How and why did the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union escalate from 1945 to 1962?
Americans did not welcome the Bolshevik revolution of Russia in 1917 because of its radical belief it was a worldwide class revolution totally opposed to the liberal internationalism of the United States, which advocated democracy and a free enterprise system. These conflicting points of view and ideologies shaped a future of insecurity and mutual suspicion between the Americans and the Russians for many years. At the end of WWII after defeating fascism, which was the biggest threat, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as major rivals because of opposing ideals and because they were the only two nations powerful enough to transform the world into their own vision. So, What was the Cold War? The Cold War was an ideological, political, and cultural competition for supremacy between two super powers, the USA and the Soviet Union, that polarized the world in two antagonistic ideological approaches, Communism vs. Capitalism.
But why and how the two allies became irreconcilable enemies?
The Russian idiosyncrasy and its historical background of being constantly invaded by foreign forces like Napoleon in eighteenth century and Germany on more than one occasion in the twentieth century had shaped them in the belief of a kind of territorial inheritance. This means that at the end of WWII, in 1945 at Yalta Conference, Stalin wanted huge reparations from Germany, and a “buffer” of friendly states to protect the Soviet Union from being invaded again. On the other hand President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill’s main concern was to secure “free and unfettered elections” based on the principal of democratic self-determination of the nations, but always taking in consideration the genuine concerns of Soviet Union. In an attempt to find common ground among this conflict of interest the allies agreed that Poland and its neighbors would fall under the Soviet “sphere of influence”. According to President Roosevelt’s speech to the US Congress of the matter of Yalta Conference in March 1945, “Throughout history, Poland has been the corridor through which attacks on Russia have been made. Twice in this generation, Germany has struck at Russia through this corridor. To insure European security and world peace, a strong and independent Poland is necessary to prevent that from happening again”. In his excerption the political position of the allies covered the two aspects of the problem, one, it legitimized the Soviet Union claiming of territorial security, and two, it enforced the principle of democracy and self-determination of the nations. In the beginning Stalin as well agreed with the terms at Yalta Conference, but later on when election time came in Poland and Rumania, Stalin established communist governments dishonoring the principal of self-determination. Although on the surface, the Yalta conference seemed successful, behind the scenes, tension was growing.
There was an atmosphere of growing tension between the super powers. After the sudden death of President Roosevelt on April 1945, an aggressive and inexperienced vice president named Harry S Truman took the presidential chair in a crucial historical time. Truman’s position regarding the Soviet Union was more hostile than his predecessor. Although Truman believed in cooperation, he thought it should be on American terms. In his first meeting with the Soviet foreign Minister, V.M. Molotov, in late April 1945, Truman directly accused the Soviets of failing to comply with their promise of establishing a democratic government in Poland. That same year in July, at the Potsdam Conference, where the allies were supposed to make post war territorial arrangements, Truman learned of the successful testing of the atomic...