Você está na página 1de 6

THE COLD WAR The Cold War was the elongated tension between the Soviet Union and

the United States of America. It started in the mid 40's after WWII had left Europe in shambles and Russia and the USA in superpower positions. The Cold War was a clash of these super giants in political, ideological, military, and economic values and ideas. Though military build up was great on both sides neither one ever directly fought each other. In this essay I'm going to bring forth the following points: Rise of the Cold War, events in and because of the Cold War, and the fall of Russia. Again Germany had been thwarted in its plans of total domination. It had been a combined effort by all the Western powers and a few Eastern powers too. England was devastated, France had been literally burnt to the ground, and many small nation had suffered economic failure. To the East Russia had suffered many losses from the vain siege of the Nazi's. But they were in better shape then Europe. They still had a military and a running, somewhat, economy. In the late 40's through early 50's the Soviet Union started to spread the Lenin ideological as it started moving in the Westward position. In 47 the US started funding the rebuilding of European infrastructure in a system called the Marshall Plan. Russia in turn brought forth its own funding called the Molotov Plan. Because of that, they were able to spread communism through many countries. Some of these nations were: Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Eastern Germany, and numerous countries in Southeastern Asia. But on the US side we had the support from almost the entire Western Europe. So the tension started, between Western Europe or a republic society and Eastern Europe and communism. There are many key events that happened throughout the entire duration of the Cold War. The fist main events that led up to the tension were the foreign aid policies. These policies were able to divide up Europe between the superpowers. After Europe was divided up treaty organizations and alliances stated forming up again. One of these alliances was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This allied the western portion of Europe. Next came the Warsaw Pact, it was the communistic version of NATO. Throughout the Cold War, relations between the Soviet Union and the west alternated between times of tension and crises and periods of reduced tension and limited cooperation. Though the two superpowers never engaged each other militarily, they were periodically caught up in major political crises that had the potential to become warfare. One example was the Soviet blockade on Western Berlin. The Russians threatened, and did, block of supply routs to Western Berlin. The people in the city were staving and dying from the lack of supplies. Because of this the US had to make periodic supply drops into the city. Some other examples are the Cuban missile crises, where the Russian funded Cuban military had secretly made or smuggled nuclear missiles onto the island and pointed them at the USA. Also there were the crises in the middle east and the U.S. bombardment on Hanoi and Haiphong. The U.S. did go to battle though. We fought two major battles against the communists.

The fist was over Korea. North Korea a communistic satellite tried to spread there ideas through hostile takeover. The US funded and aided South Korea until they were able to fend of their attackers. The second time it was in Vietnam. Like the first battle north Vietnam was trying to concur south Vietnam and make it a communistic nation. The US sent massive man power into it and lost lots of solders, but we were unsuccessful in stopping the north Vietnamese. Soon tension grew so high that the US knew that they had to do something about all the nuclear missiles that Russia possessed. During almost the entire time that Russia and the USA had been fighting for power they had also stored up a large cache of nuclear weapons. This in fact would put the whole world in jeopardy for their lives. It was Regain who brought forth the ideas of a Star Wars anti-ballistic weaponry. But the idea of putting thousands of little 5 pound bombs up in orbit that would through sheer kinetic energy destroy a missile on its upward trajectory had been around science Khushchev. This put him at worry. He concluded that the only way for him to reach the US with his missiles was to launch them in such sheer numbers. To do this he would have to change the governments funding of 30% to the military to 60%. This surge in funding left the citizens in financial ruin. People were laterally starving to death by the tens of thousands. Countries started to revolt. A few of these countries were Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. The revolts in the first two show me why we have our second amendment. The Checks and the Hungarians staged revolts, but because of the laws that forbade to possession of a firearm the rebels were quickly and systematically slaughtered by the Soviet military. Poland was a different story. After the fall of Khushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev came into power. He instituted many reforms such as military cuts, reconstruction of agriculture, openness to the government, and democratization. Because of some of these reforms, the revolts of Poland were not a bloody massacre as the first two, but effective displays of rejectment of the government. It was a union setup by a boat dock worker, which union were forbidden, to start strikes on the factories and industrialized areas. They smartly got the world media on them. This put the Soviet Union on the spotlight. The revolt was considered one of the greatest individual feats on the fall of communistic Russia. This in turn brought forth new policies and rights. The by-products of these policies brought forth the collapse of the communistic countries(around 89 -90 ). This lead to the establishment of non-communist political parties, free elections, and the development of a new democratic state. In October of 1990 the communistic government fell in Berlin, and the divided city was re-united. This was the final symbol of the fall of communism in Europe. A little bit later the Warsaw pact was abolished, and the last of the nuclear weapons were dispersed in the sea. Presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev officially ended the Cold War in 1991, I think. Basically the end of the Cold War ended because the Soviet Union ceased to be a superpower. What was the purpose of the conflict? Who fired the first shot? Many ideas and theories have emerged on the causes of the Cold War. The three major interpretations of the causes of the Cold War are the orthodox, the revisionist, and the post-revisionist views.

To answer this essay question, one must analyse these different historical views of the Cold War. These three schools of thought will be used as an axis for this essay, by first looking at the orthodox view, its origins, beliefs, and flaws, then at the same aspects of the revisionist view. The study of the post-revisionist view will be combined with an explanation as to why this view seems to me the most valid in understanding the causes of the Cold War.

The orthodox view


The orthodox view is that the Soviet Union is guilty of starting the Cold War, due to the aggressive nature of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, which lead to growing Soviet expansionism around the world. a) Origins: The orthodox view appeared during the first post-war years. This view was a reaction to the violation of the Yalta Conference by the Soviet Union, seen by many historians as the start of the cold war. The imposition of Soviet-dominated governments in Eastern Europe, and the apparent aggressiveness of Soviet expansionism, influenced G.F.Kennan, a US diplomat and historian, to write his two famous articles, The long telegram of 22 February 1946 and The sources of Soviet conduct. In these articles, Kennan develops the idea of long-term containment of the Soviet Union, and as S.E.Ambrose puts it, It quickly became the quasi-official statement of American foreign policy. (Ambrose, 1976, p.167). Kennans Long Telegram also contributed to the formation of the Truman Doctrine. b) Beliefs: Kennan, and other orthodox historians, saw the Soviets as fundamentally hostile and paranoid, due to the aggressive nature of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine on which the USSRs policies towards the capitalist west were founded. He was pessimistic about the alliance with the USSR before the war ended, unlike President Roosevelt. When it became clear that the USSR would not cooperate with the West, Kennans theories on the Soviets post-war goals gained in validity. After the refusal of Marshall Aid for the whole of East Europe by the Kremlin, the Truman Doctrine declared war on all advances of Soviet power over the world. Kennans mistrust of the Soviets was now that of the American government, and the whole western bloc. Martin McCauley notes that [Orthodox historians] take it for granted that the Soviets always sought ways of undermining the authority of non-communist powers so as expand the communist world. (McCauley, 2003, p.10). The orthodox view was strengthened by soviet aggressiveness over the status of Berlin (the 1948-49 blockade) and then in Korea. c) Flaws: The Orthodox view of the causes of the Cold War is obviously pro-western, first of all because all orthodox historians are American or west European. Very little of the Soviets policies and intentions were known to the historians at the time. This seems to discredit the orthodox view to a large extent: how can one judge an enemys aims by simply looking at its supposed ideologies? Why then was the orthodox view so influential in the western bloc? The main reason was that the West, and especially the US, were the

worlds freedom fighters: faced with an eastern Europe under growing Soviet control, the West, through the Truman Doctrine, had become the defender of political liberties for the whole planet. The orthodox view can also be criticized due to a misinterpretation of Kennans work. In his article The sources of Soviet conduct, that he signed only By X, he sees the USSR not as a military threat but as a political and economic one. As S.E.Ambrose notes: The sentence in Mr Xs article that was most frequently quoted, however, declared that what was needed was the adroit and vigilant application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points []. This implied (and most readers thought this was what Kennan meant) that crisis would follow crisis around the world, as the Soviet-masterminded conspiracy used its agents to accelerate the flow of communist power into every nook and cranny. (Ambrose, 1976, p.167) In other words, the US may have largely exaggerated the threat that Moscow really was to the western world.

The revisionist view


Did the orthodox historians grossly overestimate the Soviet threat? This is the idea defended by the revisionist historians, who believe that the Soviet Union cannot be held responsible for the Cold War, and that it was the USs capitalist goals that accelerated the conflict, leaving the Soviet Union no choice but to defend itself. a) Origins: The revisionist view appeared at about the same time as the orthodox view but was largely ignored. However, the works of American historian W.A.Williams in the early 1960s, and the protests against Americas intervention in Vietnam increased the popularity of the theory. b) Beliefs: The revisionists reject the view that the Soviet Union started the Cold War by expanding its power over Eastern Europe. They believe that, faced with an increasingly powerful United States, with a monopoly of atomic weapons, the Soviet Union had no choice but to seek alliances with non-anti-soviet states, to defend itself against the capitalist wave flowing westward. The cause of the Cold War is found not in the Soviet Unions political ideology but in the United States economic ideology. The American capitalist system, needing more and more trade and investments, developed an open door policy, which allowed it to expand the USs political and economic power over a war-ravished world. Martin McCauley notes: [For the revisionists,] the Marshall Plan was designed to implant an informal American empire in Europe - including eastern and south-eastern Europe - and thereby to extend American political influence over the USSR itself. (McCauley, 2003, p.14). The United States also tried to scare the Soviets in submission with their monopoly of atomic weapons: Truman deliberately waited until the atomic bomb was ready before organising the Potsdam conference. The revisionist view claims that any aggressive actions taken by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, economically, politically, or military, were simply defensive reactions to the policies of an even more aggressive capitalist America. The Djanov doctrine was a reaction to the Marshall Plan, the Warsaw Pact a reaction to the creation of NATO, the imposition of greater political control in Eastern Europe, and the creation of the Iron Curtain, were reactions to the increased attempts of Western intervention in the Soviet sphere of

influence. The United States finally settled for their spheres of influence, and brought all capitalist nations together under its boot by claiming the Soviet Union was a greater threat than it really was, thus consolidating its power over world affairs. c) Flaws: The first flaw to this theory, like with the orthodox theory, is that the revisionist historians didnt have access to the Soviet view of the conflict, through official documents. The same way the orthodox historians seem to blame everything on the Soviets, the revisionists blame everything on the Americans. Given the period of contestation against which the revisionist view bloomed, one could easily see this theory as more an attack on the revisionists own administration, than a real defence of Soviet policies.

The Post-revisionist view


The post-revisionist view is that both superpowers were guilty of starting the Cold War, as is somewhat a combination of the evidence put forward to defend the other two views. The cause is to be found in the differences in ideologies, attitudes and ambitions between the two rivals. a) Origins: The post-revisionist view has come to dominate since the end of the Cold War, with the opening of the Soviet archives, demonstrating that the USSR did have expansionist ambitions. However, the United States foreign policies have somewhat discredited their image of world power fighting for democracy and freedom for the good of humanity. The father of post-revisionist history is considered to be John Lewis Gaddis, who started exploring this view in the early seventies. To him, containment was the United States way of dealing with the consequences of the bargain struck during World War II. b) Beliefs: The post-revisionist theory claims that the seeds of conflict are found in the political and ideological differences between East and West. The United States, through such measures as the Atlantic Charter, sought to create a democratic post-war world favourable to free trade, thus allowing them to dominate the worlds economic affairs. To Stalin however, the way to increase the Soviet Unions power was expansion of territory. His view on the war was that: Whoever occupies a territory also imposes his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his armies can reach. It cannot be otherwise. (http://www.phschool.com/iText/worldhistory/html/chapter31/ch31-5b.html). This lead to the creation of Eastern and Western spheres of influence, and the division of Europe in to two separate regions. These conflicts started even before the war was over, at the Yalta conference for example, over the status of Poland, and again at the Potsdam conference, over the fate of the German capital. Neither one wanting to fail in its ideological convictions, there was little hope that either side would agree to sacrifice its interests in the name of global stability. Another cause for the Cold War was the threat that both powers were to each other. The rise of communism in Europe and Turkey, due to appalling post-war living conditions, was a threat to the United States economic domination of the region. The Truman Doctrine was the reaction to this threat: the United States decided to combat communism, by offering financial support to all nations willing

to join the fight. On the other hand, the Soviet Union felt naturally threatened on the Western front, due to a long history of invasions and attacks from their European borders. Stalin decided that the best way to avoid any further attacks was to push back the borders as far as possible, hence the need to impose Soviet-friendly governments on the eastEuropean countries. The differences in aims and ideals, and the constant threatening of each other, forced both superpowers to be on the defensive, in other words, to be constantly suspicious of anything the other did or said. This is the basis of the postrevisionist view, that the Cold War was a war of misunderstandings and prejudices. However, this is a simplified explanation of the post-revisionist view: this view is a combination as well as a critic of the two previous views, post-revisionist historians have developed many different theories, some being more influential than others: for example, some historians, like Gaddis, consider Stalins mental health to be one of the key factors in the history of the conflict. c) Personal opinion: The post-revisionist view seems to be the most valid explanation of the causes of the Cold War, because it is based on the study of official documents and files, unlike the other two views, which are nearly entirely based on guesswork as to what the Soviet Unions real foreign policy was. Also, this view has especially developed in the post-Cold War era, and in that sense, is more objective and less partisan. It doesnt claim that either one of the superpowers was innocent of any form of aggression, or does it claim that they were both out to destroy all trace of the each other. It seems to be the more academic of the three views, in that it tries to comprehend the security needs as well as the imperialism of both powers. Hence my belief that this is the most valid of the views of the causes of the Cold War.