Ch. 29: The Cold War I. Origins of the Cold War



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Ch. 29: The Cold War
I. Origins of the Cold War

  1. Sources of Soviet-American Tensions

  • In the Atlantic Charter of 1941, nations abandoned traditional beliefs in military alliances and spheres of influence and governed relations through democratic processes

  • With an international organization serving as the arbiter of disputes and the protector of every nation’s right of self-determination

  • That vision appealed to Americans, including Franklin Roosevelt

  • Churchill and Stalin tended to envision a postwar structure in which the great powers would control areas of strategic interest to them

  • Vaguely similar to the traditional European balance of power

  1. Wartime Diplomacy

    • Serious strains had already begun to develop in the alliance with the Soviet Union in January 1943, when Roosevelt and Churchill met in Casablanca, Morocco, to discuss Allied strategy

    • In November 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill traveled to Teheran, Iran, for their first meeting with Stalin

    • Teheran Conference seemed mostly a success; Roosevelt and Stalin established a cordial relationship

    • Origins of future disagreements were visible; most important was the question of the future of Poland

    • The three leaders avoided a bitter conclusion to the Teheran Conference only by leaving the issue unresolved

  2. Yalta

      • In Feb.1945, Roosevelt joined Churchill and Stalin for a great peace conference in the Soviet city of Yalta

      • Agreed to a plan for a new international organization, the United Nations

      • Contain a General Assembly, in which every member would be represented, and a Security Council, with permanent representatives of the five major powers (the US, Britain, France, Soviet Union, and China), each of which would have veto power

      • United Nations charter, drafted at a conference of fifty nations beginning April 25, 1945, in San Francisco

      • Basic disagreement remained about the postwar Polish govt.

      • Nor was there agreement about the future of Germany

      • The final agreement was, like the Polish accord, vague and unstable

      • US, GB, France, and Soviet Union would each control its own “zone of occupation” in Germany

      • Berlin would be divided into four sectors, one for each nation to occupy

      • The Yalta accords were less a settlement of postwar issues than a set of loose principles

      • In the weeks following the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union moved systematically to establish pro-communist governments in one Central or Eastern European nation after another

      • Roosevelt left Washington early in the spring for a vacation at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia

      • On April 12, 1945, he suffered a sudden, massive stroke and died

II. The Collapse of the Peace

  • Harry S. Truman succeeded Roosevelt in the presidency, sided with those in the government who considered the Soviet Union untrustworthy, and viewed Stalin with suspicion and loathing

A. The Collapse of the Peace

  • Truman had only limited leverage by which to compel the Soviet Union to carry out its agreements

  • Truman insisted that the US should get “85 %” of what it wanted, but he was forced to settle for much less

  • He conceded first on Poland

  • Truman met in July at Potsdam with Churchill and Stalin

  • Truman reluctantly accepted the adjustments of the Polish-German border that Stalin had demanded

  • He refused to permit the Russians to claim any reparations from the American, French, and British zones of Germany

  • Germany would remain divided, with the western zones united into one nation, friendly to the US and the Russian zone surviving as another nation, with a pro-Soviet, communist govt.

B. The China Problem

    • The Chinese govt. of Chiang Kai-shek was generally friendly to the US, but his government was corrupt and incompetent

    • The nationalist government he headed had been engaged in a prolonged and bitter rivalry with the communist armies of Mao Zedong

  • The long struggle erupted into a full-scale civil war; the United States continued to pump money and weapons to Chiang

  • The American government was beginning to consider an alternative to China as the strong, pro-Western force in Asia: a revived Japan

  • US lifted all restrictions on industrial development and encouraged rapid economic growth in Japan

C. The Containment Doctrine

  • A new American policy, known as the containment, was slowly emerging, the U.S. and its allies would work to “contain” the threat of further Soviet expansion

  • George F. Kennan was one of the architects of the policy of containment, which became the basis of American foreign policy for over forty years

  • On 3/12/1947, Truman appeared before Congress and used Keenan’s warnings as the basis of the Truman Doctrine

    • That it must be the policy of the U.S. to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures

    • Requested $400 million – part of it to bolster the armed forces of Greece and Turkey, another part to provide economic assistance to Greece

    • The American commitment helped ease the soviet pressure on Turkey and helped the Greek government defeat the communist insurgents

  1. The Marshall Plan

  • In June 1947 Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced a plan to provide economic assistance to all European nations that would join in drafting a program for recovery

  • Sixteen Western European nations eagerly participated

  • Over the next three years, the Marshall Plan channeled over $12 billion of American aid into Europe, helping to spark a substantial economic revival

  1. Mobilization at Home

  • In 1948 Congress approved a new military draft and revived the Selective Service System

  • The U.S. redoubled its efforts in atomic research, elevating nuclear weaponry to a central place in its military arsenal

  • In 1950, the Truman administration approved the development of the new hydrogen bomb

  • National Security Act of 1947 reshaped the nation’s major military and diplomatic institutions

  • Department of Defense would oversee all branches of the armed services

  • National Security Council (NSC) would give foreign and military policy

  • CIA would be responsible for collecting information through both open and covert methods

  • National Security Act gave the president expanded powers to pursue the nation’s international goals

  1. The Road to NATO

  • Truman reached an agreement with England and France to merge the three western zones of occupation into a new West German republic

  • Stalin responded quickly; On 6/24/1948, he imposed a tight blockade around the western sectors of Berlin

  • Truman ordered a massive airlift to supply the city with food, fuel, and other needed goods

          • Transforming West Berlin into a symbol of the West’s resolve to resist communist expansion

  • On April 4, 1949, twelve nations signed an agreement establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and declaring that an armed attack against one member would be considered an attack against all

  • Formation of NATO spurred the Soviet Union to create an alliance of its own with the communist governments in Eastern Europe- an alliance formalized in 1955 by the Warsaw Pact

  1. Reevaluating Cold War Policy

  • Events in 1949 propelled the Cold War in new directions; Soviet Union had successfully exploded its first atomic weapon

  • Chinese mainland came under control of communist govt. believed to be an extension of the Soviet Union

  • NSC-68 outlined a shift in the American position

    • U.S. could no longer rely on other nations to resist communism

    • Must stop communist expansion virtually anywhere it occurred

    • Called for a major expansion of American military power, with a defense budget almost four times the previously projected figure

III. American Society and Politics after the War

  1. The Problems of Reconversion

  • There was no economic collapse in 1946 for several reasons:

    • Increased consumer demand

    • Consumer goods had been generally unavailable during the war, so many workers had saved and were now ready to spend

    • $6 billion tax cut pumped additional money into general circulation

    • GI Bill of Rights provided economic and educational assistance to veterans, increasing spending

    • This flood of consumer demand contributed to more than two years of serious inflation

    • In April 1946, John L. Lewis led United Mine Workers strike, shutting down the coal fields for 40 days

    • Truman forced miners to return to work by ordering government seizure of the mines

    • Truman pressured mine owners to grant the union most of its demands

    • Nation’s RR suffered a total shutdown—1st in our history—as two major unions walked out on strike

    • By threatening to use the army to run the trains, Truman pressured workers back to work

  1. The Fair Deal Rejected

    • “Fair Deal” called for expansion of Social Security benefits, the raising of minimum wage from 40 to 65 cents an hour, a program to ensure full employment through aggressive use of federal spending and investment, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, public housing and slum clearance, long-range environmental and public works planning, and government promotion of scientific research

    • In Nov. 1946 congressional elections, the Republican Party won control of both houses of Congress

    • New Rep. Congress quickly moved to reduce government spending and chip away at New Deal reforms

    • Most notable action of the new Congress was its assault on the Wagner Act of 1935

    • Taft-Hartley Act made illegal the so-called closed shop and it permitted states to pass “right-to-work” laws

    • Truman vetoed it, but both houses easily overruled him the same day

    • Taft-Hartley Act did not destroy the labor movement, but it did damage weaker unions

  1. The Election of 1948

      • At the Democratic Convention that summer, two factions abandoned the party altogether

      • Southern conservatives reacted angrily to Truman’s proposed civil rights bill and to the approval at the convention of a civil rights plank in the platform

      • Republicans nominated Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, whose substantial reelection victory in 1946 had made him one of the nation’s leading political figures

      • Polls showed Dewey with an apparently insurmountable lead in September

      • The president (Truman) traveled nearly 32,000 miles and made 356 speeches

      • He called for strong civil rights protection for blacks. (He was the first president to campaign in Harlem.)

      • On election night, he won a narrow but decisive victory: 49.5 percent of the popular vote to Dewey’s 45.1 and an electoral vote margin of 303 to 189

      • It was the most dramatic upset in the history of presidential elections

  1. The Fair Deal Revived

    • Truman did win some important victories: Congress raised the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour, expansion of the Social Security system, and passed the National Housing Act of 1949, which provided for the construction of 810,000 units of low-income housing

    • On other issues—national health insurance and aid to education—he made no progress

    • Nor was he able to persuade Congress to accept the civil rights legislation he proposed in 1949

    • Would have made lynching a federal crime, provided federal protection of black voting rights, abolished the poll tax, and established a new Fair Employment Practices Commission

    • Truman ordered an end to discrimination in the hiring of government employees

    • Began to dismantle segregation within the armed forces

    • The achievements of the Truman years made only minor dents in the structure of segregation, but were the tentative beginnings of a federal commitment to confront the problem of race

B. The Nuclear Age

  • The celebrated TV show of the 1950s and early 1960s, The Twilight Zone, frequently featured dramatic portrayals of the aftermath of nuclear war

  • Schools and office buildings had regular air raid drills, to prepare people for the possibility of nuclear war

  • Fallout shelters sprang up in public buildings and private homes, stocked with water and canned goods

  • A Gallup poll late in 1948 revealed the approximately two-thirds of those who had an opinion on the subject believed that, “in the long run,” atomic energy would “do more good than harm.”

        • Nuclear power plants began to spring up in many areas, welcomed as the source of cheap and unlimited electricity

IV. The Korean War

  1. The Divided Peninsula

  • By the end of 1945, both the US and the Soviet Union had sent troops into Korea and they had divided the nation along the 38th parallel

    • Russians departed in 1949, leaving behind a communist govt. in the north with a strong, Soviet-equipped army

    • US left shortly later, handing control to the pro-Western govt. to Syngman Rhee but a small army

  • Truman administration responded quickly to the invasion; on June 27, 1950, the president appealed to the UN to intervene

  • Truman appointed Gen. Douglas MacArthur to command the (largelly American) UN operations there

  • The intervention in Korea would be an effort not simply at containment but also at “liberation”

  • After a surprise American at Inchon had routed the North Korean forces and sent them fleeing back across the 38th parallel, Truman gave MacArthur permission to pursue the communists into their own territory

    • His aim was to create “a unified, independent and democratic Korea.”

  1. From Invasion to Stalemate

  • On October 19, the capital, Pyongyang, fell to the UN forces

  • By November 4, eight divisions of the Chinese army had entered the war

        • UN offensive stalled and then collapsed

    • Communist forces pushed the Americans back below the 38th parallel once again and had captured the

South Korean capital of Seoul a second time

  • By March, the UN armies had regained much of the lost territory, taking back Seoul & 38th parallel

  • Truman was determined to avoid a costly war w/ China, but he faced a formidable opponent on Gen. Mac

  • Mac argued the US was fighting the Chinese, so US should invade, or at least bomb, China

    • In March 1951, he indicated his unhappiness in letter to House Rep. leader, Joseph Martin

      • “Martin Letter” claimed there was no substitute for victory; Position had wide popular support

      • Release of the “Martin Letter” struck the president as intolerable insubordination; On April 11, 1951, relieved MacArthur of his command

  1. Limited Mobilization

  • RR workers walked off the job in 1951, Truman ordered the government to seize control of the railroads

  • Korean War gave a significant boost to economic growth by pumping new govt. funds into the economy

  • The stalemate continued, leaving 140,000 Americans dead or wounded, frustration turned to anger

V. The Crusade against Subversion

A. HUAC and Alger Hiss

  • Beginning in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee held widely publicized investigations to prove that government had tolerated communist subversion

    • Turned first to the movie industry, arguing that communists had infiltrated Hollywood

    • “Hollywood Ten” refused to answer questions about their own political beliefs and those of their colleagues, they were jailed for contempt

  • More alarming was HUAC’s investigation into charges of disloyalty leveled against high-ranking member of the State Department: Alger Hiss

    • Whittaker Chambers, a self-avowed former communist agent who turned against the party and became an editor at Time magazine, told committee Hiss passed classified State Department documents through him to the Soviet Union in 1937 and 1938

    • Hiss could not be tried for espionage because of the statute limitations

    • Hiss convicted of perjury and served several years in prison

  • Hiss case made it possible for many Americans believe that communists had infiltrated the government

B. The Federal Loyalty Program and the Rosenberg Case

  • Truman administration in 1947 initiated a program to review the “loyalty” of federal employees

  • By 1951, more than 2,000 govt. employees resigned under pressure and 212 had been dismissed

  • Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, investigated and harassed alleged radicals

  • McCarran Internal Security Act, requiring all communist organizations to register with the government and to publish their records

  • In 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a young British scientist, confirmed fears when he testified that he had delivered to the Russians details of the manufacture of the bomb

  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, members of the Communist Party, whom the government claimed had been the masterminds of the conspiracy

  • Rosenbergs were convicted and sentenced to death

  • Died in the electric chair on June 19, 1953, proclaiming their innocence to the end

  • A pervasive fear settled on the country—not only the fear of communist infiltration but also the fear of being suspected of communism

C. McCarthyism

  • Joseph McCarthy was an undistinguished first-term Republican senator from Wisconsin when, in February 1950, he raised a sheet of paper and claimed to “hold in my hand” a list of 205 known communists currently working in the American State Department

  • McCarthy belligerently and often cruelly badgered witnesses and destroyed public careers

  1. The Republican Revival

      • General Dwight D. Eisenhower, military hero, commander of NATO, president of Columbia University, won nomination on the first ballot

      • Eisenhower won both a popular and an electoral landslide: 55 percent of the popular vote to Stevenson’s 44 percent, 442 electoral votes to Stevenson’s 89

      • Election of 1952 ended twenty years of Democratic government


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