America, Russia, and the Cold War
The origins of the Cold War came about when United States President Harry Truman issued his Truman Doctrine. This doctrine stated that the United States would support “free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” This would end up being the foundation of the U. S. involvement in the Cold War. The main idea of the doctrine was to support nations in the resistance of communism. Truman felt that if one nation fell to communism then this would lead to a “domino effect” resulting in many other nations in the region falling to communism. The greatest fear was that the Soviet Union would spread communism throughout the world thus the reason for the policy of containment. Truman felt it necessary to also provide economic aid to nations that surrounded the Soviet Union. The idea being that they would create a ring of Allies that would contain the threat of the Soviet influence of communism. Economic support would be given and if necessary military support as well. The basis for this economic aid was presented in the Marshall Plan. This plan called for $16 billion in economic aid to be used in the reconstruction of Europe.
In April of 1949 nations from North America and Western Europe signed a treaty that stated if the Soviet Union attacked any of the Allies it would be considered an attack against the U. S. itself. In what was perceived as an escalating threat from the NATO alliance, the Soviets created a military alliance, known as the Warsaw Pact, with Eastern European Soviet bloc countries in May of 1955.
Throughout the Cold War there were numerous incidents on both sides which exacerbated the threat of an all out war. However, there were also several attempts at bringing about an end to the Cold War. One of the greater attempts came from Georgi Malenkov following the death of Stalin in 1953. Stalin had previously appointed several young fanatical Stalinists in a new politburo called the Party Presidium. This move limited the power that Malenkov and Nikita Krushchev had while at the same time giving more power to Stalin. Immediately following Stalin’s death Malenkov cut membership in the new politburo and threw out the young recently appointed Stalinists. Malenkov also announced that any new policies would come from...
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...e Soviet Union and at the end of the Cold War became independent nations. The Soviet Union would frequently engage in wars by proxy such as the Vietnam and Korean wars. They also invaded many border nations such as Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia.
Ultimately, I believe that Mikhail Gorbachev had the greatest impact in bringing about the end of the Cold War with his sweeping changes to foreign policy, the economy, and the Soviet political system. He took the lead when it came to negotiating arms reductions with Reagan and when inviting new partnerships with Western corporations. Before Gorbachev was in power Reagan was committed to restarting the arms race. Later Reagan followed suit when Gorbachev led the way in the reduction of arms. The policy of the Reagan Doctrine was to fund and support resistance groups while Gorbachev worked instead to pull Soviet troops out of Afghanistan and worked to stop the U. S. supported revolt in Angola.
Unfortunately, the damage that was done by the Cold War was severe and we will be working for decades to overcome the problems it created and will likely continue to create in both national security and foreign policy.