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To what extent had a Cold War began by July 1945?

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Introduction

´╗┐To what extent had a Cold War began by July 1945? The most turbulent period in diplomatic history, when the world edged on the brink of annihilation, the Cold War was one unlike any other. According to Sewell, ?the Cold War was a bundle of contradictions....an agglomeration of circumstances that will not easily be repeated?; yet rather than an agglomeration of circumstances, Cold War tensions festered in an atmosphere of mutual suspicion, and any possibility of countering these was proved unattainable due to the actions of individuals involved. It was, in the opinion of Gaddis, ?the first time personalities shaped the course of Russian-American relations?. Existing tension between democratic America and Tsarist Russia heightened after the 1917 Russian Revolution, where a symbolic basis for the conflict between Communism and Capitalism was first rendered, but in practice ideological motivations did not cause the Cold War. Diplomatic relations improved throughout the thirties, crucially showing an ability for the Soviet Union and USA to co-exist without active conflict and even without animosity. Yet in the build-up to WWII and in the events that followed, mutual suspicion and a lack of communication combined with the effects of Stalin?s conduct in Poland, namely the Katyn Massacre and Warsaw Uprising, countered any goodwill created through the wartime alliance. This continued through the ensuing peace talks, and with the negotiation team drastically changing thanks to the death of Roosevelt and the voting out of Churchill, and with the unconstructive and uncompromising attitude of American replacement Truman, conflict between the two countries that had emerged as world superpowers had not begun in any active form, but, by July 1945, was inevitable. ...read more.

Middle

Both nations at this time were acutely vulnerable; the USA was deeply distrustful of most people and places, something Sewell justifies with the unanticipated attack on Pearl Harbor and ?the feeling that this generation of Americans must never be caught unaware again?. The Soviets meanwhile, were land-grabbing their way across Europe in ?a persistent quest for security through territory?. Although war time cooperation didn?t nullify all that had passed before then, it did increase the good feeling between them, and it didn?t need to make conflict inevitable; it would have been possible even at this stage to return to their pre-war non-obtrusive tradition if not for the individual actions of leaders during peace talks. Gaddis posed the question ?could they liberate their nations? futures from a difficult past?? ? the leaders? actions answered ?no?. During the peace talks at Tehran, many compromises were reached over the fate of Germany; the Allies were still united against the enemy and Gaddis asserts that ?there seemed to be no reason to doubt that a long-term agreement could now be negotiated?. Yet they failed to make any real progress on other issues vital for the development of a post-war world without war; this postponing of major issues, and placating, particularly on the part of Roosevelt with regards to Stalin, was especially dangerous as the Russian leader began to think of the west as acquiescing to him. The delay of D-Day was an especially significant turning point, marking the increase once more in mutual suspicion as Stalin was frustrated with the burden being levied on Russia of fighting ...read more.

Conclusion

rather an amalgamation of tensions that can be observed as they bring conflict to a head so that furtive actions are not only inevitable but readily occurring. However, as the Potsdam conference didn?t finish until August, and thereby the USA and the USSR were still talking and communicating directly, the cold war could not have begun in July 1945. Further to this, the tension that existed between the big three had not yet spread globally as it should do for a cold war, and neither had proxies been engaged in an active conflict. Stalin and his actions in Poland ?laid the foundations for a resistance that would grow and not fade in time? in the words of Gaddis, something exacerbated by Truman and the evaporation of wartime spirit to result in the cold war. Although WWII was vital in allowing the superpowers to emerge, it didn?t cause the inevitability of the cold war; rather, it was their interactions. The origins of the Soviet-American cold war stem from a desire on the part of both sides for security, yet miscommunications and suspicion led the two nations to misconstrue the others intentions; namely, the basis for the conflict was a human misgiving rather than an ideological dichotomy. Despite the possibility for the USA and USSR to co-exist peacefully, in the aftermath of WWII, what occurred instead was the drawing of an iron curtain, the beginning of a space race, the rapid development of two devastatingly strong nuclear arsenals; the cold war, which was, by the end of July 1945, an inevitable fate. Ciara Lally 05.12.2010 ...read more.

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