Who was more responsible for the development of the Cold War 1945-49? In some ways, the USA was more responsible for the development of the Cold War between 1945-1949. Their development of the atomic bomb at the end of the Second World War contributed to this. The USA felt that they were powerful enough on their own and no longer needed to be allied to the USSR. As a result, they became less tolerant of the USSR’s actions and policies. Furthermore, the USA made the decision to not share this new technology with the USSR. Stalin could not understand why as an ally, the technology had not been shared with him. The USSR began to see the USA as an increased threat and worried that the USA planned to use the weapon against them in the future. This increased tensions between the two nations. The USA’s disagreements with the USSR over Poland and the division of Germany further increased the tensions between the two nations. The Soviet Union wanted the extra piece of and in Poland and the USA did not approve of this simply because they did not want the USSR to become more powerful. Regarding the division of Germany, the USA had the same attitude and wanted the USSR to benefit as little as possible. This could be seen in decision to divide Berlin into four parts, simply because it was a valuable area and was deep in Soviet zone. The Soviets felt that these policies were extremely unfair towards them and could not understand why the USA did not want them to become a more powerful nation. Also regarding the division of Germany and the reparations, the USA’s distrust of the USSR also contributed to the development of the Cold War. The USA felt the USSR was an increasing threat and wanted to rebuild a strong Germany to act as a buffer zone against them. The USSR in turn had wanted Germany to be crippled so that they would not have to face the threat again in the future. The USSR felt the USA’s policy was seemingly hostile towards them as they saw this as the USA wanting to create an enemy against them. Stalin’s suspicion of the Western allies was intensified. The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid were both anti-communist. Up until that point, there had been no public declaration of the mutual dislike of the two countries for each other. Despite the USA trying to masquerade the Truman Doctrine as a policy to resists ‘armed minorities’ and ‘totalitarian regimes’, the USSR and everyone else was well aware that the Truman Doctrine was anti-Soviet. Stalin saw this as a declaration of aggression against the USSR. The policy was closely followed by Marshall Aid, a program set up by the USA with the intention to stop the spread of communism. The USA’s establishment of NATO also contributed to the tensions as there was no real need to sign a pact as it indicated preparation for war, and it made the USSR feel extremely insecure and threatened, intensifying the tensions between both nations. However, in some other ways, the USSR was more responsible for the development of the Cold War. For example, the disagreements with the USA over Poland and the Division of Germany could be attributed to the fact that the USSR was trying to become more powerful. The USA viewed this as the USSR trying to expand unnecessarily and hence tried to stop them. Furthermore, while Stalin disapproved of Marshall Aid, he did not have to make his dislike for it so public. The USA became annoyed at how he advertised Marshall Aid as economic imperialism and said that the USA was trying to take over Europe. Next, he did not allow Eastern European countries to receive any help from the USA and set a Comecon, which was a clear response to Marshall Aid. The USA saw this as the USSR trying to slander and rival them, and saw Comecon as a union of the communist countries, which in their opinion was a threat. The Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe alarmed the USA. The countries were becoming communist via aggressive methods, such as in Czechoslovakia when all the non-communist parties were banned and had their leaders murdered in 1948. The USA saw this as the USSR trying to build an empire and saw them as an aggressive expansionist country. This reinforced the anti-communist beliefs in the USA as many people saw this as proof that the USSR was trying to take-over and had to be stopped. The Berlin Blockade further contributed to the tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union. The people in West Berlin suffered because of it and Stalin tried to move people over to East Berlin. The USA saw these methods as being ruthless and this made them dislike the USSR even more. They felt that the USSR was trying to challenge them and this increased the division between the two nations. As a result of it, the division and establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FDG) highlighted the differences of the East and the West. Lastly, the Warsaw Pact was unnecessary as well as the USA saw this as a response to NATO, and this showed the clear divisions of the East and the West. Some historians argue that neither side was responsible and that the Cold War was instead caused by mutual misunderstandings. For example, the different political and economic systems of the USA and the USSR made the nations believe that they could not co-exist with each other. The USA was constantly suspicious of the USSR trying to expand communism and the USSR always felt that the USA wanted to destroy them. Furthermore, the personalities of the leaders also contributed to the war because Truman’s strong anti-communist beliefs increased tensions and Stalin’s paranoia made him take unnecessary action. The Iron Curtain speech represents another misunderstanding between the nations as Churchill was only trying to convince the USA to take on an aggressive policy towards the Soviets and the USSR felt that the British and the Americans were allying against him. Marshall Aid was also a misunderstanding between the nations because while the USA only intended to help others, the soviets thought they were trying to take over Europe. Lastly, the establishments of NATO and the Warsaw Pact were also misunderstandings because both sides thought they were signing defense pacts but saw the others side’s as an aggression pact. Overall, I felt worth noting that many of the earlier factors were due to the actions of the USA. However, I do not think that these factors alone were responsible for the development of the Cold War, but they did fuel the aggressive actions of the USSR later on, which led to the Cold War. However, I felt that both sides were equally as responsible as each other as many of the factors that caused the Cold War were due to mutual misunderstandings.
Low Jie Wei