The unity of the two great nations in World War 2 had brought hope and eventually victory to the allies, and the suffering people of the world. However, surely the ‘unnatural alliance’ between the USSR and the USA couldn’t last? The vast ideological gap, a difference in the leading figures contributed to the breakdown of friendship after the defeat of a common foe. Not only this, but it seems that the difference and change of the leading political figures, as well as the fear of spreading communism meant that the alliance was almost certain to fall apart.
It is almost an undeniable assumption that the alliance of the USSR and USA was, as historian Caroline Kennedy-Pipe says, it was an ‘alliance of desperation, not trust’, and thus it would appear one of convenience, rather than voluntarial. One of the more simplistic reasons for the alliance was the need to defeat a common enemy ??? by uniting, it would be both easier and more efficient to work together to achieve a common goal. Stalin was afraid of German invasion, and so the Nazi-Soviet Pact signed on the 28th August, 1939 was a promise of neutrality between each other if either country became involved in a war.
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However, the German invasion of Russia in 1941 made it clear to Stalin that Hitler was never true to his promises, and so turned to the allies ??? who were the only option of help he had left. This supports the point that Stalin never wished to assist the allies in the first place ??? the open hostility and distrust (on both sides) didn’t help with an alliance beforehand. Stalin opted in for an alliance with the allies so as to take pressure off his western front, so that the USSR wouldn’t be overwhelmed by two front lines ??? the other being from the Japanese in the east.
To further the problem, the US was only allies with the Soviet Union because (after joining the war later than when Stalin decided to join the allies) the existing allies already were. An alternative explanation is the ideologies involved of east and west. In the case of the US, communism went against virtually every known and held American value and ethic. Americans saw ideals such as freedom of speech, press, as well as open elections as standard for building a civilised society, as well as completely going against the American dream of pursuing happiness.
At a complete contrast to this, was the communist ideology; derived from the Marx/Engels manifesto, and signified by both Lenin and Stalin after him. All civil rights were put aside in the name of revolution, as equality and justice needed to be achieved first ??? this was a completely alien idea to the US, and thus it was instantly rejected by them. People such as Kennan (famous for his long telegram that dictated American foreign policy) says that the roots are in Marxism, however this doesn’t appear a sound explanation, as it would have to be mutual ideological misgivings for there to be an issue.
After the war, Woodrow Wilson wanted to make sure that self destruction would never happen again, and so aimed to offer a democratic alternative to communism. He aimed to achieve things like self determination, gradualism rather than revolution, and an open door economy, assuming that American values would dominate world politics. Other evidence to support this includes Other problems include the security interests as well as the mutual feeling of vulnerability between the two superpowers.
After Hitler’s invasion of Russia in 1941, Stalin no longer felt that any other nation could be trusted, and made it his main policy to recover territory lost to Russia from Germany, ‘with no concessions in this respect’. In the past Russia has been invaded by countless other countries, such as the Mongols, Poles, France (Napoleon), and of course the Germans in both of the world wars. Being mostly technologically weak as well as having weak borders, it seems fair to say that Russia had some right to feel vulnerable after being consistently attacked throughout the years.
Because of this, Stalin sought security through gaining territory, rather than by other means ??? many of his advisors such (such as Litvinov) were dismissed. It would appear that this is the most important factor, as (although Wilson proposed collective security) both superpowers felt the need countries around them ??? thus creating spheres of influence of east and west. This shows that both sides were to blame in this factor, and it seems that the post revisionist Mark 1 supports this by saying that ‘neither polarity can be blamed entirely’.
An idea that, for the most part, supports the essay’s proposition is that the personalities heavily contributed to the breakdown of cooperation after the war. During WW2, the relationship between Stalin and President Roosevelt had developed to the extent that they could be considered friends ??? with Roosevelt believing that the Russians were ‘good people’. However, Roosevelt’s failing health, and death by the Potsdam Agreements in July 1945, meant that he was replaced by Harry Truman, who made it clear that he was very against Russia and the soviets.
He stopped programs such as lend lease (the lending of war materials), as well as denying the soviets a war loan (despite lending to most of Europe), which led to increased hostility between nations. However, it wasn’t just Truman, but British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his iron curtain speech in America, February 1946 – speaking out against the soviets as ‘untrustworthy’. As well as this, there was the issue of the development of the atomic bomb during WW2; in which Stalin knew that the US was developing the technology, but refused to officially release the information ??? again creating more mistrust.
Although possibly not the main reason for the breakdown of the ‘unnatural alliance’, because of a change in the key figures of power, relations were bound to fall apart. Lastly, it would appear that economic problems also have a part to play in the downfall of the alliance. Some historians suggest that the only reason that the Americans entered the war was for the sole purpose of expanding their economy. By spreading the American dollar ??? the overall theme called dollar imperialism ??? the Americans would be able to control the world through monetary means, which is the view if the revisionists.
This was unacceptable to the communists, as it was seen as the US spreading capitalism throughout the world. Although this could be correct to a certain degree, it seems unlikely as the US also joined the war to avenge their killed in the Pearl Harbour attacks of 1941. It therefore seems more likely that they sought to secure a better hold on world economics through methods such as the Marshall plan, but it would be unfair to say that they were solely responsible for the breakdown of the alliance through monetary means.
With regard to the vast amount of influencing factors, I cannot agree with either the orthodox, or the revisionist view mark one; as it seeks to put the blame solely on one nation. John Halliday suggested that the “USA and USSR jointly subordinated the world to their common interests”, which shows that both countries were motivated by self gain, and to an extent ideology. Once their ‘common enemy’ had been defeated, the two superpowers would clearly struggle to keep the peace that had been in place. As said, I disagree with the revisionist and orthodox view, although the revisionist mark 3 certainly seems to have appeal.
Although he appears to more list factors than have a theory of his own, Halliday certainly brings together many of the factors under one school of thought. In addition to this, I would rework it to say that it was more a result of the security issues as opposed to any other of the factors such as ideology or personalities. This therefore shows that the Cold war is far too complex to be reduced to one argument, although I still believe that very few things are ‘bound’ to happen; they are influenced to such an extent that very few real choices can be made.