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George Kennan, one of the architects of containment and believer in “realpolitik”

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George Kennan, one of the architects of containment and believer in “realpolitik”. Soviet domination of Eastern Europe: Inevitable “realpolitik” or a cowardly failure of western resolve?.

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Soviet domination of Eastern Europe: Inevitable “realpolitik” or a cowardly failure of western resolve?

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The Big Three plan the shape of post-war Europe at the Yalta Conference, a resort on the Crimean Sea, February 1945

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949)

  • Means to militarily resist the numerically superior Red Army
  • Great Britain, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway, France, Italy, Portulgal, Netherlands, and later West Germany and Turkey
  • Russians understandably viewed as provocatively aggressive

NATO as a symbol of a recovering world

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Walter Lippmann on the cover of Time magazine

  • Argued Stalin/USSR primarily protective rather than expansionist
  • Warned America’s blind support of anti-communist regimes would result in alliances with anti-democratic dictators
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The Cold War Mentality:At least in part because of Truman’s fear mongering, many Americans mistakenly believed:
  • Soviet Union was absolutely bent on world domination, not internal security from a hostile and largely capitalist world
  • All communist revolutions around the globe could ultimately be traced back to Soviet agitators and Soviet support
  • All communist revolutions were identically anti-democratic and repressive, and thus by definition could never be a reflection of the democratic will of the indigenous people
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Important Point: To the dispassionate, non-ideological observer, it became clear by late 1940s that there was no monolithic world communism

  • Variety of nationalist leaders borrowed parts of communist doctrines they found useful, or invented their own versions such as “Maoism”
  • To the narrow-minded ideologue, though, all communism was the same and ultimately linked back to Moscow

Mao and Stalin deeply distrusted each other and had very different ideas of the meaning and global future of Communism

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Korea Divided:
    • Soviets create a pro-Communist regime in the North under Kim Il Sung
    • The Americans create a pro-western, capitalist regime in the South under Syngman Rhee
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Syngman Rhee, the American-backed leader of South Korea

  • Notoriously right wing and resistant to democratic elections
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The Second Red Scare

Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy who calls Truman “a son of bitch” and suggests the President is soft on communism

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