, bombs to scare USSR)Impact dispute orthodox interpretation on all countsAttempts at synthesisJohn-Lewis Gaddis: The United States and Origins of the Cold War, , published in 1972Gaddis = father of post-revisionismGeorge Herring: Aid to Russia, : Strategy, Diplomacy, and the Origins of the Cold War, published 1973USA used economic instruments to secure political endsStalin had no ideological blueprint for communist world revolution he was an opportunist who exploited openingsConfirm revisionist contention that USA did exaggerate danger of communism to advance political objectivesAccept existence of American empire, although contend it was primarily defensive – invitation not coercionDoes not exactly combine orthodox and RevisionistDoes stress that neither USSR nor USA = solely responsibleConsensus of opinionMisconceptions played a key role, superpowers overestimated strength & threat of the other, pattern of action & reaction(Gaddis & LaFeber)Both sides = improvising, rather than following a well defined plan of actioStalin’s search for security was not deterred by drawing linesThe west did not fully recognize Stalin’s motivesDomestic policies, bureaucratic inertia, quirks of personality, and innacurate as well as accurate perceptions of Soviet intentions = all important in shaping US policy (Gaddis)Strategic security interests not economic interests drove US policy (Pollard)Both security and economic concerns were important in formulating strategy - not to balance power but achieve a preponderance of it (Leffler)Ideological differences = important (orthodox view)Ideology = insufficient to explain intensification of Cold WarUS & USSR emerged as strongest military powers, relatively isolated before war, collide in post-war power vacuumUS used economic power to fashion a world friendly to American capitalism (revisionist view)Stalin’s immediate post-war aims were limited (revisionist view)Key Figures: John Lewis Gaddis, Walter LaFeber, Gier Lundestad, Maelvyn Leffler, Robert Pollard,The synthesis that represents a new consensusFall of USSRNew Soviet sources made availableRussian historians = free to write without communist party censorshipPost-Soviet era Russian historiansLed Gaddis to modify some initial claims place more focus on the role of Stalin Stalin’s policies + totalitarian/authoritarian government drove west into escalation of hostilities and arms race also considered if Stalin, rather than other key leaders were removed from the equation (John Foster Dulles) Cold War would not have started
2 Opening of the Soviet Archives: The freeing up of Soviet academic life in the late 1980s and then western access to increasing amounts of Soviet archival material since 1991 means it is now possible to re-examine the origins of the Cold War using former Soviet sources. It should be noted that there are at present real limitations on these sources. Only a very small amount of the archival material has been released. There are large amounts of KGB, foreign office, military and Politburo documents that remain highly classified. Also, access has not always been consistent: there have been cases in which material has been released but then closed again on the grounds that it is too controversial or that it threatens the interests of the Russian political elite. The material certainly helps to fill in details on key events but it does not necessarily resolve everything and in some cases it has been used to fuel further controversy. Indeed, some post revisionist historians such as Gaddis appear to have used selected Soviet material to revert to a Cold War interpretation from the nineteen fifties that blames the Russians for everything. See Peter Bastian, “Interpreting the Cold War from Soviet Sources”, Teaching History, Vol. 35, No 4. December, 2001, pp.5-10.