Cold War

Cold War

Ministry of education, science and culture

High College of English

Graduation Paper

on theme:

U.S. - Soviet relations.

Student: Pavlunina I.V.

Supervisor: Kolpakov A. V.

Bishkek 2000


Introduction. 3

Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War. 5

1.1 The Historical Context. 5

1.2 Causes and Interpretations. 10

Chapter 2: The Cold War Chronology. 17

2.1 The War Years. 17

2.2 The Truman Doctrine. 25

2.3 The Marshall Plan. 34

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

3.1 Declaration of the Cold War. 37

3.2 old War Issues. 40

Conclusion. 49

Glossary. 50

The reference list.



This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War

period. Our purpose is to find out the causes of this war, positions of the

countries which took part in it. We also will discuss the main Cold War's


The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust, suspicion and

misunderstanding by both the United States and Soviet Union, and their

allies. At times, these conditions increased the likelihood of the third

world war. The United States accused the USSR of seeking to expand

Communism throughout the world. The Soviets, meanwhile, charged the United

States with practicing imperialism and with attempting to stop

revolutionary activity in other countries. Each block's vision of the world

contributed to East-West tension. The United States wanted a world of

independent nations based on democratic principles. The Soviet Union,

however, tried control areas it considered vital to its national interest,

including much of Eastern Europe.

Through the Cold War did not begin until the end of World War II, in

1945, U.S.-Soviet relations had been strained since 1917. In that year, a

revolution in Russia established a Communist dictatorship there. During the

1920's and 1930's, the Soviets called for world revolution and the

destruction of capitalism, the economic system of United States. The United

States did not grant diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union until 1933.

In 1941, during World War II, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The

Soviet Union then joined the Western Allies in fighting Germany. For a time

early in 1945, it seemed possible that a lasting friendship might develop

between the United States and Soviet Union based on their wartime

cooperation. However, major differences continued to exist between the two,

particularly with regard to Eastern Europe. As a result of these

differences, the United States adopted a "get tough" policy toward the

Soviet Union after the war ended. The Soviets responded by accusing the

United States and the other capitalist allies of the West of seeking to

encircle the Soviet Union so they could eventually overthrow its Communist

form of government.

The subject of Cold War interests American historicans and journalists

as well as Russian ones. In particular, famous journalist Henryh Borovik

fraces this topic in his book. He analyzes the events of Cold War from the

point of view of modern Russian man. With appearing of democracy and

freedom of speech we could free ourselves from past stereotype in

perception of Cold War's events as well as America as a whole, we also

learnt something new about American people's real life and personality. A

new developing stage of relations with the United States has begun with the

collapse of the Soviet Union on independent states. And in order to direct

these relations in the right way it is necessary to study events of Cold

War very carefully and try to avoid past mistakes. Therefore this subject

is so much popular in our days.

This graduation paper consist of three chapters. The first chapter

maintain the historical documents which comment the origins of the Cold


The second chapter maintain information about the most popular Cold

War's events.

The third chapter analyze the role of Cold War in World policy and

diplomacy. The chapter also adduce the Cold War issues.

Chapter 1: The Historical Background of Cold War.

1.1 The Historical Context.

The animosity of postwar Soviet-American relations drew on a deep

reservoir of mutual distrust. Soviet suspicion of the United States went

back to America's hostile reaction to the Bolshevik revolution itself. At

the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had sent more than ten

thousand American soldiers as part of an expeditionary allied force to

overthrow the new Soviet regime by force. When that venture failed, the

United States nevertheless withheld its recognition of the Soviet

government. Back in the United States, meanwhile, the fear of Marxist

radicalism reached an hysterical pitch with the Red Scare of 1919-20.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer ordered government agents to arrest

3,000 purported members of the Communist party, and then attempted to

deport them. American attitudes toward the seemed encapsulated in the

comments of one minister who called for the removal of communists in "ships

of stone with sails of lead, with the wrath of God for a breeze and with

hell for their first port."

American attitudes toward the Soviet Union, in turn, reflected profound

concern about Soviet violation of human rights, democratic procedures, and

international rules of civility. With brutal force, Soviet leaders had

imposed from above a revolution of agricultural collectivization and

industrialization. Millions had died as a consequence of forced removal

from their lands. Anyone who protested was killed or sent to one of the

hundreds of prison camps which, in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's words,

stretched across the Soviet Union like a giant archipelago. What kind of

people were these, one relative of a prisoner asked, "who first decreed and

then carried out this mass destruction of their own kind?" Furthermore,

Soviet foreign policy seemed committed to the spread of revolution to other

countries, with international coordination of subversive activities placed

in the hands of the Comintern. It was difficult to imagine two more

different societies.

For a brief period after the United States granted diplomatic

recognition to the Soviet Union in 1933, a new spirit of cooperation

prevailed. But by the end of the 1930s suspicion and alienation had once

again become dominant. From a Soviet perspective, the United States seemed

unwilling to join collectively to oppose the Japanese and German menace. On

two occasions, the United States had refused to act in concert against Nazi

Germany. When Britain and France agreed at Munich to appease Adolph Hitler,

the Soviets gave up on any possibility of allied action against Germany and

talked of a capitalist effort to encircle and destroy the Soviet regime.

Yet from a Western perspective, there seemed little basis for

distinguishing between Soviet tyranny and Nazi totalitarianism. Between

1936 and 1938 Stalin engaged in his own holocaust, sending up to 6 million

Soviet citizens to their deaths in massive purge trials. Stalin "saw

enemies everywhere," his daughter later recalled, and with a vengeance

frightening in its irrationality, sought to destroy them. It was an "orgy

of terror," one historian said. Diplomats saw high officials tapped on the

shoulder in public places, removed from circulation, and then executed.

Foreigners were subject to constant surveillance. It was as if, George

Kennan noted, outsiders were representatives of "the devil, evil and

dangerous, and to be shunned."

On the basis of such experience, many Westerners concluded that Hitler

and Stalin were two of a kind, each reflecting a blood-thirsty obsession

with power no matter what the cost to human decency. "Nations, like

individuals," Kennan said in 1938, "are largely the products of their

environment." As Kennan perceived it, the Soviet personality was neurotic,

conspiratorial, and untrustworthy. Such impressions were only reinforced

when Stalin suddenly announced a nonaggression treaty with Hitler in August

1939, and later that year invaded the small, neutral state of Finland. It

seemed that Stalin and Hitler deserved each other. Hence, the reluctance of

some to change their attitudes toward the Soviet Union when suddenly, in

June 1941, Germany invaded Russia and Stalin became "Uncle Joe."

Compounding the problem of historical distrust was the different way in

which the two nations viewed foreign policy. Ever since John Winthrop had

spoken of Boston in 1630 as "a city upon a hill" that would serve as a

beacon for the world, Americans had tended to see themselves as a chosen

people with a distinctive mission to impart their faith and values to the

rest of humankind. Although all countries attempt to put the best face

possible on their military and diplomatic actions, Americans have seemed

more committed than most to describing their involvement in the world as

pure and altruistic. Hence, even ventures like the Mexican War of 1846 - 48

- clearly provoked by the United States in an effort to secure huge land

masses - were defended publicly as the fulfillment of a divine mission to

extend American democracy to those deprived of it.

Reliance on the rhetoric of moralism was never more present than during

America's involvement in World War I. Despite its official posture of

neutrality, the United States had a vested interest in the victory of

England and France over Germany. America's own military security, her trade

lines with England and France, economic and political control over Latin

America and South America - all would best be preserved if Germany were

defeated. Moreover, American banks and munition makers had invested

millions of dollars in the allied cause. Nevertheless, the issue of

national self-interest rarely if ever surfaced in any presidential

statement during the war. Instead, U.S. rhetoric presented America's

position as totally idealistic in nature. The United States entered the

war, President Wilson declared, not for reasons of economic self-interest,

but to "make the world safe for democracy." Our purpose was not to restore

a balance of power in Europe, but to fight a war that would "end all wars"

and produce "a peace without victory." Rather than seek a sphere of

influence for American power, the United States instead declared that it

sought to establish a new form of internationalism based on self-

determination for all peoples, freedom of the seas, the end of all economic

barriers between nations, and development of a new international order

based on the principles of democracy.

America's historic reluctance to use arguments of self-interest as a

basis for foreign policy undoubtedly reflected a belief that, in a

democracy, people would not support foreign ventures inconsistent with

their own sense of themselves as a noble and just country. But the

consequences were to limit severely the flexibility necessary to a

multifaceted and effective diplomacy, and to force national leaders to

invoke moral - even religious - idealism as a basis for actions that might

well fall short of the expectations generated by moralistic visions.

The Soviet Union, by contrast, operated with few such constraints.

Although Soviet pronouncements on foreign policy tediously invoked the

rhetoric of capitalist imperialism, abstract principles meant far less than

national self-interest in arriving at foreign policy positions. Every

action that the Soviet Union had taken since the Bolshevik revolution, from

the peace treaty with the Kaiser to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact and Russian

occupation of the Baltic states reflected this policy of self-interest. As

Stalin told British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden during the war, "a

declaration I regard as algebra ... I prefer practical arithmetic." Or, as

the Japanese ambassador to Moscow later said, "the Soviet authorities are

extremely realistic and it is most difficult to persuade them with abstract

arguments." Clearly, both the United States and the Soviet Union saw

foreign policy as involving a combination of self-interest and ideological

principle. Yet the history of the two countries suggested that principle

was far more a consideration in the formulation of American foreign policy,

while self-interest-purely defined-controlled Soviet actions.

The difference became relevant during the 1930s as Franklin Roosevelt

attempted to find some way to move American public opinion back to a spirit

of internationalism. After World War I, Americans had felt betrayed by the

abandonment of Wilsonian principles. Persuaded that the war itself

represented a mischievous conspiracy by munitions makers and bankers to get

America involved, Americans had preferred to opt for isolation and

"normalcy" rather than participate in the ambiguities of what so clearly

appeared to be a corrupt international order. Now, Roosevelt set out to

reverse those perceptions. He understood the dire consequences of Nazi

ambitions for world hegemony. Yet to pose the issue strictly as one of self-

interest offered little chance of success given the depth of America's

revulsion toward internationalism. The task of education was immense. As

time went on, Roosevelt relied more and more on the traditional moral

rhetoric of American values as a means of justifying the international

involvement that he knew must inevitably lead to war. Thus, throughout the

1930s he repeatedly discussed Nazi aggression as a direct threat to the

most cherished American beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion,

and freedom of occupational choice. When German actions corroborated the

president's simple words, the opportunity presented itself for carrying the

nation toward another great crusade on behalf of democracy, freedom, and

peace. Roosevelt wished to avoid the errors of Wilsonian overstatement, but

he understood the necessity of generating moral fervor as a means of moving

the nation toward the intervention he knew to be necessary if both

America's self-interest-and her moral principles-were to be preserved.

The Atlantic Charter represented the embodiment of Roosevelt's quest

for moral justification of American involvement. Presented to the world

after the president and Prime Minister Churchill met off the coast of

Newfoundland in the summer of 1941, the Charter set forth the common goals

that would guide America over the next few years. There would be no secret

commitments, the President said. Britain and America sought no territorial

aggrandizement. They would oppose any violation of the right to self-

government for all peoples. They stood for open trade, free exchange of

ideas, freedom of worship and expression, and the creation of an

international organization to preserve and protect future peace. This would

be a war fought for freedomfreedom 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

warand formulated their foreign policythreatened 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 groupscould 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 viewbased in large part on the

rhetoric of Stalin and Leninworld 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 hypothesisargued by some American

revisionist historianscontends 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 marketsbig

marketsaround 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 systemnot Soviet commitment to world

revolutionthat made the Cold War unavoidable.

Still a third version of the inevitability hypothesispartly based on

the first twowould insist that historical differences between the two

superpowers and their systems of government made any efforts toward postwar

cooperation almost impossible. Russia had always been deeply suspicious of

the West, and under Stalin that suspicion had escalated into paranoia, with

Soviet leaders fearing that any opening of channels would ultimately

destroy their own ability to retain total mastery over the Russian people.

The West's failure to implement early promises of a second front and the

subsequent divisions of opinion over how to treat occupied territory had

profoundly strained any possible basis of trust. From an American

perspective, in turn, it stretched credibility to expect a nation committed

to human rights to place confidence in a ruthless dictator, who in one

Yugoslav's words, had single-handedly been responsible for more Soviet

deaths than all the armies of Nazi Germany. Through the purges,

collectivization, and mass imprisonment of Russian citizens, Stalin had

presided over the killing of 20 million of his own people. How then could

he be trusted to respect the rights of others? According to this argument,

only the presence of a common enemy had made possible even short-term

solidarity between Russia and the United States; in the absence of a German

foe, natural antagonisms were bound to surface. America had one system of

politics, Russia another, and as Truman declared in 1948, "a totalitarian

state is no different whether you call it Nazi, fascist, communist, or

Franco Spain."

Yet, in retrospect, these arguments for inevitability tell only part of

the story. Notwithstanding the Soviet Union's rhetorical commitment to an

ideology of world revolution, there is abundant evidence of Russia's

willingness to forego ideological purity in the cause of national interest.

Stalin, after all, had turned away from world revolution in committing

himself to building "socialism in one country." Repeatedly, he indicated

his readiness to betray the communist movement in China and to accept the

leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. George Kennan recalled the Soviet leader

"snorting rather contemptuously . . . because one of our people asked them

what they were going to give to China when [the war] was over." "We have a

hundred cities of our own to build in the Soviet Far East," Stalin had

responded. "If anybody is going to give anything to the Far East, I think

it's you." Similarly, Stalin refused to give any support to communists in

Greece during their rebellion against British domination there. As late as

1948 he told the vice-premier of Yugoslavia, "What do you think, . . . that

Great Britain and the United States . . . will permit you to break their

lines of communication in the Mediterranean? Nonsense . . . the uprising in

Greece must be stopped, and as quickly as possible."

Nor are the other arguments for inevitability totally persuasive.

Without question, America's desire for commercial markets played a role in

the strategy of the Cold War. As Truman said in 1949, devotion to freedom

of enterprise "is part and parcel of what we call America." Yet was the

need for markets sufficient to force a confrontation that ultimately would

divert precious resources from other, more productive use? Throughout most

of its history, Wall Street has opposed a bellicose position in foreign

policy. Similarly, although historical differences are important, it makes

no sense to regard them as determinative. After all, the war led to

extraordinary examples of cooperation that bridged these differences; if

they could be overcome once, then why not again? Thus, while each of the

arguments for inevitability reflects truths that contributed to the Cold

War, none offers an explanation sufficient of itself, for contending that

the Cold War was unavoidable.

A stronger case, it seems, can be made for the position that the Cold

War was unnecessary, or at least that conflicts could have been handled in

a manner that avoided bipolarization and the rhetoric of an ideological

crusade. At no time did Russia constitute a military threat to the United

States. "Economically," U.S. Naval Intelligence reported in 1946, "the

Soviet Union is exhausted.... The USSR is not expected to take any action

in the next five years which might develop into hostility with Anglo

Americans." Notwithstanding the Truman administration's public statements

about a Soviet threat, Russia had cut its army from 11.5 to 3 million men

after the war. In 1948, its military budget amounted to only half of that

of the United States. Even militant anticommunists like John Foster Dulles

acknowledged that "the Soviet leadership does not want and would not

consciously risk" a military confrontation with the West. Indeed, so

exaggerated was American rhetoric about Russia's threat that Hanson

Baldwin, military expert of the New York Times, compared the claims of our

armed forces to the "shepherd who cried wolf, wolf, wolf, when there was no

wolf." Thus, on purely factual grounds, there existed no military basis for

the fear that the Soviet Union was about to seize world domination, despite

the often belligerent pose Russia took on political issues.

A second, somewhat more problematic, argument for the thesis of

avoidability consists of the extent to which Russian leaders appeared ready

to abide by at least some agreements made during the war. Key, here, is the

understanding reached by Stalin and Churchill during the fall of 1944 on

the division of Europe into spheres of influence. According to that

understanding, Russia was to dominate Romania, have a powerful voice over

Bulgaria, and share influence in other Eastern European countries, while

Britain and America were to control Greece. By most accounts, that

understanding was implemented. Russia refused to intervene on behalf of

communist insurgency in Greece. While retaining rigid control over Romania,

she provided at least a "fig-leaf of democratic procedure"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 continue.

What then went wrong? First, it seems clear that both sides perceived

the other as breaking agreements that they thought had been made. By

signing a separate peace settlement with the Lublin Poles, imprisoning the

sixteen members of the Polish underground, and imposingwithout regard for

democratic appearancestotal 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 policyalbeit with some

modifications to satisfy American political opinionthere 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 himselfjust

before his deathwas 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. Perhapsjust

perhapsRoosevelt 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 Trumannamely, 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 plannedin a very

Machiavellian wayto 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 differentalbeit 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

presidenthowever much rooted in self-interesthave 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 thinkin light of

initial Soviet acceptance of Western-style governments in Hungary,

Czechoslovakia, and Finlandthat 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 implementedsecurity for the Russians, some measure of

pluralism in Eastern European countries for the United States, and economic

interchange between the two blocsit 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 presidentin order

to secure domestic political supportto defend the Truman Doctrine and the

Marshall Plan in universalistic, moral terms. Thus, we became engaged, not

in an effort to assure jobs and security, but in a holy war against evil.

Stalin, in turn, gave full vent to his crusade to eliminate any vestige of

free thought or national independence in Eastern Europe. Reinhold Niebuhr

might have been speaking for both sides when he said in 1948, "we cannot

afford any more compromises. We will have to stand at every point in our

far flung lines."

The tragedy, of course, was that such a policy offered no room for

intelligence or flexibility. If the battle in the world was between good

and evil, believers and nonbelievers, anyone who questioned the wisdom of

established policy risked dismissal as a traitor or worse. In the Soviet

Union the Gulag Archipelago of concentration camps and executions was the

price of failing to conform to the party line. But the United States paid a

price as well. An ideological frame of reference had emerged through which

all other information was filtered. The mentality of the Cold War shaped

everything, defining issues according to moralistic assumptions, regardless

of objective reality. It had been George Kennan's telegram in February 1946

that helped to provide the intellectual basis for this frame of reference

by portraying the Soviet Union as "a political force committed fanatically"

to confrontation with the United States and domination of the world. It was

also George Kennan twenty years later who so searchingly criticized those

who insisted on seeing foreign policy as a battle of angels and devils,

heroes and blackguards. And ironically, it was Kennan yet again who

declared in the 1970s that "the image of a Stalinist Russia, poised and

yearning to attack the west, . . . was largely a product of the western


But for more than a generation, that image would shape American life

and world politics. The price was astronomicaland 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 warsixty times the three hundred thousand lives lost by the United

States. Seventy thousand Soviet villages were destroyed, $128 billion

dollars worth of property leveled to the ground. Leningrad, the crown jewel

of Russia's cities, symbolized the suffering experienced at the hands of

the Nazis. Filled with art and beautiful architecture, the former capital

of Russia came under siege by German armies almost immediately after the

invasion of the Soviet Union. When the attack began, the city boasted a

population of 3 million citizens. At the end, only 600,000 remained. There

was no food, no fuel, no hope. More than a million starved, and some

survived by resorting to cannibalism. Yet the city endured, the Nazis were

repelled, and the victory that came with survival helped launch the

campaign that would ultimately crush Hitler's tyranny.

Such suffering provided the backdrop for a bitter controversy over

whether the United States and Britain were doing enough to assume their own

just share of the fight. Roosevelt understood that Russia's battle was

America's. "The Russian armies are killing more Axis personnel and

destroying more Axis materiel," he wrote General Douglas MacArthur in 1942,

"than all the other twenty-five United Nations put together." As soon as

the Germans invaded Russia, the president ordered that lend-lease material

be made immediately available to the Soviet Union, instructing his personal

aide to get $22 million worth of supplies on their way by July 25one month

after the German invasion. Roosevelt knew that, unless the Soviets were

helped quickly, they would be forced out of the war, leaving the United

States in an untenable position. "If [only] the Russians could hold the

Germans until October 1," the president said. At a Cabinet meeting early in

August, Roosevelt declared himself "sick and tired of hearing . . . what

was on order"; he wanted to hear only "what was on the water." Roosevelt's

commitment to lend-lease reflected his deep conviction that aid to the

Soviets was both the most effective way of combating German aggression and

the strongest means of building a basis of trust with Stalin in order to

facilitate postwar cooperation. "I do not want to be in the same position

as the English," Roosevelt told his Secretary of the Treasury in 1942. "The

English promised the Russians two divisions. They failed. They promised

them to help in the Caucasus. They failed. Every promise the English have

made to the Russians, they have fallen down on. . . . The only reason we

stand so well ... is that up to date we have kept our promises." Over and

over again Roosevelt intervened directly and personally to expedite the

shipment of supplies. "Please get out the list and please, with my full

authority, use a heavy hand," he told one assistant. "Act as a burr under

the saddle and get things moving!"

But even Roosevelt's personal involvement could not end the problems

that kept developing around the lend-lease program. Inevitably,

bureaucratic tangles delayed shipment of necessary supplies. Furthermore,

German submarine assaults sank thousands of tons of weaponry. In just one

month in 1942, twenty-three of thirty-seven merchant vessels on their way

to the Soviet Union were destroyed, forcing a cancellation of shipments to

Murmansk. Indeed, until late summer of 1942, the Allies lost more ships in

submarine attacks than they were able to build.

Above all, old suspicions continued to creep into the ongoing process

of negotiating and distributing lend-lease supplies. Americans who had

learned during the purges to regard Stalin as "a sort of unwashed Genghis

Khan with blood dripping from his fingertips" could not believe that he had

changed his colors overnight and was now to be viewed as a gentle friend.

Many Americans believed that they were saving the Soviet Union with their

supplies, without recognizing the extent of Soviet suffering or

appreciating the fact that the Russians were helping to save American lives

by their sacrifice on the battlefield. Soviet officials, in turn, believed

that their American counterparts overseeing the shipments were not

necessarily doing all that they might to implement the promises made by the

president. Americans expected gratitude. Russians expected supplies. Both

expectations were justified, yet the conflict reflected the extent to which

underlying distrust continued to poison the prospect of cooperation.

"Frankly," FDR told one subordinate, "if I was a Russian, I would feel that

I had been given the runaround in the United States." Yet with equal

justification, Americans resented Soviet ingratitude. "The Russian

authorities seem to want to cover up the fact that they are receiving

outside help," American Ambassador Standley told a Moscow press conference

in March 1943. "Apparently they want their people to believe that the Red

Army is fighting this war alone." Clearly, the battle against Nazi Germany

was not the only conflict taking place.

Yet the disputes over lend-lease proved minor compared to the issue of

a second frontwhat one historian has called "the acid test of Anglo-

American intentions." However much help the United States could provide in

the way of war materiel, the decisive form of relief that Stalin sought was

the actual involvement of American and British soldiers in Western Europe.

Only such an invasion could significantly relieve the pressure of massive

German divisions on the eastern front. During the years 1941-44, fewer than

10 percent of Germany's troops were in the west, while nearly three hundred

divisions were committed to conquering Russia. If the Soviet Union was to

survive, and the Allies to secure victory, it was imperative that American

and British troops force a diversion of German troops to the west and help

make possible the pincer movement from east and west that would eventually

annihilate the fascist foe.

Roosevelt understood this all too well. Indeed, he appears to have

wished nothing more than the most rapid possible development of the second

front. In part, he saw such action as the only means to deflect a Soviet

push for acceptance of Russia's pre-World War II territorial acquisitions,

particularly in the Baltic states and Finland. Such acquisitions would not

only be contrary to the Atlantic Charter and America's commitment to self-

determination; they would also undermine the prospect of securing political

support in America for international postwar cooperation. Hence, Roosevelt

hoped to postpone, until victory was achieved, any final decisions on

issues of territory. Shrewdly, the president understood that meeting Soviet

demands for direct military assistance through a second front would offer

the most effective answer to Russia's territorial aspirations.

Roosevelt had read the Soviet attitude correctly. In 1942, Soviet

foreign minister Molotov readily agreed to withdraw his territorial demands

in deference to U.S. concerns because the second front was so much more

decisive an issue. When Molotov asked whether the Allies could undertake a

second front operation that would draw off forty German divisions from the

eastern front, the president replied that it could and that it would.

Roosevelt cabled Churchill that he was "more anxious than ever" for a cross-

channel attack in August 1942 so that Molotov would be able to "carry back

some real results of his mission and give a favorable report to Stalin." At

the end of their 1942 meeting, Roosevelt pledged to Molotov-and through him

to Stalin-that a second front would be established that year. The president

then proceeded to mobilize his own military advisors to develop plans for

such an attack.

But Roosevelt could not deliver. Massive logistical and production

problems obstructed any possibility of invading Western Europe on the

timetable Roosevelt had promised. As a result, despite Roosevelt's own best

intentions and the commitment of his military staff, he could not implement

his desire to proceed. In addition, Roosevelt repeatedly encountered

objections from Churchill and the British military establishment, still

traumatized by the memory of the bloodletting that had occurred in the

trench fighting of World War I. For Churchill, engagement of the Nazis in

North Africa and then through the "soft underbelly" of Europe-Sicily and

Italy-offered a better prospect for success. Hence, after promising Stalin

a second front in August 1942, Roosevelt had to withdraw the pledge and ask

for delay of the second front until the spring of 1943. When that date

arrived, he was forced to pull back yet again for political and logistical

reasons. By the time D-Day finally dawned on June 6, 1944, the Western

Allies had broken their promise on the single most critical military issue

of the war three times. On each occasion, there had been ample reason for

the delay, but given the continued heavy burden placed on the Soviet Union,

it was perhaps understandable that some Russian leaders viewed America's

delay on the second front question with suspicion, sarcasm, and anger. When

D-Day arrived, Stalin acknowledged the operation to be one of the greatest

military ventures of human history. Still, the squabbles that preceded D-

Day contributed substantially to the suspicions and tension that already

existed between the two nations.

Another broad area of conflict emerged over who would control occupied

areas once the war ended? How would peace be negotiated? The principles of

the Atlantic Charter presumed establishment of democratic, freely elected,

and representative governments in every area won back from the Nazis. If

universalism were to prevail, each country liberated from Germany would

have the opportunity to determine its own political structure through

democratic means that would ensure representation of all factions of the

body politic. If "sphere of influence" policies were implemented, by

contrast, the major powers would dictate such decisions in a manner

consistent with their own self-interest. Ultimately, this issue would

become the decisive point of confrontation during the Cold War, reflecting

the different state systems and political values of the Soviets and

Americans; but even in the midst of the fighting, the Allies found

themselves in major disagreement, sowing seeds of distrust that boded ill

for the future. Since no plans were established in advance on how to deal

with these issues, they were handled on a case by case basis, in each

instance reinforcing the suspicions already present between the Soviet

Union and the West.

Notwithstanding the Atlantic Charter, Britain and the United States

proceeded on a de facto basis to implement policies at variance with

universalism. Thus, for example, General Dwight Eisenhower was authorized

to reach an accommodation with Admiral Darlan in North Africa as a means of

avoiding an extended military campaign to defeat the Vichy, pro-fascist

collaborators who controlled that area. From the perspective of military

necessity and the preservation of life, it made sense to compromise one's

ideals in such a situation. Yet the precedent inevitably raised problems

with regard to allied efforts to secure self-determination elsewhere.

The issue arose again during the Allied invasion of Italy. There, too,

concern with expediting military victory and securing political stability

caused Britain and the United States to negotiate with the fascist Badoglio

regime. "We cannot be put into a position," Churchill said, "where our two

armies are doing all the fighting but Russians have a veto." Yet Stalin

bitterly resented being excluded from participation in the Italian

negotiations. The Soviet Union protested vigorously the failure to

establish a tripartite commission to conduct all occupation negotiations.

It was time, Stalin said, to stop viewing Russia as "a passive third

observer. ... It is impossible to tolerate such a situation any longer." In

the end, Britain and the United States offered the token concession of

giving the Soviets an innocuous role on the advisory commission dealing

with Italy, but the primary result of the Italian experience was to

reemphasize a crucial political reality: when push came to shove, those who

exercised military control in an immediate situation would also exercise

political control over any occupation regime.

The shoe was on the other foot when it came to Western desires to have

a voice over Soviet actions in the Balkan states, particularly Romania. By

not giving Russia an opportunity to participate in the Italian surrender,

the West-in effect-helped legitimize Russia's desire to proceed

unilaterally in Eastern Europe. Although both Churchill and Roosevelt were

"acutely conscious of the great importance of the Balkan situation" and

wished to "take advantage of" any opportunity to exercise influence in that

area, the simple fact was that Soviet troops were in control. Churchill-and

privately Roosevelt as well-accepted the consequences. "The occupying

forces had the power in the area where their arms were present," Roosevelt

noted, "and each knew that the other could not force things to an issue."

But the contradiction between the stated idealistic aims of the war effort

and such realpolitik would come back to haunt the prospect for postwar

collaboration, particularly in the areas of Poland and other east European


Moments of conflict, of course, took place within the context of day-to-

day cooperation in meeting immediate wartime needs. Sometimes, such

cooperation seemed deep and genuine enough to provide a basis for

overcoming suspicion and conflict of interest. At the Moscow foreign

ministers conference in the fall of 1943, the Soviets proved responsive to

U.S. concerns. Reassured that there would indeed be a second front in

Europe in 1944, the Russians strongly endorsed a postwar international

organization to preserve the peace. More important, they indicated they

would join the war against Japan as soon as Germany was defeated, and

appeared willing to accept the Chiang Kaishek government in China as a

major participant in world politics. In some ways, these were a series of

quid pro quos. In exchange for the second front, Russia had made

concessions on issues of critical importance to Britain and the United

States. Nevertheless, the results were encouraging. FDR reported that the

conference had created "a psychology of ... excellent feeling." Instead of

being "cluttered with suspicion," the discussions had occurred in an

atmosphere that "was amazingly good."

The same spirit continued at the first meeting of Stalin, Churchill,

and Roosevelt in Tehran during November and early December 1943. Committed

to winning Stalin as a friend, FDR stayed at the Soviet Embassy, met

privately with Stalin, aligned himself with the Soviet leader against

Churchill on a number of issues, and even went so far as to taunt Churchill

"about his Britishness, about John Bull," in an effort to forge an informal

"anti-imperial" alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union. A

spirit of cooperation prevailed, with the wartime leaders agreeing that the

Big Four would have the power to police any postwar settlements (clearly

consistent with Stalin's commitment to a "sphere of influence" approach),

reaffirming plans for a joint military effort against Japan, and evenafter

much difficultyappearing 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 peoplevery 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 plansfor domestic

political reasonsas 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 politicsinformed by thirty-five years of skilled

practiceinvolved striking a deal that both sides could live with.

Roosevelt acknowledged the brutality, the callousness, the tyranny of the

Soviet system. Indeed, in 1940 he had called Russia as absolute a

dictatorship as existed anywhere. But that did not mean a solution was

impossible, or that one should withdraw from the struggle to find a basis

for world peace. As he was fond of saying about negotiations with Russia,

"it is permitted to walk with the devil until the bridge is crossed."

The problem was that, as Roosevelt defined the task of finding a path

of accommodation, it rested solely on his shoulders. The president

possessed an almost mystical confidence in his own capacity to break

through policy differences based on economic structures and political

systems, and to develop a personal relationship of trust that would

transcend impersonal forces of division. "I know you will not mind my being

brutally frank when I tell you," he wrote Churchill in 1942, "[that] I

think I can personally handle Stalin better than either your Foreign Office

or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He

thinks he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to do so."

Notwithstanding the seeming naivete of such statements, Roosevelt appeared

right, in at least this one regard. The Soviets did seem to place their

faith in him, perhaps thinking that American foreign policy was as much a

product of one man's decisions as their own. Roosevelt evidently thought

the same way, telling Bullitt, in one of their early foreign policy

discussions, "it's my responsibility and not yours; and I'm going to play

my hunch."

The tragedy, of course, was that the man who perceived that fostering

world peace was his own personal responsibility never lived to carry out

his vision. Long in declining health, suffering from advanced

arteriosclerosis and a serious cardiac problem, he had gone to Warm

Springs, Georgia, to recover from the ordeal of Yalta and the congressional

session. On April 12, Roosevelt suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and

died. As word spread across the country, the stricken look on people's

faces told those who had not yet heard the news the awful dimensions of

what had happened. "He was the only president I ever knew," one woman said.

In London, Churchill declared that he felt as if he had suffered a physical

blow. Stalin greeted the American ambassador in silence, holding his hand

for thirty seconds. The leader of the world's greatest democracy would not

live to see the victory he had striven so hard to achieve.

2.2 The Truman Doctrine.

Few people were less prepared for the challenge of becoming president.

Although well-read in history, Truman's experience in foreign policy was

minimal. His most famous comment on diplomacy had been a statement to a

reporter in 1941 that "if we see that Germany is winning [the war] we ought

to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that

way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler

victorious under any circumstances." As vice-president, Truman had been

excluded from all foreign policy discussions. He knew nothing about the

Manhattan Project. The new president, Henry Stimson noted, labored under

the "terrific handicap of coming into... an office where the threads of

information were so multitudinous that only long previous familiarity could

allow him to control them." More to the point were Truman's own comments:

"They didn't tell me anything about what was going on. . . . Everybody

around here that should know anything about foreign affairs is out." Faced

with burdens sufficiently awesome to intimidate any individual, Truman had

to act quickly on a succession of national security questions, aided only

by his native intelligence and a no-nonsense attitude reflected in the now-

famous slogan that adorned his desk: "The Buck Stops Here."

Truman's dilemma was compounded by the extent to which Roosevelt had

acted" as his own secretary of state, sharing with almost no one his plans

for the postwar period. Roosevelt placed little trust in the State

Department's bureaucracy, disagreed with the suspicion exhibited toward

Russia by most foreign service officers, and for the most part appeared to

believe that he alone held the secret formula for accommodation with the

Soviets. Ultimately that formula presumed the willingness of the Russian

leadership "to give the Government of Poland [and other Eastern European

countries] an external appearance of independence [italics added]," in the

words of Roosevelt's aide Admiral William Leahy. In the month before his

death, FDR had evidently begun to question that presumption, becoming

increasingly concerned about Soviet behavior. Had he lived, he may well

have adopted a significantly tougher position toward Stalin than he had

taken previously. Yet in his last communication with Churchill, Roosevelt

was still urging the British prime minister to "minimize the Soviet problem

as much as possible . . . because these problems, in one form or another,

seem to arrive everyday and most of them straighten out." If Stalin's

intentions still remained difficult to fathom so too did Roosevelt's. And

now Truman was in charge, with neither Roosevelt's experience to inform

him, nor a clear sense of Roosevelt's perceptions to offer him direction.

Without being able to analyze at leisure all the complex information

that was relevant, Truman solicited the best advice he could from those who

were most knowledgeable about foreign relations. Hurrying back from Moscow,

Averell Harriman sought the president's ear, lobbying intensively with

White House and State Department officials for his position that

"irreconcilable differences" separated the Soviet Union and the United

States, with the Russians seeking "the extension of the Soviet system with

secret police, [and] extinction of freedom of speech" everywhere they

could. Earlier, Harriman had been well disposed toward the Soviet

leadership, enthusiastically endorsing Russian interest in a postwar loan

and advocating cooperation wherever possible. But now Harriman perceived a

hardening of Soviet attitudes and a more aggressive posture toward control

over Eastern Europe. The Russians had just signed a separate peace treaty

with the Lublin (pro-Soviet) Poles, and after offering safe passage to

sixteen pro-Western representatives of the Polish resistance to conduct

discussions about a government of national unity, had suddenly arrested the

sixteen and held them incommunicado. America's previous policy of

generosity toward the Soviets had been "misinterpreted in Moscow," Harriman

believed, leading the Russians to think they had carte blanche to proceed

as they wished. In Harriman's view, the Soviets were engaged in a

"barbarian invasion of Europe." Whether or not Roosevelt would have

accepted Harriman's analysis, to Truman the ambassador's words made eminent

sense. The international situation was like a poker game, Truman told one

friend, and he was not going to let Stalin beat him.

Just ten days after taking office, Truman had the opportunity to play

his own hand with Molotov. The Soviet foreign minister had been sent by

Stalin to attend the first U.N. conference in San Francisco both as a

gesture to Roosevelt's memory and as a means of sizing up the new

president. In a private conversation with former Ambassador to Moscow

Joseph Davies, Molotov expressed his concern that "full information" about

Russian-U.S. relations might have died with FDR and that "differences of

interpretation and possible complications [might] arise which would not

occur if Roosevelt lived." Himself worried that Truman might make "snap

judgments," Davies urged Molotov to explain fully Soviet policies vis-a-vis

Poland and Eastern Europe in order to avoid future conflict.

Truman implemented the same no-nonsense approach when it came to

decisions about the atomic bomb. Astonishingly, it was not until the day

after Truman's meeting with Molotov that he was first briefed about the

bomb. By that time, $2 billion had already been spent on what Stimson

called "the most terrible weapon ever known in human history." Immediately,

Truman grasped the significance of the information. "I can't tell you what

this is," he told his secretary, "but if it works, and pray God it does, it

will save many American lives." Here was a weapon that might not only bring

the war to a swift conclusion, but also provide a critical lever of

influence in all postwar relations. As James Byrnes told the president, the

bomb would "put us in a position to dictate our own terms at the end of the


In the years subsequent to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, historians have

debated the wisdom of America's being the first nation to use such a

horrible weapon of destruction and have questioned the motivation leading

up to that decision. Those who defend the action point to ferocious

Japanese resistance at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, and the likelihood of even

greater loss of life if an invasion of Japan became necessary. Support for

such a position comes even from some Japanese. "If the military had its

way," one military expert in Japan has said, "we would have fought until

all 80 million Japanese were dead. Only the atomic bomb saved me. Not me

alone, but many Japanese. . . ." Those morally repulsed by the incineration

of human flesh that resulted from the A-bomb, on the other hand, doubt the

necessity of dropping it, citing later U.S. intelligence surveys which

concluded that "Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had

not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no

invasion had been planned or contemplated." Distinguished military leaders

such as Dwight Eisenhower later opposed use of the bomb. "First, the

Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with

that awful thing," Eisenhower noted. "Second, I hated to see our country be

the first to use such a weapon." In light of such statements, some have

asked why there was no effort to communicate the horror of the bomb to

America's adversaries either through a demonstration explosion or an

ultimatum. Others have questioned whether the bomb would have been used on

non-Asians, although the fire-bombing of Dresden claimed more victims than

Hiroshima. Perhaps most seriously, some have charged that the bomb was used

primarily to intimidate the Soviet Union rather than to secure victory over


Although revulsion at America's deployment of atomic weapons is

understandable, it now appears that no one in the inner circles of American

military and political power ever seriously entertained the possibility of

not using the bomb. As Henry Stimson later recalled, "it was our common

objective, throughout the war, to be the first to produce an atomic weapon

and use it. ... At no time, from 1941 to 1945, did I ever hear it suggested

by the president, or by any other responsible member of the government,

that atomic energy should not be used in the war." As historians Martin

Sherwin and Barton Bernstein have shown, the momentum behind the Manhattan

Project was such that no one ever debated the underlying assumption that,

once perfected, nuclear weapons would be used. General George Marshall told

the British, as well as Truman and Stimson, that a land invasion of Japan

would cause casualties ranging from five hundred thousand to more than a

million American troops. Any president who refused to use atomic weapons in

the face of such projections could logically be accused of needlessly

sacrificing American lives. Moreover, the enemy was the same nation that

had unleashed a wanton and brutal attack on Pearl Harbor. As Truman later

explained to a journalist, "When you deal with a beast, you have to treat

him as a beast." Although many of the scientists who had seen the first

explosion of the bomb in New Mexico were in awe of its destructive

potential and hoped to find some way to avoid its use in war, the idea of a

demonstration met with skepticism. Only one or two bombs existed. What if,

in a demonstration, they failed to detonate? Thus, as horrible as it may

seem in retrospect, no one ever seriously doubted the necessity of dropping

the bomb on Japan once the weapon was perfected.

On the Russian issue, however, there now seems little doubt that

administration officials thought long and hard about the bomb's impact on

postwar relations with the Soviet Union. Faced with what seemed to be the

growing intransigence of the Soviet Union toward virtually all postwar

questions, Truman and his advisors concluded that possession of the weapon

would give the United States unprecedented leverage to push Russia toward a

more accommodating position. Senator Edwin Johnson stated the equation

crassly, but clearly. "God Almighty in his infinite wisdom," the Senator

said, "[has] dropped the atomic bomb in our lap ... [now] with vision and

guts and plenty of atomic bombs, . . . [the U.S. can] compel mankind to

adopt a policy of lasting peace ... or be burned to a crisp." Stating the

same argument with more sophistication prior to Hiroshima, Stimson told

Truman that the bomb might well "force a favorable settlement of Eastern

European questions with the Russians." Truman agreed. If the weapon worked,

he noted, "I'll certainly have a hammer on those boys."

Use of the bomb as a diplomatic lever played a pivotal role in Truman's

preparation for his first meeting with Stalin at Potsdam. Not only would

the conference address such critical questions as Eastern Europe, Germany,

and Russia's involvement in the war against Japan;

It would also provide a crucial opportunity for America to drive home

with forcefulness its foreign policy beliefs about future relationships

with Russia. Stimson and other advisors urged the president to hold off on

any confrontation with Stalin until the bomb was ready. "Over any such

tangled wave of problems," Stimson noted, "the bomb's secret will be

dominant. ... It seems a terrible thing to gamble with such big stakes and

diplomacy without having your master card in your hand." Although Truman

could not delay the meeting because of a prior commitment to hold it in

July, the president was well aware of the bomb's significance. Already

noted for his brusque and assertive manner, Truman suddenly took on new

confidence in the midst of the Potsdam negotiations when word arrived that

the bomb had successfully been tested. "He was a changed man," Churchill

noted. "He told the Russians just where they got on and off and generally

bossed the whole meeting." Now, the agenda was changed. Russian involvement

in the Japanese war no longer seemed so important. Moreover, the United

States had as a bargaining chip the most powerful weapon ever unleashed.

Three days later, Truman walked up to Stalin and casually told him that the

United States had "perfected a very powerful explosive, which we're going

to use against the Japanese." No mention was made of sharing information

about the bomb, or of future cooperation to avoid an arms race.

Yet the very nature of the new weapon proved a mixed blessing, making

it as much a source of provocation as of diplomatic leverage. Strategic

bombing surveys throughout the war had shown that mass bombings, far from

demoralizing the enemy, often redoubled his commitment to resist. An

American monopoly on atomic weapons would, in all likelihood, have the same

effect on the Russians, a proud people. As Stalin told an American diplomat

later, "the nuclear weapon is something with which you frighten people [who

have] weak nerves." Yet if the war had proven anything, it was that Russian

nerves were remarkably strong. Rather than intimidate the Soviets, Dean

Acheson pointed out, it was more likely that evidence of Anglo-American

cooperation in the Manhattan Project would seem to them "unanswerable

evidence of ... a combination against them. ... It is impossible that a

government as powerful and power conscious as the Soviet government could

fail to react vigorously to the situation. It must and will exert every

energy to restore the loss of power which the situation has produced."

In fact, news of the bomb's development simply widened the gulf further

between the superpowers, highlighting the mistrust that existed between

them, with sources of antagonism increasing far faster than efforts at

cooperation. On May 11, two days after Germany surrenderedand two weeks

after the Truman-Molotov confrontationAmerica 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 Churchillwith Truman at his sideresponded 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 understandhow 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 194546 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 monopolyand in a dominant positionuntil 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 predictablethe 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 Iranunder

considerable pressureand 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


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 industrysomething 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 Europeplus their allies in developing

countriesmust 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 reasonspreservation 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 wouldlike Achesonhave to "scare hell" out of the American


By the time Truman came before Congress on March 12, the issue was no

longer whether the United States should extend economic aid to Greece and

Turkey on a basis of self-interest, but rather whether America was willing

to sanction the spread of tyrannical communism everywhere in the world.

Facing the same dilemma Roosevelt had confronted during the 1930S in his

effort to get Americans ready for war, Truman sensed that only if the

issues were posed as directly related to the nation's fundamental moral

concernnot 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 tryannynot 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, Belgiumall 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 Italyand

perhaps Francewould succumb to the political appeal of native communists

and become victims of what William Bullitt had called the "red amoeba"

spreading all across Europe. Furthermore, America's selfish economic

interests demanded strong trading partners in Western Europe. "No nation in

modern times," Assistant Secretary of State Will Clayton had said, "can

long expect to enjoy a rising standard of living without increased foreign

trade." America imported from Europe only half of what it exported, and

Western Europe was quickly running out of dollars to pay for American

goods. If some form of massive support to reconstruct Europe's economy were

not developed, economic decay there would spread, unemployment in America

would increase, and political instability could well lead to communist

takeovers of hitherto "friendly" counties.

3.2 Cold War Issues.

Although historians have debated for years the cause of the Cold War,

virtually everyone agrees that it developed around five major issues:

Poland, the structure of governments in other Eastern European

countries, the future of Germany, economic reconstruction of Europe, and

international policies toward the atomic bomb and atomic energy. All of

these intersected, so that within a few months, it became almost impossible

to separate one from the other as they interacted to shape the emergence of

a bipolar world. Each issue in its own way also reflected the underlying

confusion and conflict surrounding the competing doctrines of

"universalist" versus "sphere-of-influence" diplomacy. Examination of these

fundamental questions is essential if we are to comprehend how and why the

tragedy of the Cold War evolved during the three years after Germany's


Poland constituted the most intractable and profound dilemma facing

Soviet-U.S. relations. As Secretary of State Edward Stettinius observed in

1945, Poland was "the big apple in the barrel." Unfortunately, it also

symbolized, for both sides, everything that the war had been fought for.

From a Soviet perspective, Poland represented the quintessence of Russia's

national security needs. On three occasions, Poland had served as the

avenue for devastating invasions of Russian territory. It was imperative,

given Russian history, that Poland be governed by a regime supportive of

the Soviet Union. But Poland also represented, both in fact and in symbol,

everything for which the Western Allies had fought. Britain and France had

declared war on Germany in September 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland, thus

honoring their mutual defense pact with that victimized country. It seemed

unthinkable that one could wage war for six years and end up with another

totalitarian country in control of Poland. Surely if the Atlantic Charter

signified anything, it required defending the right of the Polish people to

determine their own destiny. The presence of 7 million Polish-American

voters offered a constant, if unnecessary, reminder that such issues of

self-determination could not be dismissed lightly. Thus, the first issue

confronting the Allies in building a postwar world would also be one on

which compromise was virtually impossible, at least without incredible

diplomatic delicacy, political subtlety, and profound appreciation, by each

ally, of the other's needs and priorities.

Roosevelt appears to have understood the tortuous path he would have to

travel in order to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Given his

own commitment to the Atlantic Charter, rooted in both domestic political

reasons and personal conviction, he recognized the need to advocate an

independent and democratic government for the Polish people. "Poland must

be reconstituted a great nation," he told the country during the 1944

election. Yet the president also repeatedly acknowledged that the Russians

must have a "friendly" government in Warsaw. Somehow, Roosevelt hoped to

find a way to subordinate these two conflicting positions to the higher

priority of postwar peace. "The President," Harry Hopkins said in 1943,

"did not intend to go to the Peace Conference and bargain with Poland or

the other small states; as far as Poland is concerned, the important thing

[was] to set it up in a way that [would] help maintain the peace of the


The issue was first joined at the Tehran conference. There, Churchill

and Roosevelt endorsed Stalin's position that Poland's eastern border, for

security reasons, should be moved to the west. As Roosevelt had earlier

explained to the ambassador from the Polish government-in-exile in London,

it was folly to expect the United States and Britain "to declare war on Joe

Stalin over a boundary dispute." On the other hand, Roosevelt urged Stalin

to be flexible, citing his own need for the Polish vote in the 1944

presidential election and the importance of establishing cooperation

between the London Poles and the Lublin government-in-exile situated in

Moscow. Roosevelt had been willing to make a major concession to Russia's

security needs by accepting the Soviet definition of Poland's new

boundaries. But he also expected some consideration of his own political

dilemma and of the principles of the Atlantic Charter.

Such consideration appeared to be forthcoming in the summer of 1944

when Stalin agreed to meet the prime minister of the London-Polish

government and "to mediate" between the two opposing governments-in-exile.

But hopes for such a compromise were quickly crushed as Soviet troops

failed to aid the Warsaw Polish resistance when it rose in massive

rebellion against German occupation forces in hopes of linking up with

advancing Soviet forces. The Warsaw Poles generally supported the London

government-in-exile. As Red Army troops moved to just six miles outside of

Warsaw, the Warsaw Poles rose en masse against their Nazi oppressors. Yet

when they did so, the Soviets callously rejected all pleas for help. For

eight weeks they even refused to permit American planes to land on Soviet

soil after airlifting supplies to the beleaguered Warsaw rebels. By the

time the rebellion ended, 250,000 people had become casualties, with the

backbone of the pro-London resistance movement brutally crushed. Although

some Americans, then and later, accepted Soviet claims that logistical

problems had prevented any assistance being offered, most Americans

endorsed the more cynical conclusion that Stalin had found a convenient way

to annihilate a large part of his Polish opposition and facilitate

acquisition of a pro-Soviet regime. As Ambassador Averell Harriman cabled

at the time, Russian actions were based on "ruthless political


By the time of the Yalta conference, the Red Army occupied Poland,

leaving Roosevelt little room to maneuver. When one American diplomat urged

the president to force Russia to agree to Polish independence, Roosevelt

responded: "Do you want me to go to war with Russia?" With Stalin having

already granted diplomatic recognition to the Lublin regime, Roosevelt

could only hope that the Soviets would accept enough modification of the

status quo to provide the appearance of representative democracy. Spheres

of influence were a reality, FDR told seven senators, because "the

occupying forces [have] the power in the areas where their arms are

present." All America could do was to use her influence "to ameliorate the


Nevertheless, Roosevelt played what cards he had with skill. "Most

Poles," he told Stalin, "want to save face. ... It would make it easier for

me at home if the Soviet government could give something to Poland." A

government of national unity, Roosevelt declared, would facilitate public

acceptance in the United States of full American participation in postwar

arrangements. "Our people at home look with a critical eye on what they

consider a disagreement between us. ... They, in effect, say that if we

cannot get a meeting of minds now . . . how can we get an understanding on

even more vital things in the future?" Although Stalin's immediate response

was to declare that Poland was "not only a question of honor for Russia,

but one of life and death," he finally agreed that some reorganization of

the Lublin regime could take place to ensure broader representation of all


In the end, the Big Three papered over their differences at Yalta by

agreeing to a Declaration on Liberated Europe that committed the Allies to

help liberated peoples resolve their problems through democratic means and

advocated the holding of free elections. Although Roosevelt's aide Admiral

William Leahy told him that the report on Poland was "so elastic that the

Russians can stretch it all the way from Yalta to Washington without ever

technically breaking it," Roosevelt believed that he had done the best he

could under the circumstances. From the beginning, Roosevelt had

recognized, on a de facto basis at least, that Poland was part of Russia's

sphere of influence and must remain so. He could only hope that Stalin

would now show equal recognition of the U.S. need to have concessions that

would give the appearance, at least, of implementing the Atlantic Charter.

The same basic dilemmas, of course, occurred with regard to the

structure of postwar governments in all of Eastern Europe. As early as

1943, Roosevelt had made clear to Stalin at Tehran that he was willing to

have the Baltic states controlled by the Soviets. His only request, the

president told Stalin, was for some public commitment to future elections

in order to satisfy his constituents at home for whom "the big issues . . .

would be the question of referendum and the right of self-determination."

The exchange with Stalin accurately reflected Roosevelt's position over


Significantly, Roosevelt even sanctioned Churchill's efforts to divide

Europe into spheres of influence. With Roosevelt's approval, Churchill

journeyed to Moscow in the fall of 1944. Sitting across the table from

Stalin, Churchill proposed that Russia exercise 90 percent predominance in

Romania, 75 percent in Bulgaria, and 50 percent control, together with

Britain, in Yugoslavia and Hungary, while the United States and Great

Britain would exercise 90 percent predominance in Greece. After extended

discussion and some hard bargaining, the deal was made. (Poland was not

even included in Churchill's percentages, suggesting that he was

acknowledging Soviet control there.) At the time, Churchill suggested that

the arrangements be expressed "in diplomatic terms [without use of] the

phrase 'dividing into spheres,' because the Americans might be shocked."

But in fact, as Robert Daliek has shown in his superb study of Roosevelt's

diplomacy, the American president accepted the arrangement. "I am most

pleased to know," FDR wrote Churchill, "you are reaching a meeting of your

two minds as to international policies." To Harriman he cabled: "My active

interest at the present time in the Balkan area is that such steps as are

practicable should be taken to insure against the Balkans getting us into a

future international war." At no time did Roosevelt protest the British-

Soviet agreement.

In the case of Eastern Europe generally, even more so than in Poland,

it seemed clear that Roosevelt, on a de facto basis, was prepared to live

with spheres-of-influence diplomacy. Nevertheless, he remained constantly

sensitive to the political peril he faced at home on the issue. As

Congressman John Dingell stated in a public warning in August 1943, "We

Americans are not sacrificing, fighting, and dying to make permanent and

more powerful the communistic government of Russia and to make Joseph

Stalin a dictator over the liberated countries of Europe." Such sentiments

were widespread. Indeed, it was concern over such opinions that led

Roosevelt to urge the Russians to be sensitive to American political

concerns. In Eastern Europe for the most part, as in Poland, the key

question was whether the United States could somehow find a way to

acknowledge spheres of influence, but within a context of universalist

principles, so that the American people would not feel that the Atlantic

Charter had been betrayed.

The future of Germany represented a third critical point of conflict.

For emotional as well as political reasons, it was imperative that steps be

taken to prevent Germany from ever again waging war. In FDR's words, "We

have got to be tough with Germany, and I mean the German people not just

the Nazis. We either have to castrate the German people or you have got to

treat them in such a manner so they can't just go on reproducing people who

want to continue the way they have in the past." Consistent with that

position, Roosevelt had agreed with Stalin at Tehran on the need for

destroying a strong Germany by dividing the country into several sectors,

"as small and weak as possible."

Still operating on that premise, Roosevelt endorsed Secretary of the

Treasury Henry Morgenthau's plan to eliminate all industry from Germany and

convert the country into a pastoral landscape of small farms. Not only

would such a plan destroy any future war-making power, it would also

reassure the Soviet Union of its own security. "Russia feared we and the

British were going to try to make a soft peace with Germany and build her

up as a possible future counter-weight against Russia," Morgenthau said.

His plan would avoid that, and simultaneously implement Roosevelt's

insistence that "every person in Germany should realize that this time

Germany is a defeated nation." Hence, in September 1944, Churchill and

Roosevelt approved the broad outlines of the Morgenthau plan as their

policy for Germany.

Within weeks, however, the harsh policy of pastoralization came

unglued. From a Soviet perspective, there was the problem of how Russia

could exact the reparations she needed from a country with no industrial

base. American policymakers, in turn, objected that a Germany without

industrial capacity would prove unable to support herself, placing the

entire burden for maintaining the populace on the Allies. Rumors spread

that the Morgenthau plan was stiffening German resistance on the western

front. American business interests, moreover, suggested the importance of

retaining German industry as a key to postwar commerce and trade.

As a result, Allied policy toward Germany became a shambles. "No one

wants to make Germany a wholly agricultural nation again," Roosevelt

insisted. "No one wants 'complete eradication of German industrial

production capacity in the Ruhr and the Saar.' " Confused about how to

proceed, Rooseveltin effectadopted 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

timejust 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 Unionand the attitude which accompanied that

aid could be decisive to the future of American-Soviet relations. Yet in

thisas in so many other issuesRoosevelt gave little hint of the ultimate

direction he would take, creating one more dimension of uncertainty amidst

the gathering confusion that surrounded postwar international arrangements.

The final issue around which the Cold War revolved was that of the

atomic bomb. Development of nuclear weapons not only placed in human hands

the power to destroy all civilization, but presented as well the critical

question of how such weapons would be used, who would control them, and

what possibilities existed for harnessing the incalculable energy of the

atom for the purpose of international peace and cooperation rather than

destruction. No issue, ultimately, would be more important for human

survival. On the other hand, the very nature of having to build the A-bomb

in a world threatened by Hitler's madness mandated a secrecy that seriously

impeded, from the beginning, the prospects for cooperation and

international control.

The divisive potential of the bomb became evident as soon as Albert

Einstein disclosed to Roosevelt the frightening information that physicists

had the capacity to split the atom. Knowing that German scientists were

also pursuing the same quest, Roosevelt immediately ordered a crash program

of research and development on the bomb, soon dubbed the "Manhattan

Project." British scientists embarked on a similar effort, collaborating

with their American colleagues. The bomb, one British official noted,

"would be a terrific factor in the postwar world . . . giving an absolute

control to whatever country possessed the secret." Although American

advisors urged "restricted interchange" of atomic energy information,

Churchill demanded and got full cooperation. If the British and the

Americans worked together, however, what of the Soviet Union once it became

an ally?

In a decision fraught with significance for the future, Roosevelt and

Churchill agreed in Quebec in August 1943 to a "full exchange of

information" about the bomb with "[neither] of us [to] communicate any

information about [the bomb] to third parties except by mutual consent."

The decision ensured Britain's future interests as a world power and

guaranteed maximum secrecy; but it did so in a manner that would almost

inevitably provoke Russian suspicion about the intentions of her two major


The implications of the decision were challenged just one month later

when Neils Bohr, a nuclear physicist who had escaped from Nazi-occupied

Denmark, approached Roosevelt (indirectly through Felix Frankfurter) with

the proposal that the British and Americans include Russia in their plans.

Adopting a typically Rooseveltian stance, the president both encouraged

Bohr to believe that he was "most eager to explore" the possibility of

cooperation and almost simultaneously reaffirmed his commitment to an

exclusive British-American monopoly over atomic information. Meeting

personally with Bohr on August 26, 1944, Roosevelt agreed that "contact

with the Soviet Union should be tried along the lines that [you have]

suggested." Yet in the meantime, Roosevelt and Churchill had signed a new

agreement to control available supplies of uranium and had authorized

surveillance of Bohr "to insure that he is responsible for no leakage of

information, particularly to the Russians." Evidently, Roosevelt hoped to

keep open the possibility of cooperating with the Sovietsassuming that

Bohr would somehow communicate this to the Russianswhile 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 perceptionsclearly 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 IIthe

material progress, the victories against discrimination, the new horizons

that had opened for education and creativity. But so much remained to be

done as well in a country where homelessness, poverty, and drug addiction

reflected the abiding strength that barriers of race, class, and gender

retained in blocking people's quest for a decent life.


Cold War - is the term used to describe the intense rivalry

that developed after World War II between groups of

Communist and non-Communist nations/ On one side

were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

and its Communist allies, often referred to as the

Eastern bloc. On the other side were the United

States and its democratic allies, usually referred

to as the Western bloc. The struggle was called the

Cold War because it did not actually lead to

fighting, or "hot" war, on a wide scale.

Iron Curtain - was the popular phrase, which Churchill made to

refer to Soviet barriers against the West. Behind

these barriers, the USSR steadily expanded its


Marshall Plan - encouraged European nations to work together for

economic recovery after World War II (1939-1945) /

In June 1947, the United States agreed to administer

aid to Europe in the countries would meet to decide

what they needed/ The official name of the plane was

the European Recovery Program. It is called the

Marshall Plane because Secretary of the State George

C. Marshall first suggested it.

Potsdam Conference -was the last meeting among the Leaders of Great

Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States,

during World War II. The conference was held at

Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin. It opened in July 17,

1945, about two months after Germany's defeat in the

war. Present at the opening were U.S. President

Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston

Churchill, and the Soviet Premier Josef Stalin.

Yalta Conference - was one of the most important meetings of key

Allied Leaders during World War II. These Leaders

were President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United

States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great

Britain, and Premier Josef Stalin of the Soviet

Union. Their countries became known as the "Big

Three". The conference took place at Yalta, a famous

Black Sea resort in the Crimea, from Feb. 4 to 11,

1945. Through the years decisions made there

regarding divisions in Europe have stirred bitter


The reference list.

1. William H. Chafe

"The Unfinished Journey: America since World War II" New York Oxford,

Oxford University press, 1991.

2. David Caute "The Great Fear", 1978

3. Michael Belknap "Cold War Political Justice", 1977

4. Allen D. Harper "The politics of Loyalty", 1959

5. Robert Griffin "The politics of Fear", 1970

6. James Wechler "The Age Suspicion" 1980

7. Alistair Cooke "A Generation on Trial", 1950

8. An outline of American History

9. World Book

10. Henry Borovik "Cold War", 1997

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