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Collapse of the Grand Alliance

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1700
  • Category: War

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A capitalist state, a Communist state and a colonial power all joined power during World War II and formed the Grand Alliance. The United Stated which was led by Franklin Roosevelt, the Soviet Union which was led by Joseph Stalin and Great Britain which was led by Winston Churchill united powers as they all shared one main objective. The three leaders were famously known as the big three, they all agreed on the common understanding that defeating Hitler was vital for national security and World peace. The Grand Alliance was the result of Adolf Hitler’s reign over Germany. His growing power, rising popularity and controlling authoritative threated many countries particularly Great Britain, the United States and the USSR and as a result the three main powers joined forces in order to avert Hitler from occupying ,controlling many more countries and expand the Nazi ‘sphere of influence’. Relations amongst the superpowers were fairly good as the three leaders were preoccupied with the aim of defeating Hitler; however mistrust, suspicion and dishonesty ascended hastily.

The war resulted in the death of 26,000,000 Soviet Union which made Stalin determined to prevent such loss and damage in the upcoming future. Stalin was determined to build a buffer zone against further German attacks as he had very little trust in the West. Moreover, in 1938 Britain and France had rejected an offer of an alliance with the Soviet Union. Although this was before the Grand Alliance was recognised, the rejection did not improve the coldness of their relations. The Yalta Conference, which took place in February 1945, witnessed the beginning of clash of ideologies. Yalta was the first cause of disagreement between the two great powers represented by the United States and the Soviet Union. They agreed to divide Germany into four zones where each one would be occupied by one of the four allies. They also agreed to further divide Berlin into four zones. They all approved of joining the United Nations Organization and this would aim to keep peace after the War.

Punishing War criminals who were responsible for the genocide were also one of their priorities. Several more agreements were concluded; however the only real disagreement was about Poland. Stalin wanted the border of the USSR to move Westwards into Poland; however neither Churchill nor Roosevelt were particularly keen about Stalin’s request but they negotiated that as long as the USSR agreed not to interfere in Greece where the British were attempting to prevent Communism taking over then his demand would be accepted. This shows that although there was a clash of ideologies, the Big Three were still able to negotiate and come to a settlement with one another. On the 17th of July 1945, the Allied leaders met at Potsdam, this conference witnessed the trailer of what later became a cold war. Expectedly, the conference did not go as smoothly as Yalta. Relations got frostier. To further increase the tension which already existed between the superpowers, on the 12th of April, President Roosevelt dies and was succeeded by Harry Truman. Truman made it clear that he was much more ant-communist than Roosevelt and was very suspicious of Stalin. He believed that the soviet’s intention was to invade for whole of Europe. After a general election in Britain, Churchill was succeeded my Clement Attlee.

Churchill’s absence did not soothe the bitter relationship between Stalin and Truman. The conference at Potsdam was dominated by suspicious and mistrust between Truman and Stalin. The disagreed over reparations, 26 million Russians died during the war and as a result Stalin demanded compensation from Germany. Truman wanted the USSR to allow free elections in the countries of Eastern Europe which had been occupied after the end of the war; however the UUSR objected to his demand. Furthermore, Stalin Suspicions grew as he discovered that the USA had not made him aware of the atomic bomb. This could therefore suggest that the United States is significantly responsible for the collapse of the Grande Alliance as it failed to acknowledge the construction of the atomic bomb. This was thus a significant catalyst which further worsened relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Although mistrust already existed between the two superpowers, the fear of the atomic bomb kept relations cold.

This triggered the USSR into producing its own bomb as they felt threatened and as a result an arms race erupted. It could also be argued that the United States was the primarily reason of the collapse of the Grande Alliance as it was convinced that the main aim of the Soviets was to expand its sphere of influence ,spread communism and invade Europe with communist ideology. During that time, Europe was in a vulnerable situation as it was financially and economically unstable. Truman was therefore convinced that Stalin would therefore use the situation to his advantages. As a result of this fear, Truman introduced the Marshall plan. Truman believed that communism succeeded when people faced poverty and hardship and he therefore send his Secretary of State, George Marshall to assess the economic state of Europe. $17 billion of the United States’ money was giving for the re-construction of Europe. Stalin viewed the Marshall Aid with suspicion. He feared that the Marshall aid would weaken his hold over Eastern Europe. Furthermore Staling also believed that the USA was trying to dominate as many states as possible by making them dependent on dollars.

The United States always seek to protect and expand its economic interest and influence in Europe. This therefore shows that the collapse of the Grande Alliance was the result of the United States’ action. The Long Telegram and Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech are also remarkable catalysts which triggered the cold war. In 1946, George Kennan sent an 8,000 words telegram from the Unites States Embassy in Moscow to Washington which became known as the ‘Long Telegram’. In the telegram, Kennan proposed that the United States should adopt a firm policy of containment in its relations with the Soviet.The containment doctrine laid out in Kennan’s “Long Telegram” would go on to become the centerpiece of American foreign policy in the early years of the Cold War. The Long Telegram was a key document in the history of the Cold War. It could therefore be argued that the Long Telegram was a significant influence on the USA’s leadership as it further served to demonize the Soviet Union. This policy of containment thus worsened relations between the USSR and the USA and as a result the Grande Alliance collapsed.

Furthermore, Churchill’s Iron curtain speech in 1946 went against the USSR and her Communist allies in public. The term ‘Iron Curtain’ was first used for the first time in order to describe the division of Eastern from Western Europe. Churchill’s Iron speech led to the US being blamed for the collapse of the Grande Alliance as the speech was openly supported and praised by the US President. At the Yalta conference, the Big Three agreed that as countries were liberated from occupation from the German army, they would be allowed to hold free elections to choose the government they wanted. However Stalin was committed to establishing Communist regimes in Eastern Europe states in order to establish a buffer zone to guarantee Soviet security from attack. This was inconsistent with his agreement to accept the declaration on Liberated Europe which had been finalized at Yalta. It could therefore be argued that the Soviet Union contributed significantly in the collapse of the Grande Alliance. The traditionalists argue that one of the reasons why the Grande Alliance collapsed and the Cold War begun was due to the military expansionism of Stalin and his successors. The American response was thus a merely defensive reaction. The Soviet Union could also be blamed for the collapse of the Grande Alliance, as in 1948 the Soviets blockaded Berlin.

Stalin aimed to lure more countries towards communism. The Berlin blockade was a final attempt to consolidate Soviet dominance in eastern Germany. This event thus further encouraged the USA to adopt a policy of containment. They were certain that this was an obligatory step in order to prevent the expansionism of communism. This evidently shows that the Soviet Union was also responsible for the collapse of the Grande Alliance as their ‘aim’ of world dominance worsened relations between the superpowers. According to ‘post-revolutionists’ historians, neither the United States nor the Soviet Union is to be blamed for the collapse of the Grande Alliance and the Cold War. As for instance, no clear and firm joint agreement on the future of Germany was established at the Potsdam Conference. At Potsdam, Stalin wanted to cripple Germany completely to protect the USSR against future threats. However Truman did not want to repeat the mistake of the Treaty of Versailles but no compromise was settled.

This therefore left a continuing uncertainty and enabled both sides to develop their own policies and priorities towards Germany. It was foreseeable that these would go in different and conflicting paths. To conclude, the United States was partially responsible for the downfall of the Grande Alliance as the introduction of containment meant that it would be impossible to re-establish relations between the superpowers. The revolutionists view argues that this was a deliberate strategy by the USA in order to expand worldwide power and develop a global presence in the post-war word. Furthermore, it could also be suggested that the atomic bomb was not just to frighten Japan but was a political statement towards the Soviet Union- A statement of power towards a nation who exercised a political ideology different from America which was intolerable to the “free democratic” United States. The Berlin blockade however exposed the USSR’S determination to expand communism. Stalin feared for the safety of the Soviet Union and its expansionism strategy was merely a response of Soviet experiences in the War. He however acted too quickly and failed to accept that Soviet security could be protected through international cooperation rather than through apparent expansionism. It could thus be argued that the Soviet Union was partially to be blamed for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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