The Cold War Was Unavoidable

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‘The Cold War was unavoidable’. Do you agree? 1500 words

2. The Cold War resulted from inevitable tensions building between the USA and the USSR. These existed in many forms, from the attitudes of their respective leaders to distrust created by political decisions, from as back as 1917. The build up of the latter over the years has a cumulative impact in deteriorating the relations between the two countries. Another key factor in the inevitability of the Cold War is the presence of both countries as super powers following the destructive second world war. As the only powers with any pertinent capabilities left, it is arguable that a power struggle between the two was inevitable. Fear and paranoia caused by this and the threats of one and other is another dominant factor in the escalation of pressure. This was heightened by the movement of the USSR through Europe, and the advancement of arms technology.

The attitudes and ideologies of both countries is key to their foundation and therefore the most evident in creating strain between the two powers. The ideology of a country, especially that of a super power plays a large role in influencing and giving context to policy making and therefore in turn the relations between countries. Ideology gives guidance to policy makers by clarifying at a basic level what is right, and that any different has the potential to be dangerous. This is particularly true in the case of the Cold War due to the polar opposite ideologies taken by each country. 'Anyone who doesn't recognize that the great struggle of our time is an ideological one is not looking this question squarely in the face.' Dulles. This impact on foreign policy, also exists domestically through the portrayal of respective countries. For example the role of the media helped to intensify ideology, particularly within the USA. 'Give me liberty or give me death.' is a famous quote that reflects the aggressive approach that is created by media hype and ideological rivalry. The same was also thought of the USSR. Dulles believed that the ideological writings of Marx, Lenin and Stalin made Soviet intentions 'knowable' (2, page 137) and stressed that ideology was a major determinant of Soviet policy (2, page 136). This stress on ideology lead to the 'peak danger' concept, that the USSR would attack as soon as they knew they would succeed. One example of foreign policy seeking to counteract ideologies directly is the Truman Doctrine in 1948 following the Soviet Blockade of Berlin, which was a policy of containment in order to limit the influence of communism to only areas already in the control of the Soviets. Another example is Stalin's approval of the invasion of South Korea, in order to spread the influence of communism, following the communist victory in China in 1949 (1, page 542). as well as the Brezhnev doctrine that highlighted that alliances existed in correlation to their ideologies above any other factor (1, page 544).

Another prominent factor, as mentioned previously is through their existence as a bi-hegemony. Following the end of the second world war, many countries were left with depleted capabilities. Not only in terms of military force, but also politically weakened and economically exhausted. This left the USSR and the USA as the two most prominent powers. Following a realist perspective, it is entirely inevitable that a conflict would arise between the two in a struggle for a balance of power. ''Bipolar periods would have relatively frequent but not very severe wars, and this is precisely the kind of wars that characterized the cold war bipolar era.' (3, page 298). 'Despite being enhanced by their previously existing tension and conflicting ideologies, the advancement of arms was considered a key representative of where the power lay and hence shows the balance of power changing up to and throughout the cold war. Following the successful testing of a plutonium bomb in 1945 in New Mexico, Truman used this as...
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