202 Origins of the Cold War

202 Origins of the Cold War - The Cold War Origins to the...

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The Cold War: Origins to the Truman Doctrine (col) At the end of World War II the Soviet Union and the United States reflected upon their historical experiences in the light of their ideologies and constructed narratives that explained why the other nation acted as it did and justified policies in line with these narratives. 1. Soviet Historical Memory and the Making of the Cold War The Soviet Union interpreted its historical experience as showing that the West wished to see it destroyed. Both the origins and course of World War II revealed the West's desire to see the end of the Soviet Union. Therefore, in the last analysis the Soviet Union could depend upon no one but itself for survival and would have to act accordingly. From the time that the Communists had taken power by revolution in 1917, the capitalist nations of the West had opposed the new Soviet regime. Pre-revolutionary Russia had been an economic milk-cow for Western European investors. (Amazingly, one of the fruits of the demise of the Soviet Union has been Russian agreement to pay holders of tsarist bonds!) Western powers were understandably upset when the new Communist regime nationalized their holdings. Soviet withdrawal from the war against Germany in 1918 was bitterly resented and as soon as that war ended, the French, British, Americans and Japanese sent troops to aid the counterrevolutionary armies in their unsuccessful civil war against the Soviets. The postwar treaties lopped off large parts of the prewar Russian Empire in Europe (something Stalin set out to rectify in World War II). Business interests in the West feared the spread of Communist ideas among workers in their own nations and sought to isolate the Soviet Union economically and politically during the 1920s and 1930s. Even--or especially--in countries like the United States where there had never been a chance for a Communist Revolution--charges of "Bolshevik" influence served as an important means of tarring challengers to the status quo whether they came from labor or advocates of civil equality for Blacks and other minorities. Not surprisingly, the Soviets developed a deep mistrust of the West. Their Marxist ideology told them that capitalist nations would seek to destroy the world's only Communist nation and they found constant confirmations of this. The Soviet Union conveniently developed its own paranoia that far exceeded that of American politicians and business interests. Imagined collaboration with foreigners was a convenient charge against those imprisoned and executed in the 1930s.
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Soviet mistrust of the West was heightened by the response of Western nations to Hitler's belligerent diplomacy in the 1930s. The Maginot line of forts the French built on their border with Germany was aimed at assuring that German aggression looked eastward. The French and especially the British resisted establishing clear alliances with the Soviets to counter the Germans. Not surprisingly, the Soviets came to believe that the British and French hoped to appease the Nazis and that they saw a war between the
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This note was uploaded on 12/10/2009 for the course HIST 151 taught by Professor Hunziker during the Spring '07 term at UNC.

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202 Origins of the Cold War - The Cold War Origins to the...

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