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The Truman Doctrine and the Cold War - Essay Example

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To many, the deadly clouds of radiation that brought death so suddenly to so many in Japan signified the end of a long, bloody conflict that had drained the resources of every major power on the planet. The past three decades, especially in Europe, had been ones of immense destruction - not just of buildings and resources, but of people…
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The Truman Doctrine and the Cold War
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Download file to see previous pages 346). It was in this time that the United Nations was formed, because the world was even more conflict-weary than it had been after the Great War, when Woodrow Wilson sought to create a League of Nations that would stop major disputes before they ever again became worldwide wars. However, even as workers were still picking up the rubble from the damage in Europe and Asia, the seeds of a new war between the United States and the Soviet Union, two erstwhile allies, were being planted: the Cold War.
This was not a war that could ever really begin on a battlefield, because both of the combatants possessed the tactical ability to destroy the planet with nuclear bombs. And so, in many instances, the Cold War became a game to see how much one side would put up with from the other. Perhaps the most volatile moments of the Cold War occurred during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, when the Soviet Union installed missiles on the island of Cuba, mere miles away from United States soil. The fifteen days of that crisis were as close as the two sides ever came to actual nuclear holocaust.
The beginnings of this Cold War, in some ways, may be said to lie at the feet of the United States government. Even during World War II, the United States and Great Britain refused to let the Soviets join the project to create atomic weapons, which led Stalin to mistrust the other two Allies. At the end of the war, the United States stopped sending lend-lease aid far earlier than the Soviets liked, and refused to lend the Soviet government $6 billion for reconstruction, while at the same time lending Great Britain $3.75 billion for similar costs (Pollard, p. 27). The two sides also differed on the postwar fate of Eastern Europe: the Soviet Union, having been invaded twice in thirty years by German armies, wanted to create a buffer zone protecting it from further western invasions, and so it quickly cemented control over most of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. The Americans, in contrast, supported the Wilsonian idea of an "open world" filled with autonomous, democratic nations. The Soviet grab for Eastern Europe immediately after World War II ended deeply offended American sensibilities (Bailey and Kennedy, p. 822).
Stalin was in no way innocent in the beginnings of the Cold War. In 1946, he broke an agreement to remove Soviet troops from northern Iran. In early 1947, when Great Britain told the United States it could no longer assist the Greek government in keeping stability, and when the Turkish government seemed vulnerable to internal agitation, President Truman decided that a containment policy toward the Soviet Union would be best. In a speech to Congress on March 12, 1947, he asked for $400 million in aid to Greece and Turkey, to help keep their governments from collapsing, and to keep Communist influence from overtaking those two countries. In this speech, Truman hearkened back to World War II for support:
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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