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Guest Loco Mo Mo

Origins of Cold War: quick clarification

Hi,

I'm basically doing a plan for the origins of the Cold War and all the textbooks I have give different causes. But I've managed to get it down to 3 main ones:

WW2 - breakdown of the allies and stuff

A difference in ideologies

Fear

I just wanted to know if there were any other important ones I should consider and note.

Thank you :)

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Soviet postwar policy in Germany and Eastern Europe could also be considered an important factor.

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Heya,

you might want to first define what the "Cold War" is and it would essentially boil down to about 4 main issues:

1) Difference in ideology

2) Superpower rivalry

3) Formation of rival blocs

4) (which would become more apparent later on) indirect conflict

It is true that fear does drive the parties to action but the fear itself can be subsumed under the "difference in ideology". Same goes for the breakdown of the Grand Alliance which is in turn driven by mistrust and fear. Another thing to note about wartime tensions is that by itself it laid the foundations but DID NOT start the Cold War. You must bring in the subsequent post-war events in order to show how the development of the tensions would eventually bring about the realisation of the Cold War between USA and USSR.

The appearance of these issues could be seen though the Yalta & Potsdam conferences, Sovietization of Eastern Europe, Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, Baruch Plan, 1st Berlin Crisis, formation of NATO and later the Warsaw Pact. Your job then is to argue which of these events would prove to be the most critical in building Cold War tensions (as defined the 4 issues)

However, if the essay question does not ask which event was the most critical in contributing towards the outbreak of the Cold War, you will then need to consider the 4 School of Thoughts - Traditionalists/Orthodox, Revisionists, Post-Revisionists and Post '91 Revisionists. This approach will then require you to analyse the complex relations between USA & USSR especially their actions and counter-reactions (i.e. formulation of Marshall Plan was in response to the growing Soviet influence in Eastern Europe)

Hope this helps

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Look up: "Alexis de Tocqueville"- a french political thinker. He wrote the following prophetic words in 1835:

"There are at present times two great nations in the world... I allude to the Russians and the Americans...Their starting point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe."

Coincidence much? At this point in time Communism was not even an existing word. Therefore ideology may be discarded. Is it not an indication that the powers are simply expansive, despite beliefs and ideas?

Also, take into account the role of individuals- Stalin, for example. Many of his policies coupled with the Soviet totalitarianist government drew the West into hostility. Much of his actions aim for personal security and self-interest, rather than being motivated by the idea of "world revolution". Gaddis is a good historian to look into regarding the post-revisionist school of thinking.

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But be sure to distinguish Gaddis's Post-Revisionist and his Post '91 Revisionist arguments. Melvyn Leffer looks into Post-Revisionist as well so it would be interesting to look up on his works as well.

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In addition to all the points mentioned, you can also talk about how Keenan's "Long Telegram" and Churchill's "Fulton Speech" definitely led to the development of the Cold War although they took place in 1946.

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Compare Orthodox (eg. George Kenan Long Telegram), Revisionist (eg. W.A Williams) and Post Revisionist (eg. Melvyn Leffler). You do not need LOTS of historians for the Paper 2, u just need several good historians to discuss. EG. kenan argues that Soviet Union is driven by ideological + security issues. However, Revisionists such as Williams argues aggressive US security policies such as Marshall+Truman Doctrine as well as the amalgamation of the 4 allied zones is an example of US aggression and that Americans forced on Marshall plan regardless of self-determination (You can add US start aiding french against Vietnam). Then in revisionist, remember that it's a basic combination of Orthodox+revisionist (look up Leffler) think about Soviet position was geared for own security not just expanding for no reason (Poland and Germany in the context of Yalta and Potsdam) You also must discuss how SU's policy was quite dangerous to US and that it had endangered US. However, US NSC-68 may not have been totally necessary since SU did back down at Berlin BLockade (Part of leffler's argument).

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do you guys think I'm putting myself at too much of a risk if I don't study the Cold War?

I don't know anything about it so I don't really see a point in starting now :-S

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well i don't want to be discouraging but yeah its kind of too late now. as long as you can do two topics it should be okay!

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