In late February 1947, a British official journeyed to the State Department to inform Dean Acheson that the crushing burden of Britain's economic crisis prevented her from any longer accepting responsibility for the economic and military stability of Greece and Turkey. The message, Secretary of State George Marshall noted, "was tantamount to British abdication from the Middle East, with obvious implications as to their successor." Conceivably, America could have responded quietly, continuing the steady stream of financial support already going into the area. Despite aid to the insurgents from Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, the war going on in Greece was primarily a civil struggle, with the British side viewed by many as reactionary in its politics. But instead, Truman administration officials seized the moment as the occasion for a dramatic new commitment to fight communism. In their view, Greece and Turkey could well hold the key to the future of Europe itself. Hence they decided to ask Congress for $400 million in military and economic aid. In the process, the administration publicly defined postwar diplomacy, for the first time, as a universal conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
Truman portrayed the issue as he did, at least in part, because his aides had failed to convince Congressmen about the merits of the case on grounds of self-interest alone. Americans were concerned about the Middle East for many reasons—preservation of political stability, guarantee of access to mineral resources, a need to assure a prosperous market for American goods. Early drafts of speeches on the issue had focused specifically on economic questions. America could not afford, one advisor noted, to allow Greece and similar areas to "spiral downward into economic anarchy." But such arguments, another advisor noted, "made the whole thing sound like an investment prospectus." Indeed, when Secretary of State Marshall used such arguments of self-interest with Congressmen, his words fell on deaf ears, particularly given the commitment of Republicans to cut government spending to the bone. It was at that moment. Dean Acheson recalled, that "in desperation I whispered to [Marshall] a request to speak. This was my crisis. For a week I had nurtured it."
When Acheson took the floor, he transformed the atmosphere in the room. The issue, he declared, was the effort by Russian communism to seize dominance over three continents, and encircle and capture Western Europe. "Like apples in a barrel infected by the corruption of one rotten one, the corruption of Greece would infect Iran and alter the Middle East . . . Africa . . . Italy and France." The struggle was ultimate, Acheson concluded. "Not since Rome and Carthage has there been such a polarization of power on this earth. . . . We and we alone are in a position to break up" the Soviet quest for world domination. Suddenly, the Congressmen sat up and took notice. That argument, Senator Arthur Vandenberg told the president, would be successful. If Truman wanted his program of aid to be approved, he would—like Acheson—have to "scare hell" out of the American people.
By the time Truman came before Congress on March 12, the issue was no longer whether the United States should extend economic aid to Greece and Turkey on a basis of self-interest, but rather whether America was willing to sanction the spread of tyrannical communism everywhere in the world. Facing the same dilemma Roosevelt had confronted during the 1930S in his effort to get Americans ready for war, Truman sensed that only if the issues were posed as directly related to the nation's fundamental moral concern—not just self-interest— would there be a possibility of winning political support. Hence, as Truman defined the question, the world had to choose "between alternative ways of life." One option was "free," based on "representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, and freedom of speech and religion." The other option was "tyranny," based on "terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, . . . and a suppression of personal freedoms." Given a choice between freedom and totalitarianism, Truman concluded, "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities."
Drawing on the "worst case" scenario implicit in Kennan's telegram, Truman, in effect, had presented the issue of American-Soviet relations as one of pure ideological and moral conflict. There were some who criticized him. Senator Robert Taft, for example, wondered whether, if the United States took responsibility for Greece and Turkey, Americans could object to the Russians continuing their domination over Eastern Europe. Secretary of State Marshall was disturbed at "the extent to which the anticommunist element of the speech was stressed." And George Kennan, concerned over how his views had been used, protested against the president's strident tone. But Truman and Acheson had understood the importance of defining the issue on grounds of patriotism and moral principle. If the heart of the question was the universal struggle of freedom against tryanny—not taking sides in a civil war— who could object to what the government proposed? It was, Senator Arthur Vandenberg noted, "almost like a presidential request for a declaration of war. . . . There is precious little we can do except say yes." By mid-May, Truman's aid package had passed Congress overwhelmingly.
On the same day the Truman Doctrine received final approval, George Marshall and his aides at the State Department were busy shaping what Truman would call the second half of the same walnut— the Marshall Plan of massive economic support to rebuild Western Europe. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium—all were devastated by the war, their cities lying in rubble, their industrial base gutted. It was difficult to know if they could survive, yet the lessons of World War I suggested that political democracy and stability depended on the presence of a healthy and thriving economic order. Already American officials were concerned that Italy—and perhaps France—would succumb to the political appeal of native communists and become victims of what William Bullitt had called the "red amoeba" spreading all across Europe. Furthermore, America's selfish economic interests demanded strong trading partners in Western Europe. "No nation in modern times," Assistant Secretary of State Will Clayton had said, "can long expect to enjoy a rising standard of living without increased foreign trade." America imported from Europe only half of what it exported, and Western Europe was quickly running out of dollars to pay for American goods. If some form of massive support to reconstruct Europe's economy were not developed, economic decay there would spread, unemployment in America would increase, and political instability could well lead to communist takeovers of hitherto "friendly" counties.
Cold War Issues.
Although historians have debated for years the cause of the Cold War, virtually everyone agrees that it developed around five major issues:
Poland, the structure of governments in other Eastern European countries, the future of Germany, economic reconstruction of Europe, and international policies toward the atomic bomb and atomic energy. All of these intersected, so that within a few months, it became almost impossible to separate one from the other as they interacted to shape the emergence of a bipolar world. Each issue in its own way also reflected the underlying confusion and conflict surrounding the competing doctrines of "universalist" versus "sphere-of-influence" diplomacy. Examination of these fundamental questions is essential if we are to comprehend how and why the tragedy of the Cold War evolved during the three years after Germany's defeat.
Poland constituted the most intractable and profound dilemma facing Soviet-U.S. relations. As Secretary of State Edward Stettinius observed in 1945, Poland was "the big apple in the barrel." Unfortunately, it also symbolized, for both sides, everything that the war had been fought for. From a Soviet perspective, Poland represented the quintessence of Russia's national security needs. On three occasions, Poland had served as the avenue for devastating invasions of Russian territory. It was imperative, given Russian history, that Poland be governed by a regime supportive of the Soviet Union. But Poland also represented, both in fact and in symbol, everything for which the Western Allies had fought. Britain and France had declared war on Germany in September 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland, thus honoring their mutual defense pact with that victimized country. It seemed unthinkable that one could wage war for six years and end up with another totalitarian country in control of Poland. Surely if the Atlantic Charter signified anything, it required defending the right of the Polish people to determine their own destiny. The presence of 7 million Polish-American voters offered a constant, if unnecessary, reminder that such issues of self-determination could not be dismissed lightly. Thus, the first issue confronting the Allies in building a postwar world would also be one on which compromise was virtually impossible, at least without incredible diplomatic delicacy, political subtlety, and profound appreciation, by each ally, of the other's needs and priorities.
Roosevelt appears to have understood the tortuous path he would have to travel in order to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Given his own commitment to the Atlantic Charter, rooted in both domestic political reasons and personal conviction, he recognized the need to advocate an independent and democratic government for the Polish people. "Poland must be reconstituted a great nation," he told the country during the 1944 election. Yet the president also repeatedly acknowledged that the Russians must have a "friendly" government in Warsaw. Somehow, Roosevelt hoped to find a way to subordinate these two conflicting positions to the higher priority of postwar peace. "The President," Harry Hopkins said in 1943, "did not intend to go to the Peace Conference and bargain with Poland or the other small states; as far as Poland is concerned, the important thing [was] to set it up in a way that [would] help maintain the peace of the world."
The issue was first joined at the Tehran conference. There, Churchill and Roosevelt endorsed Stalin's position that Poland's eastern border, for security reasons, should be moved to the west. As Roosevelt had earlier explained to the ambassador from the Polish government-in-exile in London, it was folly to expect the United States and Britain "to declare war on Joe Stalin over a boundary dispute." On the other hand, Roosevelt urged Stalin to be flexible, citing his own need for the Polish vote in the 1944 presidential election and the importance of establishing cooperation between the London Poles and the Lublin government-in-exile situated in Moscow. Roosevelt had been willing to make a major concession to Russia's security needs by accepting the Soviet definition of Poland's new boundaries. But he also expected some consideration of his own political dilemma and of the principles of the Atlantic Charter.
Such consideration appeared to be forthcoming in the summer of 1944 when Stalin agreed to meet the prime minister of the London-Polish government and "to mediate" between the two opposing governments-in-exile. But hopes for such a compromise were quickly crushed as Soviet troops failed to aid the Warsaw Polish resistance when it rose in massive rebellion against German occupation forces in hopes of linking up with advancing Soviet forces. The Warsaw Poles generally supported the London government-in-exile. As Red Army troops moved to just six miles outside of Warsaw, the Warsaw Poles rose en masse against their Nazi oppressors. Yet when they did so, the Soviets callously rejected all pleas for help. For eight weeks they even refused to permit American planes to land on Soviet soil after airlifting supplies to the beleaguered Warsaw rebels. By the time the rebellion ended, 250,000 people had become casualties, with the backbone of the pro-London resistance movement brutally crushed. Although some Americans, then and later, accepted Soviet claims that logistical problems had prevented any assistance being offered, most Americans endorsed the more cynical conclusion that Stalin had found a convenient way to annihilate a large part of his Polish opposition and facilitate acquisition of a pro-Soviet regime. As Ambassador Averell Harriman cabled at the time, Russian actions were based on "ruthless political considerations."
By the time of the Yalta conference, the Red Army occupied Poland, leaving Roosevelt little room to maneuver. When one American diplomat urged the president to force Russia to agree to Polish independence, Roosevelt responded: "Do you want me to go to war with Russia?" With Stalin having already granted diplomatic recognition to the Lublin regime, Roosevelt could only hope that the Soviets would accept enough modification of the status quo to provide the appearance of representative democracy. Spheres of influence were a reality, FDR told seven senators, because "the occupying forces [have] the power in the areas where their arms are present." All America could do was to use her influence "to ameliorate the situation."
Nevertheless, Roosevelt played what cards he had with skill. "Most Poles," he told Stalin, "want to save face. ... It would make it easier for me at home if the Soviet government could give something to Poland." A government of national unity, Roosevelt declared, would facilitate public acceptance in the United States of full American participation in postwar arrangements. "Our people at home look with a critical eye on what they consider a disagreement between us. ... They, in effect, say that if we cannot get a meeting of minds now . . . how can we get an understanding on even more vital things in the future?" Although Stalin's immediate response was to declare that Poland was "not only a question of honor for Russia, but one of life and death," he finally agreed that some reorganization of the Lublin regime could take place to ensure broader representation of all Poles.
In the end, the Big Three papered over their differences at Yalta by agreeing to a Declaration on Liberated Europe that committed the Allies to help liberated peoples resolve their problems through democratic means and advocated the holding of free elections. Although Roosevelt's aide Admiral William Leahy told him that the report on Poland was "so elastic that the Russians can stretch it all the way from Yalta to Washington without ever technically breaking it," Roosevelt believed that he had done the best he could under the circumstances. From the beginning, Roosevelt had recognized, on a de facto basis at least, that Poland was part of Russia's sphere of influence and must remain so. He could only hope that Stalin would now show equal recognition of the U.S. need to have concessions that would give the appearance, at least, of implementing the Atlantic Charter.
The same basic dilemmas, of course, occurred with regard to the structure of postwar governments in all of Eastern Europe. As early as 1943, Roosevelt had made clear to Stalin at Tehran that he was willing to have the Baltic states controlled by the Soviets. His only request, the president told Stalin, was for some public commitment to future elections in order to satisfy his constituents at home for whom "the big issues . . . would be the question of referendum and the right of self-determination." The exchange with Stalin accurately reflected Roosevelt's position over time.
Significantly, Roosevelt even sanctioned Churchill's efforts to divide Europe into spheres of influence. With Roosevelt's approval, Churchill journeyed to Moscow in the fall of 1944. Sitting across the table from Stalin, Churchill proposed that Russia exercise 90 percent predominance in Romania, 75 percent in Bulgaria, and 50 percent control, together with Britain, in Yugoslavia and Hungary, while the United States and Great Britain would exercise 90 percent predominance in Greece. After extended discussion and some hard bargaining, the deal was made. (Poland was not even included in Churchill's percentages, suggesting that he was acknowledging Soviet control there.) At the time, Churchill suggested that the arrangements be expressed "in diplomatic terms [without use of] the phrase 'dividing into spheres,' because the Americans might be shocked." But in fact, as Robert Daliek has shown in his superb study of Roosevelt's diplomacy, the American president accepted the arrangement. "I am most pleased to know," FDR wrote Churchill, "you are reaching a meeting of your two minds as to international policies." To Harriman he cabled: "My active interest at the present time in the Balkan area is that such steps as are practicable should be taken to insure against the Balkans getting us into a future international war." At no time did Roosevelt protest the British-Soviet agreement.
In the case of Eastern Europe generally, even more so than in Poland, it seemed clear that Roosevelt, on a de facto basis, was prepared to live with spheres-of-influence diplomacy. Nevertheless, he remained constantly sensitive to the political peril he faced at home on the issue. As Congressman John Dingell stated in a public warning in August 1943, "We Americans are not sacrificing, fighting, and dying to make permanent and more powerful the communistic government of Russia and to make Joseph Stalin a dictator over the liberated countries of Europe." Such sentiments were widespread. Indeed, it was concern over such opinions that led Roosevelt to urge the Russians to be sensitive to American political concerns. In Eastern Europe for the most part, as in Poland, the key question was whether the United States could somehow find a way to acknowledge spheres of influence, but within a context of universalist principles, so that the American people would not feel that the Atlantic Charter had been betrayed.
The future of Germany represented a third critical point of conflict. For emotional as well as political reasons, it was imperative that steps be taken to prevent Germany from ever again waging war. In FDR's words, "We have got to be tough with Germany, and I mean the German people not just the Nazis. We either have to castrate the German people or you have got to treat them in such a manner so they can't just go on reproducing people who want to continue the way they have in the past." Consistent with that position, Roosevelt had agreed with Stalin at Tehran on the need for destroying a strong Germany by dividing the country into several sectors, "as small and weak as possible."
Still operating on that premise, Roosevelt endorsed Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau's plan to eliminate all industry from Germany and convert the country into a pastoral landscape of small farms. Not only would such a plan destroy any future war-making power, it would also reassure the Soviet Union of its own security. "Russia feared we and the British were going to try to make a soft peace with Germany and build her up as a possible future counter-weight against Russia," Morgenthau said. His plan would avoid that, and simultaneously implement Roosevelt's insistence that "every person in Germany should realize that this time Germany is a defeated nation." Hence, in September 1944, Churchill and Roosevelt approved the broad outlines of the Morgenthau plan as their policy for Germany.
Within weeks, however, the harsh policy of pastoralization came unglued. From a Soviet perspective, there was the problem of how Russia could exact the reparations she needed from a country with no industrial base. American policymakers, in turn, objected that a Germany without industrial capacity would prove unable to support herself, placing the entire burden for maintaining the populace on the Allies. Rumors spread that the Morgenthau plan was stiffening German resistance on the western front. American business interests, moreover, suggested the importance of retaining German industry as a key to postwar commerce and trade.
As a result, Allied policy toward Germany became a shambles. "No one wants to make Germany a wholly agricultural nation again," Roosevelt insisted. "No one wants 'complete eradication of German industrial production capacity in the Ruhr and the Saar.' " Confused about how to proceed, Roosevelt—in effect—adopted a policy of no policy. "I dislike making detailed plans for a country which we do not yet occupy," he said. When Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt met for the last time in Yalta, this failure to plan prevented a decisive course of action. The Russians insisted on German reparations of $20 billion, half of which would go to the Soviet Union. Although FDR accepted Stalin's figure as a basis for discussion, the British and Americans deferred any settlement of the issue, fearing that they would be left with the sole responsibility for feeding and housing the German people. The only agreement that could be reached was to refer the issue to a new tripartite commission. Thus, at just the moment when consensus on a policy to deal with their common enemy was most urgent, the Allies found themselves empty handed, allowing conflict and misunderstanding over another central question to join the already existing problems over Eastern Europe.
Directly related to each of these issues, particularly the German question, was the problem of postwar economic reconstruction. The issue seemed particularly important to those Americans concerned about the postwar economy in the United States. Almost every business and political leader feared resumption of mass unemployment once the war ended. Only the development of new markets, extensive trade, and worldwide economic cooperation could prevent such an eventuality. "The capitalistic system is essentially an international system," one official declared. "If it cannot function internationally, it will break down completely." The Atlantic Charter had taken such a viewpoint into account when it declared that all states should enjoy access, on equal terms, to "the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity."
To promote these objectives, the United States took the initiative at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944 by creating a World Bank with a capitalization of $7.6 billion and the International Monetary Fund with a capitalization of $7.3 billion. The two organizations would provide funds for rebuilding Europe, as well as for stabilizing world currency. Since the United States was the major contributor, it would exercise decisive control over how the money was spent. The premise underlying both organizations was that a stable world required healthy economies based on free trade.
Attitudes toward economic reconstruction had direct import for postwar policies toward Germany and Eastern Europe. It would be difficult to have a stable European economy without a significant industrial base in Germany. Pastoral countries of small farms rarely possessed the wherewithal to become customers of large capitalist enterprises. On the other hand, a prosperous German economy, coupled with access to markets in Eastern and Western Europe, offered the prospect of avoiding a recurrence of depression and guaranteed a significant American presence in European politics as well. Beyond this, of course, it was thought that if democracy was to survive, as it had not after 1918, countries needed a thriving economy.
Significantly, economic aid also offered the opportunity either to enhance or diminish America's ties to the Soviet Union. Averell Harriman, the American ambassador to Moscow after October 1943, had engaged in extensive business dealings with the Soviet Union during the 1920S and believed firmly in the policy of providing American assistance to rebuild the Soviet economy. Such aid, Harriman argued, "would be in the self-interest of the United States" because it would help keep Americans at work producing goods needed by the Russians. Just as important, it would provide "one of the most effective weapons to avoid the development of a sphere of influence of the Soviet Union over eastern Europe and the Balkans."
Proceeding on these assumptions, Harriman urged the Russians to apply for American aid. They did so, initially, in December 1943 with a request for a $1 billion loan at an interest rate of one-half of 1 percent, then again in January 1945 with a request for a $6 billion loan at an interest rate of 2.25 percent. Throughout this period, American officials appeared to encourage the Soviet initiative. Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau had come up with his own plan for a $10 billion loan at 2 percent interest. When Chamber of Commerce head Eric Johnson visited Moscow, Stalin told him: "I like to do business with American businessmen. You fellows know what you want. Your word is good, and, best of all, you stay in office a long time—just like we do over here." So enthusiastic were some State Department officials about postwar economic arrangements that they predicted exports of as much as $1 billion a year to Russia. Molotov and Mikoyan encouraged such optimism, with the Soviets promising "a voluminous and stable market such as no other customer would ever [offer]."
As the European war drew to a close, however, the American attitude shifted from one of eager encouragement to skeptical detachment. Harriman and his aides in Moscow perceived a toughening of the Soviet position on numerous issues, including Poland and Eastern Europe. Hence, they urged the United States to clamp down on lend-lease and exact specific concessions from the Russians in return for any ongoing aid. Only if the Soviets "played the international game with us in accordance with our standards," Harriman declared, should the United States offer assistance. By April 1945, Harriman had moved to an even more hard-line position. "We must clearly recognize," he said, "that the Soviet program is the establishment of totalitarianism, ending personal liberty and democracy." A week later he urged the State Department to view the Soviet loan request with great suspicion. "Our basic interest," he cabled, "might better be served by increasing our trade with other parts of the world rather than giving preference to the Soviet Union as a source of supply."
Congress and the American people, meanwhile, seemed to be turning against postwar economic aid. A public opinion poll in December 1944 showed that 70 percent of the American people believed the Allies should repay their lend-lease debt in full. Taking up the cry for fiscal restraint, Senator Arthur Vandenberg told a friend: "We have a rich country, but it is not rich enough to permit us to support the world." Fearful about postwar recession and the possibility that American funds would be used for purposes it did not approve, Congress placed severe constraints on continuation of any lend-lease support once the war was over and indicated that any request for a postwar loan would encounter profound skepticism.
Roosevelt's response, in the face of such attitudes, was once again to procrastinate. Throughout the entire war he had ardently espoused a generous and flexible lend-lease policy toward the Soviet Union. For the most part, FDR appeared to endorse Secretary Morgenthau's attitude that "to get the Russians to do something [we] should ... do it nice. . . . Don't drive such a hard bargain that when you come through it does not taste good." Consistent with that attitude, he had rejected Harriman's advice to demand quid pro quos for American lend-lease. Economic aid, he declared, did not "constitute a bargaining weapon of any strength," particularly since curtailing lend-lease would harm the United States as much as it would injure the Russians. Nevertheless, Roosevelt accepted a policy of postponement on any discussion of postwar economic arrangements. "I think it's very important," the president declared, "that we hold back and don't give [Stalin] any promise until we get what we want." Clearly, the amount of American aid to the Soviet Union—and the attitude which accompanied that aid— could be decisive to the future of American-Soviet relations. Yet in this—as in so many other issues—Roosevelt gave little hint of the ultimate direction he would take, creating one more dimension of uncertainty amidst the gathering confusion that surrounded postwar international arrangements.
The final issue around which the Cold War revolved was that of the atomic bomb. Development of nuclear weapons not only placed in human hands the power to destroy all civilization, but presented as well the critical question of how such weapons would be used, who would control them, and what possibilities existed for harnessing the incalculable energy of the atom for the purpose of international peace and cooperation rather than destruction. No issue, ultimately, would be more important for human survival. On the other hand, the very nature of having to build the A-bomb in a world threatened by Hitler's madness mandated a secrecy that seriously impeded, from the beginning, the prospects for cooperation and international control.
The divisive potential of the bomb became evident as soon as Albert Einstein disclosed to Roosevelt the frightening information that physicists had the capacity to split the atom. Knowing that German scientists were also pursuing the same quest, Roosevelt immediately ordered a crash program of research and development on the bomb, soon dubbed the "Manhattan Project." British scientists embarked on a similar effort, collaborating with their American colleagues. The bomb, one British official noted, "would be a terrific factor in the postwar world . . . giving an absolute control to whatever country possessed the secret." Although American advisors urged "restricted interchange" of atomic energy information, Churchill demanded and got full cooperation. If the British and the Americans worked together, however, what of the Soviet Union once it became an ally?
In a decision fraught with significance for the future, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed in Quebec in August 1943 to a "full exchange of information" about the bomb with "[neither] of us [to] communicate any information about [the bomb] to third parties except by mutual consent." The decision ensured Britain's future interests as a world power and guaranteed maximum secrecy; but it did so in a manner that would almost inevitably provoke Russian suspicion about the intentions of her two major allies.
The implications of the decision were challenged just one month later when Neils Bohr, a nuclear physicist who had escaped from Nazi-occupied Denmark, approached Roosevelt (indirectly through Felix Frankfurter) with the proposal that the British and Americans include Russia in their plans. Adopting a typically Rooseveltian stance, the president both encouraged Bohr to believe that he was "most eager to explore" the possibility of cooperation and almost simultaneously reaffirmed his commitment to an exclusive British-American monopoly over atomic information. Meeting personally with Bohr on August 26, 1944, Roosevelt agreed that "contact with the Soviet Union should be tried along the lines that [you have] suggested." Yet in the meantime, Roosevelt and Churchill had signed a new agreement to control available supplies of uranium and had authorized surveillance of Bohr "to insure that he is responsible for no leakage of information, particularly to the Russians." Evidently, Roosevelt hoped to keep open the possibility of cooperating with the Soviets—assuming that Bohr would somehow communicate this to the Russians—while retaining, until the moment was right, an exclusive relationship with Britain. Implicit in Roosevelt's posture was the notion that sharing atomic information might be a quid pro quo for future Soviet concessions. On the surface, such an argument made sense. Yet it presumed that the two sides were operating on the same set of assumptions and perceptions—clearly not a very safe presumption. In this, as in so many other matters, Roosevelt appears to have wanted to retain all options until the end. Indeed, a meeting to discuss the sharing of atomic information was scheduled for the day FDR was to return from Warm Springs, Georgia. The meeting never took place, leaving one more pivotal issue of contention unresolved as the war drew to a close.
Given the nature of the personalities and the nations involved, it was perhaps not surprising that, as the war drew to an end, virtually none of the critical issues on the agenda of postwar relationships had been resolved. Preferring to postpone decisions rather than to confront the full dimension of the conflicts that existed, FDR evidently hoped that his own political genius, plus the exigencies of postwar conditions, would pave the way for a mutual accommodation that would somehow satisfy both America's commitment to a world of free trade and democratic rule, and the Soviet Union's obsession with national security and safely defined spheres of influence. The Russians, in turn, also appeared content to wait, in the meantime working militarily to secure maximum leverage for achieving their sphere-of-influence goals. What neither leader nor nation realized, perhaps, was that in their delay and scheming they were adding fuel to the fire of suspicion that clearly existed between them and possibly missing the only opportunity that might occur to forge the basis for mutual accommodation and coexistence.
For nearly half a century, the country had functioned within a political world shaped by the Cold War and controlled by a passionate anticommunism that used the Kremlin as its primary foil. Not only did the Cold War define America's stance in the world, dictating foreign policy choices from Southeast Asia to Latin-America; it defined the contours of domestic politics as well. No group could secure legitimacy for its political ideas if they were critical of American foreign policy, sympathetic in any way to "socialism," or vulnerable to being dismissed as "leftist" or as "soft on communism." From national health insurance to day care centers for children, domestic policies suffered from the crippling paralysis created by a national fixation with the Soviet Union.
Now, it seemed likely that the Cold War would no longer exist as the pivot around which all American politics revolved. However much politicians were unaccustomed to talking about anything without anti-communism as a reference point, it now seemed that they would have to look afresh at problems long since put aside because they could not be dealt with in a world controlled by Cold War alliances.
In some ways, America seemed to face the greatest moment of possibility in all of postwar history as the decade of the 1990s began. So much positive change had already occurred in the years since World War II—the material progress, the victories against discrimination, the new horizons that had opened for education and creativity. But so much remained to be done as well in a country where homelessness, poverty, and drug addiction reflected the abiding strength that barriers of race, class, and gender retained in blocking people's quest for a decent life.
Cold War - is the term used to describe the intense rivalry that developed after World War II between groups of Communist and non-Communist nations/ On one side were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and its Communist allies, often referred to as the Eastern bloc. On the other side were the United States and its democratic allies, usually referred to as the Western bloc. The struggle was called the Cold War because it did not actually lead to fighting, or "hot" war, on a wide scale.
Iron Curtain - was the popular phrase, which Churchill made to refer to Soviet barriers against the West. Behind these barriers, the USSR steadily expanded its power.
Marshall Plan - encouraged European nations to work together for economic recovery after World War II (1939-1945) / In June 1947, the United States agreed to administer aid to Europe in the countries would meet to decide what they needed/ The official name of the plane was the European Recovery Program. It is called the Marshall Plane because Secretary of the State George C. Marshall first suggested it.
Potsdam Conference -was the last meeting among the Leaders of Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States, during World War II. The conference was held at Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin. It opened in July 17, 1945, about two months after Germany's defeat in the war. Present at the opening were U.S. President Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Soviet Premier Josef Stalin.
Yalta Conference - was one of the most important meetings of key Allied Leaders during World War II. These Leaders were President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, and Premier Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union. Their countries became known as the "Big Three". The conference took place at Yalta, a famous Black Sea resort in the Crimea, from Feb. 4 to 11, 1945. Through the years decisions made there regarding divisions in Europe have stirred bitter debates.
The reference list.
William H. Chafe
"The Unfinished Journey: America since World War II" New York Oxford, Oxford University press, 1991.
2. David Caute "The Great Fear", 1978
3. Michael Belknap "Cold War Political Justice", 1977
4. Allen D. Harper "The politics of Loyalty", 1959
5. Robert Griffin "The politics of Fear", 1970
6. James Wechler "The Age Suspicion" 1980
7. Alistair Cooke "A Generation on Trial", 1950