Key Events Of The Cold War
The Cold War took place began in 1945 after the conclusion of World War II. Though the United States and the Soviet Union bound together as the Allied Powers throughout the war, there were still tense rivalries between them. Many of the problems between the two were concern of the motives of the other nation. Through the war, plans and ideas came about such as The Truman Doctrine, The Marshall Plan, containment, and NATO. The main goal of the ideas was to protect West Germany, and other nations from the influences of communism.
After World War II, the Soviets were difficult to reason with, and would not settle with any American ideas. The American Embassy in Moscow was asked to explain Soviet reasoning behind these problems. George Kennan replied back with what became known as the Long Telegram. This telegram explained that the Soviets were afraid of the West. Their expansion towards the West was not necessarily for expanding the Soviet Union but to protect them from the West. Kennan stated that it was impossible to make an agreement or settlement with the Soviets. He also stated that they had terrible political and economic weaknesses. Through this telegram came the idea of containment. Containment was a way of keeping communism contained to the areas it was already in, and not to let it enter into any other areas. Containment was the primary idea of the entire war for the United States.
Later, the Soviets made an attempt to take control of areas in Turkey. This was due to the routes from the Soviet Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean. Stalin encouraged a joint control of the Dardanelles with Turkey. To the U.S. this was seen as primary steps to control the Mideast. Truman then sent the new aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt to help support Turkey. Meanwhile, Britain helped Greece to fight back guerrilla warfare from the Greek Communists against the Greek Government. This hurt the British economy terribly, and they informed the U.S. that they had to back out of helping Greece. On March 12, 1947, Truman asked the U.S. Congress for $400 million in economic and military aid for Greece and Turkey. This was the beginning of The Truman Doctrine. This idea’s main goal was to provide financial aid to the free people that were resisting communism in other countries. Its immediate effects were to stabilize the Greek government and ease Soviet demands in Turkey.
Also, In June 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall came up with what was known as the Marshall Plan. This was to provide European countries with American aid to rebuild communities and economies. It consisted of $13 billion being spent on the European nations. The Soviet Union and the satellite nations in Eastern Europe denied this offer from the United States. The Marshall Plan was a complete success in Western Europe. Fewer and fewer people looked to communism for government, and it opened a new window for trade.
In 1948, due to the fact that the Soviets were purposely trying to weaken the German economy, the U.S., France, and Great Britain decided to merge their areas in Berlin and West Berlin into one area. This area became known as West Germany, and this independent region was not allowed to have a military. Out of anger, the Soviets decided to create a blockade. It eliminated the supplies that were being sent into the new area of West Germany. Along came the Berlin Airlift where supplies were flown into West Germany. The Soviets soon dropped the blockade and allowed the supplies through. This blockade brought America to the conclusion that the Soviets would not accept the possibility of defeat.
The American public started to favor a military alliance with Western Europe. This brought about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also known as NATO. NATO consisted of 12 countries, and each country agreed to come to the aid of any member who was attacked among the group. This was another step towards the containment goal of the United States. This provided a great sense of protection for the nations. This led to other alliances called COMECON and the Warsaw Pact in Eastern European states and areas.
Afterwards, China entered the war, and Truman called on the United Nations to act along with the Americans against the Chinese and North Korean troops. With the help of the troops sent by the United Nations the American troops pushed the North Koreans toward the Yalu River. The Chinese saw this as a threat and launched an attack across the river. Meanwhile, Truman continued to fight a limited war. His objective was simply to contain communism. By 1951 the North Korean and Chinese forces had been pushed back across the 38th Parallel, and the Korean War was coming to an end. The Korean War may not have been a victory had the U.N. not accompanied the U.S.
Lastly, the Cold War slowly came to an end as the Soviet Union began to collapse. Also, agreements were made between the U.S. and China, and most importantly there was a new rise of power in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Gorbachev. Mikhail Gorbachev came to power with new ideas and a sense of “New Thinking”. Primarily he made an agreement with the U.S. to eliminate intermediate range nuclear weapons; this was called the INF Treaty. Gorbachev made it so that the Soviet government no longer supported Communist governments. He also had many other great ideas that brought many problems between countries involved in the war to a better understanding. One of the most important things after the war was the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990.
In conclusion I believe the Cold War could have been avoided in a couple of ways. Firstly had the Soviets made themselves clear in the pursuit of conquering other lands toward the west then the U.S. may not have seen this as an attack but a security concept. Also, had the communist government and forces not attacked free lands such as Turkey and Greece there would have been no need for NATO, COMECON, or the Warsaw Pact. All in all this hostility toward other nations could have been avoided through friendly communication to other nations and the Soviet Union agreeing to some of the American ideas.
1. J. Spielvogel Jackson. Western Civilization Seventh Edition. (Belmont, California, Thomson Wadsworth, 2009)
2. Appleby, Joyce, Alan Brinkley, Albert S. Broussard, and Donald A. Ritchie. The American Vision. Alabama ed. Vol. 2. United States: Mc-Graw-Hill Companies Inc., 2005.
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