Cold War 4 Essay

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Cold War 4

Cold War
The Cold War was the result of Stalin adopting a policy contrary to the Yalta Agreement.
Certainly to many supporters of the Orthodox view, this statement will appear rather
obvious. In their view, the origins of the Cold War, however, do not essentially lie in
the aftermath of Yalta, but in the inevitable clash of capitalism and communism. The fact
that Stalin adopted a, in their opinion aggressive, policy was not so much the result of
security, but the expansionist nature of Lenin-Marxism.

Yet an analysis of a time of such incredible tension is not that simple. It could,
naturally, be argued that sooner or later the United States would clash with Soviet
Russia. As a matter of fact, the distrust between the two powers has its early origins in
the Russian Civil War, where the Western Allies of World War One sent in supplies and men
to help the anti-Bolshevik "Whites" defeat the Red Army. This was seen as an attempt to
destroy communism in its early years and deeply resented by the Bolsheviks.

The Second World War changed the situation. When Hitler launched "Operation Barbarossa",
it was estimated that Russia would be defeated within weeks, months at latest. Churchill,
the British prime minister, immediately provided help to Stalin. The United States joined
the Allies and the impossible had become reality: capitalism and communism working hand in
hand. The "Lend Lease" arrangement was extended to Russia and all in all ten million tons
of war materials were sent by the US to Russia. It seems rather far-reaching to propose
that circumstances were all that well until Yalta, and that the agreements reached there
actually led to the Cold War. Already during the Second World War there was a growth of
distrust between the USSR and the two western powers, Britain and the USA. Since late 1941
Stalin urged Churchill to "open" a second front and thus relieve the Red Army. To the
Soviets the denial of a second front meant that the USA and Britain were deliberately
aiming to weaken the Russians. Although Sicily was invaded, Italy eventually liberated and
D-Day launched, the Red Army was by that time already advancing towards Germany. Another
factor that created friction was US capital and the "Lend-Lease" agreement. As
compensation for delaying an opening of a second front, the Russians proposed a US loan of
$1000 million at 1.25% interest rate over a period of twenty-five years. The US Congress
rejected the proposal: for one, reserves were exhausted and post-war credits seemed to
great a risk, and secondly, given the current inflation rates, the terms would equal more
to a present. Although "Lend-Lease" was granted to Russia, bringing in arms, foods and raw
materials, a requested loan of $6000 million could not be agreed on due to the conflicts
with the interest rate. Before the war, the US government was inexperienced and rather
perplexed on how to deal with Soviet Russia. The results were little to no relations
between the two countries. World War Two merged the two countries into an uneasy
co-operation. Whether these events caused friction or were simply the results of distrust
remains disputed. Clearly, according to the Orthodox view, it was the Marxist-Leninist
natural hostility towards capitalism that contributed to the rise in tension: unacceptable
terms for loans were proposed, and after being rejected, resented. However, Soviet claims
that the Allies deliberately held back a second front could equally be justified, or at
least partially, when misunderstood. Nevertheless, although distrust had developed,
destroying the common enemy, Nazi Germany, was an aim prior and above anything else.

Yet as Yalta came, the situation had changed: the Wehrmacht was being pushed back on all
fronts and Germany found herself on the verge of defeat. Time was ripe to discuss post-war
plans. The common enemy had united them - could this status be prevailed during times of

The positions and policies were very much set before the meeting in the Crimea. An
analysis of each of the approaches helps understand the difficulties the powers had in
settling problems. Following the air raid against Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, Hitler
promptly declared war against the United States. The United States, unlike Russia, was
pushed into the struggle following an invasion. The USA desired to stabilise the power in
Europe by safe-guarding an equilibrium against those who wished to destroy it. Besides
that, Roosevelt and Churchill had signed the "Atlantic Charter" in which the wilsonian
principles of self-determination and free democratic elections within a liberal-capitalist
economy should be imposed on to all countries liberated from Nazi rule. Western ally
policy, therefore, would consist in restoring a power equilibrium in Europe and by
structuring European countries, including the Eastern states, with democratic institutions
based on the American one. The USSR, all ahead Stalin, held a completely different
attitude towards future Europe. Russia had been invaded twice within the last thirty years
and was bound to create a security network around it. This involved the installation of
friendly, pro-Soviet, in other words (at least partial) communist, governments.

The two most serious disagreements between the USSR and the Western Allies were the
questions of Poland and Germany. As already stated, Germany had invaded Russia twice
within a short period of time and Stalin sought to never let that happen again. This meant
that Germany would have to be vast sums of reparations and have its resources exploited by
the Allied powers. This was contrary to Anglo-American policy which targeted to restore
status quo in Europe by helping Germany (and the rest of Europe) to recover economically.
One of the major weakpoints of Yalta was that no specific agreements were reached
concerning the two major problems. Germany, it was decided, should be divided into three
zones - a British, an American and a Russian - whereby an additional French one would be
cut out from the Anglo-American share. Similarly the capital, Berlin, would be parted into
four sectors. Stalin furthermore urged for the reparations payments to be fixed at $20,000
million which Churchill opposed to, feeling it would leave Russia too strong economically.
Not very efficiently tackling the problem, the proposed figure was left as a basis for
future discussions. What the decisions meant in effect was that Germany would be
geographically divided and the different policies of East and West would be stamped onto
either zone or sector. The British, Americans and French would join to rebuild Germany
economically for a united, stable Europe, while the Russians would cripple their partition
by exploiting the resources they believed adequate to the agreed reparations. Even more,
if problems would arise, then Berlin would be the main area of confrontation: it was
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