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Who is to blame for the Cold War, Soviet Union or United States?

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The Cold War was the elongated tension between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. It was a clash of these supergiants in political, ideological, military, and economic values and ideas. The blame for the Cold War cannot be placed on one person — it developed as a series of chain reactions as a struggle for supremacy. The conflict in ideologies between capitalism and communism resulted in one of the greatest conflicts of the twentieth century. Both the United States and the Soviet Union share equal responsibility for the start and continuance foe nearly a half century of the Cold War.

The political relations going on in Europe during and directly after World War II had an enormous effect on laying the foundation for the Cold War. The decisions made by the United States in WWII caused tensions to rise between the U. S. and the Soviet Union. Fear of Communism in capitalist nations, caused the United states government to use propaganda to raise Cold War anxieties and to get the American public scared of communism and in support of the cold war. The American government used a federal organizations, such as HUAC, tostop films from having to much of a communist appeal to them, to investigate people for being communist spies, and to further the public’s hatred of communism.

Next an American Senator named Joseph R. McCarthy would lead a series of trials against communists in the United States. Most of the people that Macarthy accused of being communist reached conviction. This happened despite the fact that many of the accused were not in fact communists. Therefore, the McCarthy trials acted as form of US propaganda, which gathered American support for the Cold War against the Soviets. Moreover, Hollywood began to produce anti-Communist films, which increased a fear of communism in the United States. Thus, the actions of the American government, journalist, and media increased the general anti-Communist support for the Cold War.

Furthermore, war time conferences between Soviet Union, America, and Great Britain, such as Yalta and Terhran, harshened the relationship between the communists and the capitalists. In Tehran, the reshaping of post-war Europe was discussed. In Yalta, the European boundaries, German reparations, and Polish elections were agreed upon. Stalin agreed to hold free and fair elections. Later after Roosevelt, who attended these conferences, died Truman became president. He accused the Soviet leader of not holding up to his agreements at Yalta. Stalin wanted to use Poland as a buffer zone to prevent any future invasions from happening through this area. During W.W.II the Soviets had lost 27 million, and Stalin made it clear that in no way would he allow this to happen again. Furthermore, America decided to keep Stalin out of the loop about the Manhattan project, which furthered distrust. The Truman Doctrine, the name given to the policy established by Truman, would soon arise in American foreign policy.

It came out of a speech the Truman gave to a joint session of congress. In this speech Truman finally gave the Cold War official status, by stating the threat that the Soviet government had on national security. Then, in 1947, George C. Marshall, the Secretary of the state at the time, asked that all of the countries of Europe communists and capitalists alike to draw up a plan for economic recovery from the war. The Soviets refused to participate, because they saw it as America using money to buy its way into good terms with Europe. In the end, the United States sent 13 billion over to Western Europe to support economic recovery. The Soviet Union saw this as an American attempt to keep any of these countries from turning to communism, which would close them off as US markets. In 1949 America helped to organize a treaty against communism. The United States used this treaty to escalate the cold War by showing the Soviet Union that all of the NATO countries sided with the US in the Cold War.

Moreover, the waging of hot wars through other countries also strengthened Cold War hatred. The United states waged hot wars through other nations, such as Korea and Vietnam; instead in actually declaring war against the Soviet Union. Both these wars resulted from the United States trying to contain Communism from spreading throughout the world. Thus, all of the United States’ political actions further contributed to the Cold War cause.

On the other hand, many of the tensions that existed in the Cold War can be attributed to Stalin’s policy of Soviet expansion. His aim, to take advantage of the military situation in post- war Europe to strengthen Russian influence, was perceived to be a threat to the Americans. Stalin was highly effective in his goal to gain territory, with victories in Poland, Romania, and Finland. To the western world, this success looked as if it were the beginning of serious Russian aggressions. The western view of the time saw Stalin as doing one of two things: either continuing the expansionist policies of the tsars that preceded him, or worse, spreading communism across the world. Although, the Russians claim, and have always claimed, that Stalin’s motives were purely defensive. Stalin’s wished to create a buffer zone of Communist states around him to protect Soviet Russia from the capitalist West. Clashes between Stalin and the West first appear at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in February and July 1946, respectively.

Though the mood at Yalta was more or less cooperative, Stalin agitated matters by demanding that all German territory east of the Rivers Oder and Neisse be given to Poland (and thus remain under Soviet influence). Both Roosevelt and Churchill refused to agree to these demands. The Soviet Union couldnt agree to the existence in Poland of a Government hostile to it. Both Truman and Churchill were annoyed because Germany east of the Rivers Oder and Neisse were being occupied by Russian troops and were being run by the pro-communist Polish government, who expelled over five million Germans. This went directly against the agreements made at Yalta earlier in the year. The west viewed this as an act of aggression on the part of the Soviet Union. From this point, the Cold War truly becomes a chain reaction.

In March of 1946, Churchill presented his ‘Iron Curtain’ in response to the spread of communism in eastern Europe. Stalin’s response was hostile: rather than trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement, Stalin continued to tighten his grip on eastern Europe. Communist governments were installed in every area of eastern Europe (barring Czechoslovakia) by the end of 1947. Stalin began to implement a reign of terror using the Russian Army and his secret police force. Moreover, Stalin had increased his influence in the Russian zone of Germany as if it belonged to Russia. The West reacted. It appeared to them that Russia’s attitude went against all of the promises that Stalin had made at Yalta — namely, that Stalin would permit free elections in the eastern European states. Stalin’s aggressive tactics did not end with creating a sphere of influence. He re-established Cominform, a union of all of the communist states within Europe. But it was not enough for a state to be merely communist: it had to adopt the Russian-style communism.

Furthermore, the states within Cominform were expected to keep trade within the Cominform member states, and were discouraged from making any contact with the Western world. Russia strengthened the ties with the Cominform countries through the Molotov plan. These actions on the part of Stalin only increased the rift between the capitalist and the communist systems, and made future compromise and negotiations more difficult. Perhaps the most aggressive move that Stalin made, however, was the takeover of Czechoslovakia in February 1948. The final hostile movement of Stalin of importance was the Berlin blockade and airlift. The goal was to force western powers from West Berlin by reducing it to the starvation point.

The political decisions made by the United States from WWII onward caused the Cold War to start and to continue for decades. Moreover, the government’s use of propaganda at home rallied the American public in an anticommunist attitude, which supported the countries political decisions. Yet Stalin’s expansion policy was also another catalyst to the war. What Stalin’s actions unarguably did was start a string of chain-reactions within the western powers. Thus, both the United States and the Soviet Union caused the conflict between Democracy and Communism.

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