Question 1: Why did the Cold War begin? Why did it end?
Why did it begin?
The Cold War began in 1945, escalated in 1946, was unofficially “declared” and congealed into a system in 1948-1949. The major contributing factors to the start of the Cold War include both FDR’s and Stalin’s respective views of the post-war world, the death of FDR, George Kennan’s (misinterpreted) containment policy evident in his long telegraph and anonymous Mr. X article, the Truman doctrine that was based upon Kennan’s view of the Soviet Union, the interrelated crises known as the 3 Ds (Doppiezza, the Dollar Gap and the Deutch Frage) which lead to the Marshall Plan.
FDR envisioned a post-war scenario in which the main belligerents would endure severe punishment. He did not see a long-term European role for the US. In the broad scheme of things he foresaw the Four Policemen – The US, Britain, the USSR, and China – who would monopolize military power, consult on vital matters and punish transgressors. He also understood that the Russians suffered tremendous losses during the war and, if they weren’t granted what they considered to be their rightfully earned spoils, they would look for an alternative peace that they defined on their own terms. As for Stalin, it is very likely that he aimed to seek out post-war cooperation with the Allies, even after negotiating and getting his war spoils, and was even in favor of FDR’s Four Policemen considerations for peace protection. And, although he did want to spread communism, he did not have grand plans to do so in a rough way.
However, with the death of FDR happening so abruptly, the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union changed quite remarkably. Truman’s approach an...
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...g internal financial stability and fostering European economic co-operation. The plan also had unofficial objectives that were to deal with the dollar gap, eliminate Western European Communism, answer the festering German question and to encourage change in the “satellite area”.
The plan was offered to all countries in Europe, even Russia. They ultimately refused of course when they saw the strings attached to the aid (and forced the Czechs to refuse to attend a conference on it). Together with the Truman Doctrine and Kennan’s X article (which was misinterpreted to mean an aggressive attitude and policy of containment toward the Soviet Union) the plan triggered a basic reassessment of US aims and a new phase in Soviet policy. The policy of containment turned from passive to active containment with the release of the National Security Council report in 1950 (NSC-68).
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