no longer an exclusively vicarious one.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Modern History: Cold War (incomplete)

Notes for Modern History
Cold War (1945-1991)

“Cold War”:
Was a war of tension and rivalry between the USA and USSR to rule the world. It developed soon after the war for 4 main reasons:
- The USSR would not give up the territory it had gained in WWII.
- The Soviets were afraid of US A-bomb capabilities
- The West was afraid that the Soviets were trying to spread Communism internationally
- Leaders could not talk calmly about issues (combination of self-motivations and politics and their public images)
The war manifested itself in:
- Propaganda (books, films, media that were anti-communist/capitalist)
- Arms race (numbers and presence in other countries)
- Space race
- Economic aid
- Military aid
- Treaties
- Espionage
- Threats
- Prestige (sports, standards of living, cultural events)
It was a conflict on all levels short of armed conflict.

Roots of Hostility:
- 1890’s: US want open door trade with China (Manchuria). Russia wants closed sphere of infuence.
- 1917: Bolshevik revolution. US was afraid of the economic and military consequences of a united Russian state. Thus they helped support the Whites, who were defeated. Bolsheviks saw US intervention as a hostile act.
- 1917-1933: US and USSR had to cooperate for trade and against Japan
- 1938 Munich Agreement between West and Hitler, and 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact
- 1944: Allied forces sent in to open up a second front against Germany in addition to the Russian front. Russians believe this was done too late.
- Stalin believed that whoever occupies a territory also imposes his own social system. This conflicted with US belief of national self-determination.

Ideological Conflict:
- Economics
o US: capitalist system. There was to be no international barriers to world trade. Wanted to rebuild the German economy to stabilise Europe.
o USSR: Government owns and directs all economic ventures (collectivist economy). Believed in closed spheres of influence. Wanted Germany to pay heavy reparations after WWII
- Politics
o US: democratic system. 2 major parties in elected congress. Political change through legislation. Believed USSR was trying to subvert free democratic govs.
o USSR: communist, by then totalitarian. Change through violent revolution. Were wary of US invasion

Origins of the Cold War
- Yalta Conference 1945. Stalin tried to prevent a post-war revival of the German threat to Soviet security. Some believed Western leaders basically handed Stalin Eastern Europe, but at the time they still needed the Russians to win the war.
- Post WWWII, the Red Army was still ‘cleaning up’ the countries left in the wake of the Nazis, eg. the Poland conflict, Iran conflict, and 1944 ‘Balkan Bargain’ between Stalin and Churchill. ‘Salami tactics’ was the Soviet consolidation of their power in Eastern Europe (Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary Czech.) by slicing away governmental power from one party after another until only the communist-loyal core remained. Political control was tightened while simultaneously tying the countries’ economies with Russia’s.
- Grew May 1945: The most fatal thing the US can do is place any confidence in Russia’s sincerity.
- Potsdam August 1945. US 1st successful detonation of an A-bomb. The West was confident that this would redress the balance with the Russians.
- By mid-1945 wartime alliances had collapsed. Red Army v. US A-bombs. Stalin concentrated his resources on heavy industry and research programmes, while periodically testing western defences. The West could not understand Russia’s distrust of them, nor the motives behind what they saw as Russian expansion, and they would not go near appeasing them.
- Historiography:
o Power politics and the balance of power was responsible for the Cold War. It was not based on ideological differences, but the control of the globe (East Europe and Asia). La Feber, Halle.
o Ideological conflict began with the Bolshevik revolution 1917. Wilson’s “peace must be planted on the tested foundations of political liberty” was at odds with Trotsky’s call to revolutionary arms. Fontaine, Schlesinger. This is the orthodox view – that the USSR is responsible for the Cold War by invading and ignoring agreements, while the US reacted defensively.
o Revisionist view is that US is guilty of imperialism to satisfy the ‘dollar diplomacy’ and economic expansionism. Williams – US policy didn’t contain communism, but promoted the commercial penetration of Europe.
o Post Revisionist view. Gaddis: Neither side can bear the sole responsibility for the onset of the Cold War. Ie. caused by factors such as internal problems, ideology, politics, no blame.

Reactions to the Cold War
- Henry Wallace called for diplomatic resolution and agreement. “getting tough never brought anything real and lasting…we have no more business in the political affairs of East Europe than Russia has in the US”. Testament to the culture and attitude of the US at the time, his resignation was all but demanded.
- In late 1946, the Clifford memo and Kennan’s ‘logic of force’ argument led to a hardening of the US stance in dealing with the Russians.
- The Truman Doctrine (aid to Turkey and Greece) marked the formal abandonment of the historic US policy of isolation. It was the first public stance toward active US resistance to ‘communist expansion’. President was given powers to wage a war; US intervened in another nation’s civil war.
- The Marshall Plan was enacted because the US was ;obliged to help them world’s economy, to help political stability and peace itself. La Feber believed that the Plan’s approach soon evolved into military alliances. The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan were ‘2 halves of the same nut’.
- Containment was a policy coined by US diplomat Kennan in 1947, and although he believed it had been misinterpreted to mean military action (where he meant a political and economic conflict) , it resulted in the build-up of US military strength and that of her Allies.
- Rebuilding Europe through a plan closely tied to US capital interests clearly threatened Stalin’s hope of influencing West Europe. Pravda called them “US expansionists, dreaming of all Europe” and by supporting military Fascists hated by their own nations (Greece, Turkey), the Marshall Plan was just a cunning way of subjecting them to US capital.
- Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) was set up to stimulate and control Eastern Bloc economic development. Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) was designed as another political instrument to increase Stalin’s control through communist nations.
- Stalin’s ideological Lt. Zhdanov used the image of two opposing camps to describe the bipolar nature of post-war politics.
- BY 1948 Stalin controlled all of Eastern Europe except Tito’s Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. The foreign minister mysteriously died and a new communist gov was put in place.

Berlin 1948-1949
- At Yalta 1945, it was decided to divide Germany into 4 zones. Eisenhower did not want to advance his line all the way to Berlin, so it (and Allied German HQ) lay 160 km inside the Russian zone.
- Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946 set the stage for the conflict.
- Berlin in Germany was important because it was the only place where East and West came into direct contact.
- Reasons for the blockade:
o Disparity between East and West. Western currency was worth 7 times the East, and standard of living was much better
o Russians were irritated by the island of capitalism in the middle of their territory
o In 1948 the Western zones had merged into Bizonia
o West agreed to end price controls and rationing in their zones
- On April 1 1948 Russians blocked road, rail, canal links from West Germany to West Berlin, in order to starve them out. The West feared a further Russian attack, and had to decide between pulling out (like selling out Czechs), or help while being non-aggressive.
- The airlift (Op. Vittles) supplied food, medicines, fuel to West Berlin. 8000 t a day for 325 days. The West then enforced a counter-blockade, refusing to sell US and British goods to the East.
- 12 May 1949, the Russians lifted the blockade, realising they were losing out more than the West.
- It was a psychological boost to the West, and Easterners could still go freely into West Berlin to experience the peace-time conditions there.
- Results:
o The 2 Germanies became satellites
o West created NATO
o Highlighted the influence of hardliners on both sides, and the disintegration of any attempt at diplomacy – no room for negotiation.
o East and West Germany formally set up after the blockade

The Korean War
- 1950’s, the US adopted a policy of ‘total commitment’, where every communist country was part of Moscow’s devious plot to conquer the world and the US had to be the world’s policeman
- After WWII, Russian troops moved into north Korea, while US troops occupied the south. The line was drawn at the 38th parallel, and it was assumed an independent Korea would soon take over.
- On 26 June 1950, north Korea launched an attack across the 38th parallel, equipped with Soviet weapons and advisors. Truman instructed Gen. Macarthur to send arms and supplies to the south. Within days the invaders had captured the capital Seoul and Truman committed US air, naval and ground troops from Japan to Korea.
- Truman rationalised by saying that if Communists were allowed to force their way through unopposed, then no small nation would have the courage to stand up to them and it would lead to another world war.
- The Soviet response was that the action had been instigated by a provocative, premeditated attack on the part of the south Koreans, who believed the US would support them.
- By September 1950, Macarthur had recaptured Seoul, helping the south Koreans to fight communism. He then wanted to continue to reunify Korea, representing a major policy change – from containment (stopping the spread of communism) to rollback (actively ‘liberating’ already communist countries).
- China supported the north Koreans to resist what it saw as US invasion, and recaptured Seoul quickly.
- The Truman administration realised that it was necessary to accept the original aim of their engagement. Truman came into conflict with Macarthur. He wanted a limited war, while the Gen still wanted a ‘global war’. In April he was relieved of his command. The US Senate supported Truman.
- The limited conflict was used by Truman and Acheson to revive international military alliances, increase defence spending, rearm Germany
- Malenkov became Stalin’s 2IC and coincided with Moscow’s new effort to break its isolation and broaden Soviet appeal, while weakening Western solidarity, through public opinion and formal diplomatic contacts. At the end of his life, some believe Stalin began to ease up on the West, believing they would wipe themselves out without Soviet help. He began to use more political pressure.

New Leadership – the 1950’s
- Stalin died in 1953. Malenkov became Premier, Khrushchev 1st Party Secretary, Molotov Foreign Minister
- US administration was Eisenhower and President, Dulles as Secretary of State (during McCarthyism)
- Eisenhower ‘new look’ defence meant a reduction of the standing army and USAF, with more reliance on nuclear weapons to intimidate Russia. This locked the US into an all or nothing response.
- Dulles: Massive retaliatory power to halt aggression. The threat of massive retaliation was the key instrument in containment from 1954à. The overall method was ‘brinkmanship’ (being able to stand on the edge of conflict and looking it in the face so Russia had to back down). Eg. in Korea, Indo-China, Formosa.
- The Suez conflict (1956). US cancelled a grant to Egypt because they had made an agreement with the Czechs. Abdel Nasser nationalised the canal and implemented tolls. The British and French bombed Egypt and planned to invade. US feared that this kind of action would alienate Arab nations, so made the Brits and French back down. It caused a huge rift in the western allies.
- Sputnik (1957) meant the USSR was leading the space race. Also ICBMs and SLBMs, but US still retained nuclear superiority.
- Sino-Soviet split was a reality by 1960, with Mao Zedong disagreeing with Khrushchev’s new policy of ‘peaceful coexistence’. The U2 incident ended a brief period of friendship and exhibitions.

Berlin 1961-1989
- Khrushchev’s aims:
o Achieve western diplomatic recognition of East Germany
o Strangle West Berlin
- In 1958 he handed to the east Germans the access routes to West Berlin.
- The free movement within Berlin was bleeding the East. Thousands of young, skilled Germans were leaving every month for the prosperous and attractive West. It was destroying the eastern economy.
- On August 12 1961, border controls intensifies and a barbed wire barrier had been set up. It carefully stayed away from US lines, and had given the west prior warning.
- West Berliners reacted in anger, protests and demonstrations. They couldn’t believe the Allies would let it stand, but the Allies didn’t know what to do because it hadn’t challenged western rights.
- When tanks faced each other at Checkpoint C, Kennedy and Khrushchev used the new hotline to get them back. No one wanted to start a war.
- Consequences of the Berlin Wall:
o The west saw it as a symbol of communist oppression
o Marked a readiness of both sides to accept partial solutions
o Neither side had won
o Flood of refugees from east to west stopped. There were some escapes and many deaths
o The wall was a triumph for Soviet tactics in Germany
o In the Cold War, the common person was unimportant. The wall brought misery and separated many families and friends.


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