A Very Brief Digression in History: the Cold War
Even before the famous Yalta conference, Allied leaders attempted to divide the world into spheres of
Your armies are in Rumania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don’t
let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how
would it do for you to have 90% predominance in Rumania, for us to have 90% of the say in
Greece and go 50-50 in about Yugoslavia?
Churchill to Stalin, 1944 (See Suny on Page 368)
Suny groups historic views on the Cold War into three rough categories:
: Cold War was a product of Soviet expansionism. In the words of Schlesinger, it was the
“brave and essential response of free men to communist aggression”
: Cold War was a product of mutual suspicion on both sides. According to this view, U.S.S.R.
was conservative and cautious in its politics
Most of the blame should be placed on United States, which required the breaking
down of trade barriers everywhere in order to expand the sphere of influence of American capitalism.
Truman’s quote: “America should take the lead in running the world the way the world ought to be
Stalin, who died in 1953, was mostly concerned with state security after WWII ended: his policy was based on
recognition of the weaknesses of U.S.S.R. and a fear that the West would take advantage of these weaknesses.
He was committed to preventing the establishment of hostile governments close to Soviet borders, hence the
emphasis in Soviet foreign policy on maintaining U.S.S.R.-friendly regimes in Eastern Europe.
The United States looked for the establishment of a world capitalist economy that would be conducive to
. For instance, the American minister to Hungary was afraid that Hungary would “become
an economic colony of U.S.S.R. from which western trade will be excluded and in which western investments
will be totally lost.
In popular rhetoric, capitalism went hand in hand with prosperity and peace, and
communism was a threat to the American way of life.
In the words of Suny (Page 404),
The key policymakers in United States saw Soviet leaders as inspired by a “new fanatic faith,
antithetical to our own” and committed to imposing their “absolute authority over the rest of
the world.” In a top
-secret memorandum a key administration official argued that American
policy should aim to reduce Soviet power, and even change the nature of the Soviet system,,
roll back Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, and revive nationalist among the subject peoples
of the U.S.S.R.
. But, he feared, because the Soviet Union would possess the capability for a
surprise nuclear attack in four or five years, the United States had to increase military