American Aggression: The Origins of the Cold War Thesis Statement



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American Aggression: The Origins of the Cold War

Thesis Statement:

The United States initiated the Cold War through the nation’s policies following the Soviet Union’s Bolshevik Revolution, the attempted manipulation of the Soviet Union through Marshall Aid policies, and the diplomatic scare tactics surrounding the American use of the atomic bomb.


Section 1: American Response to Bolshevik Revolution


Counter-Argument

Argument

  • 1918 – 1920: US sent 12, 000 troops to support anti-revolutionaries in Russian Civil War1

  • Fighting for democracy, which was a goal of the US at the time

  • Military intervention violated the international standard of the right to self-governance without foreign interference2




  • Refused diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1933

  • Soviet Union did not legitimize itself as a nation by ignoring predecessor government’s $600 million debt to U.S. as well as through the outbreak of civil war3

  • Americans believed Soviets deserted the Allied world by leaving the war early4

  • Stance was offensive to the Soviets

  • Policy of non-recognition left the Soviet Union politically isolated

  • Soviets were given no seat at the Treaty of Versailles, and thus had no opportunity to discuss the future of Europe following WWI 5

  • Soviets pulled out of war to spare its people who had suffered more than any other nation throughout the war (Russia had highest death count, land was destroyed)6

  • Non-recognition prevented Soviet presence at Treaty of Versailles, denying them any input towards the future of Europe following WWI7

  • 1932: Most nations still in war debt to US, none other than Soviet Union were refused recognition8


Section 2: Manipulation using Marshall Aid


Counter-Argument

Argument

  • Marshall Plan meant to help rebuild European economy

  • Marshall Aid was offered to Soviets, who declined the financial aid9

  • Assistant Secretary Dean Acheson: “Our policy is not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, desperation and chaos.”10

  • Acheson: “Your Congress has authorized and your Government is carrying out a policy of relief and reconstruction as a matter of national self-interest.”11

  • A portion of the money donated would be spent purchasing U.S. goods

- 1947: Soviet Ambassador Andrei Vyshinsky: “The United States also counted on making all these countries directly dependent on the interests of American monopolies… It is becoming more and more evident to everyone that the implementation of the Marshall Plan will mean placing European countries under the economic and political control of the United Sates.”12




  • 1947: U.S. donated $13 billion (100 billion present-day) to Europe13

  • Very successful: led to continental economic growth of 35% within five years14




  • Soviets did not need American assistance in rebuilding their own economy

  • 1924-1928: Soviet production of electricity increased by 31 000 million kw, oil production rose 35 million tons, coal production rose 93 million tons15

- Soviets went from one of Europe’s poorest nations to a global superpower


Section 3: The Atomic Bomb

Counter-Argument

Argument

  • Bomb was dropped to save American lives, not to alter relations with the Soviets

  • Prospective death toll of an inland US invasion of Japan exceeded the prospective death toll of atomic bomb16

  • Shown by past battles: Okinawa 12, 000 US casualties, 200, 000 Japanese dead17

  • Bomb was dropped to manipulate Soviets

  • Atomic bomb was favoured over an invasion to prevent Soviet involvement which could lead to communist influence in the Pacific18

  • Truman intended to use American monopoly on nuclear bomb as means of manipulating the Soviets in the post-war world19

He believed he could use the bomb to influence Eastern Europe to adopt democratic rule20

  • Secretive relationship caused tensions

  • Development of the atomic bomb was not formally made known to the Soviets until weeks before the attack. Truman wrote, “On July 24, I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force.”21

  • The bomb sparked the arms race that composed the Cold War

  • Soviet Foreign Affairs Minister Molotov was ordered to speed up the Soviet bomb project within days of the Hiroshima bombing22

  • Any weapon so destructive that it could kill 45 000 with one detonation would instil fear in an opponent23

  • Dropping the bomb would end the war quickly

  • 48 million had already died, Japan showed no willingness to surrender 24

  • Japan surrendered four days after America dropped the bomb25

  • Emperor Hirohito’s advisor: “We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavour to end the war.”26




1 Thomas G. Paterson, Soviet-American Relations, 1917-1945 26 April 2005, .

2 “Treaty of Westphalia; October 24 1648” The Avalon Project 1996, 14 May 2005, <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/westphal.htm>.

3 Thomas G. Paterson, Soviet-American Relations, 1917 – 1945 26 April 2005, .

4 Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, The Cold War: An Illustrated History 1945-1991 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998) 5.

5 Victor Zelinski et al, “The Cold War,” Twentieth Century Viewpoints (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1996) 122.

6 “WWII Death Toll of All Nations” 6 April 2005, .

7 Victor Zelinski et al, “The Cold War,” Twentieth Century Viewpoints (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1996) 122.

8 Linda R. Killen, The Soviet Union and the United States (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989) 11.

9 Victor Zelinski et al, “The Cold War,” Twentieth Century Viewpoints (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1996) 130.

10 Alan M. Winkler, The Cold War: A History in Documents (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) 30-31.

11 Linda R. Killen, The Soviet Union and the United States (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989) 46.

12 “Vyshinsky Speech to the U.N.” 6 April 2005, <http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/03/documents/vyshinsky/>.

13 “Marshall Plan” 6 April 2005, .

14 “Marshall Plan” 6 April 2005, .

15 John D. Clare, Industry and the Five Year Plans 18 May 2005, .

16 “Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” 6 April 2005, <http://www.answers.com/topic/atomic-bombings-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki>.

17 “Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” 6 April 2005, <http://www.answers.com/topic/atomic-bombings-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki>.

18 Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, The Cold War: An Illustrated History 1945-1991 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998) 20.

19 Martin J. Sherwin, “The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War” ed. and comp. Helen Buss Mitchell and Joseph P. Mitchell, (Guilford: McGraw-Hill, 2000) 376.

20 Martin J. Sherwin, “The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War” ed. and comp. Helen Buss Mitchell and Joseph P. Mitchell, (Guilford: McGraw-Hill, 2000) 376.

21 Paul Priest, Truman Tells Stalin About the Bomb 6 April 2005, <http://www.nuclearfiles.org/redocuments/1945/450724-hst-stalin.html>.

22 Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, The Cold War: An Illustrated History 1945-1991 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998) 20.

23 Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, The Cold War: An Illustrated History 1945-1991 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998) 21.

24 “WWII Death Toll of All Nations” 6 April 2005, .

25 John T. Correll “The Decision that Launched the Enola Gay” Air Force Magazine April 1994, May 11 2005, .

26 Nicholas Kristof, “Why the Nuclear Attack on Japan was Right” The Age 6 August 2003, 14 May 2005, .


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