The USA and USSR Essay Sample

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I agree to some extent that the USA and USSR were already divided by irreconcilable differences by 1945 due to their ideological differences which contradicted the beliefs of the other nation. The USA believed in a democratic world which would benefit the economic interests of the USA with free open markets. However the USSR with its new position in the world aimed to improve its security by spreading its communist influence in neighbouring countries. Security was an important issue due to its past experiences of being attacked by the west through Eastern Europe such as the west’s intervention in the Russian civil war of 1917-18. This experience therefore led the Soviet Union to have a mutual suspicion of the motives of the USA and the west during the war. Therefore the USA and USSR were already divided by 1945. However they were not completely divided as they managed to become allies in their fight against Nazi Germany. The fact that they were able to unite to fight a common cause which was to defeat Nazi Germany illustrates that they were not divided by irreconcilable differences by 1945.

The two nations were already divided due to their ideological differences as highlighted in source 1 which is from the orthodox perspective. According to the USA, ‘The USSR was a revolutionary state’ inherently driven by Marxist-Leninist ideologies of world communist revolution. Therefore the USSR was already hostile to the west as its ideologies threatened the existence of democratic nations. The USSR was hoping to establish security along its borders by implementing soviet friendly governments which would be communist in nature. This was because the USSR perceived it to be in a ‘hostile and threatening world’ as outlined by source 1. Therefore, making it difficult for the USA to work with the USSR because it distrusted the west, so much so, that it needed to create a buffer state to protect itself from future invasions. However source one places greater importance to the USSR’s ideological differences that meant it ‘pursued political aims which went far beyond what was required for the sake of security’. This foreign policy would conflict with American ideology which was derived from Wilsonian liberalism and envisaged a world with free trade where tariffs would be abolished and there were open markets. Therefore due to their ideological differences the two superpowers became divided by the end of 1945.

However, the USA misinterpreted the actions and motives of the USSR which appeared to be expansionist and aggressive. But they were actually defensive measures carried out to protect the USSR from being attacked in the future. The USSR felt vulnerable because it had been invaded through Eastern Europe twice. Moreover it distrusted the west rightly so as the west had intervened in the Russian civil war of 1917 to prevent communism being established in the USSR. This led to a growing mutual suspicion of the motives of the west. Source 2 highlights this feeling of insecurity in the USSR which it suggests is the driving force for the creation of a buffer state. ‘The wish to establish a security buffer’ (source 2) was reinforced further when the western allies delayed the opening of the second front. This led Stalin to believe that the west wanted to see the USSR destroyed before they defeated Nazi Germany. Source 2 an author of the revisionist school of thought therefore implies that the USA and USSR were not completely divided by irreconcilable differences as the two sides could have potentially remained as allies had Truman tried to understand the actions of the USSR to be in the best interest of the security of the Soviet Union.

The power vacuum created in Eastern Europe exposed the differences between the two nations as both fought to compete in spreading their ideological influences that suited their interest as outlined in source 3 which is from the post-revisionist perspective. The USSR took Eastern Europe under its wing so that she could rebuild her economy using the resources of the eastern European states. SU was determined to improve its security by weakening countries around it especially Eastern Europe. However, Source 3 realises that this idea of Soviet ‘friendly governments in eastern Europe clashed with Americas long-term interests.’

The USA competed to spread its influence in Europe in order to keep an open market to sell American made goods. This implies that they were divided by their post war aims. Source 3 from the post revisionist perspective conveys that ‘Poland was at the centre of the origins of the cold war’. The fate of Poland was significant to Britain as that was the reason why they went to war. But Poland was also important to the USSR due to its geographical position as it was used as a route as an invasion of Russia three times ‘Stalin wished to make any repetition of this impossible'(source 2). For this reason the Soviet Union let the Polish Home army a non-communist resistance army be ‘crushed by the Nazi occupation forces’ before entering Warsaw. This ensured all possible resistance groups were eliminated, so that they were no longer a threat to Stalin. As a result this would make it easier to implement a communist friendly government in Poland. Therefore this signifies that the two superpowers were divided due to their differing post-war aims.

But the differences were not that great to the extent that it was irreconcilable because they managed to make agreements at Potsdam and Yalta conferences on the spheres of influence. At Yalta they agreed on the division of Germany, Berlin and Austria into temporary zones of influence. Stalin also agreed to join the United Nations organisation which would decide the fate of the post-war world. This was a sign of continued cooperation between the emerging superpowers, therefore implying that the USA and USSR were not divided by irreconcilable differences.

Further cooperation can be seen in the percentages deal over the spheres of influence agreed by Stalin and Churchill. Churchill formed the percentages agreement with Stalin where they would proportion power in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia and Hungary. However this plan could not be implemented as Roosevelt rejected it. This illustrates that they were not divided by irreconcilable differences as Britain a close democratic ally of the USA managed to make an agreement with Stalin on the spheres of influence. Therefore this supports the revisionist school of thought as this demonstrates Stalin’s ability to compromise over Eastern Europe. Moreover this suggests that the two countries were not completely divided due to their differences but it was rather down to the personalities of the leaders of both countries that led to a division.

Change in power in US government meant SU and USA could not resolve their differences. Roosevelt wanted to continue the policy of containment which had helped the two countries come to agreement on the spheres of influence in Europe. However when Truman came to power following the death of Roosevelt the division between the two states deepened with Truman keen not to be seen as being soft on communism. Therefore he adopted a tougher stance on the USSR as he did not want to appease the Stalin as he the west did with Hitler which eventually led to the SWW.

In conclusion the USA and USSR were not completely divided by irreconcilable differences because if they were they would have gone in conflict after the western allied intervention in the Russian civil war of 1917. However by 1945 due to their conflicting post war aims they began to show signs of hostility and division. But they could have remained as allies had the USA understood the USSR’s insecurities. Moreover the USSR may have continued to cooperate with the USA as they had done throughout the war had Truman not decided to be openly anti-communist and difficult to get along with.

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