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Lec 2

Course Code
Ebba Kurt

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Lecture 2 – The Emergence of the Bipolar World and the Cold War
after WWII, totally new power structures emerged
United States – clearly not European
Soviet Union – never considered a truly European state
1945 – emergence of bipolar world dominated by two “peripheral” states
Grand Alliance was still in existence at the end of WWII but just barely – whenever there
was a significant challenge to the system, every single time there has been the formation of
grand alliances against states aiming for hegemony
e.g. against Louis XIV, Napoleon, etc.
what is unique in this situation is the speedy demise of the grand alliance – collapsed in less
than a year, started in the last year of the war
crucial to find out who was responsible for the start of the Cold War – no consensus
American POV has been dominant in IR, historians blame USSR for the Cold War
by the late-70's and early-80's, for the first time a more balanced approach emerged, their
argument is that it was the Americans who instigated the Cold War and the US who initiated
the demise of the Grand Alliance
by having the entire industry at their disposal undamaged by the war, having a nuclear
monopoly – thought US should have the dominance and run the entire world
envisaged free economic order of the world so that they can export their own vision
Stalin didn't agree with the vision and thus emerged conflict
controversial issue, but once USSR collapsed, archives were opened to the public, another
version emerged – both are at fault
both states/superpowers simply pursued their own national interests
also a 4th Soviet interpretation, just as biased as the traditional American view
Yalta purpose of the meeting was not the immediate issues (how to deal with Germans,
Japanese) but the post-WWII development
before each participating member (US, UK, USSR; or Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin) had
specific goal – great deal of impact and consequence
Roosevelt's primary objective was to bring in USSR against the war in Japan (USSR
was actually neutral in Japan)
second objective was to have the USSR accept his vision of the international
organization, the United Nations
wanted to have his Security Council (Big Three) have veto power, bring in China
and make China a member of the Security Council
Churchill was in the weakest position, UK recognized as the weakest of the Big Three,
but had huge goals
limit USSR gains and sphere of influence as much as possible; wanted a partner to
defend against USSR so wanted France to be brought into the Security Council
Stalin wanted to ensure Soviet national security, especially in the Western borders –
once again USSR had been attacked from the West through Poland
have friendly nations in the Soviet sphere of influence so that such a thing could
never happen again
battle of the bulge – only USSR offensive saved the American and British
if Western allies didn't do anything USSR could have won the war on its own
meanwhile Japanese were stubborn and defensive

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Roosevelt was pointed out as having betrayed Eastern Europe, his own goals, legitimate
international organization – not standing up to Stalin, had been hoodwinked
but in the treaty all of the big three had to make compromises
Stalin made huge concessions to both Churchill and Roosevelt to have his own objectives
achieved – accepted China within the Security Council (pro-Western state, American puppet
under Chiang Kaishek), accepted France (pro-fascist France who had done nothing to fight
against Nazi Germany), agreed to liberal democratic Western Europe
it was a fair deal dependent on the military situation at the time, but the seeds of discord had
already been sewn
April 1945 – Roosevelt died, to be replaced by Truman
Truman didn't care about Soviet objectives or sacrifices, didn't have a guilty conscience of
opening a second front
thought that Roosevelt was too sensitive about the USSR, no reason why we should be so
sensitive to the Russians
USSR needed American supplies as much as possible – Americans suspended the aid
without warning in March 1945
April 1945 – stopped Molotov from attending the first UN meeting, humiliated him, treated
him like a schoolkid
Truman said that the Americans should have 85% of the say in establishing the new
international system – they had the most military strength and economic might
Americans tried to negotiate a separate peace treaty with Germany even though US and USSR
had agreed not to negotiate separate peace
General Rolf was actually surrendering, but in meeting in Switzerland was interpreted as the
negotiation of a separate peace which would mean the USSR would have to fight alone
without allies
July 1945: in the Potsdam conference, Stalin had a new setting to deal with – neither Truman
nor Attlee were international statesmen, no personal stakes
a number of problems that immediately emerged, serious challenge to agreements in Yalta
Eastern Europe was the main point of contention
despite promises of Stalin, there were no Western representation, no politicians from a
bourgeois party – Stalin breached his own commitment
both Britain and US recognized a new Italian government without asking the USSR's
recognition or approval
issue of Poland, at least 6 million Poles in America so their interests had to be
considered, emerging Polish government was very pro-Soviets – could not turn a blind
eye to this, kept Soviets under interrogation
new problems emerged – Stalin “if you care so much about the Pole, Romanians, Bulgarians
etc, then allow the Soviet Union to have a say in Western Europe and Italy”
who would get Italian colonies, control over Mediterranean – British vital interest,
argued that they could not compromise on this issue
Stalin argued that Eastern Europe likewise was of vital Soviet interest
German issue – at this point four states occupied Germany (France, Britain, US, USSR)
would be dealt with as one political entity even though occupied by 4 states
Soviets wanted reparations, Western states didn't want to deal with that before political
situation had been settled
however, Germany must be de-Nazified, de-cartelized, democratized and de-militarized
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