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Who was responsible for the Cold War? Essay Sample

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Who was responsible for the Cold War? Essay Sample

Although differences between communism and capitalism – two opposing systems – existed before the start of World War II, relations between the United States and USSR deteriorated rapidly after the war. The US was so opposed to communism that a policy of containment was developed to prevent communism spreading. In addition, open hostility, lack of understanding, and deliberate provoking further separated the two countries. Though the Cold War was a result of many factors, the actions of the US played a significant part in weakening relations, which eventually led to non-cooperation and conflict.

Because the Soviet Union had been invaded three times in the twentieth century, security was a prime issue for Stalin. The position of the USSR after World War II was much like France after the First World War: security was needed to prevent such suffering from happening ever again. Unlike France however, whose aim was to cripple Germany, the USSR wanted to ensure security by establishing buffer states. The US could not understand this fixation with security; America had never been directly at threat from invasion in the war. Thus, the actions of the USSR were seen as a way to dominate Eastern Europe through the guise of security

In addition, communism was seen a threat to the freedoms capitalism represented. To prevent the possible worldwide expansion, the US favoured a policy of containment which was actively trying to stop communism. One way was to be firm with the Soviet Union. Truman himself was hostile and had a hard-line approach. Truman’s firmness with the USSR could be understandable, considering he was thrown into a position he was not ready for, he had pressure from anti-communist groups, and the US did not want to repeat Britain’s mistake of appeasing Hitler. But there is no excuse for Truman’s utter disrespect: Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Minister, said of Truman’s swearing that he had never been spoken to in such a manner. (I disagree; Truman’s plausible excuse was that the USSR had ignored and broken agreements made at Yalta) The US treated the USSR with antagonism and dislike. This attitude towards the Soviet Union resulted in increased non-cooperation between the countries.

The US tried to alarm the Soviet Union with the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Japan. Although it was a means to end the war, Nagasaki had another reason behind it: the US wanted to scare the USSR by demonstrating they had possession of the A-bomb. Likewise, with the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, though created for certain purposes, it was clear to Stalin that they were attacks on communism.

Consequently, many US actions were met with a Soviet response. These responses led to deeper divisions and increased non-cooperation between the two countries. As a response to the Marshall Plan, Cominform and Comecon were set up. The Warsaw Pact was a response to NATO, while the Berlin Blockade was a response to the West introducing a new German currency. It resulted in the formation of the Federal Democratic Republic and German Democratic Republic, a clear division between the East and West. Of the two countries, the United States was more responsible in worsening relations between East and West, and thus contributing to the beginning of the Cold War.

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