How Far Do You Agree with the View That the Development of the Cold War in the Period 1945-50 Was the Result of Stalin’s Foreign Policy?

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Development of the Cold War, in the five years between 1945 and 1950, could be argued as taking place for a number of reasons and due to various individuals. It could be easy to simply site Stalin as the main reason responsible for it’s outbreak and growth, clear through his approach on communist expansion, use of Red Army and inability to uphold agreements. However for a war of any kind to develop there is always more than one party involved and the USA and it’s president Truman could also be said to have contributed to the developing of Cold War, arguably being equally aggressive as Stalin – taking an Iron fist on dealings with Russia through policies such as the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, as well as his direction over the US involvement in the Korean War. However issues such as Britain and Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech, as well as the birth of McCarthyism in America, can also be seen as hindering relations between the two superpowers of the Cold War and therefore playing a role in it’s development. Whether Stalin was to blame for the Cold War can also be judged and evaluated through the use of sources, offering a number of interpretations, from extreme Orthodox and Revisionist views to the more diplomatic reasonings of the post revisionist stance. It is correct to say that development of the Cold War, between 1945 and 50, was definitely impacted and heightened through provocative, and at times, aggressive actions on foreign policy, taken by Stalin. An example of Stalin’s confrontational actions, in terms of foreign policy, is his part in the events of the Yalta and Potsdam, 1945, conferences; two meetings which were intended to sort through post war issues and reach a place of peace and calm for the allies. The issue of Poland was the one least simple to solve due to Stalin’s insistence on the fact that it should be put in Soviet hands as they were responsible for releasing it from Nazi occupation. The West were reluctant to concede on this issue, not wanting another full blown Communist convert, and as a result it was agreed that Stalin would be given a majority of Poland but not the entire country, and only on the condition he upheld free elections there and in Eastern Europe. Agreements were made, however Stalin’s antagonistic character and inability to keep to those arrangements were made clear at Potsdam in July 1945 – especially highlighted by new American president, Harry Truman, a man of a much harsher nature than his predecessor Roosevelt.Stalin was not taking the agreement of free elections seriously and was actually positioning communist individuals into important government roles, through Eastern Europe and Poland as a means of spreading influence. This purposeful spreading of influence by Stalin is echoed in source T, taken from John Lewis Gaddis, a more orthodox interpreter of the Cold War, in his text ‘The Cold War [2005]’ – he identifies Stalin undeniably wanted to “dominate that continent [Europe] as thoroughly as Hitler.” The comparison to Hitler implies that Stalin’s aims were of an aggressive, dominative nature and to be wary of by the allies. It supports the idea that Stalin was looking to convert Poland to communism, thus explaining his reluctance to uphold free elections as agreed at Potsdam, and suggesting Western powers had a right to be defensive and take harsher action in their dealings with the USSR. Another example of Stalin’s provocative stance on foreign policy was the use of his Red Army to impose and spread communism throughout Eastern Europe. By the end of the Second World War the Red Army was stationed in many large areas of Europe, being in a position of extreme dominance given the political and military vacuum that existed after the war, and their sheer size of eleven million, at its height in May 1945. Gaddis recognises in source T that the army had been so strong during the Second World War that Stalin admitted in 1947, that “had Churchill delayed opening the second...
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