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The Cold War - When, Why, Who - Geoffrey Roberts explains...

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Unformatted text preview: Geoffrey Roberts explains when and why the Cold War began_. Historians and the Cold War T-i '-'. ' ___ between the Soviet Union and the United States. In _Qéfi the USA and the USSR — the two main victors of the Second World War— had proclaimed their Wm postwar unity and co operation. But by the end of this ublic harmony had been replaced by mutual recrimination about who was to blame for th twat br that had defeated H1tler. Each side blamed the other for - eratin the ulitical id-olo'cal d milita ' rival communism and liheral democratic capitalism. From the very beginning of the cold war there was a dispute about 1ts origins — about when, why and how the conflict started and who was responsible. Among historians the cold war origins debate went through several main phases. From the 19405 to the 19705 it cantered on the contribution of .- --_-. - -.- ___ -_'_'.'; Some historians (often labelled ‘traditionalists by their opponents) endorsed the off C1al US government view that the cold war started because America resisted a series of a ssive and ex ansi n m v the Soviet Union Other historians (called‘ revisionists' because they sought to revise the semi- off c1al views of the traditionalists) were much more critical of American policy, arguing that the US had acted nana essivean nresnalemanneraftrh rvkin v 1 - 11 By the end of the 19?0s the debate between traditionalist and revisionists had exhausted itself. Most historians were prepared to settle for a ‘post—revisionist’ or ‘post—traditionalist’ compromise view — essentially the idea that neither the Americans nor the Russians were to blame and that bofluldeshad By the 19803, however, the historical debate had entered a new phase with the publication of a number of studies on the origins of the cold war which emphasised the role of the - . in articular Churchill, Bevin, Bidault and Ademuton US fore1gnpol1cy Since the 19903 historical work on the cold war has been dominated by research on Soviet foreign policy. Following the fall of communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, there was a significant opening 11p of Soviet bloc archives. Furthermore, the end of the cold war and the break-up of the Soviet Union filcilitated more detached reflection on the roles and responsibilities of the different players. Broadly speaking, the post-revisionist consensus that nobody really wanted or was solely responsible for the cold war still holds. But it is a view that can now be validated from a multi-archival perspective. . The Grand Alliance When exactly did the cold war begin? The two main responses to this question in the historical literature are: (i) 1917 and (ii) 194?. The first school of thought sees the cold war as a phase in a long of anta nistic relations between the Soviet Union and the west. This history, it is argued, started when the Bolsheviks seized "wet in 121- Z and hqgan the socialist exmriment in Russia, thereby _' :Jttr'i 1 'C I On 11 ermanent WM footin- and engaged in l- Iistorians who characterise Soviet-western relations 1n the interwar period as an ‘early cold war” make an important point. The gust-1945 susgicion and mistrust among the ggeat1g1we s did not come out of thin air. Yet they tend to ski over IIssibl the most important phase In Soviet- Western relations before the cold war _ . . confrontation. The ‘Grand Alliance’, a common name for the -' ' ' .. . -. of Britain the United States and the Soviet Uiiion. It was forced into being by Nazi Germany, which attacked Russia in june 1941 and declared war on the United States in December 1941. During the early pgdod of' Its existence (1941-43) the alliance was .i. - ~ . . . In IImiiated I miIir ' ' lwlowever with victory assured, decision—makers In London, Washington and Moscow began to turn their attention to the ' '-' ' ' .' From 1943 there were a series oft tri artite ne mtiations and a eem n s concerning the gostwar world Of particular nnportance was a series of summits of the leaders of the Big Three at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam At these meetings Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman and Atdee . 51.151- 0 on the need for a I -acetime dalliance. I'he governing concept was that the- " " '--- ' " " ace securi and rosI-ri for all nations. The story of the origins of the cold war is fiandamentally one of how and why the grand alliagm ' " - =1 There were, it is true, a number of_ uneral conditions and contexts that pointed in the ' ‘ Hannah and a can nominal- in Soviet—Westem relations have already been mentioned During the war a Large measure of Hrgreeiflent on posmar issues had been achieved but '- . ined At the end of the war there emerged 1 ' above all In Germany The fact Some historians argue that these factors made some kind of cold war inevitable. At the time, however, noneof {liege problems was seen as insurmountable, gi ven mutual resg anal fl] will. When the war ended there was good will aIlent'y— at least on most people’s part. But not for long. It soon became evident that there were - " " rift"? .between t e Soviet Union and its and alliance garmers The three most important areas of dispute concerned I. t 111 Euro Genius and the litical and economic reconstruction of lziur Eastern Europe The .. dispute ver Eastern Liuroie arose from the Soviet Union’s determination to establish its . . . . l —-—————-———-—-———_—-......____. ' in Eastern Euro-e. I'his refiluirecl the establishment of .' 1d, so Stalin believed, the exclusion of western influence from the re_—________H—_L__vion. Since the lled Arm ha eon uered most of Eastem Euro on its victorious march to Berlin the Soviets were in a mo rig position to get what they wanted. An additional factor In their favour was ggggggrt from the Ens. EI-uro n communist iarties which wielded considerable Ilitical influence after the war. As a Ihe strengthening The lhitish and Americans .'lhey accepted that the Russiansh'td I _ , . on but BmLMLflchnmmameanade In the . . .. ,agreed at the Yalta conference in February 1945, that the peoples of Eastern Enron ' would be free tochoose their own Ivernments. London and Washin :ton were also .. . . _ -‘ . {-11% ;__ E from the region '-.I' my. lav with anti— Soviet and anti-communist ol1t1c11ns in Eastern Euro e. Britain and the US 2 “Wig Established by the Potsdam conference In August 1945, the CF M was an ntgamsahomflheflream nnnisters of Britain, China, France, the Soviet Union and the United States W Wt It held its first meeting in London In September 1945 — a meeting which fiav vie; governments in Bulgaria and Romania In due course that parficuldefifldlflChflflimfifllflcdwtc two govemmmtammmgoisnd) and the C FM resumed its meetings. Indeed, in 1945-4? the CFM successfially completetLumenanmalJasLhfldmmngaipmumm for Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and Hungary. However, the experience of these negotiations whiEh were exhausnngnnd that could undermine their position in Eastern Europe. Moscow also insisted on the principle of @d co decision- -making, I. e. that evegvt_hing should be decided by the Soviet Union, Britain and the _US_ (the French and Chinese were considered, at best, as iunior partners) and that within that tripartite arrangement each of the partners had a! For their part, the British and Americans sougtt to hold on to the positions they held- for example their influence In Italy and Greece ~— and to broaden out the process of decision and consultation on the mam: settlement. Beyond the confines of the CFM the most imI rtant deveiopment In the Soviet-Western dispute over Eastern Europe was in Fulton, Missouri in March 1946. Churchill, in Fulton to receive an honorary degree, used die occasion to attack Soviet policy In Eastern Europe: ‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern Europe Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them W ’n Ire f control from Moscow.’ Churchill was no longer Prime Minister and his sv- l_'_I was not an government polig. On the other hand, . . - who had succeeded Roosevelt In 1945 shared the-datform with Che hill and the former PM’ vi ws tall as in i .olic and thinkin This was certainly how the Soviets interpreted the speech. Stalin himself publicly denounced Churchill as an anti- bolshevik wannonggr. Privately, .. ' in the western states worry which received ample confirmation wtth "si‘ruman speech to the US Congress In M "lhe peoples of a number of countries have recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life One way of life is based on the will of the majority" .The second way of life is based upon the will ofu a minority forcibly imposed U n the ma'orit .I believe It must the Oh of the United States tos P0 I Y _ P C_Y_ resistin attem ted suhu .. . It signalled American determination to resist further Soviet I and to do so by the dephaymmataaflcouumailiugpom, by what was called them )Il‘l’flmmw‘t \ 'I'mlmm's Speech was £1.deme to consider the question of a peace treaty for Germany. l-Iis evident abandonment of diplomacy and o i ‘ ' position did not auger well for its proceedings. Germany Germany’s filture was the second important area of dispute between the erstwhile “artimc allies. During the war it had been agreed that German would be _a 2:."- b the allies and then denazified, demilitarised and democratised. To this end Germany was divided into Soviet and western zones of tnilit_a_rz‘ occugtion. Berlin too was divided, despite the fact that it lay deep in the Soviet zone of occupation. During the war there had been tnuch talk of dismembering Germany, but both the Soviets and their western allies had found it con of the German state would be ,- ' " ' .-—..i..a rows-4:».- li't' " On Soviet insistence detailed discussion of a peace sonic-men; with sigma]; [and 5115mm was deferred until the conclusion of the peace treaties with the minor axis states. However, by the time the CFM met to discuss Germany the su " ' ' into somethin much more " _ = i3 The Anglodlmeric American zones were merged economically at the end of 1946) and the Russians in their Eastern zone olicies which indicated an __ At the Moscow conference of the CFM in March—April 1947 the Russians p _ unified German administration to be established, but the British and Americans -' :. Moscow the terms and condrns for the creation of a sin e German state. One particular sticking Point was the issue of Moscow wanted economic reparations from Germany {0 QHLFW _ Soviet war damage. The British and Americans accepted that the litgssians could extract such reparatipns from the Eastern zone but not from their western zone. The western priority was mstwar Gennan economic recovgfl, seen as essential to a wider Eurom economic revival. It was feared that reparations would cripple such a recover: ~— 35 had happened after the First World War. Yet more important than economics was politics. By 1947 the British and American litical riori was to retain - olitical control of western German , a policy which was increasingiy linked to a side; ‘ ' _ ‘_ -=..-_.-"-- I; .‘ The Soviets attempted to disrupt western political Plans for German? by "WWW red rdin the establishment of atmrathm-rnmadininnratiOI1. At the same time Moscow pursued a unilateral olic of .-'-.'.'....---'n a" in Eastern Gettnn . It was on this plane that Soviet policy converged with western. Insistence on continuing communist control of the Soviet zone could not but contribute to the eventual division of Germany. Against this background, the CF'M -. -- _- _Li ,3 14‘” on the future of Germany. Further attempts at negotiation proved equally forlom. By the end of 194? Soviet-Western negotiations on a German peace treatyr had, to all intents and purposes, broken down. European Reconstruction The third important postwar dispute within the grand alliance concerned '_'.:-::.‘._.—l 0;er __-'_-,.-.l"' eaten By mid-19:11am .westemratcshadmmmlcsigisemmmergmndamance The Soviets were moving in that direction too, though in fact Stalin still cl_ur_1g to the possibility of 5 taking a deal over g iennauy and other issues still in dispute. In May 1947 he gave an interview toa visiting American senator in which he stressed the dtfiifdbfli of ntin tin ll 7 . In summer 1947, however, there was a decisive change in his outlook. The precipitating event was the launch ofthe so—called z~ns.n2;2 u he at Harvard Univ rsi In June 1947 US Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, spo on the need for a la _-scale uro rrarmne of American .. i _ . .. “'5’ Behind Marshall’s proposal lay American i; .' : ' ' ' ‘ . ', WhiCh remained ii". {is-.3"; 4 MI Karin fide'J-l war- torn and imrmvgris 11931. The communist parties of France, Italy and other countries had estahlished :1 strong position for themselves after the war. Until May 194? the French and Italian communist parties were members of ruling coalitions, and communists participated in the government of other West Euro -an states as well. In Sponsoring a European economic recovery which would Contribute to.»:- Marshall aimed row left and to | l l' . l . . E i | ”‘.lthough the Americans were thinking mainly 111 terms of W estem Europe, the Sui 1;; Union and Eastern Europe were not excluded From the proposed aid programme. Indeed the British and French governments responded to Marshall’s Harvard speech by ' inviting me Russi 1am to a con ferengg in Paris to discuss a European response to the plan. In Moscow, however, the Soviets were in two minds On the one hand, they 1.1-." - - .'- " ofAmerican loans and -_ . ts, for themselves and for their East European allies. On the other, they i'eared that the Marshall Plan was an economic counte art of the lruman Doctrine — a means of usin; American financial muscle to " '- Western Europe. At the Paris conference in july 194? Moscow’s worst fears were realised. The oBritish and French insisted (in accordance with Marshall' 5 exsress wishes that an American aid 1: h d to co- coordinated and o ;. ised on 1 1-.- _ ' This was seen by the Soviets as a western ' " " " in the economic and olitical life of the Eas Eu 0 ' .Such western involvement was completely unacceptable to Stalin. Consequently the USSR withdrew from all negro, tiations concerning the Marshall Plan and insisted its East European allies did not participate either The Soviet riposte to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan was not long in coming. In Se )tember 194? politburo member A. A. Zhdanov delivered what became lrnown as the 5 mm the founding conference of the .i.--'= - ' -: - ”f: the successor for the European communist parties: ‘The more the war recedes into the past, the more distinct become two major trends in post-war international policy, corresponding to the division of the political forces operating on international arena into two major camps: the imperialist and anti-democratic camp and the anti-imperialist and democratic camp The principal driving force of the imperialist camp is the USA The cardinal purpose of the imperialist camp is to strengthen imperialism, to hatch a new imperialist war, to combat socialism and democracy, and to support reactionary and antidemocratic profascist regimes and movements everywhere The antinfascist forces comprise the second camp. This camp is based on the USSR and the new democracies [of Eastern Europe] The purpose of this camp is to resist the threat of new wars and imperialist expansion, to strengthen democracy and to extirpate the vestiges of fascism? While lruman had called for a defence of the free world a linst '9 I __ Conclusion: the Cold War Begins 1947 was the year of the cold war. By tIBNe’nd of that year the iu an; by the'3 "l'nunan Doctrine, Zhdanov’s o-cam s s eh and th U negotiations over Germany and the Marshall Elan — was complete. In Eastern Europe Moscows divided; indeed, by 1949 two ' -1Tmn in the west mid the German Democratic Re ublic 1n the cast t1948 witnessed the first of the great cold war crises when the Russians vl:"=:- . powers to mount a massive airlift to supply their sectors of the city. The Iii . n 1 f Etnope Further deepened with the setting up of A ril 1949. With the-2 ' ' ' ' J -.-- n.— August 1949 and the communist invasion of 'sagngfii'h‘t'rf‘ .. entered a new and even more dangerous phase. in june 1950 the cold war confrontation 'I'imeline - 1945 0 February The Ynlm Conference 0 May 7th Unconditional surrender of Germany 0 August Postdain Conference 0 August 14th Unconditional surrender of japan 0 September lst First meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers I 1946 0 March 5th Churchill's 'Imn Curtain‘ speech 0 1947 0 March The Truman Doctrine' announced 0 June Marshall's speech on aid at Harvard 0 July Paris Conference on aid; USSR withdrew 0 September Zhdmov‘s ‘two camps' speech 0 1943 0 June Soviets blockaded Berlin in 1949 0 April North At] antic Treaty Organisation set up 0 August Soviets rested atomic bomb Further Reading Caroline Lewis Gaddis We No Know: Rethinking Cold War History (1997) Martin McCauley The Origins of the Cold War (1990) David S. Painter The Cold War: An International History (1999) Geoffrey Roberts The Soviet Union in World Politics: Coexistence, Revolution and the Cold War, 1945-1991 (1999) 0 Marc Trachtenberg A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement 1945-1963 (1999) {a _ Krebs MI I t‘i‘lficltl 2 “/2101? The Rise and Fall of the Big Three Paul Dukes assesses the roles of the major statesmen from Britain, the USA and the USSR during the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War. At the begiuuuugflflbififlflmdfloddflar. there was no Allied ‘Big Three’, not even a dual relationship. Great Britain was at first alone. Then, after the Gennan invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the prognosis was not good. Senator Tniman spoke for many of his fellow Americans: ‘I F we see that Germany is winning we should help Russia and if Russia is winning then we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don’t want to see Hitler victorious under any circwnstances.’ Meanwhile, Churchill was attempting to come to terms with his deep-_setfign. tipathy towards the communist regime, while already aware of the _LLK’s dependence on the USA. He was particularly worried that some American aiudflightjidiverted to the mist ni n in what was already becoming a triangular relationship if not yet the Big Three. The most public pointer to later discussions was the joint declaration made by Roosevelt and Churchill on 12 August 1941. The as it became known, set out gig}: broad pringiglgfi for the li hm .n of human ti :1 l l s '11 after the destruction of Nazi tyranny. Yet whatever tbrmulations were agreed, the WWW’ eculd not be easily disguised. _ ,.__ .- "21.1. A further pointer towards later Big Three meetings was a Lt_i1_1t message to Stalin, suggesting a hiph- -level meeting iiLMgscow to discuss how support could most expeditiously be continued for the Soviet Union’s ‘brave and steadfast resistance’ to Hitlerism. 'l'he _lwanese attack on Pearl Harbor on '1' December 1941 brought the USA into the war and the consolidation of the Big 'l'hree ever nearer. War—time Conferences an 1», In the build- -up to the first meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at Tehran in late 1943, two had been company, especially Churchill and Roosevelt, but ev en Churchill and Stalin after a shaky start. Roosevelt and Stalin also got on well when they talked together after their arrival in the lranian capital. Already, however, there was talking...
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