Cold War

                 Ministry of education, science and culture

High College of English

Graduation Paper

on theme:

U.S. - Soviet relations.

Student: Pavlunina I.V.

Supervisor: Kolpakov A. V.

Bishkek 2000

Introduction. 3

Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War. 5

1.1 The Historical Context. 5

1.2 Causes and Interpretations. 10
Chapter 2: The Cold War Chronology. 17

2.1 The War Years. 17

2.2 The Truman Doctrine. 25

2.3 The Marshall Plan. 34

Chapter 3: The Role of Cold War in American History and Diplomacy. 37

3.1 Declaration of the Cold War. 37

3.2 —old War Issues. 40

Conclusion. 49

Glossary. 50

The reference list.


This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War
period. Our purpose is to find out the causes of this war, positions of the
countries which took part in it. We also will discuss the main Cold War's

The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion and
misunderstanding by both the United States and Soviet Union, and their
allies. At times, these conditions increased the likelihood of the third
world war. The United States accused the USSR of seeking to expand
Communism throughout the world. The Soviets, meanwhile, charged the United
States with practicing imperialism and with attempting to stop
revolutionary activity in other countries. Each block's vision of the world
contributed to East-West tension. The United States wanted a world of
independent nations based on democratic principles. The Soviet Union,
however, tried control areas it considered vital to its national interest,
including much of Eastern Europe.

Through the Cold War did not begin until the end of World War II, in
1945, U.S.-Soviet relations had been strained since 1917. In that year, a
revolution in Russia established a Communist dictatorship there. During the
1920's and 1930's, the Soviets called for world revolution and the
destruction of capitalism, the economic system of United States. The United
States did not grant diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union until 1933.

In 1941, during World War II, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The
Soviet Union then joined the Western Allies in fighting Germany. For a time
early in 1945, it seemed possible that a lasting friendship might develop
between the United States and Soviet Union based on their wartime
cooperation. However, major differences continued to exist between the two,
particularly with regard to Eastern Europe. As a result of these
differences, the United States adopted a "get tough" policy toward the
Soviet Union after the war ended. The Soviets responded by accusing the
United States and the other capitalist allies of the West of seeking to
encircle the Soviet Union so they could eventually overthrow its Communist
form of government.

The subject of Cold War interests American historicans and journalists
as well as Russian ones. In particular, famous journalist Henryh Borovik
fraces this topic in his book. He analyzes the events of Cold War from the
point of view of modern Russian man. With appearing of democracy and
freedom of speech we could free ourselves from past stereotype in
perception of Cold War's events as well as America as a whole, we also
learnt something new about American people's real life and personality. A
new developing stage of relations with the United States has begun with the
collapse of the Soviet Union on independent states. And in order to direct
these relations in the right way it is necessary to study events of Cold
War very carefully and try to avoid past mistakes. Therefore this subject
is so much popular in our days.

This graduation paper consist of three chapters. The first chapter
maintain the historical documents which comment the origins of the Cold

The second chapter maintain information about the most popular Cold
War's events.

The third chapter analyze the role of Cold War in World policy and
diplomacy. The chapter also adduce the Cold War issues.
Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War.

1.1 The Historical Context.
The animosity of postwar Soviet-American relations drew on a deep
reservoir of mutual distrust. Soviet suspicion of the United States went
back to America's hostile reaction to the Bolshevik revolution itself. At
the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had sent more than ten
thousand American soldiers as part of an expeditionary allied force to
overthrow the new Soviet regime by force. When that venture failed, the
United States nevertheless withheld its recognition of the Soviet
government. Back in the United States, meanwhile, the fear of Marxist
radicalism reached an hysterical pitch with the Red Scare of 1919-20.
Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer ordered government agents to arrest
3,000 purported members of the Communist party, and then attempted to
deport them. American attitudes toward the seemed encapsulated in the
comments of one minister who called for the removal of communists in "ships
of stone with sails of lead, with the wrath of God for a breeze and with
hell for their first port."
American attitudes toward the Soviet Union, in turn, reflected profound
concern about Soviet violation of human rights, democratic procedures, and
international rules of civility. With brutal force, Soviet leaders had
imposed from above a revolution of agricultural collectivization and
industrialization. Millions had died as a consequence of forced removal
from their lands. Anyone who protested was killed or sent to one of the
hundreds of prison camps which, in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's words,
stretched across the Soviet Union like a giant archipelago. What kind of
people were these, one relative of a prisoner asked, "who first decreed and
then carried out this mass destruction of their own kind?" Furthermore,
Soviet foreign policy seemed committed to the spread of revolution to other
countries, with international coordination of subversive activities placed
in the hands of the Comintern. It was difficult to imagine two more
different societies.
For a brief period after the United States granted diplomatic
recognition to the Soviet Union in 1933, a new spirit of cooperation
prevailed. But by the end of the 1930s suspicion and alienation had once
again become dominant. From a Soviet perspective, the United States seemed
unwilling to join collectively to oppose the Japanese and German menace. On
two occasions, the United States had refused to act in concert against Nazi
Germany. When Britain and France agreed at Munich to appease Adolph Hitler,
the Soviets gave up on any possibility of allied action against Germany and
talked of a capitalist effort to encircle and destroy the Soviet regime.
Yet from a Western perspective, there seemed little basis for
distinguishing between Soviet tyranny and Nazi totalitarianism. Between
1936 and 1938 Stalin engaged in his own holocaust, sending up to 6 million
Soviet citizens to their deaths in massive purge trials. Stalin "saw
enemies everywhere," his daughter later recalled, and with a vengeance
frightening in its irrationality, sought to destroy them. It was an "orgy
of terror," one historian said. Diplomats saw high officials tapped on the
shoulder in public places, removed from circulation, and then executed.
Foreigners were subject to constant surveillance. It was as if, George
Kennan noted, outsiders were representatives of "the devil, evil and
dangerous, and to be shunned."
On the basis of such experience, many Westerners concluded that Hitler
and Stalin were two of a kind, each reflecting a blood-thirsty obsession
with power no matter what the cost to human decency. "Nations, like
individuals," Kennan said in 1938, "are largely the products of their
environment." As Kennan perceived it, the Soviet personality was neurotic,
conspiratorial, and untrustworthy. Such impressions were only reinforced
when Stalin suddenly announced a nonaggression treaty with Hitler in August
1939, and later that year invaded the small, neutral state of Finland. It
seemed that Stalin and Hitler deserved each other. Hence, the reluctance of
some to change their attitudes toward the Soviet Union when suddenly, in
June 1941, Germany invaded Russia and Stalin became "Uncle Joe."
Compounding the problem of historical distrust was the different way in
which the two nations viewed foreign policy. Ever since John Winthrop had
spoken of Boston in 1630 as "a city upon a hill" that would serve as a
beacon for the world, Americans had tended to see themselves as a chosen
people with a distinctive mission to impart their faith and values to the
rest of humankind. Although all countries attempt to put the best face
possible on their military and diplomatic actions, Americans have seemed
more committed than most to describing their involvement in the world as
pure and altruistic. Hence, even ventures like the Mexican War of 1846 - 48
- clearly provoked by the United States in an effort to secure huge land
masses - were defended publicly as the fulfillment of a divine mission to
extend American democracy to those deprived of it.
Reliance on the rhetoric of moralism was never more present than during
America's involvement in World War I. Despite its official posture of
neutrality, the United States had a vested interest in the victory of
England and France over Germany. America's own military security, her trade
lines with England and France, economic and political control over Latin
America and South America - all would best be preserved if Germany were
defeated. Moreover, American banks and munition makers had invested
millions of dollars in the allied cause. Nevertheless, the issue of
national self-interest rarely if ever surfaced in any presidential
statement during the war. Instead, U.S. rhetoric presented America's
position as totally idealistic in nature. The United States entered the
war, President Wilson declared, not for reasons of economic self-interest,
but to "make the world safe for democracy." Our purpose was not to restore
a balance of power in Europe, but to fight a war that would "end all wars"
and produce "a peace without victory." Rather than seek a sphere of
influence for American power, the United States instead declared that it
sought to establish a new form of internationalism based on self-
determination for all peoples, freedom of the seas, the end of all economic
barriers between nations, and development of a new international order
based on the principles of democracy.
America's historic reluctance to use arguments of self-interest as a
basis for foreign policy undoubtedly reflected a belief that, in a
democracy, people would not support foreign ventures inconsistent with
their own sense of themselves as a noble and just country. But the
consequences were to limit severely the flexibility necessary to a
multifaceted and effective diplomacy, and to force national leaders to
invoke moral - even religious - idealism as a basis for actions that might
well fall short of the expectations generated by moralistic visions.
The Soviet Union, by contrast, operated with few such constraints.
Although Soviet pronouncements on foreign policy tediously invoked the
rhetoric of capitalist imperialism, abstract principles meant far less than
national self-interest in arriving at foreign policy positions. Every
action that the Soviet Union had taken since the Bolshevik revolution, from
the peace treaty with the Kaiser to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact and Russian
occupation of the Baltic states reflected this policy of self-interest. As
Stalin told British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden during the war, "a
declaration I regard as algebra ... I prefer practical arithmetic." Or, as
the Japanese ambassador to Moscow later said, "the Soviet authorities are
extremely realistic and it is most difficult to persuade them with abstract
arguments." Clearly, both the United States and the Soviet Union saw
foreign policy as involving a combination of self-interest and ideological
principle. Yet the history of the two countries suggested that principle
was far more a consideration in the formulation of American foreign policy,
while self-interest-purely defined-controlled Soviet actions.
The difference became relevant during the 1930s as Franklin Roosevelt
attempted to find some way to move American public opinion back to a spirit
of internationalism. After World War I, Americans had felt betrayed by the
abandonment of Wilsonian principles. Persuaded that the war itself
represented a mischievous conspiracy by munitions makers and bankers to get
America involved, Americans had preferred to opt for isolation and
"normalcy" rather than participate in the ambiguities of what so clearly
appeared to be a corrupt international order. Now, Roosevelt set out to
reverse those perceptions. He understood the dire consequences of Nazi
ambitions for world hegemony. Yet to pose the issue strictly as one of self-
interest offered little chance of success given the depth of America's
revulsion toward internationalism. The task of education was immense. As
time went on, Roosevelt relied more and more on the traditional moral
rhetoric of American values as a means of justifying the international
involvement that he knew must inevitably lead to war. Thus, throughout the
1930s he repeatedly discussed Nazi aggression as a direct threat to the
most cherished American beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion,
and freedom of occupational choice. When German actions corroborated the
president's simple words, the opportunity presented itself for carrying the
nation toward another great crusade on behalf of democracy, freedom, and
peace. Roosevelt wished to avoid the errors of Wilsonian overstatement, but
he understood the necessity of generating moral fervor as a means of moving
the nation toward the intervention he knew to be necessary if both
America's self-interest-and her moral principles-were to be preserved.
The Atlantic Charter represented the embodiment of Roosevelt's quest
for moral justification of American involvement. Presented to the world
after the president and Prime Minister Churchill met off the coast of
Newfoundland in the summer of 1941, the Charter set forth the common goals
that would guide America over the next few years. There would be no secret
commitments, the President said. Britain and America sought no territorial
aggrandizement. They would oppose any violation of the right to self-
government for all peoples. They stood for open trade, free exchange of
ideas, freedom of worship and expression, and the creation of an
international organization to preserve and protect future peace. This would
be a war fought for freedomófreedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom
of religion, freedom from the old politics of balance-of-power diplomacy.
Roosevelt deeply believed in those ideals and saw no inconsistency
between the moral principles they represented and American self-interest.
Yet these very commitments threatened to generate misunderstanding and
conflict with the Soviet Union whose own priorities were much more directly
expressed in terms of "practical arithmetic." Russia wanted security. The
Soviet Union sought a sphere of influence over which it could have
unrestricted control. It wished territorial boundaries that would reflect
the concessions won through military conflict. All these objectives-
potentially-ran counter to the Atlantic Charter. Roosevelt himself-never
afraid of inconsistency-often talked the same language. Frequently, he
spoke of guaranteeing the USSR "measures of legitimate security" on
territorial questions, and he envisioned a postwar world in which the "four
policemen"-the superpowers-would manage the world.
But Roosevelt also understood that the American public would not accept
the public embrace of such positions. A rationale of narrow self-interest
was not acceptable, especially if that self-interest led to abandoning the
ideals of the Atlantic Charter. In short, the different ways in which the
Soviet Union and the United States articulated their objectives for the
waróand formulated their foreign policyóthreatened to compromise the
prospect for long-term cooperation. The language of universalism and the
language of balance-of-power politics were incompatible, at least in
theory. Thus, the United States and the Soviet Union entered the war
burdened not only by their deep mistrust of each other's motivations and
systems of government, but also by a significantly different emphasis on
what should constitute the major rationale for fighting the war.

1.2 Causes and Interpretations.

Any historian who studies the Cold War must come to grips with a
series of questions, which, even if unanswerable in a definitive fashion,
nevertheless compel examination. Was the Cold War inevitable? If not, how
could it have been avoided? What role did personalities play? Were there
points at which different courses of action might have been followed? What
economic factors were central? What ideological causes? Which historical
forces? At what juncture did alternative possibilities become invalid? When
was the die cast? Above all, what were the primary reasons for defining the
world in such a polarized and ideological framework?
The simplest and easiest response is to conclude that Soviet-American
confrontation was so deeply rooted in differences of values, economic
systems, or historical experiences that only extraordinary actionó by
individuals or groupsócould have prevented the conflict. One version of
the inevitability hypothesis would argue that the Soviet Union, given its
commitment to the ideology of communism, was dedicated to worldwide
revolution and would use any and every means possible to promote the
demise of the West. According to this viewóbased in large part on the
rhetoric of Stalin and Leninóworld revolution constituted the sole
priority of Soviet policy. Even the appearance of accommodation was a
Soviet design to soften up capitalist states for eventual confrontation.
As defined, admittedly in oversimplified fashion, by George Kennan in his
famous 1947 article on containment, Russian diplomacy "moves along the
prescribed path, like a persistent toy automobile, wound up and headed in
a given direction, stopping only when it meets some unanswerable force."
Soviet subservience to a universal, religious creed ruled out even the
possibility of mutual concessions, since even temporary accommodation
would be used by the Russians as part of their grand scheme to secure
world domination.
A second version of the same hypothesisóargued by some American
revisionist historiansócontends that the endless demands of capitalism for
new markets propelled the United States into a course of intervention and
imperialism. According to this argument, a capitalist society can survive
only by opening new areas for exploitation. Without the development of
multinational corporations, strong ties with German capitalists, and free
trade across national boundaries, America would revert to the depression
of the prewar years. Hence, an aggressive internationalism became the only
means through which the ruling class of the United States could retain
hegemony. In support of this argument, historians point to the number of
American policymakers who explicitly articulated an economic motivation
for U.S. foreign policy. "We cannot expect domestic prosperity under our
system," Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson said, "without a
constantly expanding trade with other nations." Echoing the same theme,
the State Department's William Clayton declared: "We need marketsóbig
marketsóaround the world in which to buy and sell. . . . We've got to
export three times as much as we exported just before the war if we want
to keep our industry running somewhere near capacity." According to this
argument, economic necessity motivated the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall
Plan, and the vigorous efforts of U.S. policymakers to open up Eastern
Europe for trade and investment. Within such a frame of reference, it was
the capitalist economic systemónot Soviet commitment to world
revolutionóthat made the Cold War unavoidable.
Still a third version of the inevitability hypothesisópartly based on
the first twoówould insist that historical differences between the two
superpowers and their systems of government made any efforts toward postwar
cooperation almost impossible. Russia had always been deeply suspicious of
the West, and under Stalin that suspicion had escalated into paranoia, with
Soviet leaders fearing that any opening of channels would ultimately
destroy their own ability to retain total mastery over the Russian people.
The West's failure to implement early promises of a second front and the
subsequent divisions of opinion over how to treat occupied territory had
profoundly strained any possible basis of trust. From an American
perspective, in turn, it stretched credibility to expect a nation committed
to human rights to place confidence in a ruthless dictator, who in one
Yugoslav's words, had single-handedly been responsible for more Soviet
deaths than all the armies of Nazi Germany. Through the purges,
collectivization, and mass imprisonment of Russian citizens, Stalin had
presided over the killing of 20 million of his own people. How then could
he be trusted to respect the rights of others? According to this argument,
only the presence of a common enemy had made possible even short-term
solidarity between Russia and the United States; in the absence of a German
foe, natural antagonisms were bound to surface. America had one system of
politics, Russia another, and as Truman declared in 1948, "a totalitarian
state is no different whether you call it Nazi, fascist, communist, or
Franco Spain."
Yet, in retrospect, these arguments for inevitability tell only part of
the story. Notwithstanding the Soviet Union's rhetorical commitment to an
ideology of world revolution, there is abundant evidence of Russia's
willingness to forego ideological purity in the cause of national interest.
Stalin, after all, had turned away from world revolution in committing
himself to building "socialism in one country." Repeatedly, he indicated
his readiness to betray the communist movement in China and to accept the
leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. George Kennan recalled the Soviet leader
"snorting rather contemptuously . . . because one of our people asked them
what they were going to give to China when [the war] was over." "We have a
hundred cities of our own to build in the Soviet Far East," Stalin had
responded. "If anybody is going to give anything to the Far East, I think
it's you." Similarly, Stalin refused to give any support to communists in
Greece during their rebellion against British domination there. As late as
1948 he told the vice-premier of Yugoslavia, "What do you think, . . . that
Great Britain and the United States . . . will permit you to break their
lines of communication in the Mediterranean? Nonsense . . . the uprising in
Greece must be stopped, and as quickly as possible."
Nor are the other arguments for inevitability totally persuasive.
Without question, America's desire for commercial markets played a role in
the strategy of the Cold War. As Truman said in 1949, devotion to freedom
of enterprise "is part and parcel of what we call America." Yet was the
need for markets sufficient to force a confrontation that ultimately would
divert precious resources from other, more productive use? Throughout most
of its history, Wall Street has opposed a bellicose position in foreign
policy. Similarly, although historical differences are important, it makes
no sense to regard them as determinative. After all, the war led to
extraordinary examples of cooperation that bridged these differences; if
they could be overcome once, then why not again? Thus, while each of the
arguments for inevitability reflects truths that contributed to the Cold
War, none offers an explanation sufficient of itself, for contending that
the Cold War was unavoidable.
A stronger case, it seems, can be made for the position that the Cold
War was unnecessary, or at least that conflicts could have been handled in
a manner that avoided bipolarization and the rhetoric of an ideological
crusade. At no time did Russia constitute a military threat to the United
States. "Economically," U.S. Naval Intelligence reported in 1946, "the
Soviet Union is exhausted.... The USSR is not expected to take any action
in the next five years which might develop into hostility with Anglo
Americans." Notwithstanding the Truman administration's public statements
about a Soviet threat, Russia had cut its army from 11.5 to 3 million men
after the war. In 1948, its military budget amounted to only half of that
of the United States. Even militant anticommunists like John Foster Dulles
acknowledged that "the Soviet leadership does not want and would not
consciously risk" a military confrontation with the West. Indeed, so
exaggerated was American rhetoric about Russia's threat that Hanson
Baldwin, military expert of the New York Times, compared the claims of our
armed forces to the "shepherd who cried wolf, wolf, wolf, when there was no
wolf." Thus, on purely factual grounds, there existed no military basis for
the fear that the Soviet Union was about to seize world domination, despite
the often belligerent pose Russia took on political issues.
A second, somewhat more problematic, argument for the thesis of
avoidability consists of the extent to which Russian leaders appeared ready
to abide by at least some agreements made during the war. Key, here, is the
understanding reached by Stalin and Churchill during the fall of 1944 on
the division of Europe into spheres of influence. According to that
understanding, Russia was to dominate Romania, have a powerful voice over
Bulgaria, and share influence in other Eastern European countries, while
Britain and America were to control Greece. By most accounts, that
understanding was implemented. Russia refused to intervene on behalf of
communist insurgency in Greece. While retaining rigid control over Romania,
she provided at least a "fig-leaf of democratic procedure"ósufficient to
satisfy the British. For two years the USSR permitted the election of
noncommunist or coalition regimes in both Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The
Finns, meanwhile, were permitted to choose a noncommunist government and to
practice Western-style democracy as long as their country maintained a
friendly foreign policy toward their neighbor on the east. Indeed, to this
day, Finland remains an example of what might have evolved had earlier
wartime understandings on both sides been allowed to continue.
What then went wrong? First, it seems clear that both sides perceived
the other as breaking agreements that they thought had been made. By
signing a separate peace settlement with the Lublin Poles, imprisoning the
sixteen members of the Polish underground, and imposingówithout regard for
democratic appearancesótotal hegemony on Poland, the Soviets had broken the
spirit, if not the letter, of the Yalta accords. Similarly, they blatantly
violated the agreement made by both powers to withdraw from Iran once the
war was over, thus precipitating the first direct threat of military
confrontation during the Cold War. In their attitude toward Eastern Europe,
reparations, and peaceful cooperation with the West, the Soviets exhibited
increasing rigidity and suspicion after April 1945. On the other hand,
Stalin had good reason to accuse the United States of reneging on compacts
made during the war. After at least tacitly accepting Russia's right to a
sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, the West seemed suddenly to change
positions and insist on Western-style democracies and economies. As the
historian Robert Daliek has shown, Roosevelt and Churchill gave every
indication at Tehran and Yalta that they acknowledged the Soviet's need to
have friendly governments in Eastern Europe. Roosevelt seemed to care
primarily about securing token or cosmetic concessions toward democratic
processes while accepting the substance of Russian domination. Instead,
misunderstanding developed over the meaning of the Yalta accords, Truman
confronted Molotov with demands that the Soviets saw as inconsistent with
prior understandings, and mutual suspicion rather than cooperation assumed
dominance in relations between the two superpowers.
It is this area of misperception and misunderstanding that historians
have focused on recently as most critical to the emergence of the Cold War.
Presumably, neither side had a master plan of how to proceed once the war
ended. Stalin's ambitions, according to recent scholarship, were ill-
defined, or at least amenable to modification depending on America's
posture. The United States, in turn, gave mixed signals, with Roosevelt
implying to every group his agreement with their point of view, yet
ultimately keeping his personal intentions secret. If, in fact, both sides
could have agreed to a sphere-of-influence policyóalbeit with some
modifications to satisfy American political opinionóthere could perhaps
have been a foundation for continued accommodation. Clearly, the United
States intended to retain control over its sphere of influence,
particularly in Greece, Italy, and Turkey. Moreover, the United States
insisted on retaining total domination over the Western hemisphere,
consistent with the philosophy of the Monroe Doctrine. If the Soviets had
been allowed similar control over their sphere of influence in Eastern
Europe, there might have existed a basis for compromise. As John McCloy
asked at the time, "[why was it necessary] to have our cake and eat it too?
. . . To be free to operate under this regional arrangement in South
America and at the same time intervene promptly in Europe." If the United
States and Russia had both acknowledged the spheres of influence implicit
in their wartime agreements, perhaps a different pattern of relationships
might have emerged in the postwar world.
The fact that such a pattern did not emerge raises two issues, at least
from an American perspective. The first is whether different leaders or
advisors might have achieved different foreign policy results. Some
historians believe that Roosevelt, with his subtlety and skill, would have
found a way to promote collaboration with the Russians, whereas Truman,
with his short temper, inexperience, and insecurity, blundered into
unnecessary and harmful confrontations. Clearly, Roosevelt himselfójust
before his deathówas becoming more and more concerned about Soviet
intransigence and aggression. Nevertheless, he had always believed that
through personal pressure and influence, he could find a way to persaude
"uncle Joe." On the basis of what evidence we have, there seems good reason
to believe that the Russians did place enormous trust in FDR. Perhapsójust
perhapsóRoosevelt could have found a way to talk "practical arithmetic"
with Stalin rather than algebra and discover a common ground. Certainly, if
recent historians are correct in seeing the Cold War as caused by both
Stalin's undefined ambitions and America's failure to communicate
effectively and consistently its view on where it would draw the line with
the Russians, then Roosevelt's long history of interaction with the Soviets
would presumably have placed him in a better position to negotiate than the
inexperienced Truman.
The second issue is more complicated, speaking to a political problem
which beset both Roosevelt and Trumanónamely, the ability of an American
president to formulate and win support for a foreign policy on the basis of
national self-interest rather than moral purity. At some point in the past,
an American diplomat wrote in 1967:
[T]here crept into the ideas of Americans about foreign policy ... a
histrionic note, ... a desire to appear as something greater perhaps than
one actually was. ... It was inconceivable that any war in which we were
involved could be less than momentous and decisive for the future of
humanity. ... As each war ended, ... we took appeal to universalistic,
Utopian ideals, related not to the specifics of national interest but to
legalistic and moralistic concepts that seemed better to accord with the
pretentious significance we had attached to our war effort.
As a consequence, the diplomat went on, it became difficult to pursue a
policy not defined by the language of "angels or devils," "heroes" or
Clearly, Roosevelt faced such a dilemma in proceeding to mobilize
American support for intervention in the war against Nazism. And Truman
encountered the same difficulty in seeking to define a policy with which to
meet Soviet postwar objectives. Both presidents, of course, participated in
and reflected the political culture that constrained their options.
Potentially at least, Roosevelt seemed intent on fudging the difference
between self-interest and moralism. He perceived one set of objectives as
consistent with reaching an accommodation with the Soviets, and another set
of goals as consistent with retaining popular support for his diplomacy at
home. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he plannedóin a very
Machiavellian wayóto use rhetoric and appearances as a means of disguising
his true intention: to pursue a strategy of self-interest. It seems less
clear that Truman had either the subtlety or the wish to follow a similarly
Machiavellian course. But if he had, the way might have been opened to
quite a differentóalbeit politically riskyó series of policies.

None of this, of course, would have guaranteed the absence of conflict
in Eastern Europe, Iran, or Turkey. Nor could any action of an American
presidentóhowever much rooted in self-interestóhave obviated the personal
and political threat posed by Stalinist tyranny and ruthlessness,
particularly if Stalin himself had chosen, for whatever reason, to act out
his most aggressive and paranoid instincts. But if a sphere-of-influence
agreement had been possible, there is some reason to thinkóin light of
initial Soviet acceptance of Western-style governments in Hungary,
Czechoslovakia, and Finlandóthat the iron curtain might not have descended
in the way that it did. In all historical sequences, one action builds on
another. Thus, steps toward cooperation rather than confrontation might
have created a momentum, a frame of reference and a basis of mutual trust,
that could have made unnecessary the total ideological bipolarization that
evolved by 1948. In short, if the primary goals of each superpower had been
acknowledged and implementedósecurity for the Russians, some measure of
pluralism in Eastern European countries for the United States, and economic
interchange between the two blocsóit seems conceivable that the world might
have avoided the stupidity, the fear, and the hysteria of the Cold War.
As it was, of course, very little of the above scenario did take place.
After the confrontation in Iran, the Soviet declaration of a five-year
plan, Churchill's Fulton, Missouri, speech, and the breakdown of
negotiations on an American loan, confrontation between the two superpowers
seemed irrevocable. It is difficult to imagine that the momentum building
toward the Cold War could have been reversed after the winter and spring of
1946. Thereafter, events assumed an almost inexorable momentum, with both
sides using moralistic rhetoric and ideological denunciation to pillory the
other. In the United States it became incumbent on the presidentóin order
to secure domestic political supportóto defend the Truman Doctrine and the
Marshall Plan in universalistic, moral terms. Thus, we became engaged, not
in an effort to assure jobs and security, but in a holy war against evil.
Stalin, in turn, gave full vent to his crusade to eliminate any vestige of
free thought or national independence in Eastern Europe. Reinhold Niebuhr
might have been speaking for both sides when he said in 1948, "we cannot
afford any more compromises. We will have to stand at every point in our
far flung lines."
The tragedy, of course, was that such a policy offered no room for
intelligence or flexibility. If the battle in the world was between good
and evil, believers and nonbelievers, anyone who questioned the wisdom of
established policy risked dismissal as a traitor or worse. In the Soviet
Union the Gulag Archipelago of concentration camps and executions was the
price of failing to conform to the party line. But the United States paid a
price as well. An ideological frame of reference had emerged through which
all other information was filtered. The mentality of the Cold War shaped
everything, defining issues according to moralistic assumptions, regardless
of objective reality. It had been George Kennan's telegram in February 1946
that helped to provide the intellectual basis for this frame of reference
by portraying the Soviet Union as "a political force committed fanatically"
to confrontation with the United States and domination of the world. It was
also George Kennan twenty years later who so searchingly criticized those
who insisted on seeing foreign policy as a battle of angels and devils,
heroes and blackguards. And ironically, it was Kennan yet again who
declared in the 1970s that "the image of a Stalinist Russia, poised and
yearning to attack the west, . . . was largely a product of the western
But for more than a generation, that image would shape American life
and world politics. The price was astronomicalóand perhapsó avoidable.
Chapter 2: The Cold War Chronology.
2.1 The War Years.

Whatever tensions existed before the war, conflicts over military and
diplomatic issues during the war proved sufficiently grave to cause
additional mistrust. Two countries that in the past had shared almost no
common ground now found themselves intimately tied to each other, with
little foundation of mutual confidence on which to build. The problems that
resulted clustered in two areas: (1) how much aid the West would provide to
alleviate the disproportionate burden borne by the Soviet Union in fighting
the war; and (2) how to resolve the dilemmas of making peace, occupying
conquered territory, and defining postwar responsibilities. Inevitably,
each issue became inextricably bound to the others, posing problems of
statecraft and good faith that perhaps went beyond the capacity of any
mortal to solve.
The central issue dividing the allies involved how much support the
United States and Britain would offer to mitigate, then relieve, the
devastation being sustained by the Soviet people. Stated bluntly, the
Soviet Union bore the massive share of Nazi aggression. The statistics
alone are overwhelming. Soviet deaths totaled more than 18 million during
the warósixty times the three hundred thousand lives lost by the United
States. Seventy thousand Soviet villages were destroyed, $128 billion
dollars worth of property leveled to the ground. Leningrad, the crown jewel
of Russia's cities, symbolized the suffering experienced at the hands of
the Nazis. Filled with art and beautiful architecture, the former capital
of Russia came under siege by German armies almost immediately after the
invasion of the Soviet Union. When the attack began, the city boasted a
population of 3 million citizens. At the end, only 600,000 remained. There
was no food, no fuel, no hope. More than a million starved, and some
survived by resorting to cannibalism. Yet the city endured, the Nazis were
repelled, and the victory that came with survival helped launch the
campaign that would ultimately crush Hitler's tyranny.
Such suffering provided the backdrop for a bitter controversy over
whether the United States and Britain were doing enough to assume their own
just share of the fight. Roosevelt understood that Russia's battle was
America's. "The Russian armies are killing more Axis personnel and
destroying more Axis materiel," he wrote General Douglas MacArthur in 1942,
"than all the other twenty-five United Nations put together." As soon as
the Germans invaded Russia, the president ordered that lend-lease material
be made immediately available to the Soviet Union, instructing his personal
aide to get $22 million worth of supplies on their way by July 25óone month
after the German invasion. Roosevelt knew that, unless the Soviets were
helped quickly, they would be forced out of the war, leaving the United
States in an untenable position. "If [only] the Russians could hold the
Germans until October 1," the president said. At a Cabinet meeting early in
August, Roosevelt declared himself "sick and tired of hearing . . . what
was on order"; he wanted to hear only "what was on the water." Roosevelt's
commitment to lend-lease reflected his deep conviction that aid to the
Soviets was both the most effective way of combating German aggression and
the strongest means of building a basis of trust with Stalin in order to
facilitate postwar cooperation. "I do not want to be in the same position
as the English," Roosevelt told his Secretary of the Treasury in 1942. "The
English promised the Russians two divisions. They failed. They promised
them to help in the Caucasus. They failed. Every promise the English have
made to the Russians, they have fallen down on. . . . The only reason we
stand so well ... is that up to date we have kept our promises." Over and
over again Roosevelt intervened directly and personally to expedite the
shipment of supplies. "Please get out the list and please, with my full
authority, use a heavy hand," he told one assistant. "Act as a burr under
the saddle and get things moving!"
But even Roosevelt's personal involvement could not end the problems
that kept developing around the lend-lease program. Inevitably,
bureaucratic tangles delayed shipment of necessary supplies. Furthermore,
German submarine assaults sank thousands of tons of weaponry. In just one
month in 1942, twenty-three of thirty-seven merchant vessels on their way
to the Soviet Union were destroyed, forcing a cancellation of shipments to
Murmansk. Indeed, until late summer of 1942, the Allies lost more ships in
submarine attacks than they were able to build.
Above all, old suspicions continued to creep into the ongoing process
of negotiating and distributing lend-lease supplies. Americans who had
learned during the purges to regard Stalin as "a sort of unwashed Genghis
Khan with blood dripping from his fingertips" could not believe that he had
changed his colors overnight and was now to be viewed as a gentle friend.
Many Americans believed that they were saving the Soviet Union with their
supplies, without recognizing the extent of Soviet suffering or
appreciating the fact that the Russians were helping to save American lives
by their sacrifice on the battlefield. Soviet officials, in turn, believed
that their American counterparts overseeing the shipments were not
necessarily doing all that they might to implement the promises made by the
president. Americans expected gratitude. Russians expected supplies. Both
expectations were justified, yet the conflict reflected the extent to which
underlying distrust continued to poison the prospect of cooperation.
"Frankly," FDR told one subordinate, "if I was a Russian, I would feel that
I had been given the runaround in the United States." Yet with equal
justification, Americans resented Soviet ingratitude. "The Russian
authorities seem to want to cover up the fact that they are receiving
outside help," American Ambassador Standley told a Moscow press conference
in March 1943. "Apparently they want their people to believe that the Red
Army is fighting this war alone." Clearly, the battle against Nazi Germany
was not the only conflict taking place.
Yet the disputes over lend-lease proved minor compared to the issue of
a second frontówhat one historian has called "the acid test of Anglo-
American intentions." However much help the United States could provide in
the way of war materiel, the decisive form of relief that Stalin sought was
the actual involvement of American and British soldiers in Western Europe.
Only such an invasion could significantly relieve the pressure of massive
German divisions on the eastern front. During the years 1941-44, fewer than
10 percent of Germany's troops were in the west, while nearly three hundred
divisions were committed to conquering Russia. If the Soviet Union was to
survive, and the Allies to secure victory, it was imperative that American
and British troops force a diversion of German troops to the west and help
make possible the pincer movement from east and west that would eventually
annihilate the fascist foe.
Roosevelt understood this all too well. Indeed, he appears to have
wished nothing more than the most rapid possible development of the second
front. In part, he saw such action as the only means to deflect a Soviet
push for acceptance of Russia's pre-World War II territorial acquisitions,
particularly in the Baltic states and Finland. Such acquisitions would not
only be contrary to the Atlantic Charter and America's commitment to self-
determination; they would also undermine the prospect of securing political
support in America for international postwar cooperation. Hence, Roosevelt
hoped to postpone, until victory was achieved, any final decisions on
issues of territory. Shrewdly, the president understood that meeting Soviet
demands for direct military assistance through a second front would offer
the most effective answer to Russia's territorial aspirations.
Roosevelt had read the Soviet attitude correctly. In 1942, Soviet
foreign minister Molotov readily agreed to withdraw his territorial demands
in deference to U.S. concerns because the second front was so much more
decisive an issue. When Molotov asked whether the Allies could undertake a
second front operation that would draw off forty German divisions from the
eastern front, the president replied that it could and that it would.
Roosevelt cabled Churchill that he was "more anxious than ever" for a cross-
channel attack in August 1942 so that Molotov would be able to "carry back
some real results of his mission and give a favorable report to Stalin." At
the end of their 1942 meeting, Roosevelt pledged to Molotov-and through him
to Stalin-that a second front would be established that year. The president
then proceeded to mobilize his own military advisors to develop plans for
such an attack.
But Roosevelt could not deliver. Massive logistical and production
problems obstructed any possibility of invading Western Europe on the
timetable Roosevelt had promised. As a result, despite Roosevelt's own best
intentions and the commitment of his military staff, he could not implement
his desire to proceed. In addition, Roosevelt repeatedly encountered
objections from Churchill and the British military establishment, still
traumatized by the memory of the bloodletting that had occurred in the
trench fighting of World War I. For Churchill, engagement of the Nazis in
North Africa and then through the "soft underbelly" of Europe-Sicily and
Italy-offered a better prospect for success. Hence, after promising Stalin
a second front in August 1942, Roosevelt had to withdraw the pledge and ask
for delay of the second front until the spring of 1943. When that date
arrived, he was forced to pull back yet again for political and logistical
reasons. By the time D-Day finally dawned on June 6, 1944, the Western
Allies had broken their promise on the single most critical military issue
of the war three times. On each occasion, there had been ample reason for
the delay, but given the continued heavy burden placed on the Soviet Union,
it was perhaps understandable that some Russian leaders viewed America's
delay on the second front question with suspicion, sarcasm, and anger. When
D-Day arrived, Stalin acknowledged the operation to be one of the greatest
military ventures of human history. Still, the squabbles that preceded D-
Day contributed substantially to the suspicions and tension that already
existed between the two nations.
Another broad area of conflict emerged over who would control occupied
areas once the war ended? How would peace be negotiated? The principles of
the Atlantic Charter presumed establishment of democratic, freely elected,
and representative governments in every area won back from the Nazis. If
universalism were to prevail, each country liberated from Germany would
have the opportunity to determine its own political structure through
democratic means that would ensure representation of all factions of the
body politic. If "sphere of influence" policies were implemented, by
contrast, the major powers would dictate such decisions in a manner
consistent with their own self-interest. Ultimately, this issue would
become the decisive point of confrontation during the Cold War, reflecting
the different state systems and political values of the Soviets and
Americans; but even in the midst of the fighting, the Allies found
themselves in major disagreement, sowing seeds of distrust that boded ill
for the future. Since no plans were established in advance on how to deal
with these issues, they were handled on a case by case basis, in each
instance reinforcing the suspicions already present between the Soviet
Union and the West.
Notwithstanding the Atlantic Charter, Britain and the United States
proceeded on a de facto basis to implement policies at variance with
universalism. Thus, for example, General Dwight Eisenhower was authorized
to reach an accommodation with Admiral Darlan in North Africa as a means of
avoiding an extended military campaign to defeat the Vichy, pro-fascist
collaborators who controlled that area. From the perspective of military
necessity and the preservation of life, it made sense to compromise one's
ideals in such a situation. Yet the precedent inevitably raised problems
with regard to allied efforts to secure self-determination elsewhere.
The issue arose again during the Allied invasion of Italy. There, too,
concern with expediting military victory and securing political stability
caused Britain and the United States to negotiate with the fascist Badoglio
regime. "We cannot be put into a position," Churchill said, "where our two
armies are doing all the fighting but Russians have a veto." Yet Stalin
bitterly resented being excluded from participation in the Italian
negotiations. The Soviet Union protested vigorously the failure to
establish a tripartite commission to conduct all occupation negotiations.
It was time, Stalin said, to stop viewing Russia as "a passive third
observer. ... It is impossible to tolerate such a situation any longer." In
the end, Britain and the United States offered the token concession of
giving the Soviets an innocuous role on the advisory commission dealing
with Italy, but the primary result of the Italian experience was to
reemphasize a crucial political reality: when push came to shove, those who
exercised military control in an immediate situation would also exercise
political control over any occupation regime.
The shoe was on the other foot when it came to Western desires to have
a voice over Soviet actions in the Balkan states, particularly Romania. By
not giving Russia an opportunity to participate in the Italian surrender,
the West-in effect-helped legitimize Russia's desire to proceed
unilaterally in Eastern Europe. Although both Churchill and Roosevelt were
"acutely conscious of the great importance of the Balkan situation" and
wished to "take advantage of" any opportunity to exercise influence in that
area, the simple fact was that Soviet troops were in control. Churchill-and
privately Roosevelt as well-accepted the consequences. "The occupying
forces had the power in the area where their arms were present," Roosevelt
noted, "and each knew that the other could not force things to an issue."
But the contradiction between the stated idealistic aims of the war effort
and such realpolitik would come back to haunt the prospect for postwar
collaboration, particularly in the areas of Poland and other east European
Moments of conflict, of course, took place within the context of day-to-
day cooperation in meeting immediate wartime needs. Sometimes, such
cooperation seemed deep and genuine enough to provide a basis for
overcoming suspicion and conflict of interest. At the Moscow foreign
ministers conference in the fall of 1943, the Soviets proved responsive to
U.S. concerns. Reassured that there would indeed be a second front in
Europe in 1944, the Russians strongly endorsed a postwar international
organization to preserve the peace. More important, they indicated they
would join the war against Japan as soon as Germany was defeated, and
appeared willing to accept the Chiang Kaishek government in China as a
major participant in world politics. In some ways, these were a series of
quid pro quos. In exchange for the second front, Russia had made
concessions on issues of critical importance to Britain and the United
States. Nevertheless, the results were encouraging. FDR reported that the
conference had created "a psychology of ... excellent feeling." Instead of
being "cluttered with suspicion," the discussions had occurred in an
atmosphere that "was amazingly good."
The same spirit continued at the first meeting of Stalin, Churchill,
and Roosevelt in Tehran during November and early December 1943. Committed
to winning Stalin as a friend, FDR stayed at the Soviet Embassy, met
privately with Stalin, aligned himself with the Soviet leader against
Churchill on a number of issues, and even went so far as to taunt Churchill
"about his Britishness, about John Bull," in an effort to forge an informal
"anti-imperial" alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union. A
spirit of cooperation prevailed, with the wartime leaders agreeing that the
Big Four would have the power to police any postwar settlements (clearly
consistent with Stalin's commitment to a "sphere of influence" approach),
reaffirming plans for a joint military effort against Japan, and evenóafter
much difficultyóappearing to find a common approach to the difficulties of
Poland and Eastern Europe. When it was all over, FDR told the American
people: "I got along fine with Marshall Stalin ... I believe he is truly
representative of the heart and soul of Russia; and I believe that we are
going to get along very well with him and the Russian peopleóvery well
indeed." When pressed on what kind of a person the Soviet leader was,
Roosevelt responded:
"I would call him something like me, ... a realist."
The final conference of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt at Yalta in
February 1945 appeared at the time to carry forward the partnership,
although in retrospect it would become clear that the facade of unity was
built on a foundation of misperceptions rooted in the different values,
priorities, and political ground rules of the two societies. Stalin seemed
to recognize Roosevelt's need to present postwar plansófor domestic
political reasonsóas consistent with democratic, universalistic principles.
Roosevelt, in turn, appreciated Stalin's need for friendly governments on
his borders. The three leaders agreed on concrete plans for Soviet
participation in the Japanese war, and Stalin reiterated his support for a
coalition government in China with Chiang Kaishek assuming a position of
leadership. Although some of Roosevelt's aides were skeptical of the
agreements made, most came back confident that they had succeeded in laying
a basis for continued partnership. As Harry Hopkins later recalled, "we
really believed in our hearts that this was the dawn of the new day we had
all been praying for. The Russians have proved that they can be reasonable
and far-seeing and there wasn't any doubt in the minds of the president or
any of us that we could live with them and get along with them peacefully
for as far into the future as any of us could imagine."
In fact, two disquietingly different perceptions of the Soviet Union
existed as the war drew to an end. Some Washington officials believed that
the mystery of Russia was no mystery at all, simply a reflection of a
national history in which suspicion of outsiders was natural, given
repeated invasions from Western Europe and rampant hostility toward
communism on the part of Western powers. Former Ambassador to Moscow Joseph
Davies believed that the way to cut through that suspicion was to adopt
"the simple approach of assuming that what they say, they mean." On the
basis of his personal negotiations with the Russians, presidential aide
Harry Hopkins shared the same confidence.
The majority of well-informed Americans, however, endorsed the opposite
position. It was folly, one newspaper correspondent wrote, "to prettify
Stalin, whose internal homicide record is even longer than Hitler's."
Hitler and Stalin were two of the same breed, former Ambassador to Russia
William Bullitt insisted. Each wanted to spread his power "to the ends of
the earth. Stalin, like Hitler, will not stop. He can only be stopped."
According to Bullitt, any alternative view implied "a conversion of Stalin
as striking as the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus." Senator
Robert Taft agreed. It made no sense, he insisted, to base U.S. policy
toward the Soviet Union "on the delightful theory that Mr. Stalin in the
end will turn out to have an angelic nature." Drawing on the historical
precedents of the purge trials and traditional American hostility to
communism, totalitarianism, and Stalin, those who held this point of view
saw little hope of compromise. "There is as little difference between
communism and fascism," Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen said, "as there is
between burglary and larceny." The only appropriate response was force.
Instead of "leaning over backward to be nice to the descendents of Genghis
Khan," General George Patton suggested, "[we] should dictate to them and do
it now and in no uncertain terms." Within such a frame of reference, the
lessons of history and of ideological incompatibility seemed to permit no
possibility of compromise.
But Roosevelt clearly felt that there was a third way, a path of mutual
accommodation that would sustain and nourish the prospects of postwar
partnership without ignoring the realities of geopolitics. The choice in
his mind was clear. "We shall have to take the responsibility for world
collaboration," he told Congress, "or we shall have to bear the
responsibility for another world conflict." President Roosevelt was neither
politically naive nor stupid. Even though committed to the Atlantic
Charter's ideals of self-determination and territorial integrity, he
recognized the legitimate need of the Soviet Union for national security.
For him, the process of politicsóinformed by thirty-five years of skilled
practiceóinvolved striking a deal that both sides could live with.
Roosevelt acknowledged the brutality, the callousness, the tyranny of the
Soviet system. Indeed, in 1940 he had called Russia as absolute a
dictatorship as existed anywhere. But that did not mean a solution was
impossible, or that one should withdraw from the struggle to find a basis
for world peace. As he was fond of saying about negotiations with Russia,
"it is permitted to walk with the devil until the bridge is crossed."
The problem was that, as Roosevelt defined the task of finding a path
of accommodation, it rested solely on his shoulders. The president
possessed an almost mystical confidence in his own capacity to break
through policy differences based on economic structures and political
systems, and to develop a personal relationship of trust that would
transcend impersonal forces of division. "I know you will not mind my being
brutally frank when I tell you," he wrote Churchill in 1942, "[that] I
think I can personally handle Stalin better than either your Foreign Office
or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He
thinks he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to do so."
Notwithstanding the seeming naivete of such statements, Roosevelt appeared
right, in at least this one regard. The Soviets did seem to place their
faith in him, perhaps thinking that American foreign policy was as much a
product of one man's decisions as their own. Roosevelt evidently thought
the same way, telling Bullitt, in one of their early foreign policy
discussions, "it's my responsibility and not yours; and I'm going to play
my hunch."
The tragedy, of course, was that the man who perceived that fostering
world peace was his own personal responsibility never lived to carry out
his vision. Long in declining health, suffering from advanced
arteriosclerosis and a serious cardiac problem, he had gone to Warm
Springs, Georgia, to recover from the ordeal of Yalta and the congressional
session. On April 12, Roosevelt suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and
died. As word spread across the country, the stricken look on people's
faces told those who had not yet heard the news the awful dimensions of
what had happened. "He was the only president I ever knew," one woman said.
In London, Churchill declared that he felt as if he had suffered a physical
blow. Stalin greeted the American ambassador in silence, holding his hand
for thirty seconds. The leader of the world's greatest democracy would not
live to see the victory he had striven so hard to achieve.

2.2 The Truman Doctrine.

Few people were less prepared for the challenge of becoming president.
Although well-read in history, Truman's experience in foreign policy was
minimal. His most famous comment on diplomacy had been a statement to a
reporter in 1941 that "if we see that Germany is winning [the war] we ought
to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that
way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler
victorious under any circumstances." As vice-president, Truman had been
excluded from all foreign policy discussions. He knew nothing about the
Manhattan Project. The new president, Henry Stimson noted, labored under
the "terrific handicap of coming into... an office where the threads of
information were so multitudinous that only long previous familiarity could
allow him to control them." More to the point were Truman's own comments:
"They didn't tell me anything about what was going on. . . . Everybody
around here that should know anything about foreign affairs is out." Faced
with burdens sufficiently awesome to intimidate any individual, Truman had
to act quickly on a succession of national security questions, aided only
by his native intelligence and a no-nonsense attitude reflected in the now-
famous slogan that adorned his desk: "The Buck Stops Here."
Truman's dilemma was compounded by the extent to which Roosevelt had
acted" as his own secretary of state, sharing with almost no one his plans
for the postwar period. Roosevelt placed little trust in the State
Department's bureaucracy, disagreed with the suspicion exhibited toward
Russia by most foreign service officers, and for the most part appeared to
believe that he alone held the secret formula for accommodation with the
Soviets. Ultimately that formula presumed the willingness of the Russian
leadership "to give the Government of Poland [and other Eastern European
countries] an external appearance of independence [italics added]," in the
words of Roosevelt's aide Admiral William Leahy. In the month before his
death, FDR had evidently begun to question that presumption, becoming
increasingly concerned about Soviet behavior. Had he lived, he may well
have adopted a significantly tougher position toward Stalin than he had
taken previously. Yet in his last communication with Churchill, Roosevelt
was still urging the British prime minister to "minimize the Soviet problem
as much as possible . . . because these problems, in one form or another,
seem to arrive everyday and most of them straighten out." If Stalin's
intentions still remained difficult to fathom so too did Roosevelt's. And
now Truman was in charge, with neither Roosevelt's experience to inform
him, nor a clear sense of Roosevelt's perceptions to offer him direction.
Without being able to analyze at leisure all the complex information
that was relevant, Truman solicited the best advice he could from those who
were most knowledgeable about foreign relations. Hurrying back from Moscow,
Averell Harriman sought the president's ear, lobbying intensively with
White House and State Department officials for his position that
"irreconcilable differences" separated the Soviet Union and the United
States, with the Russians seeking "the extension of the Soviet system with
secret police, [and] extinction of freedom of speech" everywhere they
could. Earlier, Harriman had been well disposed toward the Soviet
leadership, enthusiastically endorsing Russian interest in a postwar loan
and advocating cooperation wherever possible. But now Harriman perceived a
hardening of Soviet attitudes and a more aggressive posture toward control
over Eastern Europe. The Russians had just signed a separate peace treaty
with the Lublin (pro-Soviet) Poles, and after offering safe passage to
sixteen pro-Western representatives of the Polish resistance to conduct
discussions about a government of national unity, had suddenly arrested the
sixteen and held them incommunicado. America's previous policy of
generosity toward the Soviets had been "misinterpreted in Moscow," Harriman
believed, leading the Russians to think they had carte blanche to proceed
as they wished. In Harriman's view, the Soviets were engaged in a
"barbarian invasion of Europe." Whether or not Roosevelt would have
accepted Harriman's analysis, to Truman the ambassador's words made eminent
sense. The international situation was like a poker game, Truman told one
friend, and he was not going to let Stalin beat him.
Just ten days after taking office, Truman had the opportunity to play
his own hand with Molotov. The Soviet foreign minister had been sent by
Stalin to attend the first U.N. conference in San Francisco both as a
gesture to Roosevelt's memory and as a means of sizing up the new
president. In a private conversation with former Ambassador to Moscow
Joseph Davies, Molotov expressed his concern that "full information" about
Russian-U.S. relations might have died with FDR and that "differences of
interpretation and possible complications [might] arise which would not
occur if Roosevelt lived." Himself worried that Truman might make "snap
judgments," Davies urged Molotov to explain fully Soviet policies vis-a-vis
Poland and Eastern Europe in order to avoid future conflict.
Truman implemented the same no-nonsense approach when it came to
decisions about the atomic bomb. Astonishingly, it was not until the day
after Truman's meeting with Molotov that he was first briefed about the
bomb. By that time, $2 billion had already been spent on what Stimson
called "the most terrible weapon ever known in human history." Immediately,
Truman grasped the significance of the information. "I can't tell you what
this is," he told his secretary, "but if it works, and pray God it does, it
will save many American lives." Here was a weapon that might not only bring
the war to a swift conclusion, but also provide a critical lever of
influence in all postwar relations. As James Byrnes told the president, the
bomb would "put us in a position to dictate our own terms at the end of the
In the years subsequent to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, historians have
debated the wisdom of America's being the first nation to use such a
horrible weapon of destruction and have questioned the motivation leading
up to that decision. Those who defend the action point to ferocious
Japanese resistance at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, and the likelihood of even
greater loss of life if an invasion of Japan became necessary. Support for
such a position comes even from some Japanese. "If the military had its
way," one military expert in Japan has said, "we would have fought until
all 80 million Japanese were dead. Only the atomic bomb saved me. Not me
alone, but many Japanese. . . ." Those morally repulsed by the incineration
of human flesh that resulted from the A-bomb, on the other hand, doubt the
necessity of dropping it, citing later U.S. intelligence surveys which
concluded that "Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had
not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no
invasion had been planned or contemplated." Distinguished military leaders
such as Dwight Eisenhower later opposed use of the bomb. "First, the
Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with
that awful thing," Eisenhower noted. "Second, I hated to see our country be
the first to use such a weapon." In light of such statements, some have
asked why there was no effort to communicate the horror of the bomb to
America's adversaries either through a demonstration explosion or an
ultimatum. Others have questioned whether the bomb would have been used on
non-Asians, although the fire-bombing of Dresden claimed more victims than
Hiroshima. Perhaps most seriously, some have charged that the bomb was used
primarily to intimidate the Soviet Union rather than to secure victory over
Although revulsion at America's deployment of atomic weapons is
understandable, it now appears that no one in the inner circles of American
military and political power ever seriously entertained the possibility of
not using the bomb. As Henry Stimson later recalled, "it was our common
objective, throughout the war, to be the first to produce an atomic weapon
and use it. ... At no time, from 1941 to 1945, did I ever hear it suggested
by the president, or by any other responsible member of the government,
that atomic energy should not be used in the war." As historians Martin
Sherwin and Barton Bernstein have shown, the momentum behind the Manhattan
Project was such that no one ever debated the underlying assumption that,
once perfected, nuclear weapons would be used. General George Marshall told
the British, as well as Truman and Stimson, that a land invasion of Japan
would cause casualties ranging from five hundred thousand to more than a
million American troops. Any president who refused to use atomic weapons in
the face of such projections could logically be accused of needlessly
sacrificing American lives. Moreover, the enemy was the same nation that
had unleashed a wanton and brutal attack on Pearl Harbor. As Truman later
explained to a journalist, "When you deal with a beast, you have to treat
him as a beast." Although many of the scientists who had seen the first
explosion of the bomb in New Mexico were in awe of its destructive
potential and hoped to find some way to avoid its use in war, the idea of a
demonstration met with skepticism. Only one or two bombs existed. What if,
in a demonstration, they failed to detonate? Thus, as horrible as it may
seem in retrospect, no one ever seriously doubted the necessity of dropping
the bomb on Japan once the weapon was perfected.
On the Russian issue, however, there now seems little doubt that
administration officials thought long and hard about the bomb's impact on
postwar relations with the Soviet Union. Faced with what seemed to be the
growing intransigence of the Soviet Union toward virtually all postwar
questions, Truman and his advisors concluded that possession of the weapon
would give the United States unprecedented leverage to push Russia toward a
more accommodating position. Senator Edwin Johnson stated the equation
crassly, but clearly. "God Almighty in his infinite wisdom," the Senator
said, "[has] dropped the atomic bomb in our lap ... [now] with vision and
guts and plenty of atomic bombs, . . . [the U.S. can] compel mankind to
adopt a policy of lasting peace ... or be burned to a crisp." Stating the
same argument with more sophistication prior to Hiroshima, Stimson told
Truman that the bomb might well "force a favorable settlement of Eastern
European questions with the Russians." Truman agreed. If the weapon worked,
he noted, "I'll certainly have a hammer on those boys."
Use of the bomb as a diplomatic lever played a pivotal role in Truman's
preparation for his first meeting with Stalin at Potsdam. Not only would
the conference address such critical questions as Eastern Europe, Germany,
and Russia's involvement in the war against Japan;
It would also provide a crucial opportunity for America to drive home
with forcefulness its foreign policy beliefs about future relationships
with Russia. Stimson and other advisors urged the president to hold off on
any confrontation with Stalin until the bomb was ready. "Over any such
tangled wave of problems," Stimson noted, "the bomb's secret will be
dominant. ... It seems a terrible thing to gamble with such big stakes and
diplomacy without having your master card in your hand." Although Truman
could not delay the meeting because of a prior commitment to hold it in
July, the president was well aware of the bomb's significance. Already
noted for his brusque and assertive manner, Truman suddenly took on new
confidence in the midst of the Potsdam negotiations when word arrived that
the bomb had successfully been tested. "He was a changed man," Churchill
noted. "He told the Russians just where they got on and off and generally
bossed the whole meeting." Now, the agenda was changed. Russian involvement
in the Japanese war no longer seemed so important. Moreover, the United
States had as a bargaining chip the most powerful weapon ever unleashed.
Three days later, Truman walked up to Stalin and casually told him that the
United States had "perfected a very powerful explosive, which we're going
to use against the Japanese." No mention was made of sharing information
about the bomb, or of future cooperation to avoid an arms race.
Yet the very nature of the new weapon proved a mixed blessing, making
it as much a source of provocation as of diplomatic leverage. Strategic
bombing surveys throughout the war had shown that mass bombings, far from
demoralizing the enemy, often redoubled his commitment to resist. An
American monopoly on atomic weapons would, in all likelihood, have the same
effect on the Russians, a proud people. As Stalin told an American diplomat
later, "the nuclear weapon is something with which you frighten people [who
have] weak nerves." Yet if the war had proven anything, it was that Russian
nerves were remarkably strong. Rather than intimidate the Soviets, Dean
Acheson pointed out, it was more likely that evidence of Anglo-American
cooperation in the Manhattan Project would seem to them "unanswerable
evidence of ... a combination against them. ... It is impossible that a
government as powerful and power conscious as the Soviet government could
fail to react vigorously to the situation. It must and will exert every
energy to restore the loss of power which the situation has produced."
In fact, news of the bomb's development simply widened the gulf further
between the superpowers, highlighting the mistrust that existed between
them, with sources of antagonism increasing far faster than efforts at
cooperation. On May 11, two days after Germany surrenderedóand two weeks
after the Truman-Molotov confrontationóAmerica had abruptly terminated all
lend-lease shipments to the Soviet Union that were not directly related to
the war against Japan. Washington even ordered ships in the mid-Atlantic to
turn around. The action had been taken largely in rigid bureaucratic
compliance with a new law governing lend-lease just enacted by Congress,
but Truman had been warned of the need to handle the matter in a way that
was sensitive to Soviet pride. Instead, he signed the termination order
without even reading it. Although eventually some shipments were resumed,
the damage had been done. The action was "brutal," Stalin later told Harry
Hopkins, implemented in a "scornful and abrupt manner." Had the United
States consulted Russia about the issue "frankly" and on "a friendly
basis," the Soviet dictator said, "much could have been done"; but if the
action "was designed as pressure on the Russians in order to soften them
up, then it was a fundamental mistake."
Russian behavior through these months, on the other hand, offered
little encouragement for the belief that friendship and cooperation ranked
high on the Soviet agenda. In addition to violating the spirit of the Yalta
accords by jailing the sixteen members of the Polish underground and
signing a separate peace treaty with the Lublin Poles, Stalin seemed more
intent on reviving and validating his reputation as architect of the purges
than as one who wished to collaborate in spreading democracy. He jailed
thousands of Russian POWs returning from German prison camps, as if their
very presence on foreign soil had made them enemies of the Russian state.
One veteran was imprisoned because he had accepted a present from a British
comrade in arms, another for making a critical comment about Stalin in a
letter. Even Molotov's wife was sent to Siberia. In the meantime, hundreds
of thousands of minority nationalities in the Soviet Union were removed
forcibly from their homelands when they protested the attempted
obliteration of their ancient identities. Some Westerners speculated that
Stalin was clinically psychotic, so paranoid about the erosion of his
control over the Russian people that he would do anything to close Soviet
borders and prevent the Russian people from getting a taste of what life in
a more open society would be like. Winston Churchill, for example, wondered
whether Stalin might not be more fearful of Western friendship than of
Western hostility, since greater cooperation with the noncommunist world
could well lead to a dismantling of the rigid totalitarian control he
previously had exerted. For those American diplomats who were veterans of
service in Moscow before the war, Soviet actions and attitudes seemed all
too reminiscent of the viselike terror they remembered from the worst days
of the 1930s.
When Truman, Stalin, and Churchill met in Potsdam in July 1945, these
suspicions were temporarily papered over, but no progress was made on
untying the Gordian knots that plagued the wartime alliance. Truman sought
to improve the Allies' postwar settlement with Italy, hoping to align that
country more closely with the West. Stalin agreed on the condition that
changes favorable to the Soviets be approved for Romania, Hungary,
Bulgaria, and Finland. When Truman replied that there had been no free
elections in those countries, Stalin retorted that there had been none in
Italy either. On the issue of general reparations the three powers agreed
to treat each occupation zone separately. As a result, one problem was
solved, but in the process the future division of Germany was almost
assured. The tone of the discussions was clearly not friendly. Truman
raised the issue of the infamous Katyn massacre, where Soviet troops killed
thousands of Polish soldiers and bulldozed them into a common grave. When
Truman asked Stalin directly what had happened to the Polish officers, the
Soviet dictator responded: "they went away." After Churchill insisted that
an iron fence had come down around British representatives in Romania,
Stalin dismissed the charges as "all fairy tales." No major conflicts were
resolved, and the key problems of reparation amounts, four-power control
over Germany, the future of Eastern Europe, and the structure of any
permanent peace settlement were simply referred to the Council of Foreign
Ministers. There, not surprisingly, they festered, while the pace toward
confrontation accelerated.
The first six months of 1946 represented a staccato series of Cold War
events, accompanied by increasingly inflammatory rhetoric. In direct
violation of a wartime agreement that all allied forces would leave Iran
within six months of the war's end, Russia continued its military
occupation of the oil-rich region of Azerbaijan. Responding to the Iranian
threat, the United States demanded a U.N. condemnation of the Soviet
presence in Azerbaijan and, when Russian tanks were seen entering the area,
prepared for a direct confrontation. "Now we will give it to them with both
barrels," James Byrnes declared. Unless the United States stood firm, one
State Department official warned, "Azerbaijan [will] prove to [be] the
first shot fired in the Third World War." Faced with such clear-cut
determination, the Soviets ultimately withdrew from Iran.
Yet the tensions between the two powers continued to mount. In early
February, Stalin issued what Supreme Court Justice William Douglas called
the "Declaration of World War III," insisting that war was inevitable as
long as capitalism survived and calling for massive sacrifice at home. A
month later Winston Churchillówith Truman at his sideóresponded at Fulton,
Missouri, declaring that "from Stetting in the Baltic to Trieste in the
Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the [European] continent."
Claiming that "God has willed" the United States and Britain to hold a
monopoly over atomic weapons, Churchill called for a "fraternal association
of the English speaking people" against their common foes. Although Truman
made no public statement, privately he had told Byrnes in January: "I'm
tired of babying the Soviets. They [must be] faced with an iron fist and
strong language. . . . Only one language do they understandóhow many
divisions have you?" Stalin, meanwhile, charged Britain and the United
States with repressing democratic insurgents in Greece, declaring that it
was the western Allies, not the Soviet Union, that endangered world peace.
"When Mr. Churchill calls for a new war," Molotov told a foreign ministers'
meeting in May, "and makes militant speeches on two continents, he
represents the worst of twentieth-century imperialism."
During the spring and summer, clashes occurred on virtually all the
major issues of the Cold War. After having told the Soviet Union that the
State Department had "lost" its $6 billion loan request made in January
1945, the United States offered a $1 billion loan in the spring of 1946 as
long as the Soviet Union agreed to join the World Bank and accept the
credit procedures and controls of that body. Not surprisingly, the Russians
refused, announcing instead a new five-year plan that would promote
economic self-sufficiency. Almost paranoid about keeping Westerners out of
Russia, Stalin had evidently concluded that participation in a Western-run
financial consortium was too serious a threat to his own total authority.
"Control of their border areas," the historian Walter LaFeber has noted,
"was worth more to the Russians than a billion, or even ten billion
dollars." A year earlier the response might have been different. But 1946
was a "year of cement," with little if any willingness to accept
flexibility. In Germany, meanwhile, the Russians rejected a Western
proposal for unifying the country and instead determined to build up their
own zone. The United States reciprocated by declaring it would no longer
cooperate with Russia by removing reparations from the west to the east.
The actions guaranteed a permanent split of Germany and coincided with
American plans to rebuild the West German economy.
The culminating breakdown of U.S.-Soviet relations came over the
failure to secure agreement on the international control of atomic energy.
After Potsdam, some American policymakers had urged the president to take a
new approach on sharing such control with the Soviet Union. The atom bomb,
Henry Stimson warned Truman in the fall of 1945, would dominate America's
relations with Russia. "If we fail to approach them now and continue to
negotiate with . . . this weapon rather ostentatiously on our hip, their
suspicions and their distrust of our purposes and motives will increase."
Echoing the same them, Dr. Harold Urey, a leading atomic scientist, told
the Senate that by making and storing atomic weapons, "we are guilty of
beginning the arms race." Furthermore, there was an inherent problem with
the "gun on our hip" approach. As the scientist Vannevar Bush noted, "there
is no powder in the gun, [nor] could [it] be drawn," unless the United
States were willing to deploy the A-bomb to settle diplomatic disputes.
Recognizing this, Truman set Dean Acheson and David Lilienthal to work in
the winter of 1945ó46 to prepare a plan for international control.
But by the time the American proposal had been completed, much of the
damage in Soviet-American relations seemed irreparable. Although the Truman
plan envisioned ultimate sharing of international control, it left the
United States with an atomic monopolyóand in a dominant positionóuntil the
very last stage. The Soviets would have no veto power over inspections or
sanctions, and even at the end of the process, the United States would
control the majority of votes within the body responsible for developing
peaceful uses of atomic energy inside the Soviet Union. When the Russians
asked to negotiate about the specifics of the plan, they were told they
must either accept the entire package or nothing at all. In the context of
Soviet-American relations in 1946, the result was predictableóthe genie of
the atomic arms race would remain outside the bottle.
Not all influential Americans were "pleased by the growing
polarization. Averell Harriman, who a year earlier had been in the
forefront of those demanding a hard-line position from Truman, now pulled
back somewhat. "We must recognize that we occupy the same planet as the
Russians," he said, "and whether we like it or not, disagreeable as they
may be, we have to find some method of getting along." The columnist Walter
Lippmann, deeply concerned about the direction of events, wondered whether
the inexperience and personal predilections of some of America's
negotiators might not be part of the problem. Nor were all the signs
negative. After his initial confrontation with Molotov, Truman appeared to
have second thoughts, sending Harry Hopkins to Moscow to attempt to find
some common ground with Stalin on Poland and Eastern Europe. The Russians,
in turn, had not been totally aggressive. They withdrew from Hungary after
free elections in that country had led to the establishment of a
noncommunist regime. Czechoslovakia was also governed by a coalition
government with a Western-style parliament. The British, at least,
announced themselves satisfied with the election process in Bulgaria. Even
in Romania, some concessions were made to include elements more favorably
disposed to the West. The Russians finally backed down in Iranóunder
considerable pressureóand would do so again in a dispute over the Turkish
straits in the late summer of 1946.
Still, the events of 1946 had the cumulative effect of creating an aura
of inevitability about bipolar confrontation in the world. The
preponderance of energy in each country seemed committed to the side of
suspicion and hostility rather than mutual accommodation. If Stalin's
February prediction of inevitable war between capitalism and communism
embodied in its purest form Russia's jaundiced perception of relations
between the two countries, an eight-thousand-word telegram from George
Kennan to the State Department articulated the dominant frame of reference
within which Soviet actions would be perceived by U.S. officials. Perhaps
the preeminent expert on the Soviets, and a veteran of service in Moscow in
the thirties as well as the forties, Kennan had been asked to prepare an
analysis of Stalin's speech. Responding in words intended to command
attention to Washington, Kennan declared that the United States was
confronted with a "political force committed fanatically to the belief that
[with the] United States there can be no permanent modus vivendi, that it
is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be
broken if Soviet power is to be secure." According' to Kennan, the Russians
truly believed the world to be divided permanently into capitalist and
socialist camps, with the Soviet Union dedicated to "ever new heights of
military power" even as it sought to subvert its enemies through an
"underground operating directorate of world communism." The analysis was
frightening, confirming the fears of those most disturbed by the Soviet
system's denial of human rights and hardline posture toward Western demands
for free elections and open borders in occupied Europe.
Almost immediately, the Kennan telegram became required reading for the
entire diplomatic and military establishment in Washington.
2.3 The Marshall Plan.
The chief virtue of the plan Marshall and his aides were Grafting was
its fusion of these political and economic concerns. As Truman told a
Baylor University audience in March 1947, "peace, freedom, and world trade
are indivisible. . . . We must not go through the '3os again." Since free
enterprise was seen as the foundation for democracy and prosperity, helping
European economies would both assure friendly governments abroad and
additional jobs at home. To accomplish that ^ goal, however, the United
States would need to give economic aid directly rather than through the
United Nations, since only under those circumstances would American control
be assured. Ideally, the Marshall Plan would provide an economic arm to the
political strategy embodied óin the Truman Doctrine. Moreover, if presented
as a program in which even Eastern European countries could participate, it
would provide, at last potentially, a means of including pro-Soviet
countries and breaking Stalin's political and economic domination over
Eastern Europe.
On that basis, Marshall dramatically announced his proposal at Harvard
University's commencement on June 5, 1947. "Our policy is directed not
against any country or doctrine," Marshall said, "but against hunger,
poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be revival of a working
economy. Any government that is willing to assist in the task of recovery
will find full cooperation ... on the part of the United States
government." Responding, French Foreign Minister George Bidault invited
officials throughout Europe, including the Soviet Union, to attend a
conference in Paris to draw up a plan of action. Poland and Czechoslovakia
expressed interest, and Molotov himself came to Paris with eighty-nine
Rather than inaugurate a new era of cooperation, however, the next few
days simply reaffirmed how far polarization had already extended. Molotov
urged that each country present its own needs independently to the United
States. Western European countries, on the other hand, insisted that all
the countries cooperate in a joint proposal for American consideration.
Since the entire concept presumed extensive sharing of economic data on
each country's resources and liabilities, as well as Western control over
how the aid would be expended, the Soviets angrily walked out of the
deliberations. In fact, the United States never believed that the Russians
would participate in the project, knowing that it was a violation of every
Soviet precept to open their economic records to examination and control by
capitalist outsiders. Furthermore, U.S. strategy was premised on a major
rebuilding of German industryósomething profoundly threatening to the
Russians. Ideally, Americans viewed a thriving Germany as the foundation
for revitalizing the economies of all Western European countries, and
providing the key to prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. To a
remarkable extent, that was precisely the result of the Marshall Plan.
Understandably, such a prospect frightened the Soviets, but the consequence
was to further the split between East and West, and in particular, to
undercut the possibility of promoting further cooperation with countries
like Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
In the weeks and months after the Russians left Paris, the final pieces
of the Cold War were set in place. Shortly after the Soviet departure from
Paris the Russians announced the creation of a series of bilateral trade
agreements called the "Molotov Plan," designed to link Eastern bloc
countries and provide a Soviet answer to the Marshall Plan. Within the same
week the Russians created a new Communist Information Bureau (Cominform),
including representatives from the major Western European communist
parties, to serve as a vehicle for imposing Stalinist control on anyone who
might consider deviating from the party line. Speaking at the Cominform
meeting in August, Andre Zhdanov issued the Soviet Union's rebuttal to the
Truman Doctrine. The United States, he charged, was organizing the
countries of the Near East, Western Europe, and South America into an
alliance committed to the destruction of communism. Now, he said, the "new
democracies" of Eastern Europeóplus their allies in developing
countriesómust form a counter bloc. The world would thus be made up of "two
camps," each ideologically, politically, and, to a growing extent,
militarily defined by its opposition to the other.
To assure that no one misunderstood, Russia moved quickly to impose a
steel-like grip on Eastern Europe. In August 1947 the Soviets purged all
left-wing, anticommunist leaders from Hungary and then rigged elections to
assure a pro-Soviet regime there. Six months later, in February 1948,
Stalin moved on Czechoslovakia as well, insisting on the abolition of
independent parties and sending Soviet troops to the Czech border to back
up Soviet demands for an all new communist government. After Foreign
Minister Jan Masaryk either jumped or was pushed from a window in Prague,
the last vestige of resistance faded. "We are [now] faced with exactly the
same situation . . . Britain and France faced in 1938-39 with Hitler,"
Truman wrote. The Czech coup coincided with overwhelming approval of the
Marshall Plan by the American Congress. Two weeks later, on March 5,
General Lucius Clay sent his telegram from Germany warning of imminent war
with Russia. Shortly thereafter, Truman called on Congress to implement
Universal Military Training for all Americans. (The plan was never put in
place.) By the end of the month Russia had instituted a year-long blockade
of all supplies to Berlin in protest against the West's decision to unify
her occupation zones in Germany and institute currency reform. Before the
end of spring, the Brussels Pact had brought together the major powers of
Western Europe in a mutual defense pact that a year later would provide the
basis for NATO. If the Truman Doctrine, in Bernard Baruch's words, had been
"a declaration of ideological or religious war," the Marshall Plan, the
Molotov Plan, and subsequent developments in Eastern Europe represented the
economic, political, and military demarcations that would define the
terrain on which the war would be fought. The Cold War had begun.

Chapter 3: The Role of Cold War in American History and Diplomacy.

3.1 Declaration of the Cold War.

In late February 1947, a British official journeyed to the State
Department to inform Dean Acheson that the crushing burden of Britain's
economic crisis prevented her from any longer accepting responsibility for
the economic and military stability of Greece and Turkey. The message,
Secretary of State George Marshall noted, "was tantamount to British
abdication from the Middle East, with obvious implications as to their
successor." Conceivably, America could have responded quietly, continuing
the steady stream of financial support already going into the area. Despite
aid to the insurgents from Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, the war going on in
Greece was primarily a civil struggle, with the British side viewed by many
as reactionary in its politics. But instead, Truman administration
officials seized the moment as the occasion for a dramatic new commitment
to fight communism. In their view, Greece and Turkey could well hold the
key to the future of Europe itself. Hence they decided to ask Congress for
$400 million in military and economic aid. In the process, the
administration publicly defined postwar diplomacy, for the first time, as a
universal conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
Truman portrayed the issue as he did, at least in part, because his
aides had failed to convince Congressmen about the merits of the case on
grounds of self-interest alone. Americans were concerned about the Middle
East for many reasonsópreservation of political stability, guarantee of
access to mineral resources, a need to assure a prosperous market for
American goods. Early drafts of speeches on the issue had focused
specifically on economic questions. America could not afford, one advisor
noted, to allow Greece and similar areas to "spiral downward into economic
anarchy." But such arguments, another advisor noted, "made the whole thing
sound like an investment prospectus." Indeed, when Secretary of State
Marshall used such arguments of self-interest with Congressmen, his words
fell on deaf ears, particularly given the commitment of Republicans to cut
government spending to the bone. It was at that moment. Dean Acheson
recalled, that "in desperation I whispered to [Marshall] a request to
speak. This was my crisis. For a week I had nurtured it."
When Acheson took the floor, he transformed the atmosphere in the room.
The issue, he declared, was the effort by Russian communism to seize
dominance over three continents, and encircle and capture Western Europe.
"Like apples in a barrel infected by the corruption of one rotten one, the
corruption of Greece would infect Iran and alter the Middle East . . .
Africa . . . Italy and France." The struggle was ultimate, Acheson
concluded. "Not since Rome and Carthage has there been such a polarization
of power on this earth. . . . We and we alone are in a position to break
up" the Soviet quest for world domination. Suddenly, the Congressmen sat up
and took notice. That argument, Senator Arthur Vandenberg told the
president, would be successful. If Truman wanted his program of aid to be
approved, he wouldólike Achesonóhave to "scare hell" out of the American
By the time Truman came before Congress on March 12, the issue was no
longer whether the United States should extend economic aid to Greece and
Turkey on a basis of self-interest, but rather whether America was willing
to sanction the spread of tyrannical communism everywhere in the world.
Facing the same dilemma Roosevelt had confronted during the 1930S in his
effort to get Americans ready for war, Truman sensed that only if the
issues were posed as directly related to the nation's fundamental moral
concernónot just self-interestó would there be a possibility of winning
political support. Hence, as Truman defined the question, the world had to
choose "between alternative ways of life." One option was "free," based on
"representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual
liberty, and freedom of speech and religion." The other option was
"tyranny," based on "terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, .
. . and a suppression of personal freedoms." Given a choice between freedom
and totalitarianism, Truman concluded, "it must be the policy of the United
States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by
armed minorities."
Drawing on the "worst case" scenario implicit in Kennan's telegram,
Truman, in effect, had presented the issue of American-Soviet relations as
one of pure ideological and moral conflict. There were some who criticized
him. Senator Robert Taft, for example, wondered whether, if the United
States took responsibility for Greece and Turkey, Americans could object
to the Russians continuing their domination over Eastern Europe. Secretary
of State Marshall was disturbed at "the extent to which the anticommunist
element of the speech was stressed." And George Kennan, concerned over how
his views had been used, protested against the president's strident tone.
But Truman and Acheson had understood the importance of defining the issue
on grounds of patriotism and moral principle. If the heart of the question
was the universal struggle of freedom against tryannyónot taking sides in
a civil waró who could object to what the government proposed? It was,
Senator Arthur Vandenberg noted, "almost like a presidential request for a
declaration of war. . . . There is precious little we can do except say
yes." By mid-May, Truman's aid package had passed Congress overwhelmingly.
On the same day the Truman Doctrine received final approval, George
Marshall and his aides at the State Department were busy shaping what
Truman would call the second half of the same walnutó the Marshall Plan of
massive economic support to rebuild Western Europe. Britain, France,
Germany, Italy, Belgiumóall were devastated by the war, their cities lying
in rubble, their industrial base gutted. It was difficult to know if they
could survive, yet the lessons of World War I suggested that political
democracy and stability depended on the presence of a healthy and thriving
economic order. Already American officials were concerned that Italyóand
perhaps Franceówould succumb to the political appeal of native communists
and become victims of what William Bullitt had called the "red amoeba"
spreading all across Europe. Furthermore, America's selfish economic
interests demanded strong trading partners in Western Europe. "No nation in
modern times," Assistant Secretary of State Will Clayton had said, "can
long expect to enjoy a rising standard of living without increased foreign
trade." America imported from Europe only half of what it exported, and
Western Europe was quickly running out of dollars to pay for American
goods. If some form of massive support to reconstruct Europe's economy were
not developed, economic decay there would spread, unemployment in America
would increase, and political instability could well lead to communist
takeovers of hitherto "friendly" counties.
3.2 Cold War Issues.

Although historians have debated for years the cause of the Cold War,
virtually everyone agrees that it developed around five major issues:
Poland, the structure of governments in other Eastern European
countries, the future of Germany, economic reconstruction of Europe, and
international policies toward the atomic bomb and atomic energy. All of
these intersected, so that within a few months, it became almost impossible
to separate one from the other as they interacted to shape the emergence of
a bipolar world. Each issue in its own way also reflected the underlying
confusion and conflict surrounding the competing doctrines of
"universalist" versus "sphere-of-influence" diplomacy. Examination of these
fundamental questions is essential if we are to comprehend how and why the
tragedy of the Cold War evolved during the three years after Germany's
Poland constituted the most intractable and profound dilemma facing
Soviet-U.S. relations. As Secretary of State Edward Stettinius observed in
1945, Poland was "the big apple in the barrel." Unfortunately, it also
symbolized, for both sides, everything that the war had been fought for.
From a Soviet perspective, Poland represented the quintessence of Russia's
national security needs. On three occasions, Poland had served as the
avenue for devastating invasions of Russian territory. It was imperative,
given Russian history, that Poland be governed by a regime supportive of
the Soviet Union. But Poland also represented, both in fact and in symbol,
everything for which the Western Allies had fought. Britain and France had
declared war on Germany in September 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland, thus
honoring their mutual defense pact with that victimized country. It seemed
unthinkable that one could wage war for six years and end up with another
totalitarian country in control of Poland. Surely if the Atlantic Charter
signified anything, it required defending the right of the Polish people to
determine their own destiny. The presence of 7 million Polish-American
voters offered a constant, if unnecessary, reminder that such issues of
self-determination could not be dismissed lightly. Thus, the first issue
confronting the Allies in building a postwar world would also be one on
which compromise was virtually impossible, at least without incredible
diplomatic delicacy, political subtlety, and profound appreciation, by each
ally, of the other's needs and priorities.
Roosevelt appears to have understood the tortuous path he would have to
travel in order to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Given his
own commitment to the Atlantic Charter, rooted in both domestic political
reasons and personal conviction, he recognized the need to advocate an
independent and democratic government for the Polish people. "Poland must
be reconstituted a great nation," he told the country during the 1944
election. Yet the president also repeatedly acknowledged that the Russians
must have a "friendly" government in Warsaw. Somehow, Roosevelt hoped to
find a way to subordinate these two conflicting positions to the higher
priority of postwar peace. "The President," Harry Hopkins said in 1943,
"did not intend to go to the Peace Conference and bargain with Poland or
the other small states; as far as Poland is concerned, the important thing
[was] to set it up in a way that [would] help maintain the peace of the
The issue was first joined at the Tehran conference. There, Churchill
and Roosevelt endorsed Stalin's position that Poland's eastern border, for
security reasons, should be moved to the west. As Roosevelt had earlier
explained to the ambassador from the Polish government-in-exile in London,
it was folly to expect the United States and Britain "to declare war on Joe
Stalin over a boundary dispute." On the other hand, Roosevelt urged Stalin
to be flexible, citing his own need for the Polish vote in the 1944
presidential election and the importance of establishing cooperation
between the London Poles and the Lublin government-in-exile situated in
Moscow. Roosevelt had been willing to make a major concession to Russia's
security needs by accepting the Soviet definition of Poland's new
boundaries. But he also expected some consideration of his own political
dilemma and of the principles of the Atlantic Charter.
Such consideration appeared to be forthcoming in the summer of 1944
when Stalin agreed to meet the prime minister of the London-Polish
government and "to mediate" between the two opposing governments-in-exile.
But hopes for such a compromise were quickly crushed as Soviet troops
failed to aid the Warsaw Polish resistance when it rose in massive
rebellion against German occupation forces in hopes of linking up with
advancing Soviet forces. The Warsaw Poles generally supported the London
government-in-exile. As Red Army troops moved to just six miles outside of
Warsaw, the Warsaw Poles rose en masse against their Nazi oppressors. Yet
when they did so, the Soviets callously rejected all pleas for help. For
eight weeks they even refused to permit American planes to land on Soviet
soil after airlifting supplies to the beleaguered Warsaw rebels. By the
time the rebellion ended, 250,000 people had become casualties, with the
backbone of the pro-London resistance movement brutally crushed. Although
some Americans, then and later, accepted Soviet claims that logistical
problems had prevented any assistance being offered, most Americans
endorsed the more cynical conclusion that Stalin had found a convenient way
to annihilate a large part of his Polish opposition and facilitate
acquisition of a pro-Soviet regime. As Ambassador Averell Harriman cabled
at the time, Russian actions were based on "ruthless political
By the time of the Yalta conference, the Red Army occupied Poland,
leaving Roosevelt little room to maneuver. When one American diplomat urged
the president to force Russia to agree to Polish independence, Roosevelt
responded: "Do you want me to go to war with Russia?" With Stalin having
already granted diplomatic recognition to the Lublin regime, Roosevelt
could only hope that the Soviets would accept enough modification of the
status quo to provide the appearance of representative democracy. Spheres
of influence were a reality, FDR told seven senators, because "the
occupying forces [have] the power in the areas where their arms are
present." All America could do was to use her influence "to ameliorate the
Nevertheless, Roosevelt played what cards he had with skill. "Most
Poles," he told Stalin, "want to save face. ... It would make it easier for
me at home if the Soviet government could give something to Poland." A
government of national unity, Roosevelt declared, would facilitate public
acceptance in the United States of full American participation in postwar
arrangements. "Our people at home look with a critical eye on what they
consider a disagreement between us. ... They, in effect, say that if we
cannot get a meeting of minds now . . . how can we get an understanding on
even more vital things in the future?" Although Stalin's immediate response
was to declare that Poland was "not only a question of honor for Russia,
but one of life and death," he finally agreed that some reorganization of
the Lublin regime could take place to ensure broader representation of all
In the end, the Big Three papered over their differences at Yalta by
agreeing to a Declaration on Liberated Europe that committed the Allies to
help liberated peoples resolve their problems through democratic means and
advocated the holding of free elections. Although Roosevelt's aide Admiral
William Leahy told him that the report on Poland was "so elastic that the
Russians can stretch it all the way from Yalta to Washington without ever
technically breaking it," Roosevelt believed that he had done the best he
could under the circumstances. From the beginning, Roosevelt had
recognized, on a de facto basis at least, that Poland was part of Russia's
sphere of influence and must remain so. He could only hope that Stalin
would now show equal recognition of the U.S. need to have concessions that
would give the appearance, at least, of implementing the Atlantic Charter.
The same basic dilemmas, of course, occurred with regard to the
structure of postwar governments in all of Eastern Europe. As early as
1943, Roosevelt had made clear to Stalin at Tehran that he was willing to
have the Baltic states controlled by the Soviets. His only request, the
president told Stalin, was for some public commitment to future elections
in order to satisfy his constituents at home for whom "the big issues . . .
would be the question of referendum and the right of self-determination."
The exchange with Stalin accurately reflected Roosevelt's position over
Significantly, Roosevelt even sanctioned Churchill's efforts to divide
Europe into spheres of influence. With Roosevelt's approval, Churchill
journeyed to Moscow in the fall of 1944. Sitting across the table from
Stalin, Churchill proposed that Russia exercise 90 percent predominance in
Romania, 75 percent in Bulgaria, and 50 percent control, together with
Britain, in Yugoslavia and Hungary, while the United States and Great
Britain would exercise 90 percent predominance in Greece. After extended
discussion and some hard bargaining, the deal was made. (Poland was not
even included in Churchill's percentages, suggesting that he was
acknowledging Soviet control there.) At the time, Churchill suggested that
the arrangements be expressed "in diplomatic terms [without use of] the
phrase 'dividing into spheres,' because the Americans might be shocked."
But in fact, as Robert Daliek has shown in his superb study of Roosevelt's
diplomacy, the American president accepted the arrangement. "I am most
pleased to know," FDR wrote Churchill, "you are reaching a meeting of your
two minds as to international policies." To Harriman he cabled: "My active
interest at the present time in the Balkan area is that such steps as are
practicable should be taken to insure against the Balkans getting us into a
future international war." At no time did Roosevelt protest the British-
Soviet agreement.
In the case of Eastern Europe generally, even more so than in Poland,
it seemed clear that Roosevelt, on a de facto basis, was prepared to live
with spheres-of-influence diplomacy. Nevertheless, he remained constantly
sensitive to the political peril he faced at home on the issue. As
Congressman John Dingell stated in a public warning in August 1943, "We
Americans are not sacrificing, fighting, and dying to make permanent and
more powerful the communistic government of Russia and to make Joseph
Stalin a dictator over the liberated countries of Europe." Such sentiments
were widespread. Indeed, it was concern over such opinions that led
Roosevelt to urge the Russians to be sensitive to American political
concerns. In Eastern Europe for the most part, as in Poland, the key
question was whether the United States could somehow find a way to
acknowledge spheres of influence, but within a context of universalist
principles, so that the American people would not feel that the Atlantic
Charter had been betrayed.
The future of Germany represented a third critical point of conflict.
For emotional as well as political reasons, it was imperative that steps be
taken to prevent Germany from ever again waging war. In FDR's words, "We
have got to be tough with Germany, and I mean the German people not just
the Nazis. We either have to castrate the German people or you have got to
treat them in such a manner so they can't just go on reproducing people who
want to continue the way they have in the past." Consistent with that
position, Roosevelt had agreed with Stalin at Tehran on the need for
destroying a strong Germany by dividing the country into several sectors,
"as small and weak as possible."
Still operating on that premise, Roosevelt endorsed Secretary of the
Treasury Henry Morgenthau's plan to eliminate all industry from Germany and
convert the country into a pastoral landscape of small farms. Not only
would such a plan destroy any future war-making power, it would also
reassure the Soviet Union of its own security. "Russia feared we and the
British were going to try to make a soft peace with Germany and build her
up as a possible future counter-weight against Russia," Morgenthau said.
His plan would avoid that, and simultaneously implement Roosevelt's
insistence that "every person in Germany should realize that this time
Germany is a defeated nation." Hence, in September 1944, Churchill and
Roosevelt approved the broad outlines of the Morgenthau plan as their
policy for Germany.
Within weeks, however, the harsh policy of pastoralization came
unglued. From a Soviet perspective, there was the problem of how Russia
could exact the reparations she needed from a country with no industrial
base. American policymakers, in turn, objected that a Germany without
industrial capacity would prove unable to support herself, placing the
entire burden for maintaining the populace on the Allies. Rumors spread
that the Morgenthau plan was stiffening German resistance on the western
front. American business interests, moreover, suggested the importance of
retaining German industry as a key to postwar commerce and trade.
As a result, Allied policy toward Germany became a shambles. "No one
wants to make Germany a wholly agricultural nation again," Roosevelt
insisted. "No one wants 'complete eradication of German industrial
production capacity in the Ruhr and the Saar.' " Confused about how to
proceed, Rooseveltóin effectóadopted a policy of no policy. "I dislike
making detailed plans for a country which we do not yet occupy," he said.
When Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt met for the last time in Yalta, this
failure to plan prevented a decisive course of action. The Russians
insisted on German reparations of $20 billion, half of which would go to
the Soviet Union. Although FDR accepted Stalin's figure as a basis for
discussion, the British and Americans deferred any settlement of the issue,
fearing that they would be left with the sole responsibility for feeding
and housing the German people. The only agreement that could be reached was
to refer the issue to a new tripartite commission. Thus, at just the moment
when consensus on a policy to deal with their common enemy was most urgent,
the Allies found themselves empty handed, allowing conflict and
misunderstanding over another central question to join the already existing
problems over Eastern Europe.
Directly related to each of these issues, particularly the German
question, was the problem of postwar economic reconstruction. The issue
seemed particularly important to those Americans concerned about the
postwar economy in the United States. Almost every business and political
leader feared resumption of mass unemployment once the war ended. Only the
development of new markets, extensive trade, and worldwide economic
cooperation could prevent such an eventuality. "The capitalistic system is
essentially an international system," one official declared. "If it cannot
function internationally, it will break down completely." The Atlantic
Charter had taken such a viewpoint into account when it declared that all
states should enjoy access, on equal terms, to "the raw materials of the
world which are needed for their economic prosperity."
To promote these objectives, the United States took the initiative at
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944 by creating a World Bank with a
capitalization of $7.6 billion and the International Monetary Fund with a
capitalization of $7.3 billion. The two organizations would provide funds
for rebuilding Europe, as well as for stabilizing world currency. Since the
United States was the major contributor, it would exercise decisive control
over how the money was spent. The premise underlying both organizations was
that a stable world required healthy economies based on free trade.
Attitudes toward economic reconstruction had direct import for postwar
policies toward Germany and Eastern Europe. It would be difficult to have a
stable European economy without a significant industrial base in Germany.
Pastoral countries of small farms rarely possessed the wherewithal to
become customers of large capitalist enterprises. On the other hand, a
prosperous German economy, coupled with access to markets in Eastern and
Western Europe, offered the prospect of avoiding a recurrence of depression
and guaranteed a significant American presence in European politics as
well. Beyond this, of course, it was thought that if democracy was to
survive, as it had not after 1918, countries needed a thriving economy.
Significantly, economic aid also offered the opportunity either to
enhance or diminish America's ties to the Soviet Union. Averell Harriman,
the American ambassador to Moscow after October 1943, had engaged in
extensive business dealings with the Soviet Union during the 1920S and
believed firmly in the policy of providing American assistance to rebuild
the Soviet economy. Such aid, Harriman argued, "would be in the self-
interest of the United States" because it would help keep Americans at work
producing goods needed by the Russians. Just as important, it would provide
"one of the most effective weapons to avoid the development of a sphere of
influence of the Soviet Union over eastern Europe and the Balkans."
Proceeding on these assumptions, Harriman urged the Russians to apply
for American aid. They did so, initially, in December 1943 with a request
for a $1 billion loan at an interest rate of one-half of 1 percent, then
again in January 1945 with a request for a $6 billion loan at an interest
rate of 2.25 percent. Throughout this period, American officials appeared
to encourage the Soviet initiative. Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau
had come up with his own plan for a $10 billion loan at 2 percent interest.
When Chamber of Commerce head Eric Johnson visited Moscow, Stalin told him:
"I like to do business with American businessmen. You fellows know what you
want. Your word is good, and, best of all, you stay in office a long
timeójust like we do over here." So enthusiastic were some State Department
officials about postwar economic arrangements that they predicted exports
of as much as $1 billion a year to Russia. Molotov and Mikoyan encouraged
such optimism, with the Soviets promising "a voluminous and stable market
such as no other customer would ever [offer]."
As the European war drew to a close, however, the American attitude
shifted from one of eager encouragement to skeptical detachment. Harriman
and his aides in Moscow perceived a toughening of the Soviet position on
numerous issues, including Poland and Eastern Europe. Hence, they urged the
United States to clamp down on lend-lease and exact specific concessions
from the Russians in return for any ongoing aid. Only if the Soviets
"played the international game with us in accordance with our standards,"
Harriman declared, should the United States offer assistance. By April
1945, Harriman had moved to an even more hard-line position. "We must
clearly recognize," he said, "that the Soviet program is the establishment
of totalitarianism, ending personal liberty and democracy." A week later he
urged the State Department to view the Soviet loan request with great
suspicion. "Our basic interest," he cabled, "might better be served by
increasing our trade with other parts of the world rather than giving
preference to the Soviet Union as a source of supply."
Congress and the American people, meanwhile, seemed to be turning
against postwar economic aid. A public opinion poll in December 1944 showed
that 70 percent of the American people believed the Allies should repay
their lend-lease debt in full. Taking up the cry for fiscal restraint,
Senator Arthur Vandenberg told a friend: "We have a rich country, but it is
not rich enough to permit us to support the world." Fearful about postwar
recession and the possibility that American funds would be used for
purposes it did not approve, Congress placed severe constraints on
continuation of any lend-lease support once the war was over and indicated
that any request for a postwar loan would encounter profound skepticism.
Roosevelt's response, in the face of such attitudes, was once again to
procrastinate. Throughout the entire war he had ardently espoused a
generous and flexible lend-lease policy toward the Soviet Union. For the
most part, FDR appeared to endorse Secretary Morgenthau's attitude that "to
get the Russians to do something [we] should ... do it nice. . . . Don't
drive such a hard bargain that when you come through it does not taste
good." Consistent with that attitude, he had rejected Harriman's advice to
demand quid pro quos for American lend-lease. Economic aid, he declared,
did not "constitute a bargaining weapon of any strength," particularly
since curtailing lend-lease would harm the United States as much as it
would injure the Russians. Nevertheless, Roosevelt accepted a policy of
postponement on any discussion of postwar economic arrangements. "I think
it's very important," the president declared, "that we hold back and don't
give [Stalin] any promise until we get what we want." Clearly, the amount
of American aid to the Soviet Unionóand the attitude which accompanied that
aidó could be decisive to the future of American-Soviet relations. Yet in
thisóas in so many other issuesóRoosevelt gave little hint of the ultimate
direction he would take, creating one more dimension of uncertainty amidst
the gathering confusion that surrounded postwar international arrangements.
The final issue around which the Cold War revolved was that of the
atomic bomb. Development of nuclear weapons not only placed in human hands
the power to destroy all civilization, but presented as well the critical
question of how such weapons would be used, who would control them, and
what possibilities existed for harnessing the incalculable energy of the
atom for the purpose of international peace and cooperation rather than
destruction. No issue, ultimately, would be more important for human
survival. On the other hand, the very nature of having to build the A-bomb
in a world threatened by Hitler's madness mandated a secrecy that seriously
impeded, from the beginning, the prospects for cooperation and
international control.
The divisive potential of the bomb became evident as soon as Albert
Einstein disclosed to Roosevelt the frightening information that physicists
had the capacity to split the atom. Knowing that German scientists were
also pursuing the same quest, Roosevelt immediately ordered a crash program
of research and development on the bomb, soon dubbed the "Manhattan
Project." British scientists embarked on a similar effort, collaborating
with their American colleagues. The bomb, one British official noted,
"would be a terrific factor in the postwar world . . . giving an absolute
control to whatever country possessed the secret." Although American
advisors urged "restricted interchange" of atomic energy information,
Churchill demanded and got full cooperation. If the British and the
Americans worked together, however, what of the Soviet Union once it became
an ally?
In a decision fraught with significance for the future, Roosevelt and
Churchill agreed in Quebec in August 1943 to a "full exchange of
information" about the bomb with "[neither] of us [to] communicate any
information about [the bomb] to third parties except by mutual consent."
The decision ensured Britain's future interests as a world power and
guaranteed maximum secrecy; but it did so in a manner that would almost
inevitably provoke Russian suspicion about the intentions of her two major
The implications of the decision were challenged just one month later
when Neils Bohr, a nuclear physicist who had escaped from Nazi-occupied
Denmark, approached Roosevelt (indirectly through Felix Frankfurter) with
the proposal that the British and Americans include Russia in their plans.
Adopting a typically Rooseveltian stance, the president both encouraged
Bohr to believe that he was "most eager to explore" the possibility of
cooperation and almost simultaneously reaffirmed his commitment to an
exclusive British-American monopoly over atomic information. Meeting
personally with Bohr on August 26, 1944, Roosevelt agreed that "contact
with the Soviet Union should be tried along the lines that [you have]
suggested." Yet in the meantime, Roosevelt and Churchill had signed a new
agreement to control available supplies of uranium and had authorized
surveillance of Bohr "to insure that he is responsible for no leakage of
information, particularly to the Russians." Evidently, Roosevelt hoped to
keep open the possibility of cooperating with the Sovietsóassuming that
Bohr would somehow communicate this to the Russiansówhile retaining, until
the moment was right, an exclusive relationship with Britain. Implicit in
Roosevelt's posture was the notion that sharing atomic information might be
a quid pro quo for future Soviet concessions. On the surface, such an
argument made sense. Yet it presumed that the two sides were operating on
the same set of assumptions and perceptionsóclearly not a very safe
presumption. In this, as in so many other matters, Roosevelt appears to
have wanted to retain all options until the end. Indeed, a meeting to
discuss the sharing of atomic information was scheduled for the day FDR was
to return from Warm Springs, Georgia. The meeting never took place, leaving
one more pivotal issue of contention unresolved as the war drew to a close.


Given the nature of the personalities and the nations involved, it was
perhaps not surprising that, as the war drew to an end, virtually none of
the critical issues on the agenda of postwar relationships had been
resolved. Preferring to postpone decisions rather than to confront the full
dimension of the conflicts that existed, FDR evidently hoped that his own
political genius, plus the exigencies of postwar conditions, would pave the
way for a mutual accommodation that would somehow satisfy both America's
commitment to a world of free trade and democratic rule, and the Soviet
Union's obsession with national security and safely defined spheres of
influence. The Russians, in turn, also appeared content to wait, in the
meantime working militarily to secure maximum leverage for achieving their
sphere-of-influence goals. What neither leader nor nation realized,
perhaps, was that in their delay and scheming they were adding fuel to the
fire of suspicion that clearly existed between them and possibly missing
the only opportunity that might occur to forge the basis for mutual
accommodation and coexistence.

For nearly half a century, the country had functioned within a
political world shaped by the Cold War and controlled by a passionate
anticommunism that used the Kremlin as its primary foil. Not only did the
Cold War define America's stance in the world, dictating foreign policy
choices from Southeast Asia to Latin-America; it defined the contours of
domestic politics as well. No group could secure legitimacy for its
political ideas if they were critical of American foreign policy,
sympathetic in any way to "socialism," or vulnerable to being dismissed as
"leftist" or as "soft on communism." From national health insurance to day
care centers for children, domestic policies suffered from the crippling
paralysis created by a national fixation with the Soviet Union.
Now, it seemed likely that the Cold War would no longer exist as the
pivot around which all American politics revolved. However much politicians
were unaccustomed to talking about anything without anti-communism as a
reference point, it now seemed that they would have to look afresh at
problems long since put aside because they could not be dealt with in a
world controlled by Cold War alliances.
In some ways, America seemed to face the greatest moment of possibility
in all of postwar history as the decade of the 1990s began. So much
positive change had already occurred in the years since World War IIóthe
material progress, the victories against discrimination, the new horizons
that had opened for education and creativity. But so much remained to be
done as well in a country where homelessness, poverty, and drug addiction
reflected the abiding strength that barriers of race, class, and gender
retained in blocking people's quest for a decent life.
Cold War - is the term used to describe the intense rivalry
that developed after World War II between groups of
Communist and non-Communist nations/ On one side
were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
and its Communist allies, often referred to as the
Eastern bloc. On the other side were the United
States and its democratic allies, usually referred
to as the Western bloc. The struggle was called the
Cold War because it did not actually lead to
fighting, or "hot" war, on a wide scale.
Iron Curtain - was the popular phrase, which Churchill made to
refer to Soviet barriers against the West. Behind
these barriers, the USSR steadily expanded its
Marshall Plan - encouraged European nations to work together for
economic recovery after World War II (1939-1945) /
In June 1947, the United States agreed to administer
aid to Europe in the countries would meet to decide
what they needed/ The official name of the plane was
the European Recovery Program. It is called the
Marshall Plane because Secretary of the State George
C. Marshall first suggested it.
Potsdam Conference -was the last meeting among the Leaders of Great
Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States,
during World War II. The conference was held at
Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin. It opened in July 17,
1945, about two months after Germany's defeat in the
war. Present at the opening were U.S. President
Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill, and the Soviet Premier Josef Stalin.
Yalta Conference - was one of the most important meetings of key
Allied Leaders during World War II. These Leaders
were President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United
States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great
Britain, and Premier Josef Stalin of the Soviet
Union. Their countries became known as the "Big
Three". The conference took place at Yalta, a famous
Black Sea resort in the Crimea, from Feb. 4 to 11,
1945. Through the years decisions made there
regarding divisions in Europe have stirred bitter
The reference list.
1. William H. Chafe
"The Unfinished Journey: America since World War II" New York Oxford,
Oxford University press, 1991.
2. David Caute "The Great Fear", 1978
3. Michael Belknap "Cold War Political Justice", 1977
4. Allen D. Harper "The politics of Loyalty", 1959
5. Robert Griffin "The politics of Fear", 1970
6. James Wechler "The Age Suspicion" 1980
7. Alistair Cooke "A Generation on Trial", 1950
8. An outline of American History
9. World Book
10. Henry Borovik "Cold War", 1997

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