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Lecture

The Cold War


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL208Y1
Professor
John Haines

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International Relations: Week 8 t November 2nd, 2010
The Cold War
World in 1945:
- Characterized by the US as the most powerful nation on the planet
o Atomic bomb has demonstrated this
- Domestically, the first priority of President Truman is to go back to normalcy
o The troops must go home, congress must regain its role in policy making, shift war
economy to peace economy
- Soviet Union has suffered massive losses, much higher than US
o At the same time, huge gains, Moscow influence over Eastern Europe unmatched and
undisputed
o Moscow has new sense of insecurity after atomic bombs
- The UK is bankrupt, may have won the world, but economic situation is catastrophic
o Keynes sent to Washington to ask for US money
o Influence of UK in Middle East, India, empire, doomed to disappear
o By 1947, India became independent, the old colonial European empire started to
disappear
Dutch left Indonesia, French started to see old colonial possession of Indochina
contested, Nigeria massive protests against French rule
x Futile attempts by France to keep old colonial possessions
- By 1945 clear that there are two major players: US and Soviet Union
- &}ÇÇ}(}otoo^o}vP_
o Relatively stable, absence of direct confrontation, but more of an illusion of stability
o For politicians stability was rarely felt, in many instances the Cold War had direct use of
force: Korea, Vietnam, Prague, Warsaw, Kabul...
o Stability minimal characteristic
- Military contest but also contest about ideology
o Peace between Moscow and Washington impossible because represented different
ideological systems
o War was extremely unlikely because of nuclear weapons among other factors
- Peace impossible, war unlikely
Rise of the Cold War
- In 1945, when defeat of Germany became a near certainty, Roosevelt met Stalin and they
agreed on a shared control of a divided Germany
o Point of shared control was Berlin, Eastern part of Germany, decided to share control of
that city, Soviet zone of control and West zone of control
o Sphere of influence agreement, Soviet control of large part of Eastern Europe was
agreed upon by Roosevelt
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o Basic scheme of peace by Roosevelt after WWII was about giving special powers to four
countries around the world who would be entitled to keep the peace
There must be some special powers that will negotiate and discuss among
themselves to keep the world at peace
UN security council came into being because of this
Problem was to have an efficient system of discussion among these powers
must have a minimal understanding and agreement between them, with the
Cold War, this scheme became obsolete, people using veto powers
x By 1945 still hope that Moscow and Washington could find agreement
to keep the peace worldwide
- 1945 to 1950, period of uncertainty, tension, dream of Roosevelt failing, tension between
Moscow and the West started to rise
o Control of Moscow over Eastern Europe was roughly acknowledged
o Churchill and Stalin divided sphere of influence in Europe
Poland was understood to be a buffer zone, but ultimately had the choice of
choosing its side
Stalin thought otherwise, control of Soviet Union on countries the Red Army
occupied, rapidly became complete and total
Where the Red Army was, Stalin intended to impose a specific political system
that would answer to every wish of Moscow, the idea of a democratic Poland
started to disappear rapidly
x First tension started to appear over the control of Poland
- Then Moscow began to push its influence on Greece and Turkey
o UK bankrupt, London unable to contain Soviet influence in these countries
o London decided to call Washington requesting help, American power to contain the
willingness of the Soviet Union
Washington agreed because of responsibility for security
After Greece and Turkey, which were never a part of the Soviet sphere of
influence, Soviet Union tried to take partial control of Iran, to gain control of oil
x Washington and Truman, sick of babying the Soviets
x Hope of agreement with Moscow started to disappear, perception that
Moscow could be if not an ally at least a partner, started to disappear
completely
x Shifted from allies to rivals (1946-1947), to enemies in 1948
- Blockade of Berlin in 1947, Moscow was never happy with the way Berlin was managed by the
West, in an attempt to kick out the West from Berlin, they decided to blockade the city
o US answer was to organize airlift to Berlin in order to ensure it would remain a free city
o Tension between Washington and Moscow began to increase significantly
- 1946-1947, US not so much concerned about Red Army, but about the weaknesses of Western
Europe itself
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o Western Europe was a world destroyed, couple of years after 1945 extremely
demanding, basically starving, even UK forced to establish rationing tickets
Economic situation worrying, Washington preoccupied by rise of communist
parties in Western Europe
In France, 40% of population voted communist, Italy same thing
Washington saw communist influence inside those countries, nightmare
scenario, communist win would mean Moscow influence inside these countries
To address this problem, several steps taken by Washington:
x 1. Overall policy of containment
o Long Telegram, analysis of Soviet insecurity
o For first time, analysis showing nature of Soviet insecurity,
nature of Soviet regime, and what we should do about it
Soviet union is a dictatorship, because of nuclear power
of US, sense of insecurity in Moscow is a feeling we
cannot address, Moscow will never trust Washington
Only way to respond is a policy of containment of Soviet
interests, Washington must oppose spread of Soviet
influence
To achieve containment policy, US must become a
model for the free world
Slowly Moscow will realise that confrontation with
Washington is useless, will be unsuccessful, slowly
Moscow will mellow into an acceptable power, long-
term objective
Turning point for US, in 1947, realised that to trust
Moscow was nearly impossible, overall framework of US
policy regarding Moscow
x Critics of policy of containment:
o Walter Litman, called containment a
strategic folly, policy that left the
initiative to Moscow
o Containment is a policy of reaction to
Moscow to move forward
o US in that battle has no strategic
initiative
o W}o]Ç}(^Á]v_
- Truman doctrine of 1947, endorsed the containment policy but gives it a mantle of ideology
o Cynical and realist policy, Truman accepted the assumption behind the policy but
wanted to colour it behind an ideological battle
o Freedom of the West vs Soviet and Communist influence
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