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Origins of the Cold War
by SOPHIE HARRINGTON - Monday, March 14, 2016, 02:11 PM

After watching John Lewis Gaddis’ lecture, “Origins of the Cold War,” I found it fascinating how he interprets the Cold War, and where it actually began. In the first few minutes of his presentation he states that there are three categories into which the causation for the Cold War to start: long term, intermediate, and mediate causations. One of the biggest long term causes of the war Gaddis points out is that the United States and the Soviet Union had very different internal systems at the end of the 19th century. The systems of government, the economy, and the social life of the citizens of the U.S. and Soviet Union were disparate, and as a result Americans began viewing the Russian people, and tzarists system as oppressive and tyrannical (around minute 14.) The U.S. believed in a system of complete freedom--freedom of speech, the press, the right to believe in any religion--whereas the Russians were oppressing the Jews and exiling ethnic groups to Siberia. News of the atrocities reached the U.S. when George Kennan, an American explorer, reported back on his findings in Siberia, thus beginning the trail of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. Gaddis argues that the Cold War did not begin at the end of World War II, but during the 19th century, and heightened in 1917 when the Bolshevik Revolution broke out in Russia (around minute 20.) The Bolshevik Revolution dismantled the Tsarist system, and the Americans responded with Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and an early form of containment--the exact tensions that lasted during the Cold War. Wilson’s Fourteen Points was the first piece of legislation which addressed American ideology about foreign policy, and Americans began to counter the ideas of the  Bolshevik Revolution (minute 25.) In addition to countering the ideas of the Revolution they also tried to contain the revolution from spreading throughout Eastern Europe, using military force and sanctions against the Bolshevik Regime. This is exactly what happened during the midst of the Cold War--the U.S. used foreign policy to try and take control of countries in Europe, and tried to contain the spread of communism using Truman’s Containment Policy. However, the war did not officially break out until 1947. Following World War I and throughout the 1930s the U.S. claimed to be isolationist, while the Russians were outwardly trying to prevent another World War. The Russians were fearful of another attack from the West, and became the biggest endorser of the League of Nations. The issue only intensefied when U.S. refused to join the league, and France and Great Britain did nothing to prevent Hitler from gaining control of the Sudetenland. The start of the Cold War started long before 1947, with the tensions rising from the difference systems of government. 

Re: Origins of the Cold War
by THOMAS MCNULTY - Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 06:36 PM

I also found it interesting how he divided the periods of the Cold War and how public opinion changed from section to section. In the earlier section, that being the long term there were a lot more people open to the Russian government, but as time went on and America saw more of what they were doing like the Trans-Siberian Railroad and how gruesome it was public opinion shifted, and then shifted again after the post-WWII Stalin started trying to become a great power.