How far were ideological differences responsible for the growing hostility of US policy towards the Soviet Union 1944-1946? ` Essay

I think ideological differences played a large part in the growing hostility of US policy towards the Soviet Union, however I also think that other issues and ideas contributed largely. Fundamentally, the two sides were complete opposites of each other, with entirely different ideological ideas. One of the main ideological differences was the USA’s idea of the USSR being expansionists. George Kennan’s Long Telegram in February 1946 analysed the motives of Russian foreign policy.

It stated that Russia were expansionists and they needed an enemy to unite the public and that enemy was the west. The telegram was well received in Washington and Truman in particular, embraced Kennan’s conclusions. It gave Truman a bigger reason to define the Soviets as the enemy. The west feared Soviet Influence in their occupation zones, whilst Russia feared Western Ideology. In March 1946, Churchill made a speech in America stating that an ‘Iron Curtain’ had descended over Europe. He explained that gradually a gap between the wartime was forming.

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This speech hardened the public’s opinion and new polls showed that less and less people felt the Russians were to be ‘trusted’. The increasing fear of Soviet Influence and communism growing in Germany, the USA, in 1946 decided on the creation of Bizonia. This united the American and English occupation zones, later with the addition of France. These created a clear divide between the East and West. Russia saw this as a violation of the post war agreements to keeping Germany as a whole economic entity.

Neither the USSR or USA trusted each other, there was a mutual suspicion and distrust which is shown in the Clifford-Elsey report. The distrust of the USSR meant that the US make the McMahon act which prevented the exchange of atomic information of any kind, even between allies. This was a clear indicator to the Soviets that the USA did not trust them at all, which created more tension. The USA got increasingly suspicious of the Soviets position on the atomic bomb and so they made the Baruch Plan.

This stated that America would destroy their atomic weapons if Russia would allow them to search their labs. The USA knew the Soviets would not agree, so they would be able to keep their atomic bomb and yet look like the more open and trustworthy of the two. America had the upper hand. Previously, Russia had been invaded three times and in fear of future attacks, Stalin surrounded Russia with ‘Buffer States’. This included Poland. The USA however saw this as an attempt to expand and integrate Poland into the communist regime because Stalin had not allowed free elections as agreed at Potsdam.

Despite ideological differences playing a large part in the growing hostility of US policy, there were other issues and ideas that contributed. The use of atomic monopoly and dollar diplomacy caused the Soviets and the USA to be suspicious of each other. The post war agreements were not specified or made clear and were therefore violated. They did not agree on the amount reparations for the Soviets to take from Germany. The USA saw this as the USSR taking too much however for the Soviets they felt it was proportionate to the amount they lost in WW2.

This led to the US perception that the Soviets were aggressive and in turn led to Truman’s policies regarding atomic warfare. The creation of Bizonia meant the violation of Potsdam. The creation of Bizonia was an attempt to increase trade with western Europe which in Wallace’s speech in September 1946, he said it was vital for America to increase economic stability. Russia however saw this as an attempt to spread Capitalism in their ‘Sphere of Influence’. America’s new perceptions of Russia quickly changed their policies.

They now brought forward the ‘Patience with firmness’ or ‘get tough’ policy towards Russia. In May 1946, America stopped reparations to the Soviets from the Western zones. Russia saw this as a direct breach of the Potsdam agreement. In conclusion I believe ideological differences were the main reason why Truman’s administrative policies became more hostile towards the Soviet Union 1944-6. This is because I believe the USA’s portrayal of the USSR was false and only led to more distrust.