Origins of the Cold War

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Unformatted text preview: Origins of the Cold War Origins The Cold War describes the complex rivalry between the USA and The USSR following World War II. Our introductory foray into this subject represents my attempt to give you a balanced and in depth insight to the mercurial period from 1945-1948, the critical prelude before the Cold War when a toxic mix of events, personalities, and suspicions eventually precipitated the Berlin Crisis that would spark the cold war that dominate so much of the twentieth century’s history. twentieth Last Segment: Last We examined how World War II, its global We scope, suffering, and destructive wake, precipitated a reform movement that sought to address problems with the old regime and which culminated in a new international system designed to promote security and prosperity. prosperity. Today: Today: We will examine the darker face of the We postwar period, how the wartime alliance between East and West fell apart precipitating what we refer to as the Cold War. what Lecture Outline Lecture Origins of the Cold War Origins I. Yalta as Postwar Europe’s Unwitting Blueprint Blueprint II. Potsdam Stalemate III. Rising Superpower Tensions (1945-1948) IV. The First Berlin Crisis (1948-49) V. Summary: Who started the Cold War? Origins of the Cold War Origins The Venerable Historical Question: Was the The Cold War an inevitable outgrowth of intrinsic inevitable differences and incompatible interests among the Allied Powers against Hitler once the battle against Nazism was won, or was one side or more responsible for allowing tensions to escalate into what became known as the Cold War? War? In the west, the emergence of communism in Eastern Europe was viewed with despair. Could Stalin turn out to be just another Hitler, a tyrant of a different stripe fundamentally hostile to democracy and freedom? The Historical Method The Objectivity refers to the ideal of looking at an historical event without prejudice, there by prejudice there revealing the unvarnished truth. While truth While historians cannot escape all the filters that condition their subjectivity, one simple tool that can help to curtail bias is to examine an event from opposing viewpoints. For example, in studying the origin of the Cold War one might examine this from the perspective of both East and West and then try to reconcile these viewpoints with surviving evidence. evidence. Framework for Analysis: Slow Dissolution of a Marriage of Convenience (1945-1949) (1945-1949) Exhausted, economically and spiritually from the war, the last Exhausted, thing anybody wanted in June 1945 was another war, least of all the allies who had stood firm against Hitler. And yet, within a short space of time, the mood in both the East and West soured and the Cold War began. To analyze the origins of the Cold War we adopt the metaphor of a “break up”, and we will scrutinize the period from 1945 to 1949 to analyze each side’s account of why their marriage of convenience fall apart. apart. Poor Jen! I. The Yalta Blue Print (1942-1945) A. Casablanca Conference (1942) A. Unconditional Surrender condition One focus of the Casablanca Conference we will not investigate was the DeGaulle question. Who should be the official representative of the Free French? I. The Yalta Blue Print I. B: The Tehran Conference (Jul, 1943) 1. War’s turning point reached 2. Coordinate the approach of Armies 3. Western Movement of Poland The Tehran Conference united the Big Three in Iran in 1943. Although the conference was principally concerned with coordinating the war effort, issues concerning the postwar world did surface, the most prominent issue being Stalin’s demand that Poland be shifted West. A goal that achieved one of the USSR’s principal war aims, increased security. The West’s accedance to this goal laid the ground for much later bitterness. C. Perspectives at Yalta (Feb 45) 1. Roosevelt: -Keep Stalin happy until war was won -Make some tentative plans for postwar world, -Make especially a new international system based on democratic principles that improved upon its discredited predecessor, the League of Nations. discredited -Expanded US role in terms of maintaining peace 2. Churchill: -Guilt at failure to help Russians -Keep Stalin in the alliance -Ink Stalin to concrete positions in terms of the -Ink structure of postwar Europe, particularly areas liberated by the Red Army. liberated Yalta, a resort town in the Crimea One way to understand the Cold War is to get inside the minds of the Big Three. What interests, prejudices, and hopes did they bring to the table at Yalta? 3. Comrade Stalin 3. a. Resentment towards the West -Delayed opening of Second Front -Reneging on Italy b. Real Politik perspective b. Real -spoils rather than idealism c. Secure economic benefits to rebuild devastated c. USSR USSR -reparations and territory d. Ensure USSR’s future security through acquisition of d. territory territory -buffer zone -German disarmament e. Relative Soviet weakness made postwar survival of e. alliance beneficial alliance -Good behavior =western capital infusions -Not in a position to win war with West f. Capitalism’s collapse imminent g. Ego: Seat at the Table It is no surprise that Stalin looked at the world through a different prism than the patrician Churchill or the plebian Roosevelt. Stalin never hid his disdain for the Declaration of a Liberated Europe. Its values were not only bourgeois from a MarxistLeninist perspective, but more importantly, Stalin saw them as a phony excuse for a Western intrusion into the areas liberated by the Red Army. The creation of western regimes hostile to the Soviet Union was not something he was prepared to accept. D. The Yalta ‘Agreement’ D. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Stalin’s participation against Japan/inside UN Division of Germany into military occupation Division zones. zones. Allied Control Council (ACC) to coordinate Allied between zones of an integral Germany between No comprehensive agreement on reparations. Dispute on Poland’s boundaries and Dispute government. government. Declaration on Liberated Europe Most disputed issues tabled for later The Yalta treaty wasn’t so much an accord, but rather an agreement to disagree. Because the wartime Allies found so little common ground, they each grunted and sniped in private, cancelled out the initiatives of the others, and put on a brave face for the newsreels. Yalta was mostly a fiction. The illusion of the accord was short term expediency, when in fact the allies had tabled their irreconcilable differences for a resolution at a later date they knew was unlikely to come. Discussion: Discussion: Historians have debated the relative merits of Historians the Yalta Accord. In your view was the Yalta Accord a failure given that it precipitated frictions that led to the Cold War or was it the best possible compromise given the circumstances at the time? circumstances II. Potsdam: Marriage on the Skids Potsdam A. B. Withdrawal of Lend-Lease (Jun 1945) Withdrawal New New New Cast (Jul 1945) 1. Give them Hell Harry 1. 2. Atlee replaces Churchill 2. Roosevelt had served as 3. USA’s nuclear Monopoly something of an intermediary 4. Red Army cannot be dislodged 4. C. Mutual Mistrust among Big Three: “Truman is worthless” --Uncle Joe “Truman D. Achievement of Principal War Aims D. Achievement and buffer between Stalin and Churchill. Truman and Stalin despised each other, dramatically altered the Big Three equation E. Bane of Contention E. The principal bane of contention at Potsdam was the The $20 billion dollar reparation figure that Stalin demanded from Germany, that had been tabled at Yalta. The West figured that Stalin had gotten his spoils in the form of territory, not only in the form of Prussia, but through his Polish machinations, while Stalin felt that he was legitimately entitled to this sum given that the Nazis had started the war and that the Red Army had done the heavy lifting in winning the conflict. conflict. F. Potsdam=Stalemate F. With Hitler removed the principal underpinning for the EastWest alliance had disappeared. Moreover, with their armies having advanced upon their core objectives, neither side had much of an incentive to reach an agreement. When the Potsdam Conference failed to yield a comprehensive agreement, all parties became stuck with the Yalta Accords. This was ironic, because the Yalta Accords had been mostly a skeletal war plan to coordinate the approach of armies. It was never intended to become the blueprint for Europe or to create a coherent system to coordinate reconstruction. Yet, Yalta, in its lacunae, contradictions, and dysfunctional institutions, became the basis for the structure of postwar Europe. G. The Yalta Framework G. 1. Respect for Yalta boundaries 2. Joint Occupation of Germany 3. Allied Control Council (ACC) Reparations 3. committee (1945-46) committee 4. Nuremburg Trials (1945-46) 5. United Nations (1945) 5. Historians often debate whether the Yalta agreement was a failure or not. This interpretation often depends on whether on judges it on its outcome or the conditions under which it was negotiated. Yalta bequaethed Europe with flawed institutions, but it may have struck the best compromise possible at the time. III. A Rising Chill III. Careful scrutiny of the events 1945-1948 will Careful help us to appreciate the causes for the Cold War, that conflict that divided Europe and hung as a shadow over world history for a half century. century. III. A Rising Chill 1945-1948 III. A. Arrest of the “London” Poles (1945) A. B. Patton’s promise of “another war” (Dec B. 1945) 1945) C. Breakdown of Reparation System: Total C. ACC stalemate by early 1946 ACC Bitter at receiving his reparations, Stalin responded by force. He had 100 Red Army divisions encamped in Eastern Europe, he unleashed his communist agents in Western Europe, he blocked the ACC, he confiscated material in Soviet areas of control raising alarm bells in the West. III. Rising Chill (1945-1947) III. D. Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech (March1946) D. (March1946) 1. Accuses Stalin of bad faith 2. Likens Stalin to Hitler 3. Depicts dispute as a clash of civilizations E. Stalin’s Rebuttal 1. Justified spoils, friendly nations 2. Churchill a racist, war mongerer cartoon 3. Communism was an indigenous movement This captures well The Historical Method: Typical of any failed relationship, both sides blamed the other for the break up of the alliance. The statements of both sides represents a narrative justifying their actions and impugning the other side. Like a divorce judge, historians must scoop through the propaganda, lies, and double speak to reach an objective assessment of who was most to blame. Western sentiment that Soviet tyranny was consistent with its Nazi predecessor. Rising Chill (1945-47) Rising F. Other East European “elections” in contravention to the Yalta F. Declaration on Liberated Europe (Nov. 1946-Jan 1947 Declaration G. Truman Doctrine (March 1947) G. (March 1. military aid for Greece and Turkey 2. Adoption of the clash of civilizations framework 3. Domino Theory of communist threat 4. Containment of Communism adopted as Strategic Doctrine H. Soviet Agitation in the West (1947-48) I. Communist coup in Czechoslovakia (Feb 1948) J. Marshall Plan 1948 (European Economic Recovery) IV. Focus: Crisis in Berlin (1948(194849) 1. Introduction of Deutsche Mark (21 June 1948) 1. 2. Plans for West German Unification 3. Stalin’s Response: Berlin Blockade 3. Berlin 4. Brink of War 5. Airlift 5. Airlift 6. Stalin Lifts the Blockade (1949) First Berlin Crisis: Name given to the blockade of road and rail routes into Berlin in 1948. Stalin intended to force the West back to the bargaining table to negotiate a comprehensive solution for Germany, but instead precipitated what became known as the Cold War. Discussion: Who started the fire? Discussion: Was the Cold War an inevitable outgrowth of Was intrinsic differences and incompatible interests among the Allied Powers once the battle against Nazism was won, or was one side or more responsible for allowing tensions to escalate into the Cold War? escalate IV. Summary IV. Iron Curtain: Following the Berlin Crisis, Following Europe was divided into two blocs, there would be almost no contact between these two halves of Europe for forty years, and each would follow their own developmental path apart from each other. (Welfare state lectures) apart Iron Curtain: Churchill’s colorful metaphor describing how Eastern Europe freshly liberated from the Nazis was in the process of sinking into Soviet tyranny. This concept was reflective of the Western view during the Cold War that the Soviet Union was a menace bent on world conquest and the destruction of democracy. Summary: Bipolarity: The falling out between the USSR The and the West after Hitler’s defeat resulted in the polarization of the globe into two competing blocs: military superpowers soon backed by nuclear arsenals capable of world destruction. Although the USA and USSR did not come into open conflict (i. e. a ‘hot’ war), their use of diplomacy, covert operations, and various forms of finance, deeply influenced the history of the world. (Cold War Lectures). history Bipolarity: The term given by scholars to describe how the USSR and USA dominated the world geo-political system following World War II. The devastation of World War II had dethroned Europe’s Great Powers and to relative outsiders and newcomers, the USA and USSR emerged as global superpowers that had no equals or rivals except each other. Summary: Summary: Not Inevitable: The Cold War was not The inevitable, and the failure of the anti-Hitler marriage to survive the war resulted from a deadly mix of mutual suspicions, irrational fears, bad faith at the negotiation table, and substantially different aspirations, a deadly cocktail that prevented both East and West from seeing that their core goals could have been achieved peacefully through diplomatic negotiation. negotiation. Summary: Summary: State of Fear: Fatigue with World War II, Fatigue Cold war tensions between the superpowers, and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse was most unwelcome and generated a climate of fear that stimulated diverse social and psychological responses in the West, from constructing bomb shelters, to escaping into consumption, suburbia, and the cult of domesticity. (Welfare state lectures) domesticity. ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course HIS 1111 taught by Professor Steve during the Fall '11 term at University of Ottawa.

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