Throughout the 20th century, humanity has witnessed monumental historical events. From the great depression, to the devastation of two world wars, to the Holocaust, all the way to the creation of a superwoman. However, The Cold War was a different and unique concept on its own. So unique, that humanity has entered a new chapter never discovered before. Throughout history, there was always conflict, but never before has a conflict of this magnitude and potential mutual destruction ever been observed before. Human history is highly nonlinear and unpredictable” (Michael Sheerer). Mr.. Shearer’s quote is highly relevant in the Cold War, because at its height, both the United States and the Soviet Union were unpredictable in their actions, and the fate of civilization rested in their hands. Historians look back and ask: Why did the Cold War happen? Did the West and the East strive for world domination? Was the Cold War a clash between different ideologies? Nevertheless, the question that must be asked is: given the circumstances at the time, was the Cold War inevitable, or could it be avoided?
With regards to that question, this essay aims o explore how the Cold War was doomed to occur as a result of the ever increasing mistrust and miscommunication between the leaders, the growing hostility amid each country own ideology, and last but not least, the desire to become the stronger nation. First and foremost, miscommunication between the Allied leaders became more frequent after the fall of the Third Reich, where they began to discuss various topics.
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However, there was also miscommunication and empty promises made during the war, such as when President Roosevelt convinced the Soviets that Germany would be fighting on the French front in 1942. Germany did not fight a two-front war until D- Day in 1944, two years after what was promised, at which point the Soviets had fought in the Battle of Straddling and Siege of Leningrad, in which both battles resulted in at least five million casualties on the Soviet side alone. Interestingly, there wasn’t as much tension during the war than after, since the Allies had one common enemy and goal.
In any case, those empty promises were not forgotten by Stalin, but instead were the seeds sown to the hardships lying ahead. “Stalin did not like or trust either man… Thus he artfully planned to use the Tehran meeting to divide Roosevelt ND Churchill and to solidify gains for the Soviets. “l Stalin was many things, paranoid was among them. He refused to trust either Churchill or Roosevelt, and cared only to further his own interests, as it was seen in the Tehran conference. An example of his selfish behavior can be noted when Stalin demanded enormous reparations from Germany, despite Roosevelt best attempts to dissuade him.
Josef Stalin was hot- headed and wanted everything he asked for. His lack of diplomacy and lack of awareness to his surroundings frustrated the Western leaders, who wanted to see regress being made within Germany and other countries destroyed by the war. Stalinist would later affect future leaders, notably Khrushchev and Cockroach, and with Stalin’s death, came the friction between the Western Capitalist ideology against the Soviet Communist ideology. Essentially, at its most basic core, the Cold War was a standoff between two ideologies; Communism and Capitalism. Each had their own unique system, societal norms, advantages and disadvantages.
And each ideology tried to limit the influence of the other ideology throughout the world. For example, he Soviet government installed the Iron Curtain, which halted any advances that the West may have made to increase its Capitalist influence, as well as stop any unwanted people from snooping around. After World War II, communism began gaining power and fame throughout Europe, despite the worries of Americans: “Communist parties in Western Europe had so much popular support that in France and Italy it seemed possible that they might come to power by democratic means. 2 The rising popularity of left-winged governments, and the thought of most Europe controlled by communism was deemed unacceptable by America, which then munched the Marshall Plan: A $13 billion investment in European countries to help rebuild and restart its economy. The Marshall Plan was America’s way to increase its capitalist sphere of influence, while diminishing communism. Tensions quickly escalated as each ideology wanted to be the superior superpower and have as much influence as possible.
This led to wars being fought in disputed regions, such as Vietnam, the Korean Peninsula, Afghanistan… Mistrust between leaders led to increased tensions, which forced them to increase their influence as much as possible. The Cold War can be summarized by saying that the Soviet Union and America were in a competition to become the most powerful nation. Last but not least, one of the main reasons that made the Cold War inevitable was each country fiery desire to become the dominant superpower in the world.
Although this was attempted in many ways, including influencing countries to adopt their ideology, the most common way to show a country might was through its military and technology. At the time, because Nuclear Bombs were Just discovered, America and the Soviet Union worked around the clock to hone the craft of the perfect bomb, and also have more of them than the other. This led to an arms race between both superpowers, with each one trying to get ahead of the other. “. Stalin took Hiroshima as a direct U. S. Attempt to blackmail the Soviet Union behind the smokescreen of ending the Pacific war sooner. 3 Once again, in this quote, it is seen how paranoid Stalin truly is, always trying to tie the actions of everybody against him. He felt threatened by the newfound American weapon, and wanted to break their nuclear weapons monopoly, which he succeeded in 1949 by successfully testing an atomic bomb. This weapons race is what truly made the world hold their breath ring the Cold War, because the destruction of humanity was quite possible at that point. It was only a matter of who strikes first, Capitalism or Communism.
In conclusion, the empty promises and miscommunication during World War II between the Allied leaders sowed the seeds of mistrust between them, which would later cause tensions during the Cold War. The Cold War was a standoff between two opposing ideologies, with each side attempting to gain the upper hand in territorial, economical and military aspects, by increasing their sphere of influence throughout the world, and diminishing the other’s ideology. Finally, the Cold War could not be avoided due to the hunger the Soviet Union and America desired to be world superpowers.
With a hot-headed, paranoid leader such as Stalin, it was sure that he would not bow down before the Americans, and this escalation led to the huge stockpiling of nuclear weapons. In the end, the Cold War was a defining moment in human history. It was an event which has never been witnessed before, since it was the first time humans’ survival was at risk. If such growing tensions can threaten our existence as humans, is it possible to live through another Cold War in these current tense global times?