Causes of the Cold War

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Essay Question:
“The USA should be blamed for the Cold War.” Do you agree with this statement?

The Cold War is believed to have lasted from the end of World War II to the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991 and remains one of the most significant political events of the 20th century. In reality, this War was a tense political period, marked by open hostility, lack of understanding, and deliberate provoking between the Democratic and Communist blocs, the East and the West, and most importantly, the United States and the Soviet Union. Although this period has now come to an end, historians and scholars are still having many disputes about the actual causes of the Cold War tensions. I however, agree to the statement, “The Soviet Union should be responsible for the Cold War” to a large extent.

The first cause of the Cold War on the American side can be traced to their leader, President Harold S. Truman. Rather than manipulating the political scenes from behind closed curtains, he openly placed himself at the fore, blatantly leading the Americans against the communist Soviet Union. What began as subtle machinations escalated rapidly into a fervent rejection of communist ideology, with Harold Truman demonstrating open hostility that contributed undeniably to the culmination of the Cold War. His personal prejudices became pronounced early on, and it was obvious that he was more suspicious of the Russians than his predecessor Roosevelt. These suspicions were easily aroused, and on occasion resulted in irrational deductions that convinced him of Russia’s hostility. When the Soviet Union succeeded with a communist coup on Czechoslovakia in 1948, Truman perceived the take-over as an offensive move, and by extension, made it known that this was the first step in a Soviet attempt to impose communism globally. Truman was a symbolic figure at the apex of the right wing movement, and his open hostility was the trigger that gave the other European nations the confidence and boldness to follow suit. In fact, in the Truman Doctrine of 1947, Truman blatantly declared the divisions between free, democratic nations, and undemocratic communist states. Therefore, he drew clear lines of separation, clearing all ambiguity and ensured that the Cold War was unavoidable.

Economically too, America applied various measures that displayed hostility towards the Soviet Union. The Marshall Plan was introduced in 1947 as an economic extension of what the Truman doctrine had achieved. Publicly, it was announced that the Plan was an effort to curb ‘hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos’, but this was just yet another masked threat aimed at implying that these were caused by communism, and that the Americans were about to eradicate it. It promoted the economic recovery of Europe, creating secure markets for American exports. In addition, communism was less likely to gain control in a prosperous western Europe. By September 1947, 16 nations had drawn up a collective plan to lean on American aid, and this brought them together ideologically against the Soviet Union. As such, America successfully alienated the Soviet Union by establishing economic barriers that left her stranded in a sea of hostility. Faced by such adversity, the only means of regaining economic stability was through military means, and therefore the Soviet Union engaged in the Cold War. Thus, we can say that America was responsible for setting up economic barriers which left the Soviet Union with no peaceful alternatives, resulting in the occurrence of the Cold War.

Finally, America’s military manoeuvring provides evidence of their intent to perpetrate the Cold War. Against the Nazi threat during World War II, the Americans adopted a diplomatic front through an unofficial but significant nonetheless policy of appeasement. They allowed the Germans to remilitarise the Rhineland, annex Austria, and conquer Czechoslovakia, virtually inviting them to...
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