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The Cold War. Debate and controversy. The war of words?. Primarily ‘ideological war’ between United States and Soviet Union International perspective essential (vs. binational or national perspective) Structures and processes vs. individuals? Chronological investigation imperative.

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the cold war

The Cold War

Debate and controversy

the war of words
The war of words?
  • Primarily ‘ideological war’ between United States and Soviet Union
  • International perspective essential (vs. binational or national perspective)
  • Structures and processes vs. individuals?
  • Chronological investigation imperative
key factors
Key factors
  • A complete lack of trust between politicians on each side
  • Building up huge armed forces to threaten the other side (but not actually using them)
  • Using the media to criticise the actions of the other side
  • Co-operating with and supporting anyone who was an enemy of the ‘other side’
when did it start
When did it start?
  • Subject for debate
  • Most historians say after WWII
  • BUT, some say 1919-1939 as relations between SU, USA and Britain already strained (we will work on this later - Origins of the Cold War)
who caused the cold war
Who caused the Cold War?
  • Structures and processes vs. personalities?
  • Churchill? ‘The Iron Curtain speech’
  • Stalin? The Yalta Conference
  • Truman? The Truman Doctrine
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

The Iron Curtain Speech 1946

1945-1947 elections in most Eastern European states

Communists coalition governments in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia

1947 Communists took control of the governments in Poland, Hungary and Romania

By 1948 all the states of Eastern Europe had Communist governments

The Yalta Conference 1945: democratic elections

  • The Truman Doctrine: “Containment of Communism”
  • The Marshall Plan: Economic Aid offered to all European states – only Western states received
  • Soviet view
    • Truman was an aggressor – giving money and weapons to enemies of the USSR
    • The Marshall Plan an attempt to get all of Europe in debt to the USAThe Marshall Plan was partly an act of generosity, partly an act of self interest - America wanted Europe to recover so Americans would have partners to trade with.
  • American view
    • Truman Doctrine preventing spread of Communism
new evidence
New evidence?
  • “In general, the new evidence supports the overall thrust of the arguments that Soviet policy in 1947 was largely defensive and reactive … evidence suggests that Stalin still hoped to pursue a variant of detente [co-operation] with the Western Powers … The Marshall Plan, however, radically changed Stalin's calculus, and led him to shift away from this more moderate line … The new archival documentation shows that in making this shift, the Soviet leadership was moved primarily by fear of its own vulnerability to American economic power.”

Scott D. ParrishLecturer, Department of GovernmentUniversity of Texas at Austin

pre wwii
  • 6 powers:
    • Great Britain
    • France
    • Germany
    • Soviet Union
    • Japan
    • United States of America
aftermath of wwii us
Aftermath of WWII - US
  • US uniquely powerful position:
    • US economy almost doubled in size
    • 1945 US controlled ½ world’s manufacturing capacity, most of its food surpluses, large portion financial reserves
    • Lead in technologies
    • Possession domestic energy + Latin America and Middle Eastern reserves
    • International prestige
aftermath of wwii su
Aftermath of WWII - SU
  • Bipolar world, but SU a distant 2nd
    • 20-27 million deaths from war
    • Extensive destruction crop land, farm animals, factories, mines, transport, housing
    • Soviet economy barely ¼ size US
    • Impressive military, but lagged behind US
  • However…
    • Germany and Japan destroyed
    • Decline Britain in Middle East
aftermath wwii other powers
Aftermath WWII – other powers
  • Britain
    • 400,000 died, external debt, lost ¼ pre-war wealth
    • 1952 atomic weapons, strong currency
  • France
    • 600,000 died, severely damaged by occupation (physical and psychological), rising unrest in colonies
  • Germany
    • 7 million died, cities levelled, transportation disrupted, popl. displaced, prospect partition
  • Japan
    • Lay in ruins, shorn of colonial empire, occupied by US forces
technology of war
Technology of war
  • Conventional weapons = new destructiveness
  • Extended reach = long-range bombers and aircraft carriers
  • Systematic application of science to warfare (radar, jet engine, atomic bomb)
  • Debate: existence of weapons
    • Dissuade use/aggression OR pre-emptive strikes?
  • Developing countries – peasants impt. role
balance of power
Balance of power
  • Balance of power changed
  • Ideological basis
  • WWII = ‘Grand Alliance’ of centre and left against the right
  • After WWII = 2 camps: Communism vs. Capitalism
  • Potential impact of internal struggles = international significance
activity origins of the cold war
Activity – Origins of the Cold War?

  • Cold War International History Project
  • National Archives Learning Curve
  • National Security Archive (GWU)
  • CNN Cold War Focus
  • BBC Cold War Focus