Free «The Development of the Cold War 1945 -1961» Essay

The Development of the Cold War 1945 -1961

After the Second World War, the Soviet leadership has done everything possible in order to the pro-Soviet forces, the Communist Party in particular, won power in the countries of the Central and the South-Eastern Europe. The USSR made territorial claims to Turkey and demanded the change of the status of the Black Sea straits, including the rights of the USSR to build a sea base in the Dardanelles. In Greece, guerilla movement was also growing in strength headed by communists which accepted supplies from Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, where communists were a ruling party. At the London meeting of the Secretaries of State of the countries which were the permanent members of the Security Council, the USSR demanded to grant it the right for a protectorate over Tripolitania (Libya) in order to provide a presence in the Mediterranean.

The USSR sought to use the system of collective security for the expansion of its power. It was noticed by the Western countries and caused alarm. The Communist Party became the largest political party in France and Italy. In other Western European countries communists were in the government. In addition, after the withdrawal of the main part of American troops from Europe, the Soviet Union has become the dominant military power in the continental Europe. Everything favored to the plans of the Soviet leadership.

The State Department of the U.S was searching for an answer to the Soviet challenge. An important role in this question was played by an American diplomat, a Russia expert George Kennan. In February 1946, while working at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, he set out the main principles of the policy of “containment” in a telegram to Washington. According to him, the U.S. government had to respond strictly and consistently to every Soviet attempt to expand its sphere of influence. Further, in order to prevent successfully the penetration of communism, the West should create a healthy, prosperous, and self-confident society. The policy of “containment” was seen by him as a way to prevent war, and was not aimed to inflict a military defeat of the Soviet Union. Alan Todd (2011) pointed out that “the new policy – which came to be known as the Truman Doctrine – argued that all countries had to choose between the freedom of the West or the subjugation of communism”.

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Thus, the U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union took a new direction: the government held a course for limiting the spread of communist ideology in Western Europe and support of communist movement by the Soviet Union.

The Truman Doctrine proclaimed that the United States policy should support free peoples resisting to attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. This postulate was the basis of American policy for many decades in future. The U.S. government needed the announcement of new challenges in order to receive the support of public opinion and the Congress: the maintenance of the global sphere of influence, the creation of new structures, the mobilization of military forces and a sharp increase in economic assistance (then becoming an important lever of foreign influences) demanded new budgetary expenditures.

By the time of the Truman Doctrine proclamation, the U.S. was the only country in the world that owned nuclear weapons, it had no competitors on the seas – the United States had the biggest Navy and certainly the most powerful air force. The Navy and the Air Force used bases located in all placements of the globe. Alarmism contained in the Truman Doctrine was designed to expand the force development. It was about the assistance of the pro-American regimes in the amount of many hundreds of million dollars. Soon its volume increased, it needed billions of dollars already. In order to establish control over Greece and Turkey, Truman asked for 400 million dollars.

The new policy was expressed in the economic, financial and military aid to non-communist and the anti-democratic regimes. Preident Harry Truman proclaimed the new U.S foreign policy doctrine in a speech on March 12, 1947 in the U.S. Congress. It was called the Truman Doctrine. A long period of the Cold War began. As Young (2010) notices, “Truman’s actions marked the formal entry of the United States into the Cold War”.

The Marshall Plan offered massive economic aid to all countries of Europe (including the Soviet Union) devastated by the war. The Soviet Union refused to accept this aid, because some of the conditions were deemed incompatible with its socialist economy (Shimko, 2009).

By the Truman Doctrine the U.S. administration officially declared the beginning of the global conflict between the “good” and “evil” forces. According to one of the advisors of the White House, the Truman Doctrine was the first salvo in a campaign designed to make people realize that the war was not over by any means. This action put the end of isolationism era in the American foreign policy. From this period of time there appeared a new strategy leading to creation of “new world” and the so-called twelve “historic weeks” from March 12, 1947 to June 5, 1947 (Marshall Speech at Harvard University) were a real “revolutionary change” occurred in the USA foreign policy.

The Truman’s Doctrine with its implied policy of containment accelerated the Cold War. When the  “policy of containment i.e., of not allowing the Russian influence to spread” was implemented by the Truman Doctrine, matters came to ahead. Suspicions and mistrust spread between the two powers and soon, there was a state of extreme political unfriendliness between Russia and America which has often been called the Cold War (Sabha, 2010).

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In spring of 1947, as a result of powerful and dedicated efforts of the U.S. population, hostile attitude of Americans to Russia which two years ago was the most important ally - has become a factor of the national life in the United States. Between 1945 and 1947 the number of people who began to consider Russia an aggressor increased from 38 to 66 percent. In the U.S. the anti-Soviet hysteria was growing. In November of 1946, President Truman created a temporary commission to check the loyalty of public officials. The Executive Order number 9835 created a federal system of loyalty checking. In 1947 the U.S. Attorney General published a list of subversive organizations. Internal security of the U.S. has become the most important political issue.

The proclamation of the Truman Doctrine politicians accepted ambiguously. Truman speech was, of course, the most controversial not only in his presidency, but in comparison with the speeches of all the American presidents of the twentieth century. Critics of the doctrine in American political quarters declared that financially its implementation would be considerably higher than the final result. They emphasized that the doctrine would establish a precedent for interference into the internal affairs of other countries and could lead to a war with the Soviet Union, and also can significantly weaken the UN. Guzzinni (1998) stressed that “in response to a political – rather than military – Soviet threat, the Marshall Plan attempted to use aid to restore economies and bolstering self-confidence”.

The proponents of this point of view emphasized the fact that the USA supposed to implement the economic diplomacy in a one-way fashion beyond the UN. However, in this way Washington could control aid programs and “lead the show”. It is also important to note that after the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine the Soviet consul in New York J. Lomakin cabled to Moscow that Truman’s speech caused a tidal wave among the population, which, according to the consul’s opinion, feared that the doctrine could lead to war between the USSR and the USA. In spite of this fact there was other information concerning this point.

The Soviet lleaders regarded the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan as attempts to put pressure on the Soviet Union and to weaken its influence in Europe, but they did not see these developments as the prelude to war (Leffler, 2005).

However, in the second half of 1947, according to data of opinion polls 54% of Americans supported the actions of the U.S. in regard to Turkey and Greece, and 40% of them were ready (via the UN) to proclaim war to the Soviet Union, if it continued to threaten Greece. Apparently, the mood formed by administration created the necessary background for the implementation of economic containment diplomacy in a strategy of the U.S. world predominance.

One of the main though less publicized purpose of the doctrine was a preparing of the so-called mandate of the Congress and the American public for the Marshall Plan implementation. It becomes obvious that the doctrine was a “mini-Marshall Plan”. The plan itself served as the economic lever in continuation of the strategy put in the Truman Doctrine. Therefore, Truman called it the second part of the same strategy. Thus, the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan became an integral part of Washington's new strategy – two sides of the same coin of the American policy of open doors. They formed the postwar U.S. policy having predetermined its character. This was their primary relation.

The relationship of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan as elements of one strategy also consisted due to their geopolitical significance. The Doctrine helped to create a zone of U.S. influence in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Finally, one of the most significant strategic regions of the planet, its oil source has become a zone of vital interests of Washington. The Marshall Plan expanded the geographic scope of containment strategy and strengthened the U.S. in Western Europe. The creation of NATO secured the mentioned zones of influence from the Soviet Union by means of uniting the most developed and powerful states of Europe with the U.S. by transatlantic solidarity. Thus, Washington occupied a dominant position in this hierarchy. The Truman Doctrine declared an ideological war, and the Marshall Plan, the Molotov Plan, the creation of NATO and the subsequent history development represented the economic, political and military components of the Cold War.

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The main difference between the two units of one strategy consisted not in the amount of aid, but in its ideological form: the Marshall Plan wasn’t the anti-Soviet strategy. So it differed from the Truman doctrine by its morality, aimed to fight against hunger, poverty, and despair and not against any doctrine or government. However, while an assessment of any foreign policy acts the decisive factor is its impact. In the case of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine, the end of the U.S. strategists justified the means, as the result of the strategy was the dominance of the U.S. in the world today.

To sum it up, it should be mentioned that the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine had a great impact on the development of the Cold War. First of all, the program of these two documents implied positions that did not match to the communist principles. Then, these plans provided wide opportunity to the United States to interfere to internal affairs of countries which accepted the aid from the U.S. and strengthen its influence in the world. Fight for leadership increased tension in political relationships between the U.S. and the USSR.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine also accelerated the development of the Cold War. It increased the percentage of the negative attitude of American people to the Soviet Union, which meant the creating of negative image of this country in the world community. Moreover, with the help of these Plans the U.S. involved more countries in the Cold War. Thus, it can be emphasized that the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine were not the main documents, but guidelines and the Bible of the Cold War. 

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