Analyzing the Causes of the Cold War
Taking place from 1947 to 1991, the Cold War is amongst one of history’s most peculiar wars due to the fact that it did not actually involve any direct military contact between the two countries primarily involved, the United States and the Soviet Union. Instead, the two world superpowers fought the war by backing different sides in other countries’ wars such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Their opposition began with an alliance during the course of World War II. Allied against Germany and Japan, the United States and Russia fought on different sides of the earth for the first part of the Second World War. The United States fought Japan in the Pacific while Russia remained the only country left standing against Germany in Eastern Europe. However, by the time the end of the war came in 1945, tensions had risen between the two countries and their alliance turned to a rivalry of mistrust and intimidation. So what caused this change in the political relationship between the two superpowers? How did they turn into enemies, causing many wars, tensions, threats, and near nuclear crises during the 40-year time span in which the Cold War took place? The Cold War was caused by the United States manipulating Russia to achieve its goals, the US purposely holding off helping Russia in World War II, and Russian ambition and expansion, this last cause leading me to my conclusion that Russia can primarily be blamed for the Cold War, even though both countries are at fault in some way.
One of the things the United States did to contribute to tensions between them and their Soviet allies was to manipulate the circumstances of the war to serve their own purposes. In World War II, there had originally been an alliance between Germany and Russia which was very dangerous for any country who opposed them. After Germany invaded Russia, two countries which the US did not trust very much were fighting each other. This seemed to be useful to the US which, based on a statement by Harry Truman, seemed to want Germany and Russia to destroy each other. He says in Document A, “If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible.” This statement makes it seem as though the United States does not have any cause or reasoning to support one side over the other besides destroying the biggest threat to America. It presents the US as a self-serving nation, analyzing and weighing the war as if to devise which side will be most beneficial to them. This same stance, whether true or not, is also shown in Document D when George Kennan says “If we can keep them maneuvered into a position where it is always hard and unprofitable for them to take action contrary to the principles of the United Nations and to our policies and where there is always an open door and an easy road to collaboration…I am quite convinced that… sooner or later the logic of it will penetrate their government and will force change there.” A few words stand out, highlighting possible hints of America’s true motives (which certainly do not include simply helping out Russia). Kennan’s use of certain words such as “maneuvered”, “penetration of government”, and “forced change” show that the US comes across as trying to manipulate Russia into aligning with America’s goals. Based on these two documents, there is clear evidence of the United States trying to disguise its true motives and goals with false ones. While seemingly finishing the war in Japan, the US was actually hoping Germany and Russia would kill each other off, just as Russia suspected the US was doing. And while seemingly accepting Russia’s claim to their newly converted Communist nations, the US plotted ways to make Russia cooperate. From the United States’ manipulation of the circumstances of World War II and some of the countries...
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