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Nidhi Nair

10/23/13

At what precise point in time did the Cold War between the USA and the USSR become unavoidable, and why? The exact beginning of the cold war remains ambiguous because there was never a time when either the US or the USSR explicitly declared war on the other country. If I were make an analogy of the situation I would say that tensions before the war was like water that had been heated for a long time and had slowly boiled over. Both the US and the USSR had a long history of making moves and stating opinions that made the other country nervous and this eventually led to and ideologically driven conflict between the two powers. I believe that the moment both nations realised war was inevitable was after the Potsdam conference. The soviets could not ignore such a direct attempt made to bring the bloc under American power and the US could not allow the soviets to control such a large landmass. Although this may have been the breaking point the origins of the war stared long before then. The Soviet Union was deeply resentful of the fact that America involved themselves in the Great Fatherland War and whilst doing so chose to support the Tsarists. The USSR supported the revisionist view of the USA. They thought that the Americans assumed it was within their moral right to involve themselves in anything that went against their foreign policy and every time America intervened they acted in self-interest. In the intervening years Stalin realised that he did not have the power to fight the Nazis if they chose to invade the USSR. He looked to the Allies in the West for support but they chose not to lend their assistance and so he chose to sign the Nazi-Soviet pact even knowing that Germanys aim was to ultimately attack the USSR. His predictions proved to be true and he was eventually betrayed by Hitler and had to swap sides during the war. In the fight against Germany Stalin was left alone to defend his western front and as a result he lost approximately 13.5% of his population. The Soviets main aim after the war was to prevent such an occurrence in the future. Stalin decided this would only be possible if he controlled the bloc of European countries immediately to his west, so they could act as a buffer zone. As he had liberated the countries after the war and his military presence was still strong in said countries he had every intention of installing pro soviet governments regardless of what was decided in Yalta and Potsdam. Despite their united front during the war there has always been friction between the two Superpowers, a friction that stemmed from the basic ideological differences between them. Stalin has always believe that the USAs main aim was to spread democracy throughout the world in the hope of maximising free trade and bolstering their economy. In 1918, long before the tensions pre-empting the Cold War reached a high, Stalin sent an open letter to the American workers claiming that their government was tainted by the blood that had been shed by millions of working class people during WWI. He The Cold War: A Post Revisionist View pg. 121 The Nazi Soviet Pact pg. 298 Professor Nathans PowerPoint week 2 Lenin to American workers pg. 4 & pg. 7 Wikipedia World War II casualties/ USSR

Nidhi Nair

10/23/13

attempted to rally their support and spread the communist movement to America. In response to Stalins open letter the US Attorney General, Mitchell Palmer, said this about communism The whole purpose of communism appears to be a mass formation of the criminals of the world to overthrow the decencies of private life It is obvious that the Americans feared the spread of communism., they feared Stalins power over the working class people and that is why they did everything possible in the aftermath of this letter to constrain Stalins power to Russia. When the Nazi-Soviet pact was signed and Stalin entered the war on Hitlers side the US realised that the Soviets had no qualms about directing the Nazi war efforts away from themselves and towards the West. Although Stalin eventually became an Allie, his motives for aiding the Allies were known to be in self-interest. In the aftermath of the war both superpowers had radically different goals on what should be become of Germany and the liberated countries. America realised that regardless of Stalins claims to allow them selfdetermination he had no plans on letting them slip out of the soviet sphere of influence. Stalin believed that since the Red Army was instrumental in the free of these nations he should naturally get to decide what happens in their future. Even though America had preached the same views themselves in the past they were against the spread of communism in the Slavic states. At this point both countries realised that in the aftermath of the war two superpowers emerged, both of them with radically different views on how the world should run. Although their views were different their aims were the same. Both were looking for security, the USSR attempted this by trying to control its surrounding nations and America by attempting to establish a strong economy and globalize free trade. Both were also attempting to spread their ideals of communism and democracy respectively. The Cold War began as a struggle for supremacy between these two nations both attempting to get the upper had on the other. It became unavoidable after WWII, when tensions were running high, the deaths of millions were still fresh on everyones minds and both countries were fighting to assert their dominance in post-war Europe. Neither the US nor the USSR wanted a situation like Germany ever again and their inability to keep control made them make big moves. Unfortunately these big moves were at the detriment of each other and thus the Cold War was inevitable.

Churchill on meeting Stalin pg. 43 Judge & Langdon pg. 7 & pg. 9 Professor Nathans lecture week 2