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Directly after World War II the US effectively “shut the door” on all communist nations. A red scare descended on the US as the iron curtain enclosed around Eastern Europe. Mistrust and misunderstanding led to decades of arms races and close calls with a people that helped us to defeat Hitler and Japan. Meanwhile, the “open door” in China was slammed in our faces by our own ignorance and suspicion.
Though the confrontationist policy of the US may have been an effective tool to use in wartime while dealing with a dictator, it was not correct to use in peacetime. By misconstruing Stalin’s actions after World War II the US lost any chance of amiable relations. The US first misunderstood Stalin’s annexation of the Baltic republics. Moreover, a desire to have a buffer zone between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was mistaken by the West as aggressive Communist imperialism along the lines of Hitler’s pre-war expansion. Granted, Stalin did harbor desires to spread his ideology, as did we. However, his desire to defend the vulnerability that had been exploited so many times was the rationale behind the occupation of Poland. Moreover, the United States’ history of ideological imperialism is much longer and more “colorful” than that of the Soviets. Anti-Communist sentiments in the US government as well as the population fueled by misinformation cost the US any type of association with the Soviets. The post-war was the perfect time to become friendly with the Soviets. The Russians were decimated by the war and needed all the help they could get. Stalin’s possible acceptance of accommodation, though only out of necessity, could have been used by the US to gain ground in Asia. However, like always, our own paranoia catalyzed by confrontationist propaganda cost us any hopes of a relationship.
A history of anti-Communist feelings compounded by this type of ignorance also led the US to lose all relations with China. By making the assumption that Mao ZeTung’s brand of communism was the same as that of the Bolsheviks, the US lost a potentially powerful ally. If the US had been more careful, if we had trusted those whose job it was to know, the division between the communism in Be-jing and the communism in Moscow would have been clear. Even if mistrust towards the Soviets remained the US still could have had some type of relationship with Mao’s China.
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