The Soviet Union: Joseph Stalin and Communism

The Soviet Union: Joseph Stalin and Communism

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     It is not difficult to lay blame to either the United States or the Soviet Union for the causes of the Cold War; the blame is to be put on the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin was not looking to do what was best for the economy or the people. His ideas of being a dictator became bigger soon after the end of World War II. He immediately looked to take control over Eastern Europe. His reasons for doing so were not for economic gain but for becoming a major world dictator.
     There were many differences between the United States and the Soviet Union, the main being their political and economic systems. The United States was capitalist while the Soviet Union was communist. It was this political and economic difference among other things that led to the Cold War. Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights (www.capitalism.org), while communism a political theory derived from Marxism, advocating a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person is paid and works according to his or her needs and abilities. (ttp://teaching.arts.usyd.edu.au/history/hsty3080/3rdYr3080/Cuban/INDEX2.HTML)
The United States and Soviet Union also differed in every other aspect of politics. The US was in favor of free elections while the Soviets were not. The US had a democracy and the Soviets had a dictatorship. The US believed in personal freedom while the Soviet society was controlled by the NKVD (secret police). (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/coldwar.htm)
     Although the United States and Soviet Union were allies during World War Two they were soon faced with many opposing views soon after the war ended. Joseph Stalin the leader of the Soviet Union had wanted to gain complete control of Eastern Europe most importantly Germany and make it a communist society. Here in the US Truman started to worry about the spread of communism in Eastern Europe. The anticipation of the spread of communism was concerning Truman as if it did proceed to happen it would be greatly affecting the United States economy. It would limit trade with other countries and it opposed everything the United States system of laissez-faire economics believed in. In the meantime the people in the Soviet Union were barely surviving, and it did not seem that it was Stalin’s major concern at the time; he was more interested in taking over Eastern Europe then taking care of the people in his own country. This continued fight over who was to control what parts of Eastern Europe put an even farther wedge between the Unites States and the Soviets.

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For the most part the US wanted to remain the dominant world power and the rise of Stalin and communism was becoming a threat.
     In the meantime Britain had been aiding Greece and Turkey but just could not financially assist them any long and left it to the United States to continue on. The United States needed to step in and assist before Stalin could do so. In 1947 Truman enacted the Truman Doctrine which offered military aid and economic assistance to Greece and Turkey. (Leffler, p56) At the same time the US decided to aid Germany’s coal production by helping them to establish a new German government. (Leffler, p56) The US did this not because of a military threat from Stalin but as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of communism and to instill a sense of trust for the US from these countries. (Leffler, p56)
     With the Marshall plan the United States “offered up to $20 billion for relief, but only if the European nations could get together and draw up a rational plan on how they would use the aid. For the first time, they would have to act as a single economic unit; they would have to cooperate with each other. Marshall also offered aid to the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe, but Stalin denounced the program as a trick and refused to participate. The Russian rejection probably made passage of the measure through Congress possible.” (www.usinfo.state.gov) Stalin was opposed to this idea he stated “the Great Powers are attempting to form a Western bloc and isolate the Soviet Union” (Leffler, p66) The Marshall plan was not successful. “The drought in Western Europe worsened, food supplies disappeared, German coal production stagnated, and Britain experienced a terrible gold drain.” (Leffler, p67-68)
     The spread of communism was not slowing down. There were signs of communist power taking control in France, Italy and Greece and if this had happened Americas were concerned that they would make treaties with the Kremlin. (Leffler, p68) On the onset of this new uprising of Communism Truman felt that the US military needed to step in. He sent troops to Greece and marines to Italy to thwart any further progression. (Leffler, p70)
     What led to the Cold War in my opinion was Stalin’s idea of a dominant communistic world. The United States was very much opposed to this idea as it was everything they were opposed to politically and economically. The United States did not want in to spread any further and did not want Stalin to gain any more control of Europe then he already had. Both the US and the Soviet Union were both selfish in the reasons for their actions. I feel that The United States was doing what was best for their economy and the world economy while Stalin and the Soviet Union was working to gain a dominant world. I feel that Stalin was not looking out for what was best for his people but what was best for his ego.



BIBLIOGRAPHY


1.     The Specter of Communism; Melvyn P. Leffler
2.     www.usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/57.htm
3.     http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/coldwar.htm
4.     www.capitalism.org
5.     http://teaching.arts.usyd.edu.au/history/hsty3080/3rdYr3080/Cuban/INDEX2.HTML
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