'Stalin blundered into the Cold War.' Discuss - Essay Example

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Cold War Instructor Name Joseph Stalin has been, without doubt, one of the most impactful influences in the shaping of power relations in the contemporary world politics. A centrally crucial figure to the cold war, his personality and its impact on his politics is magnetic for historians, drawing them into a debate that has been raging for decades – was the enigmatic Stalin directly responsible for the Cold War or was he a victim of the sociopolitical context of the time…
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Stalin blundered into the Cold War. Discuss
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"'Stalin blundered into the Cold War.' Discuss"

Download file to see previous pages Indeed, there are facets of the Cold War debate over which many of the contemporary scholars are in agreement, particularly with reference to Stalin’s paranoid personality. The focus of this study, however, is a matter of contention amongst eminent Cold War historians. Whether Stalin blundered into the Cold War out of a confusion and misjudgment of his adversaries’ intentions that derived from his suspicious personality, or whether the reality of an aggressive US foreign policy nurtured Stalin’s existing paranoia, thus forcing him into an unavoidable conflict will be one of the central themes of discussion. Taking into account and critiquing the work of prominent Cold War historians, this essay will serve to evaluate the origins of the Cold War with particular reference to Stalin. The study aims to demonstrate that Stalin greatly overestimated the US desire for war, and blundered into the Cold War as a result of his paranoia and obsession with personal and domestic security. Looking at the Cold War through the lens of Gaddis, Matsny, Zubok and Pleshakov, a conclusion can be drawn towards how the Cold War originated from miscalculation and lack of judgment on part of Stalin. John Lewis Gaddis is one of the most influential post revisionist historians of the Cold War. In his book titled We Now Know, he clearly does not see Stalin as blundering into the Cold War. In fact, he is seen as a conscious initiator of the events that led to it, while the US is represented as merely reacting to the threatening desire Stalin held for world domination. Influenced by “Marxist Internationalism” and “Czarist Imperialism”1, Stalin had a personality that was conducive to paranoia and insecurity. It is this fusion of ideologies, coupled with an insecure personality that led to the Cold War. Gaddis therefore, sees Stalin’s ideology as a key figure in the Cold War. In its essence, Gaddis sees the Cold War as an ideological war between America and the Soviet Union, where American pluralist democracy and capitalism is argued as inherently superior to Soviet communism, and is the cure to the threat of a communist world. American historian Vojtech Matsny offers a distinct insight into the Cold War, and addresses one of the integral issues that Gaddis conveniently overlooks. In The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity, Matsny revolves around the figure and personality of Stalin, and his preoccupation with maintaining his autocratic rule. Stalin’s imperialistic approach towards rule deflects through his paranoia and insecurity that eventually led him into the Cold War. Aware of the lack of popular support his regime had, Stalin intelligently chose to cash in on the 2fundamental Bolshevik belief that “the outside world remained implacably hostile”. Carefully carving out a sense of “us” and “them” through help of the revolutionary communist ideology, Stalin’s prime objective was to preserving his regime and maintaining power within the Soviet Union rather than world domination. As Matsny argues, Stalin did not deliberately wish for a Cold War, but considering his Soviet ideology and insecure imperialism, could not avoid it. For Matsny therefore, “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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