the anti- communists in Russian Civil War. This shows that the alliance with Russia during the 2nd World War was an alliance against a common enemy and not due to ideological similarities. The differences between Capitalism and Communism were cited as a vast gulf between the ideologies of the capitalist West and Communist Russia and Russia was seen with more suspicion than Germany after the First World War. The differences due to political ideologies and economic system of operation meant that Communist Russia was seen as more of a threat than Germany.
The 2nd World War made the Soviet Union and Britain and America Allies against Germany but the strange bed fellows continued to look at each other with suspicion [Gaddis, 1990]. Soviet request to open a second front but the request was delayed for two years until June 1944. Truman, who was a US senator during 1934-44, saw international conflicts as the result of conflict created by ‘outlaws’ and ‘totalitarians’. He had hoped that German invasion of Soviet Union in 1941 would result in mutual destruction of both countries [Offner, 2006].
It is little surprising that failure of United States and Britain to open a second front was seen as a part of US/British tactics. Stalin saw it is as an intentional policy to weaken the Soviet Union causing Soviet Union to loose 20 million people. Stalin also suspected that Western Allies will only intervene at the last minute to control and dominate Europe themselves [Gaddis, 1990]. Truman was known to compare Russian leaders to Al-Capone and Hitler and his views about Communist Russia can certainly be expected to United States policy towards Russia during Truman Presidency [Offner, 2006].
With this kind of suspicions between the ‘Allies’, it is little surprising that the difference began to surface so soon after the end of the World War setting the stage for the Cold War. The Capitalist system and Communism have philosophies diagonally opposite to each other. .. and the Cold War Begins….. When the defeat of Germany became imminent, United States began to revise its policy towards Soviet Union. Five years of war had left Soviet Economy in a state of collapse; United States knew that Soviet Union will have to seek US help to rebuild its economy.
President Roosevelt denied a Soviet request for $5 billion loan in January 1945 well before the end of the War. In the spring of 1945, Congress stopped Lend-Lease for any post-war reconstruction in Russia. This arrangement had allowed both Britain and Russia to acquire enormous quantities of war material during the World War. The cracks in the ‘alliance’ began visible just two months after German surrender. The three allies met in Potsdam on July 25, 1945 to discuss the future of Germany. Russia wanted to use German industry to rebuild Russia as war reparation.
United States saw as indirectly being involved in Russia’s reconstruction as it US was to rebuild Germany while Germany helped rebuilt Russia. Eventually the allies decided to split Germany into four zones, Soviet Union was to occupy Eastern Germany while Britain, France and United States were to occupy western parts [Kreis, 2007]. This conference set separate paths for Western Allies and Russia. The real dangerous part of the Cold War was the threat of nuclear weapons. As the war came to an end, the future of how nuclear weapons developed in future was a part of the power struggle.
Russia, in the hope of taking away the advantage United States had gained by developing and using atomic bomb by insisting that production of fissionable material should be banned and all existing bombs should be destroyed. United States wishing to keep its advantage proposed to create a regulatory agency to control all fissionable materials and atom bombs. Eventually the two sides agreed to disagree and that triggered the nuclear race. The world would have been a better place if the parties had agreed to banning nuclear weapons at that time.
The Potsdam conferences until 1947 concentrated on who should control Europe. Russia wanted to have friendly countries along its borders to prevent a recurrence of devastating attacks of the two World Wars. America wanted to make the world a ‘safe place’ by following Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Point Plan which in real terms meant US style capitalist free trade democracy where people determined what form of government they should have. The Soviet Union responded by creating communist government in the areas under its control.
This meant setting up of governments loyal to Russia in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria by conducted rigged election. This to United States and Britain appeared as expansion of communism but the many historians now assess it as Russia simply trying to protect its borders from any intervention on the part of the United States or the allies. The Cold War had truly begun. Churchill coined the term Iron curtain in his famous speech which was to be repeated until the fall of Soviet Union. In his speech Churchill said, “From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.
Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and Eastern Europe — Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia. From what I have seen of our Russian friends and allies during the war I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength and nothing for which they have less respect than military weakness” [Kreis, 2007]. The war of words between Truman/Churchill and only fueled the Cold War. Truman declared in early 1946 that he was “tired of babysitting the Soviets who understand only an iron fist and strong language.
” Stalin declared that the Soviet Communism and Western Capitalism were incompatible showing that the former allies could not even work together. By 1949 Soviet Union exploded its own nuclear bomb and the nuclear race that followed saw the world develop ability to destroy the world many many times over. ‘Mutually Assured Distraction (MAD)’ as it was later described was probably responsible that the rivalry between the Soviet and US Blocks remained a Cold War and did not develop into a nuclear war.