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The beginning of the Cold War dates back to Marx and Lenin. The Cold War grew from longstanding conflicts and issues between the Soviet Union and the United States that developed after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Soviet Communist Party under Vladimir Lenin considered itself the spearhead of international movement that would replace the existing political orders in the West, and indeed throughout the rest of the world. The Cold War can be said to have begun in 1917, with the emergence in Russia of a revolutionary Bolshevik regime devoted to spreading communism throughout the industrialized world. For Lenin, the leader of that revolution, such gains were imperative. As he wrote in his August 1918 Open Letter to the American Workers, “We are now, as it were, in a besieged fortress, waiting for the other detachments of the world socialist revolution to come to our relief.” (You need a new paragraph here and a citation for the work you quoted)
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In 1918, the United States joined briefly and unenthusiastically in an unsuccessful Allied attempt to topple the revolutionary Soviet regime. Suspicion and hostility thus characterized relations between the Soviets and the West long before World War II made the reluctant allies in the struggle against Nazi Germany.
The main Cold War enemies were the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States and the Soviet Union were the only two super powers following after World War II. The fact that, by the 1950s, each side possessed nuclear weapons. The Cold War was separated into three groups, or sides: The United States led the West. This group included countries with democratic political systems. The Soviet Union led the East. This group included countries that did not want to be tied to either the West or East. The early months of 1945 help to understand how the Cold War came about. It was simply; the Russians and we were not able to exist together more peacefully after World War II. Mid-to-late 1945 marks the time when relations between Moscow and Washington began deteriorating. This deterioration ignited the early Cold War. Bernard Baruch, senior advisor to Harry Truman, first used the term “Cold War”. The War got its name because both sides were afraid of fighting each other directly. In such a “hot war”, nuclear weapons might destroy everything. So, instead, the fought each other indirectly. They played havoc with conflicts in different parts of the world. The Cold War was the most important political and diplomatic issue of the early postwar period; it was a decades long struggle for global supremacy that pitted the capitalist United States against the communist Soviet Union.
During the first few years of the War, 1945-1948, the conflict was more political than military. Both sides squabbled with each other at the United Nations and sought closer relations with nations that were not committed to either side. By 1950, however, certain factors had made the War an increasingly militarized struggle. A few of these factors included: the communist takeover in China, the pronouncement of the Truman Doctrine, and the advent of a Soviet nuclear weapon. All of these factors enhanced the Cold Wars military dimension.
The Marshall Plan was the American offer of economic assistance made to Europe and the Soviet Union in June 1947 to repair the destruction wrought by World War II. It served to hasten and define the postwar of Europe into two competing blocs. As such, it was the most successful implementation of the new American policy of containing the expansion of Soviet power. It was almost immediately rejected by the Soviet Union. The chances for imminent recovery appeared slim – traditional transportation links between Europe and the rest of the world had been largely severed during the war. By the beginning of 1947 the United States had, in fact, given over $9 billion of aid to Europe. American officials feared that the Soviet Union would exploit the economic crisis to extend its political control over Western Europe. It was during this time that George F. Keenan, director of the State Department’s new policy planning staff, emerged as America’s leading expositor of the nature of the Soviet Union threat. Keenan provided the intellectual underpinnings of the American response to the threat of Soviet expansion – a response known as containment. Keenan thought that the best way to counter such Soviet actions was through economic assistance, offered by the United States to Europe as a whole. Economic aid meshed neatly with Keenan’s larger ideas of containment. The revival of the European economy would remove the conditions under which he felt that communism took root and thrived – hunger, poverty, desperation, and fear. The Marshall Plan was an attempt by the United States to re-create a similar arrangement for Europe, one that would fuse the separate economies of the sovereign nations together under the direction of supranational planning agencies to allow for the most rational allocation of production and distribution by taking advantage of economies of scale and comparative advantage.
On March 12, 1947, in an explicit response to the spread of Soviet-style communism, President Harry S. Truman’s declaration of policy became known as the Truman Doctrine. American authorities feared that the fall of Greece might trigger a chain reaction, bringing communist governments to power in Turkey, Iran, and perhaps even Italy and France. State Department officials argued that it was essential for the United States to prevent further deterioration of the pro-Western position in the Mediterranean. Under Secretary Acheson took the floor to make an emotional appeal for support to Greece. Not since ancient times, he argued, had the world been so divided between great powers. Not since the days of Athens and Sparta, Rome and Carthage, had the world been so polarized by “an unbridgeable ideological chasm” with “democracy and individual liberty” on one side and “dictatorship and absolute conformity” on the other. The United States needed to act in Greece to prevent the Soviet Union from dominating the globe. Vandenburg of Michigan was the first to break the ice in saying that he would support the administration’s request for aid., if President Truman explained to the American people the importance of U.S. assistance. The President went before Congress and the American people on March 12 to announce the Truman Doctrine. After the President spoke there was a speech that was given saying, “At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of lifeâ€¦One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of the minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.”
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By 1960, both sides had invested huge amounts of money in nuclear weapons, both as an attempt to maintain parity with each other’s stockpiles, but also because of the idea of deterring conflict through mutually assured destruction had come to be regarded as vital to the national interest of both. As nuclear weapons became more prolific, both nations sought to position missile systems in ever-closer proximity to each other’s borders. One attempt by the Soviet government in 1962 precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguably the closest the world has ever come to a large-scale nuclear exchange between two countries
It was also in the early 1960s that American containment policy shifted heavy reliance on nuclear weapons to more conventional notions of warfare in pursuit of more “flexible response to the spread of communism. Although originally articulated by President Kennedy, it was in 1965 that President Johnson showcased the idea of flexible response when he made the initial decision to commit American combat troops to South Vietnam. U.S. Foreign policy reflected this transition when it adopted a position that sought to “contain” the Soviet Union from further expansion. By and large, through a variety of incarnations, the containment policy would remain the central demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1989 the spontaneous destruction of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, and two years later the Soviet government itself fell from power.
Author? The Cold War, 1945-1991, Detroit: Gale Publishers 1992.
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