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Cold War Lecture Post
by Malcolm Scannell - Thursday, March 17, 2016, 06:50 PM

The most interesting aspect that I found within John Lewis Gaddis' argument during his lecture The Origins of the Cold War was the way in which he set it up by developing the analogy of a man crossing a street to buy cigarettes who gets hit by a drunk driver (0~4 minutes). While it seemed rather unorthodox in the opening minutes, his goal was to portray how causes of events can be traced back farther and farther, yet it is our inherent intuition that draws us to quick conclusions instead of being immersed in a broader scope of events. While it is true can reach a point to where they are so far back and close to becoming irrelevant, Gaddis draws an interesting point on the human nature of interpretation. This approach to analyzation can be applied to conventional views of the Cold War’s origins, because while many cite political difficulties and waves of suspicion during and immediately after World War II, Gaddis argues that one can still relevantly trace its origins back to 1917. This date is so significant because it not only represents the United States’ entry into WWI, but it is also the same year of the Russian Revolution, in which the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, staged an uprising and successfully took control of the massive nation. Gaddis argues that as early as that moment, the US fought to establish policies and parameters to inhibit Russia’s growth and development. Even though Gaddis focused on applying his analysis towards this cause of the Cold War, he later shed some light on Stalin, who assumed power in 1929, and his extreme desire for the nation’s security (44). Many denounce his actions as tyrannical and based off of his paranoia, but I think that Gaddis’ philosophy of conclusions can also be applied here. At the time, tensions between the US and the Soviet Union spurred immense suspicion and mistrust among the two superpowers, yet Stalin is almost always characterized and remembered by his lethal delusions. My idea for this is heavily exemplified by the United States’ policy of containment. Credited to former ambassador of the Soviet Union, George Kennan, this policy established that the objective of foreign policy in regards to the Soviet Union was to stop the spread of the system of Communism by forcing it to stay where it was. Policies like this displayed continued suspicion between the United States and the Soviet Union and show how mistrust and paranoia had become a global trait, not just one that Stalin possessed.