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The Origins of the Cold War
by LAURA GILL - Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 10:24 PM
 

In John Lewis Gaddis' lecture, The Origins of the Cold War, he discusses historian E. H. Carr's theory about cause and effect in history. Every event is influenced by immeadiate, intermeadiate, and long term causes, starting from closest to the most general (00:00-05:36). The Cold War was influenced directly by, for example, the refusal of the US to open a second front to aid the Soviets in fighting Germans from the east. However, a long term cause is referenced in the theory that it is inevitable for coexisting great powers to clash. A historian predicted all the way back in the 19th century that the US and Russia, both rising in power, would one day find conflict between them. This theory about the extraordinarily relative nature of causes and effects in history that can go as broad as to cite the Big Bang as the cause because if not for the Big Bang, none of the historical events we study would have happened. I believe this is evidenced in historical argument about what started the Great Depression. At the most immeadiate level, historians agree that the 1929 stock market crash sparked the beginning of the Great Depression, but thousands of other factors contributed. The failure of small independent banks that began to lose the value of their credit disrupted the economy more than the stock market crash did. More broadly, tariffs and isolationist policies the US put into place crushed European economies, causing the world economy to suffer. On a long term scale, the extravagance and economic recklessness of the 1920s after the war was influential in bringing alone the Depression of the next decade. All of these seemingly unrelated factors played a role in the arrival of the Great Depression, similarly to factors Gaddis describes that contributed to the start of the Cold War. This lense of viewing history is a much more realistic, multi-faceted portrayal of historical events.