Cold War Coursework Essay Sample

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Using these four passages and your own knowledge, assess the view that during the Second World War the relationship between the ussr and the west was characterised more by co-operation than by disagreement.

The four interpretations are in agreement that during the second World War the relationship between the USSR and the West was characterised more by cooperation than disagreement. There was major conflict over various issues regarding Communisms security in Eastern Europe, specifically expansionism in Eastern Europe which caused the relations between allies to deteriorate after the war, however the Allies maintained an alliance despite the pressure frequently placed upon it. Similarly Loth and Boyle argue that the relationship was again, characterised by cooperation, however their reasoning for the cooperation is different. They both believe that cooperation was maintained by “material aid” from the United States to the USSR under the name of lend-lease, however Loth also argues that it was mutual interest in the destruction of Axis powers that brought the alliance to cooperate.

Both of these interpretations however exaggerate levels of cooperation in the Grand Alliance, ignoring Truman’s actions and and contentious issues such as free election in Eastern Europe, and the Berne incident. Acton and Stableton’s Interpretation argues that the alliance was characterised by cooperation over its goal of Axis’ surrender, and there was little or no conflict, and said conflict was secondary to the eventual satisfaction brought on be the achievement of their goals. Ultimately the sources all agree that cooperation characterised the alliance and these interpretations can be supported with events throughout the period, however they frequently neglect many of the issues which eventually lead to the cold war.

Westwood poses his view that ‘wartime co-operation between the USSR and her allies was marred by friction’, separating Stalin from his occidental associates in the slowing of progress between them, further justifying this as ‘the sacrifices of the Soviet Union were enormously and horribly greater than those of her allies.’ Hence, Westwood implies the Soviet position of feeling victimised in light of their losses compared to that of the British and Americans, meaning Stalin had to insist upon greater measures of assistance for the Red Army in any discussions between the three. In an exchange of correspondence between Roosevelt and Stalin in early April 1945, classified as personal and top secret, concerning Operation Crossword, the latter wrote that whilst the Germans had surrendered on the Western Front ‘they continue the war against Russia… clearly this situation cannot help preserve and promote trust between our countries’. This is evidence of Stalin’s belief that his allies would negotiate a peace with Germany without his knowledge; he subtly threatens the collapse of relations should such deceptive behaviour be displayed again.

One can therefore see Westwood’s viewpoint that decisions were driven by a Soviet desire for compensation, ultimately meaning ‘more concessions were made to the USSR than by the USSR.’ It cannot go unmentioned, however, that a quite drastic turn around in policy occurred after the death of Roosevelt, as Truman avidly described his position on Molotov’s reluctance to come to San Francisco for the organisation of the UN, declaring, according to Bohlen’s memorandum of the White House Meeting April 23rd, ‘if the Russians did not wish to join us, they could go to hell.’ It is true that the new president, self-proclaimed as uninformed on foreign affairs as they were, wished to make an impression on his cabinet, but with that in mind, this comment, devoid of diplomatic language, is a powerful one which characterised Truman’s approach.

Therefore, Westwood’s approach is suitable for Roosevelt’s attitude but is not representative of Truman’s hard-line treatment of the Russians, indicating a collapse in co-operation, so carefully constructed by appeasing Stalin in the war’s final years.Loth states that the alliance was held together by the need to end the war with Axis rapidly, as he states “a shared concern to bring about the military defeat of the Axis powers as quickly as possible”. This interpretation can be supported by several events throughout the period, firstly, lend lease was set up in 1941 to supply Soviets with the vital resources and munitions they required to push back the Nazi forces, preventing them taking control of the USSR and their natural resources like oil, which would allow them dominate Europe. Secondly in November 1942 it was agreed that a policy of unconditional surrender should be enacted, crushing all chance of future rebellion in the countries, as depicted by the Atlantic Charter.

Finally the Tehran conference further supports this interpretation because the Allies agreed on a date for the Second Front which would bring a close to war in the West after many delays over fears it would be insufficient, to ameliorate Stalin the US and Britain launched an offensive in North Africa and carried out bombings on German cities. The second view expressed by Loth is that their mutual interest in aid by the US in order to minimise the cost of war for both allies, “render the effects of the war- more tolerable for both sides”. This view could be reliable because it supported by Peter Boyle’s interpretation that US aid ameliorated differences between the two sides allowing wartime cooperation to exist. The US gave the USSR $11 billion in materials: over 400,000 trucks; 12,000 armoured vehicles; 11,400 aircraft and 1.75 million tons of food to aid them in the fight. Westwood’s final point is that Roosevelt and Stalin were willing to make personal concessions to avoid future conflict, “”both sides exerted efforts to bring about this cooperation”.

This view is supported by Roosevelt’s actions and lack of actions, he was willing to ignore the Katyn massacres to prevent the break down of communication between the Allies and the deterioration of public opinion, he also agreed on the movement of Polish borders West to the Curzon line. The view is further supported by Stalin’s concessions, he discouraged communist uprisings in Greece after encouraging Churchill to have a larger sphere of influence there, he agreed to become a member of the UN, and also ended the Iran crisis of 1946 by moving his troops out of there. However this interpretation neglects the fact that Roosevelt always pushed for free elections that Stalin never allowed in Poland, and the issues caused by the Berne incident, where Stalin believed the Western Allies were plotting with Nazis to focus Nazi forces in Russia while removing them from Italy. The actions of Stalin against US aims for a self governed, capitalist Germany outlined in the Speech of Hope in 1946, blocked these from being achieved, he ensured a pro communist Eastern Germany which he drained for reparations.

Boyle sculpts his opinion around the process of Lend Lease, using ‘American economic aid to ameliorate US-Soviet differences’. In this Boyle appears to support Loth’s interpretation except that he later reveals ‘gestures of goodwill were of no value in dealing with the Soviets’. Firstly, it can be validated that the Americans had every attention of winning Soviet support, or at least Roosevelt did, as seen in a message from him to a White House Administrator responsible for the programme, Wayne Coye , August 2nd 1941: ‘Frankly, if I were a Russian I would feel that I had been given the run-around… Step on it!’ Thus, it is quite clear that Roosevelt is more than willing to co-operate with Russia, personally ensuring the hasty delivery of the required materiel. Certainly, Boyle’s reference to Kennan is a justified one as he wrote to Boehlen, during the Yalta conference, advising the representatives ‘to go whole hog’ in frustrating the Soviet Union, showing a fundamental distrust of their ally amongst some hard-line diplomats in the US Embassy.

Again, however, there is a lack of consideration for Truman who, like Kennan, adopted an unrelenting approach to Stalin over the matter of Roumania and Bulgaria in on June 7th 1945; he was ‘disturbed to find governments which do not accord to all the democratic elements of the people’. This insinuation serves to emphasise the idea of increasing disagreement, showing it was not only hard headed diplomats such as Boehlen and Kennan who believed the Soviet Union to be acting outside of the realm of the Yalta axioms, disagreeing with their conduct in Eastern Europe. This interpretation, therefore, highlights the growing optimism of the Roosevelt administration towards American-Soviet relations in the post-war years with mention of a couple of seemingly anomalous renegades in the Embassy, without any reference to Truman’s more stoic defence of previous agreements at Yalta and Teheran. This limits the sources significantly although it does retain usefulness in its analysis of the era of diplomacy until Roosevelt’s death, seemingly characterised by co-operation.

The final interpretation by Acton and Stableford portrays the view that cooperation between the allies continued into the 40s,” from 1994 the sense of the USSR more and more closely interacting with its allies increased. This view can be supported by the conferences in 1995, Yalta, and Potsdam. At both these conferences significant conclusions about the future of Poland, Germany and the Far East were reached. This view is further backed by interpretation B which reasoned that both sides made concessions, allowing conclusion to be reached on the Polish borders, resettlement of Germans, and the introduction of democracy to liberated countires in Europe following their commitment to the Atlantic Charter, along with the reparations Germany would pay (10% of the industrial capacity of the western zones unnecessary for the German peace economy), the Soviet Union also agreed to enter the war with Japan in exchange for the repair Port Arthur, Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.

However this neglects the superficial nature of agreements reached over democracy in Europe as Soviet aims had been from the outset to spread communism through eastern Europe, not simply to ensure its safety. The USSR created Soviet states throughout Eastern Europe; the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the People’s Republic of Romania, the People’s Republic of Poland, the Czechoslovak Republic, the People’s Republic of Hungary, and the Soviet occupation zone in Eastern Germany. The second view expressed by Acton and Stableford is that after the defeat of Germany all disagreement between the allies was put aside, “Tensions between the Allies seemed altogether secondary alongside the profound satisfaction Germany’s surrender and occupation.”. This view is invalid because of the many crisis that followed the surrender of Germany, the soviet occupation of Manchuria in 1946was caused by their occupation during the Russo-Japanese war and involved Stalin recognising the local communist party and its sovereignty over Manchuria, it supplied them armaments from dead Japanese soldiers allowing them to establish a foothold in Manchuria and Northern China.

50,000 US marines were sent in to seize communications, roads and railways because congress feared Soviets were poised to fill to power vacuum in Asia. Furthermore Stalin also caused a crisis in Iran. Under wartime agreements Soviets held a garrison in Iran to prevent Axis forces accessing the Persian oil fields. Post war however Soviets remained in Iran and encouraged separatist movements in the Northern provinces of Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. The US feared these were attempts to establish a soviet sphere of influence mirroring those in Eastern Europe, this was a contentious issue because Iran was a vital; border between the USSR and Persia. The Soviet Union eventually left Iran on March 1st 1946 after pressure from the US.

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