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Orthodox / Traditional (Western Liberal) Revisionist Formal Antithesis to Orthodox 1959, 1960s, 1970s Post-revisionist 1970s+ Post Cold War 1989/1991+

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Presentation on theme: "Orthodox / Traditional (Western Liberal) Revisionist Formal Antithesis to Orthodox 1959, 1960s, 1970s Post-revisionist 1970s+ Post Cold War 1989/1991+"— Presentation transcript:

1 Orthodox / Traditional (Western Liberal) Revisionist Formal Antithesis to Orthodox 1959, 1960s, 1970s Post-revisionist 1970s+ Post Cold War 1989/1991+ Reevaluate previous ideas Aggressive expansionist actions of Stalin  Break up of Grand Alliance, Russians responsible for Cold War Until 1947: USA = Passive & wanted cooperation w/ USSR Communist aggression prompted USA to react & defend democracy USA not motivated by self-interest or territory, innocent in world affairs Post-WWII policy of universalism  rejected spheres of influence Soviet union = responsible for the Cold War USSR = expansionist, Suspicious of the West, Marxist revolutionaries bent on world domination Stalin – violated Yalta & Potsdam & plotted to take over the world with Moscow at the center The US had to act defensively  Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, NATO Key figures: Arthur M Schlesinger Jr, Louis Halle, Herbert Feis, Joseph Jones, WH McNiell, Hans Morgenthau Emergence of revisionists put Orthodox historians on the defensive William 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 20 th century American empire) USSR & Stalin = not solely responsible Not as simple as preserving freedom (such a view does violence to the historic record) FDR & Truman not innocent US commitment to universalism = haphazard & hypocritical USA = responsible for the cold war Dollar diplomacy – US actions tied to capitalism Containment of communism = driven by a US desire to secure markets for free trade and penetrate Eastern Europe (Williams) Open Door Policy Soviet 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 him Key Figures: Michael Parenti, Gabriel and Joyce Kolko, Fred Block, William Appleman Williams, Gar Alperovitz, Lloyd Gardner, Walter LaFeber, Barton Bernstein Wisconsin School of diplomatic history: Williams, LaFeber, Gardner, McCormick Mast 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 counts Attempts at synthesis John-Lewis Gaddis: The United States and Origins of the Cold War, , published in 1972 Gaddis = father of post-revisionism George Herring: Aid to Russia, : Strategy, Diplomacy, and the Origins of the Cold War, published 1973 USA used economic instruments to secure political ends Stalin had no ideological blueprint for communist world revolution  he was an opportunist who exploited openings Confirm revisionist contention that USA did exaggerate danger of communism to advance political objectives Accept existence of American empire, although contend it was primarily defensive – invitation not coercion Does not exactly combine orthodox and Revisionist Does stress that neither USSR nor USA = solely responsible Consensus of opinion Misconceptions 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 actio Stalin’s search for security was not deterred by drawing lines The west did not fully recognize Stalin’s motives Domestic 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 War US & USSR emerged as strongest military powers, relatively isolated before war, collide in post-war power vacuum US 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 consensus Fall of USSR New Soviet sources made available Russian historians = free to write without communist party censorship Post-Soviet era Russian historians Led Gaddis to modify some initial claims  place more focus on the role of Stalin  Stalin’s policies + totalitarian/authoritaria n 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


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