Alicia B. Vaughner| How Did the Cold War Begin? | | | POL 300 027016*201004| Strayer University| | How Did the Cold War Begin? No one seems to be able to agree on an exact date of when the Cold War began. There was never an official announcement of warfare to note the start beginning of the conflict. The cause of the Cold War stems from many causes. However, it was mainly due to conflict between the United States and the then Soviet Union. “Both the United States and the Soviet Union had been born in revolution.
Both embraced ideologies with global aspirations: what worked at home, their leaders assumed, would also do for the rest of the world. ” (Gaddis, 2005, p 7) Both were well ahead of other countries in many areas. Both entered the war, the Soviets because of Germany’s invasion and the United States because Hitler declared war after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But here is where their similarities ended. The differences between the nations were outweighed the similarities enormously. Both countries had their own ideas as to how things should have been during the period after the war.
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The United States envisioned the “One World” concept. (Anderson 2001, pp. 7-9) That all nations should be self-governing and allowing the United Nations to resolve differences and make certain there was peace. The United States had believed that its way of life and culture was much better than other nations and that everyone else would fare better if they were like America. The Soviet Union was a communist society. That meant that everything was owned by the country, however, it was controlled by the government.
This idea was the total opposite of the United States and many other countries where businesses were ran and owned privately. The Soviets wanted the nations that they governed to operate as they did. The leaders of both nations tried, tirelessly to work out their differences. There was a conference held at Tehran, Iran in 1943. This is where “the leaders of the three great Allied powers- the United States president Franklin Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin,” began a series of several meetings they would have leading up to the end of World War II. Maus, 2003 pp. 13-14) These leaders discussed topics such as the influences each of their countries had on regions in which they had control and liberation. “All three leaders believed they had made progress at Tehran. Churchill felt he could get along with Stalin, and began to refer to him as ‘Uncle Joe’. What the Western leaders did not know was that their rooms at Tehran were bugged and that every morning Stalin went through a transcript of their conversations. He would leave nothing to chance. ” (Isaacs ; Downing, 1998, p 12) Lack of trust was a major issue.
By February of 1945, they held another conference in Yalta. Here they discussed how they could get a piece of Germany after they were defeated. They decided that they would not question one another’s power in regions in which they were already engaged. They all agreed to maintain control in the areas they already governed. They also agreed to set up their own elected governments as quickly as possible, and this basically stayed in effect for the next 45 years. The three Allies leaders met again later in 1945 in Postdam, Germany.
President Roosevelt had been replaced by Harry Truman and Winston Churchill had been replaced by Clement Attlee. Stalin was concerned that the new United Nations may have been controlled by the United States and Great Britain, and that the Soviet Union would be over powered. “It was agreed that two or three Soviet republics would be admitted as members and that each of the great powers should have a veto over resolutions of the Security Council. ” (Isaacs & Downing, 1998, pp 15-16) By this time the war was over. All of the decisions that had been made in Yalta were now put into writing.
This created Eastern and Western unions, which were taken over by “military, political, and/or [sic] economic might of the Soviet Union and the United State, respectively. ” (Maus, 2003 p 15) These unions were divided by a non-military and joint engaged Germany, but that was over when Germany was cut into two sections. The Soviet section became the Communist-governed German Democratic Republic, and the sections that had been dominated by France, Great Britain and the United States was now known has the Federal Republic of Germany. (Maus p 15) Basically, the Cold War era had been put nto motion by those three conferences that were held by the Allies leaders by separating Europe into two parts. “Whether one points the finger at the Soviet Union or the United States, the early explanations for the origins of the conflict were essentially extensions of the political atmosphere of their time. ” (Hanhimaki & Westard, 2003 p ix) The division of the United States and the Soviet Union had not really began in the early part of 1946, but progress during the following few years pretty much promised a long era of animosity among the two countries. Not only was Truman siding openly with the more anti-Communist voices in his government, but Soviet actions in the rest of the world seemed to justify the opinions of those who believed that peaceful coexistence with the Soviets was impossible. ” (Maus, 2003, p 16 The problem with all of this is that you cannot force people to do what you want them to do. Trying to force a nation or many nations to change their way of life is almost impossible. Now both sides had what they thought were the best ideas. The American way of life is not like any other.
Americans have freedoms and liberties that other countries and nations wish they had. Americans look at some of these countries and say note that there is no way they could live in a place where you cannot chose, for example, how many children you may want to have. Other nations may look at Americans and say we are out of control and that we have too much freedom. If all someone knows is control, and dictatorship, then getting them to conform to something is going to prove to be very challenging. On the other hand, trying to get Americans to conform to a Communist way of life will cause nothing but chaos and sheer pandemonium!
Simply because that is not the way of life Americans are accustomed to living. The positive side to trying to implement change or sway ones influence is when no precedence has been set. If there was no government in place, it had been overthrown or it had fallen, then by all means, something needed to be done. However, the best interest of the people should have been what was addressed. The people should have had a say in what they wanted not forced into a way of life that they knew nothing about. People can adapt to change and are more willing accept change if they are involved somewhat.
As time went on, many nations started to realize the fact that they could not force people into anything. People started to voice their opinions and concerns about issues that directly impacted them. Leaders took notice, and began to listen to their people. And in doing so, is what lead to the end of the Cold War. Many nations and countries look at the United States in different ways. Some see American way of life as the best there is, “America is the land of opportunity”, (Leonardo de Vinci) These nations took a close look at the United States government and attempted to emulate what they saw.
In December of 1988, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev gave a speech at the United Nations. Some say, that signaled the end of the Cold War. It brought about a new period of which communism was over. “Some argue that the United States “won” the cold war, for the demise of communism in the USSR validated democratic capitalism as an ideology; others insist that there were no real winners. ” (Maltz, 2003 p 273) Gorbachev gave this speech three years after he had taken control. He went forward with diplomatic proposals by turning down the burden of communist principles and throwing out the use of negative power in foreign guidelines.
While the Soviet Union seemed to be getting it together, the United States was facing its own issues. 1968 proved to be a trying year for America. They had entered the war in Vietnam and it was an election year. Many Americans, did not, and still do not agree with the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese began attacking different cities. The Americans and the South Vietnamese began fighting back and were able to hold them back. The North Vietnamese could no longer keep a hold on any of the territories that they had taken and the United States claimed an absolute win.
By this time President Johnson’s approval rating had taken a nosedive. In March of 1968, he announced to the American Public major changes were taking place in regards to Vietnam. “The United States would seek a peaceful solution through negotiations. In the meantime, it would work to make the army of South Vietnam more active in fighting the war. Before closing, Johnson stunned Americans by saying that he would not run for reelection. ” (Anderson, 2001 p 68) This announcement caused uproar of sorts with several candidates vying for the votes of the American public.
As 1968 progress, the United States was faced with even more adversity. On April 4 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots involving looting and vandalisms surged through the country as millions of people learned of Dr. King’s death. During this time the presidential campaign was still underway. Democratic hopeful Robert Kennedy had won the majority and many thought he was well on his way to being the next president of the United States. However, on the night of his victory, June 5, 1968, he was shot. He succumbed to his wounds the next day. The King and Kennedy slayings seemed to signal that the United States was spinning out of control. ” (Anderson, 2001 p 69) Even through all of this, the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed to get better. In 1989, as George H. W. Bush took office as the 41st President of the United States, he was a, to say the least, a bit leery of Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Bush was not convinced that Gorbachev was not like those before him. Bush wanted to be reassured and asked for an assessment of the Soviet-American relationship.
However, Bush’s national security adviser was uncertain as well. He was quoted as saying “I was suspicious of Gorbachev’s motives and skeptical about his prospects…. He was attempting to kill us with kindness…. My fear was that Gorbachev could talk us into disarming without the Soviet Union having to do anything fundamental to its own military structure and that, in a decade or so, we could face a more serious threat than ever before. ” (Gaddis, 2005, p 239) Gorbachev was cautious of the H. W. Bush position as well. These people were brought up in the years of the Cold War and still do not have any foreign policy alternative,’ he told the Politburo shortly before Bush took office. ” (Gaddis, 2005 pp. 239-240) The two leaders basically did not what to expect from each other. Neither of them could predict what was going to happen. However, they moved forward and had a great working relationship. In his speech given to the General Assembly of the United Nations, December 8, 1998 Gorbachev said “I am convinced that we are not floating above reality. We regard prospects for the near and more distant future quite in optimistically.
Just look at the changes in our relations with the United States. Little by little, mutual understanding has started to develop and elements of trust have emerged, without which it is very hard to make headway in politics. ” The relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union grew stronger. Gorbachev was quoted as saying “the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States of America have a history of five and half decades. As the world changed, so did the nature, role and place of those relations in world politics. ” Gorbachev was ensuring the United States that he was willing to work together.
Or better yet, build a strong relationship. He recognized that there were differences and that they could be worked out. He made mention that the world could be relieved of the new and improved changes implemented in the relationship between Moscow and Washington. He went on to further say, “No on intends to underestimate the seriousness of our differences and the toughness of outstanding problems, We have, however, already graduated from the primary school of learning to understand each other and seek solutions in both our own and common interests. (Maltz, 2003, p 283) The Cold War had finally ended. Leaders going through this era had gone through periods of surprise, fear, excitement, confusion and at times, had no idea what they were doing. They found it difficult to recapture the idea, but realized that they could do this by acknowledging that what at one time looked unbelievable was now unavoidable. “What never happened, despite universal fears that it might, was a full-scale war involving the United States, the Soviet Union and their respective allies.
The leaders of these countries were probably no less belligerent than those who had resorted to war in the past, but their bellicosity lacked optimism: for the first time in history no one could be sure of winning, or even surviving, a great war. ” (Gaddis, 2005, pp. 261-262) By the time the Cold War was over, the necessity to go to war was no longer certain to persuade the states, or even have a place with countries overseas. So, was the Cold War even necessary? Could it have been avoided? Some historians, say it could have been.
The Soviet’s warning could have and should have been dealt with early on. If it had, some of cost associated with the Cold War could have been avoided. “Meeting the Soviet threat as a moral challenge was congenial to the American mentality. What was not congenial was doing so over a prolonged period of time with self restraint, and by avoiding military force to achieve a clear decision. ” (Maus, 2003, p 222) These restraints were the lead way to what settled on what the results of the Cold War would be, while this would not be clear until it had come to an end.
The United States unfortunately got the short end of the deal in regards to military side of things with the Soviets as their adversary. When they left with no warning, the United States was not ready and out of sorts about why their unnecessary military power and looking for a clear understanding of their role. The benefits of this war were very minimal. “A larger benefit of the Cold War was the demonstration that a conflict so intense could nevertheless be managed without getting out of hand, thus contributing to the growing belief that war as such may have become obsolete. ” (Maus, 2003, p 223) WORKS CITED
Anderson, Dale. (2001). The Cold War Years. Austin, New York: Raintree, Steck~Vaughan Publishers Isaacs, Jeremy and Downing, Taylor. (1998). Cold War: An Illustrated History, 1945-1991. Boston: Little, Brown and Company Gaddis, John L. (2005). The Cold War A New History. England: Penguin Books Hanhimaki, Jussi and Odd Arne Westard. (2003). The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts. New York: Oxford Press Maltz, Leora. (2003). The Cold War Period 1945-1992 Volume 8. Michigan: Greenhaven Press Maus, Derek C. (2003). Turning Points in World History: The Cold War. Michigan: Greenhaven Press