Help with Search
Picture of Beminet Desalegn
"The Origins of the Cold War"
by Beminet Desalegn - Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 09:49 PM

In the lecture Origins of the Cold War, John Gaddis discusses the three stages which contributed to the start of the cold war: long term, intermediate, immidiate. It was interesting to see Gaddis divide up the cold war's origin into sections so that people can get a deeper understanding. One of the long term causations was the continental expansion of the Soviet Union and the United States. As the Soviets move towards east, and the United Nations moved west, they started to gain territories and accumulate more power without realizing the consequences. As these nations expanded, they also spread their idealogical government system which created a problem since the Russian Tsarist government was not democratic like the United States (around min 10). Moreover, the United States was not thrilled when the current government was overthrown during the Bolshevik Revolution to establish the new Marxist - Lenninst government. Americans feared that the new communist government would create problems since the US had a democratic government. The different government systems of the United States and the Soviet Union created tensions between the two countries since it affected their domestic and foreign affairs in the future.

Amongst the intermediate causations was the continuation of the United States to be an Isolationist country and the Soviet Union not wanting to have a second World War. Because of the many isolationism supports in the US such as in the Neutrality Acts, Franklin Roosevelt was unable to create any change in the policies. Furthermore, Stalin, wanting to avoid conflict, signed the Non-aggression Pact with Hitler (29:30ish). However, Hitler became a tool that brought the United States and the Soviet Union together when he declared war on both of them. Hitler's irrational decision created a common enemy to the US and the Soviets which allowed them to work together even though they disagreed over each other's government.

The immediate causations mainly consists of the questions over world after WWII. The United States had a very different vision of the post-war world compared to that of the Soviet Union's. Even though these nations including Great Britain met in conferences such as the Yalta Conference, they were unable to come up with a solution to questions regarding the future of Germany and other Eastern Europe territories (42:40ish). Stalin wanted German reparations and territorial expansion in Europe while establishing communist governments, as well. He felt threatened by outside powerful governments and wanted to preserve and protect the security of the Soviet Union. However, this view contradicted the United States' wish for these European nations to have Self-determination. The difference government systems and the disagreement over the post-war world created conflicts and anxieties which contributed to the growing communism fear in the United States and Stalin's fear of outside security threat.