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Диплом: 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                               
     Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War.                              5
     1.1 The Historical Context.
     1.2 Causes and Interpretations.
     Chapter 2: The Cold War Chronology.                                                    
     2.1 The War Years.
     2.2 The Truman Doctrine.
     2.3 The Marshall Plan.
     Chapter 3: The Role of Cold War in American History and Diplomacy.          37
     3.1 Declaration of the Cold War.
     3.2 Сold War Issues.
     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 events.
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
This graduation paper consist of three chapters. The first chapter maintain
the historical documents which comment the origins of the Cold War.
The second chapter maintain information about the most popular Cold War's
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
freedom—freedom 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 war—and formulated
their foreign policy—threatened 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 action— by
individuals or groups—could 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 view—based in large part on the rhetoric of
Stalin and Lenin—world 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 hypothesis—argued by some American revisionist
historians—contends 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 markets—big markets—around 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 system—not Soviet
commitment to world revolu­tion—that made the Cold War unavoidable.
Still a third version of the inevitability hypothesis—partly based on the
first two—would 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
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"—sufficient 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
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 imposing—without regard for democratic
appearances—total 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 policy—albeit with some modifications to satisfy American
political opinion—there 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 him­self—just before his death—was
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. Perhaps—just perhaps—Roosevelt 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 Truman—namely, 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 planned—in a very Machiavellian way—to 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 different—albeit politically
risky— 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
president—however much rooted in self-interest—have 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 think—in light of initial Soviet
acceptance of Western-style govern­ments in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and
Finland—that 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
imple­mented—security for the Russians, some measure of pluralism in Eastern
European countries for the United States, and economic interchange between
the two blocs—it 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 president—in order to secure
domestic political support—to 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
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 imagination."
But for more than a generation, that image would shape American life and
world politics. The price was astronomical—and perhaps— 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 war—sixty 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
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 25—one 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
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
Yet the disputes over lend-lease proved minor compared to the issue of a
second front—what 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
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
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 countries.
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 even—after much
difficulty—appearing 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 people—very 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 plans—for domestic political reasons—as
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 politics—informed by thirty-five years of skilled
practice—involved 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 war."
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 Japan.
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 surren­dered—and two weeks after the
Truman-Molotov confrontation—America 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 Churchill—with Truman at his side—responded 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 understand—how 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 1945—46 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 monopoly—and in a dominant position—until 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 predictable—the 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 Iran—under
considerable pressure—and 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 —in 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 aides.
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
industry—something 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
Europe—plus their allies in developing coun­tries—must 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
reasons—preservation 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 would—like Acheson—have to
"scare hell" out of the American people.
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 concern—not just self-
interest— 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 tryanny—not taking sides in a civil war— 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 walnut— the Marshall Plan of massive
economic support to rebuild Western Europe. Britain, France, Germany, Italy,
Belgium—all 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 Italy—and perhaps France—would
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 defeat.
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 world."
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 considerations."
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 situation."
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 Poles.
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 time.
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, Roosevelt—in
effect—adopted 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 time—just 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 Union—and the
attitude which accompanied that aid— could be decisive to the future of
American-Soviet relations. Yet in this—as in so many other issues—Roosevelt
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 allies.
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 Soviets—assuming that Bohr would somehow communicate this to the
Russians—while 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
perceptions—clearly 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 II—the 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 power.
     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 debates.
     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