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Are the origins of the Cold War to be found entirely after World War 2?

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Introduction

ENH Essay Subject: Are the origins of the Cold War to be found entirely after World War 2? The Cold War can be summed up as a lengthy period of high tension and rivalry between the two world dominating superpowers, the USA and USSR, although they never were involved into direct conflict. Starting around 1950, the Cold War kept all mankind and society on the brink of mass destruction for the best part of half a century, ending finally in 1990 with the collapse of the USSR as an empire and global superpower. The origins of the Cold War itself stem mainly from the end of the Second World War, when the two superpowers emerged victorious from the ashes of Europe and both looked to seize the advantage in gaining control in Europe. When the atomic bomb and the advent of long-range military technologies greatly increased the chance of hostilities between the two states, the fact that they occupied opposite sides of the globe became less of a barrier to potential conflict. The origins of the friction and disharmony between the two states, which served as a prelude to the Cold War disunity, can be traced back to the First World War. The War, the Russian revolution and the Russian civil war brought the armies of the two powers together for the first time, and paved the way for a continuing struggle for mutual survival, influence and dominance. Yet, origins of this war are mostly found both during the Second World War and the period following the end of the war. ...read more.

Middle

By January of 1949, Truman called for an even broader pact which eventually would involve the United States, Canada and ten European nations. The North Atlantic Treaty was eventually signed the 4th April 1949. NATO was created with the sole aim of protecting Europe from Soviet aggression, "to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law." There were two main features of the Treaty. First, the United States made a firm commitment to protect and defend Europe. As stated in the Treaty, "an armed attack against one shall be considered an attack against all." Second, the United States would indeed honour its commitment to defend Europe. So in 1950, Truman selected Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) as the Supreme Commander of NATO forces. Four United States divisions were stationed in Europe to serve as the nucleus of NATO forces. For Western Europe, NATO provided a much-needed shelter of security behind which economic recovery could take place. In a way, NATO was the political counterpart of the Marshall Plan which will be evoked in more details later. For the United States, NATO signified that the United States could no longer remain isolated from European affairs. Indeed, NATO meant that European affairs were now American affairs as well. The western alliance embodied in NATO had the effect of escalating the cold war. Historians are pretty much agreed. This organism was created by an over-reaction of the western world to what they perceived to be Soviet aggression. ...read more.

Conclusion

America's direct and the USSR's indirect involvement in this war for the first time put to the test this new global system, where all wars fought from this point on would involve either or both of the superpowers, with the threat of nuclear holocaust always just over the horizon. In conclusion, it can be said that the true origin of the Cold War can be traced back to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution which saw the appearance of communism, ideology which would inevitably clash with Western capitalism. Yet, the more concrete causes of the Cold War occurred after the end of the Second World War, mainly with the policies followed by the USA which overreacted towards the Soviet threat: the Containment policy, shown through the creation of the NATO, the Truman Doctrine, or the Marshall Plan, all contributed to make the Communists feel insecure about the Western fear of them. Yet, traces of what was going to turn out with the Cold War were already seen during World War 2. Indeed, the wartime strategies and alliance of the two super-powers prove not to have been very efficient as no real coordination between the two forces was really reached, each power fighting on its own side. Moreover, most American strategies appeared to be approaches which with it attempted to cripple as much as possible communism with the outcome of the war. So overall, it can be assumed that most important causes to the origin of the Cold War were seen after the Second World War, but not entirely as the way to this roots were paved by events which were seen both during and before this war. 4 1/4 Cedric CHAMOIN Tale S5 ...read more.

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