How far do you agree with the view that the development of the Cold War in the years 1945-48 owed more to soviet expansionism than to the USA’s economic interests? Many historians argue that the development of the cold war in the years 1945-48 owed more to soviet expansionism than to the USA’s economic interests. Source 7 supports this view to an extent as it argues that the USSR ‘tightened its grip over the countries of central and eastern Europe’ and how the ‘western attitudes had hardened’ due to this.
However source 8 disagrees with source 7 completely as it suggests that there were ‘important economic advantages for the USA in starting a cold war’. Source 9 rejects the view of both sources as it acknowledges the need for Stalin’s need for security and that there was a ‘wedge’ driven into ‘soviet security’. The orthodox school of historians would argue that the cold war developed due to soviet expansionism and this was clear in Stalin’s foreign policy. This was evident in the events that took place after 1945.
One of the events that would side with this view would be the defeat of Germany in 1945 which gave Stalin the opportunity to spread communism through the use of Red Army. Source 7 would support this as it states ‘much of central and eastern Europe was within the soviet sphere of influence’. This was true because the Red Army controlled large areas of Eastern Europe and were in control of spreading communism. The view that Soviet policy was expansionist and aggressive was supported by George Kennan in the ‘Long Telegram’.
China turning communist in 1949 was seen as a huge step towards expansionism, however the evidence that would suggest this isn’t true was the Greek Civil War, and Stalin did have a chance to take over Greece but never did. Source 8 disagrees with the view that the development of the cold war in the years 1945-48 was more due to expansion. It argues that there were ‘economic advantages’ for the USA in starting the war. The revisionist thought of school would agree with this as they argue that USA was aggressively attempting to gain economic dominance over Europe.
The evidence to support this view would be taking the Marshall plan into consideration as that is a clear insight in to the USA wanting to gain economic dominance over other countries. The Marshall plan gave money to Europe and even offered money to the USSR to help them prosper however this was seen as a form of imperialism as it meant that the USA now had a degree of control over the countries that took Marshall Aid. This links in with the view that source 8 has as it argues that the US ‘feared another economic depression’.
Therefore the purpose of Marshall Aid was to protect the US industry however this was seen as taking away Europe’s Sovereignty. However it could be argues that the Marshall plan was not to benefit the USA because it was open to everyone including the USSR therefore it can be argue that US wanted the countries to prosper and establish their industries. Source 9 rejects the view of both these sources as it argues the development of the cold war was due to Stalin’s need for security, the source states that there was a ‘wedge being driven into the soviet security’.
Post revisionist historians would agree with this view as they would argue that the USA failed too sees the need for soviet security. The USSR having lost 25 million people needed to expand on their security. Source 9 also argues that the only option available was to ‘withdraw the soviet union behind its new front line in this defensive system’. The evidence to support this can be that the expansion to Eastern Europe was entirely for defensive measures. For example the creation of the buffer zone was merely to protect the Soviet Union from invasion from the west.
Truman lack of experience on foreign policy is a clear indication as to why the US failed to understand the Soviets need for security. Post revisionists would argue that the development of the cold war to do with misunderstandings and lack of communication. Overall i think the development of the cold war was due to the Stalin’s expansionism as he was hostile to the west and his foreign policy did suggest expansionism. The evidence to prove this would be the Red Army controlling large areas of Eastern Europe, the Berlin blockade in 1948-49 and the takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948. These were all seen as Stalin’s motives to spread communism.