In The Post Wwii Era

In the post World War II era, a war arose between the Soviet Union and the United States, but in reality there was never really any documented fighting between the two nations, thus spawning the catch phrase “Cold War”. Even though both countries were ready to go to war at the blink of an eye and almost did, the powers-that-be never got the nerve to authorize a nuclear war that would have made World War II look like child’s play. This was a war fought in the political ring and a war that did not start at the end of World War II; this war started during the war against Hitler and lasted for forty more years before peace became predominant over the crumbling Soviet Union.
Many events occurred in this political heavyweight bout, and both sides can be blamed for the extremity the tensions escalated to, and this Cold War would have been tough to avoid taking into account the political beliefs of the countries at hand.
During the war, once the Allied powers from the west joined forces with Stalin’s
Red Army, trouble was inevitable. Luckily for the world, America had a great leader and
foreign diplomat in Franklin D. Roosevelt while England countered with Winston
Churchill. This duo created a steady working relationship with Stalin, thus creating the
Big Three and the Grand Alliance. Even though it was far from a perfect relationship, all
three diplomats realized the task at hand, the mandate of stopping Adolph Hitler and the
Nazi regime of Germany. Sadly, this priority overwhelmed the Big Three, and no
solution was ever conjured up on how to handle the Post-War situation in Europe and
Asia following an Allied victory. Understandably, stopping Hitler was far from
guaranteed, but any plan that was taken by the Allies in Europe never even considered
the implications of how to handle the war-torn countries of Eastern Europe afterwards,
an area that the Soviets had suffered many casualties and other losses to free from fascist
control. The few problems with Churchill and Roosevelt is that they both tended to do
things their own way, sometimes leaving Stalin out to dry, and also relied heavily on their
own diplomatic skills, leaving other politicians out of the foreign policy matters for each
country. While many United States Government officials were not fans of Stalin, they all
realized the urgency in having him on their side of the fight. In reality, no one in the
government knew how to handle Stalin except for Roosevelt, which creates one of the
first major events of the Cold War: the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With
Roosevelt dying, the foreign policy of the United States was about to do a complete 180
in reverse. Suddenly, all the cabinet and legislative members have a significant role in
the diplomatic world, a world they had previously been shut out of for over a decade. In
the middle lies a man who had not a clue about what he was getting himself into. Harry
Truman was about to get in way over his head, and absolutely being Roosevelt’s fault,
Truman was about to get into a situation he was almost completely unfamiliar with. Poor
Truman had been briefed but only once in the matters involving the war, and the
decisions he was about to make would shape the world forever. With Roosevelt being a
pacifist with Stalin, a decent working relationship evolved between the two, and some
glimmer of hope can be seen to this day about what could have happened if Roosevelt
did not die and kept up the good standing with Russia. Imagining Stalin’s reaction after
the Yalta Conference with Roosevelt to that of the Potsdam Conference just months after
Roosevelt’s death with Truman at the helm being very aggressive towards Communism
in Eastern Europe is almost comical, if the severity of the situation is not understood.
This must be noted as one of the building blocks of the Cold War with Russia, because
this marks the official point where America’s stance towards Stalin and Communism
changes drastically and the time where Truman begins his diplomatic journey with the
forces in the Soviet Union, one that will engulf him for the rest of his tenure in office.
This also must be noted as being America’s fault. A country’s attitudes cannot visually
and verbally change so radically so quickly. Roosevelt should have briefed Truman
heavily on dealing with Stalin. America could stay on Stalin’s good side, leaving some
remote chance of having a settlement work itself out after the war. An angry Stalin is
much harder to reason with than a content Stalin, especially taking into consideration that
he was absolutely insane, something you can’t play with carelessly.
The next event that shaped the world’s history and marked the official beginning
of the Cold War was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. After talking with
Russia and getting their consent on joining the war on Japan, the United States again acts
wrong and hastily by dropping a device that blew up the city of Hiroshima. The
agreement was with Russia that on August 8th, the Soviet Union would declare war on
Japan. Taking this into account, the United States went ahead and dropped the bomb on
August 6th, two days before. In another bold and careless move, the second bomb was
dropped on Nagasaki. This bomb was dropped before the Japanese even received an
ultimatum from the United States about an unconditional surrender before they will
destroy another city with one of their new weapons. That aside, the pertinent issue is that
America did not even talk to Russia about their plans to drop the bomb before it was
already done. So, the Red Army had to use the resources, raw materials, and not to
mention the man-power to move their troops over to Japan from Eastern Europe,
something that was taking in the ballpark of three months. Once they officially got there,
the war is over, and the United States gives them a bold statement by ending the war so
violently and quickly while letting the Russians know that the U.S. does not need or want
their help anymore. Also, the Russians probably realized that the Americans do not want
them anywhere in Asia, where Communism could spread, in fact, the United States did
not want to have to share occupation of Japan with the Russians, something that probably
frustrated Stalin. The Americans also wanted to demonstrate the power of the bomb, and
give Stalin a reason to be fearful of the powerful United States, so no troubles will arise
in the post-war era. If only the United States would have conversed with Stalin briefly
about their plans, maybe dropping the bomb would not have been so daunting and
unnecessary. Shunning the Soviet Union to end the war with Japan without any further
interactions in Asia was the first Cold War maneuver of many to come from both sides.
The United States was out to better their own country, and all the while not promoting
any kind of unity between the superpowers, something that democracy is supposed to be
all about.
Undoubtedly, one of the more important Cold War origins belonged to the region
of Eastern Europe, where turmoil between the Western powers and Russia lasted for
decades. Russia, sacrificing so much to stop Hitler, desperately wanted the countries of
Eastern Europe, with an emphasis on Poland. On the other hand, the United States
demanded that Poland be a democracy where free elections would be held. This is
certainly where the Cold War escalates, as Russia breaks a promise to uphold free
elections in Poland in the late 40’s and early 50’s, something that does not sit well with
Truman and his government. Through this whole debate, Stalin vehemently states that
the United States are not being sympathetic to the Soviet Union. For all that the U.S.S.R.
gave up during the war, they felt Poland should be theirs, but more importantly they felt
that Poland was a major security issue. The past two World Wars saw Russia being
invaded through Poland, and they felt that this could simply not happen again, therefore,
they wanted control so they could establish military and political defenses to any country
wanting to attack Russia. This, along with the same reasoning behind other Eastern
European countries, including a separated Germany, became a major debate of the Cold
War where tensions almost lead to a war. Russia felt that the West should establish their
own capital in West Germany and let the Russians have Berlin, since Berlin falls in East
Germany, yet another major Eastern European conflict. This was more Russia’s fault for
having such heavy tension in this area, but one can certainly understand where Russia is
coming from in wanting more control over this volatile region. On the other hand,
breaking a promise to hold free elections, especially in a region where popular opinion is
believed to would rather have a democracy is certainly an undeniable problem for both
sides of the Cold War. Hostility in Eastern Europe was unavoidable, especially with the
lack of communication during the war over the plans on what exactly to do with this area
after 1945.
Other events that transpired in the beginnings of this long and potentially
devastating Cold War was two documents in particular produced by the American
Government. With forced pressure from the interior government, Harry Truman and his
administration took an aggressive stance on Communism, at any and all costs. The first
document was a speech by Harry Truman given in the spring of 1947. The document was
considered a Cold War Biproxy and has gone down in history as laying a foundation for
foreign policy and is called the Truman Doctrine. The main goal for this was to back up
anyone fighting Communist aggression. At any chances of stopping Communism from
spreading, the United States were prepared to stop any movement by Communist
countries into free countries throughout the world. It was truly the first document
proclaiming the United States as the “World Policeman” against Communism and just
amplified the fact that America is no longer an isolationist country and our involvement
in the global spectrum became very evident. The other very significant document in
American Cold War foreign policy was NSC-68, a document brought together by the
National Security Council in 1950, a relatively new organization set up to create a
department of defense, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency. This document just
expanded thoroughly on the Truman doctrine, and packed the muscle behind America’s
new foreign policy. NSC-68 called for an immediate upgrade of our defense systems.
This was a pure military move, and would cost over $35 billion dollars a year. The threat
for massive retaliation started to surface from this as well, and the threat of a nuclear war
was ever-present, especially with the Russians successfully testing an atomic bomb in
1949. This just called for an increase in nuclear armament, and if a war broke out, this
document would guarantee that if the United States would have to fight to the death, they
would, and they would also go down in a blaze of glory if necessary. This marked the
first guarantee of a massive military response to any Communist forces wanting to test
the waters of democracy. This was also about the time where the “rollback” theory came
into play, and Americans debated about not just stopping but penetrating any Communist
movements. These bold documents from the United States marked the beginnings of the
height of the Cold War that would come about roughly ten years later, where if a large
scale battle broke out with Russia or China, human and land losses would be atrocious.
The origins of the Cold War would be one-sided and incomplete if it did not
include the actions that were occurring in Russia. An unorganized government, lead by a
drunken and insane leader who makes diplomatic decisions at four in the morning is
certainly a cause for action. The fact must be brought forth of the human casualties
suffered in Russia by the government and the military. Individuals did not enjoy freedom
to think for themselves in Russia, and if a Russian decided to speak out or question
authority, he would be killed with no remorse. The fact of the matter is that many
millions of Russian citizens were being massacred by their own government. That
certainly is a large reason for concern. Any alternative scenarios to avoid any Cold War
conflicts would have to of ended with these atrocities. The United States could not have
negotiated for Russia to cease these actions, so even though America could have reacted
better to some events during and after the war, Russia still would not have been easy to
deal with when it came to their own country, not to mention Eastern Europe.
The Cold War was more than likely inevitable, but it probably could have
transpired more peacefully and definitely not on such a grand level. Someone that crazy
as Stalin was and consequences so heavy as letting Russia into Eastern Europe could not
be ignored, and the Americans had every right to stop the advancement of Russia into
Poland. The Polish would not want to suffer those horrendous acts of oppression, and if
the United States wanted to be the policeman of the world and stop these human rights
violations, then Russia is the perfect place to start. The United States certainly did not
always act brilliantly, and indeed they caused plenty of their own problems by a lack of
good communication, but Russia was just as much to blame for the tensions throughout
the world during the origins of the Cold War in the late 1940’s to early 50’s.
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