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Was the Cold War i nevitable?

The Cold War was an ideological power conflict between two opponents, the US and the
USSR,thatoccurredfromtheendofWW2tothefalloftheBerlinwall(Novemberthe9thof
1989). During World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union allied against Nazi
Germany, however, after WW2 these grievances ripened into an overwhelming sense of
mutual distrust and enmity. Both of them opposed themselves on every topic: militarily,
politically, economically and ideologically. The US with a democratic, capitalistgovernment
vs. dictatorial, communist government in the USSR.

Realist school of thought

Claim: USSR is a ruthless aggressor, bent on the spread of communism, bore almost
total responsibility for the Soviet-American power tensions after 1945.
1940-1950

Traditionalist view

Claim: Maintained the view that the USSR was a ruthless aggressor and Americas
reaction was legitimate and understandable, following the aggression on the part of the
Soviet Union.
1950-1960
Stalin's aggressive Soviet expansionism.

Revisionist vision

Claim: This school of thought suggested that America was to blame for the outbreak of
the Cold War.
1960-1970
In 1959 the historian William Appleman Williams was the first to suggest
that America was to blame.
The Revisionists said America was engaged in a war to keep countries open
to capitalism and American trade.
Blame on the US for their use of the atomic bomb seen as a mean to
intimidate the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union's occupation of Eastern Europe was seen as a defensive
mechanism to avoid being encircled by the United States and its allies


Post-revisionist vision

Group of historians believed that the origins ofthecoldwarwereneitherthefaultofthe


United States nor of the USSR. The Cold War was a result of misunderstandings on
both sides, and the failure to appreciate each other's fears; defensive positions of
both partieswereviewedasaggression.Oneofthehistorians,JohnLewisGaddis,inhis
work states that both America and Russia wanted to keep thepeaceafterthewarbutthat
conflict was caused by mutual misunderstanding, reactivity, and above all the American
inability to understand Stalin's fears and need to defend himself after the war. J.L. Gaddis
and Walter LaFeber defined it as growing tension of the 1940s, which was a result of a
pattern of "action and reaction." Both sides were "improvising," rather than following a
well-defined plan of action. Both superpowers overestimated the strength and threat
of the other, which makes them equally responsible for the Cold War.

After the fall of communism

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 198990, many new Soviet sources were made
available. Russian historians were also now free to write their own accounts of the Cold
War without Communist Party censorship.

These files showthatSovietleadersduringtheColdWarweretryingtoavoid


conflict with the USA. This puts more of the blame back on America.
Gaddis revised his post-revisionist view, now putting even more focus on
the role of Stalin and the origins of the Cold War, claiming that "...as long as
Stalin was running the Soviet Union, a Cold War was unavoidable."
Gaddis considered the role of all other key leaders and players in the early
stages of the Cold War, and concludes that if Stalin (rather than any of the
others, from President Truman to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles) is
removed from the equation, the Cold War was unlikely to have developed.

To what extent could the Cold War have been prevented?

1. Roosevelts death and Trumans presidency


As Kissinger writes in his book Diplomacy one of the problem which led to the Cold War
was the death of Roosevelt, indeed after himbecamepresidentTruman.Thecourseofthe
Cold War itself might have been slower and more peaceful considering that the
disagreement could have been solved with Roosevelt, thanks to the respect and esteem
that Stalin had for him. Truman had problems in dealing with Russia, becauseStalindidnt
comprehend the importance of morality and legalism in American foreign policy, which
aimed to a European recovery, focusing on domestic structures of eastern europeans
where U.S. had not strategic interest.

2. W. Churchills Iron Curtain speech


Churchills famous Iron Curtain speech delivered onMarch5,1946wasseenasanofficial
declaration of the Cold War. Considering that the ideological tension between the
Communism and Capitalism existed before, itcouldbethoughtthatChurchillsspeechwas
a trigger needed to officially declare the rivalry.

3. Post WW2 Germany - settling the German question


The international environment was based on armies advancing from East and West:Stalin
wanted to keep down economically and politically Germany, although Truman needed a
powerful Germany in theinterestofageneralEuropeanrecovery.Again,thisdisagreement
could have been maybe solved with Roosevelt.

4. Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine


US and UK wanted free elections everywhere in Europe and Stalin said that if therewould
be free elections,everycountrywoulddecidetobeanti-sovietandhesimplycannotpermit
that. The new American policy aimed to restrict soviet expansion, which led to the Cold
War, was based on the Marshall Plan which would have helped european states to be
independent and autonomous; and to prevent any Russian attack Americans increased
their military in Europe.

American policy was initially based on two plans, 1947:


- Truman Doctrine = US wouldprovidemoneytocountriesthattheywerethreatened
by communist expansion
- Marshall plan =13 billion USD were loaned to European nations in order to restore
prosperity and economic stability.

Conclusion

The Capitalist West and Communist East held philosophies which were both opposite and
antagonistic to each other. They were forced allies during the war, and fought against the
sameenemyratherthanwitheachother.TheColdWarhadtobeinevitable,thecausesare
plurals and thiswarwasalreadywritteninhistorybeforeitbegan.However,towhatextent
was this opposition necessary, and did the Soviet Union had achanceinfrontoftheUSall
along?