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The Cold War Begins
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Posted 10/31/09 , edited 10/31/09
As many of you know I’m a political science major at the local college and a large part of this degree is history. Recently we’ve been covering the US involvement in Europe’s reconstruction after the second World War. We’re also expected to write a paper concerning the conflicting interests of democratic and communist nations during this time period. In other words, we’re covering the start of the Cold War. While investigating the issue in my personal research I’ve become convinced that the Cold War only ended officially, but behind the proclamations of national leaders this chain of conflicts still exists. It is because of the Cold War that Al Qaeda exists, because of the Cold War that the Taliban exists, and because of the Cold War that the Israel-Arab conflict has escalated to its modern proportions. I would even argue that the First and Second Gulf Wars were created by post-Cold War interests.

This being said I also feel that the Cold War is just an extension of the Second World War by other means, and –that’s- what this thread is about. I intend, after dedicating more research into the topic before solidifying my historical opinion, to create a thread delineating how the competition between the US and USSR engendered every major international conflict from the Korean War to the fight for Afghani independence from soviet occupiers. However, before I do that I would like to first explain how the Cold War began!

Following the Second World War the Allied Forces were faced with a profound dilemma. What was to become of Hitler’s ruined Reich? The Big Four Powers (France, Britain, America, and the USSR,) would either have to terminate or renovate Germany’s obliterated economy.

France and Britain, still suffering from the blitzkrieg tactics of Hitler, opted for the former line of action because they realized that the reconstruction of Germany was crucial to the collective recovery of Europe as a whole. They were further motivated by US secretary of state George C. Marshall’s promise to make quantum financial contributions to the restoration if the European nations could agree upon a joint effort for economic recovery that would be mutually beneficial to all parties involved, including Germany.

This “Marshal Plan,” helped to establish the “European Community,” the primogenitor of today’s “European Union.” It also helped to spread pro-western sentiments by spending 12.5 billion dollars in aid to sixteen war torn countries, and therein was one of America’s many motivations for reconstructing Germany.

Another motivation was to collect war-debts from the European nations. The administrations of FDR and Truman both bitterly recollected wrangling to collect money borrowed from the United States by European powers in the First World War. The Europeans had been too busy recovering to pay off their loans. Marshal believed that by helping the Europeans recover we would enable them to begin repaying their debts from BOTH World Wars sooner. He also believed that this would contribute to a humanitarian cause, progress the world towards a sense of brotherhood, and strengthen US relationships in Europe. The plan worked fabulously and many European Nations were able to bounce back into action in a matter of years rather than decades after VE Day.

Meanwhile, Germany and Austria were partitioned into four separate occupied territories. France, Britain, and the United States took West Germany and the USSR took East Germany. Berlin, located deep within East Germany, was placed as a territory collectively controlled by the USSR, US, Britain, and France.

The future looked optimistic. Europe was rapidly recovering with billions of dollars of aid from the United States and three of the Big Four Powers had altruistic intentions in Germany…but what about the fourth?

Where France and Britain had been painfully injured Russia had been utterly devastated. No other allied force took as many losses or contributed as much to the fight against Germany. Stalin had originally signed a treaty to be allies with Hitler and when the Nazis turned on them Russia was not at all prepared. While the United States, France, and Britain all had economic incentives for Germany’s rehabilitation (all three were prepared to pull out whenever Germany was Nazi free and able to sustain itself once again,) Russia would not benefit at all.

So, Stalin made the decision to annex Germany on a more permanent basis to compensate Russia for its losses and to exact retribution on the German citizens. The Russians, as well as many Americans, Frenchmen, and Brits, also supported this line of action because it had been an industrial Germany that had initiated the Second World War. Stalin was also concerned about national security. Had it not been German scientists, albeit defected to America, that invented the first nuclear bomb? There was also an element of clashing cultures. While the United States, Britain, and France were all democratic the USSR was a communist state.

However, Stalin was not willing to share his newly attained territory with the other allies. In order to strangle the British, French, and Americans in Berlin he blockaded all railroads and highways attaching Berlin to West Germany. To snuff out democratic and pro-western influence he initiated what Churchhill later described as an “iron curtain,” of silence and isolationism. There was no free media and much of Eastern Europe suddenly lost access to information of the western world. Worse yet, Stalin had crippled Germany as a whole and was literally starving out the population. Anti-Soviet propaganda compared the partition to a giant concentration camp, and indeed Stalin had no interest in the well being of the German people.

The French and the British were still licking their blitzkrieg wounds and knew that couldn’t stand up against Stalin. The United States, however, refused to back down. At the time we were still leading in the nuclear arms race by what we then thought was a landslide and of all the allied forces we’d sustained the least damage in the Second World war.

President Truman never the less insisted on a peaceful approach to the problem and rather than attack Russia he initiated another sort of campaign. American pilots began to fly thousands of tons of supplies into West Germany to sustain the population and maintain a hold on Berlin. Every available aircraft was drafted into the effort, including many that had previously been used to bomb Berlin and German civilian centres. (I’ve even heard stories about the pilots dropping candy-bars with tissue parachutes down to the children as they passed. I don’t know if it is true. It sounds a bit farfetched and I have yet to research it, but I certainly hope it actually happened simply because it’d be hilarious!)

The Americans also began a media (see the “Voice of America,”) battle to slice through the silence by broadcasting radio waves from West Germany, through Stalin’s “Iron Curtain,” and into Eastern Europe. They also took the opportunity to blast anti-communist propaganda and western culture.

In the end it was Stalin who cowed out after having his bluff called. The blockade was lifted in May, 1949….but the damage was done. The relationship of the United States and the USSR, already precarious, had at last been sent tumbling over the edge. The Cold War had begun. Not long after the Russians would attain their first A-bomb. In response the United States would produce the vastly improved H-Bomb. Immediately afterwards the Russians tested their first H-bomb….

America established National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, supported Israel in part to preempt Soviet influence in a potential Jewish state, and ENDED its isolationist tradition by joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on April 4, 1949.

Fast forward a few years and now we’re facing the very same Mujahedeen we trained to resist soviet invaders in Afghanistan….

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Posted 10/31/09
Good luck on the paper.
Posted 10/31/09
This makes me wonder what would happen if both US and EU, along with Russia and China, would both withdraw their own Middle Eastern interests away from Israelis and Arabs respectfully.
Posted 10/31/09
it makes me wonder if pearl harbor never happened i know that america supported Nazi Germany for the post part and even liked Hitler, i wonder what would have happened if where where allies with them in ww2 instead of the other countries but who really knows. Everything happens for a reason and yeah i do a agree another cold war is on the way slowly but surely but i really wonder what's going to happen.
Posted 10/31/09

CecilTheDarkKnight_234 wrote:
it makes me wonder if pearl harbor never happened i know that america supported Nazi Germany for the post part and even liked Hitler, i wonder what would have happened if where where allies with them in ww2 instead of the other countries but who really knows. Everything happens for a reason and yeah i do a agree another cold war is on the way slowly but surely but i really wonder what's going to happen.

I was there at the USS Arizona Memorial on the summer of 1987. So yeah, it happened.
Posted 10/31/09

DomFortress wrote:


CecilTheDarkKnight_234 wrote:
it makes me wonder if pearl harbor never happened i know that america supported Nazi Germany for the post part and even liked Hitler, i wonder what would have happened if where where allies with them in ww2 instead of the other countries but who really knows. Everything happens for a reason and yeah i do a agree another cold war is on the way slowly but surely but i really wonder what's going to happen.

I was there at the USS Arizona Memorial on the summer of 1987. So yeah, it happened.


that's the key word dom if it never happened or IF Japan never attacked us what would the world be like today but that's getting really off topic lol
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Posted 11/2/09 , edited 11/2/09

CecilTheDarkKnight_234 wrote:

that's the key word dom if it never happened or IF Japan never attacked us what would the world be like today but that's getting really off topic lol


President Roosevelt had already initiated plans to intervene with the war effort on behalf of the British before Pearl Harbor. The myth that we only got involved because we were bombed at Pearl Harbor is just that; a myth. At the time 50% of Americans were actually convinced that Roosevelt allowed us to get bombed intentionally to give us an excuse to go to war. Indeed, the Japanese actually sent a warning of their ‘surprise attack,’ thirty minutes in advance of the actually bombing and this was not released until two hours later. Supposedly there were troubles in the communication process and human errors that delayed the progress but…

Actually, one problem with our involvement in the war is that we’d already promised the British that we were going to attack Germany. Then, when the Japanese attacked us the American people wanted us to strike them instead. So the administration was torn: should it live up to its foreign policy promises or uphold the will of its public?

Point is, we would’ve gotten involved anyway.

Although, Pearl Harbor was a major contributor to desegregating the military. Whenever our battle ships were hit by Japanese bombers an untrained African American employed for cooking and cleaning mounted one of the ship’s turrets and began defending his position. He downed several of the Japanese aircrafts and defended the ship long enough for the crew to be evacuated before the ship was set aflame and he went down fighting…helped progress us.
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Posted 11/2/09

SeraphAlford wrote:
Fast forward a few years and now we’re facing the very same Mujahedeen we trained to resist soviet invaders in Afghanistan….

America reap what it sown, no more no less.
Posted 11/2/09

SeraphAlford wrote:


CecilTheDarkKnight_234 wrote:

that's the key word dom if it never happened or IF Japan never attacked us what would the world be like today but that's getting really off topic lol


President Roosevelt had already initiated plans to intervene with the war effort on behalf of the British before Pearl Harbor. The myth that we only got involved because we were bombed at Pearl Harbor is just that; a myth. At the time 50% of Americans were actually convinced that Roosevelt allowed us to get bombed intentionally to give us an excuse to go to war. Indeed, the Japanese actually sent a warning of their ‘surprise attack,’ thirty minutes in advance of the actually bombing and this was not released until two hours later. Supposedly there were troubles in the communication process and human errors that delayed the progress but…

Actually, one problem with our involvement in the war is that we’d already promised the British that we were going to attack Germany. Then, when the Japanese attacked us the American people wanted us to strike them instead. So the administration was torn: should it live up to its foreign policy promises or uphold the will of its public?

Point is, we would’ve gotten involved anyway.

Although, Pearl Harbor was a major contributor to desegregating the military. Whenever our battle ships were hit by Japanese bombers an untrained African American employed for cooking and cleaning mounted one of the ship’s turrets and began defending his position. He downed several of the Japanese aircrafts and defended the ship long enough for the crew to be evacuated before the ship was set aflame and he went down fighting…helped progress us.


the north might have but the south would have resisted or for found a reason not to go
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Posted 11/3/09

CecilTheDarkKnight_234 wrote:

the north might have but the south would have resisted or for found a reason not to go


What are you talking about? Geographical regions have no control over the troop movement of the United States.
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Posted 11/3/09

Real_ZERO wrote:

America reap what it sown, no more no less.


What are you talking about? We provided the Afghanis with weapons and training to defend themselves from Soviet conquerors. Now they turn them against us? How is that reaping what we sow? We help them so they start attacking us?

And no, the United States did not fund or support al Qaeda or the Taliban. That’s a popular myth I’ll likely cover in another thread. Whenever the soviets attacked Afghanistan virtually everyone knew they were in the wrong. We came in and trained the local Afghanis while foreign groups (such as Al Qaeda,) came to join the fighting. We did not provide funding for the foreign groups, only the native groups. Al Qaeda wouldn’t have even taken funding from us and nor did they need it. They received all their funding from Saudi Arabia.

I’m sorry but I don’t think America did anything wrong training the Mujahedeen.

The common misconception is that the Arab/Muslim world hates America because they feel that America did something wrong to them particularly. That’s not true. At the end of the First Gulf War we were embraced by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Afghanistan, all over the Arab/Muslim world as heroes. The only reason they dislike is because we support Israel, and more recently because of our actions in Iraq.
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Posted 11/3/09

SeraphAlford wrote:


Real_ZERO wrote:

America reap what it sown, no more no less.


What are you talking about? We provided the Afghanis with weapons and training to defend themselves from Soviet conquerors. Now they turn them against us? How is that reaping what we sow? We help them so they start attacking us?

And no, the United States did not fund or support al Qaeda or the Taliban. That’s a popular myth I’ll likely cover in another thread. Whenever the soviets attacked Afghanistan virtually everyone knew they were in the wrong. We came in and trained the local Afghanis while foreign groups (such as Al Qaeda,) came to join the fighting. We did not provide funding for the foreign groups, only the native groups. Al Qaeda wouldn’t have even taken funding from us and nor did they need it. They received all their funding from Saudi Arabia.

I’m sorry but I don’t think America did anything wrong training the Mujahedeen.

The common misconception is that the Arab/Muslim world hates America because they feel that America did something wrong to them particularly. That’s not true. At the end of the First Gulf War we were embraced by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Afghanistan, all over the Arab/Muslim world as heroes. The only reason they dislike is because we support Israel, and more recently because of our actions in Iraq.


So, Americans didn't found Afghan anti - soviet government at the time as part of cold war tactics? And Soviet Russia attacked in accordance to some treaty from 1978 or something.
As I figured Afghans tried to play both sides (for money), but it backfired. Only difference between US and Russia is that US didn't have physical border with Afghanistan, so they fought against Russia using Mujahedeen and not their own soldiers.
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Posted 11/3/09

blancer wrote:

So, Americans didn't found Afghan anti - soviet government at the time as part of cold war tactics? And Soviet Russia attacked in accordance to some treaty from 1978 or something.
As I figured Afghans tried to play both sides (for money), but it backfired. Only difference between US and Russia is that US didn't have physical border with Afghanistan, so they fought against Russia using Mujahedeen and not their own soldiers.


Basically we wanted to protect Afghanistan to prevent the spread of communism, but that’s exactly what the entire Cold War was about. The western world was getting involved in other people’s business and trying to protect eastern countries from being taken over by communists. It would not have hurt us for Afghanistan to become a communist power. We just didn’t want that to happen because we considered Communism to be a violation of a people’s rights to self-sovereignty. Ultimately we were helping the Mujahedeen help themselves. Yes, part of that was to get some pay back on Russia for royally pissing us off in the Cold War. Yes, we had the greater goal of advancing the entire world. But still, our primary intention in Afghanistan was entirely admirable. We wanted to protect their right to self-sovereignty.

I don’t think that they were ‘playing,’ both sides at all. I think they were pretty clearly opposing the Soviet invaders. I think that what happened was that the weapons we gave them to fight the Russians were in turn used to fight each other. After the Soviets got ass-kicked the maniacs we’d just armed started vying for control. Various Afghani factions battled over who would take power. Al Qaeda and foreign forces got involved shit hit the fan. I think that a lot of the Afghanis actually thought that they had the United State’s backing them and then when they realized we’d essentially washed our hands of the whole mess and were no longer pleased with anybody they got pretty well and pissed about it.
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Posted 11/3/09

SeraphAlford wrote:


Real_ZERO wrote:

America reap what it sown, no more no less.


What are you talking about? We provided the Afghanis with weapons and training to defend themselves from Soviet conquerors. Now they turn them against us? How is that reaping what we sow? We help them so they start attacking us?

And no, the United States did not fund or support al Qaeda or the Taliban. That’s a popular myth I’ll likely cover in another thread. Whenever the soviets attacked Afghanistan virtually everyone knew they were in the wrong. We came in and trained the local Afghanis while foreign groups (such as Al Qaeda,) came to join the fighting. We did not provide funding for the foreign groups, only the native groups. Al Qaeda wouldn’t have even taken funding from us and nor did they need it. They received all their funding from Saudi Arabia.

I’m sorry but I don’t think America did anything wrong training the Mujahedeen.

The common misconception is that the Arab/Muslim world hates America because they feel that America did something wrong to them particularly. That’s not true. At the end of the First Gulf War we were embraced by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Afghanistan, all over the Arab/Muslim world as heroes. The only reason they dislike is because we support Israel, and more recently because of our actions in Iraq.


I hate to say this but why cant the Americans mind their own business during that time? Well like you said here that the Americans came in and train local Afghans to fight against the Soviets. The Americans certainly knew very well about the incoming collapse of the USSR. So why cant they just mind their own business, deal with domestic problems first rather than creating the mess that leads to 9/11. Everything in the middle east is a mess now. Ron Paul was right all along.....
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Posted 11/3/09

azera wrote:

I hate to say this but why cant the Americans mind their own business during that time? Well like you said here that the Americans came in and train local Afghans to fight against the Soviets. The Americans certainly knew very well about the incoming collapse of the USSR. So why cant they just mind their own business, deal with domestic problems first rather than creating the mess that leads to 9/11. Everything in the middle east is a mess now. Ron Paul was right all along.....


That’s what you call isolationism, and it’s a real political movement. In fact, we’re traditional an isolationist nation against things like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, League of Nations, United Nations, or involvement in foreign wars. Unfortunately that didn’t work out very well for us or the rest of the world. People were always trying to drag us into alliances, trying to make us fight their wars. That’s what spoiled our relations with the French. After they helped us in our revolution they expected us to reciprocate but we said that their problems were none of our business and royally shafted them. It was actually a little more complicated than that, but you get the basic idea.

Whenever World War I rolled around we were extremely isolationist. We were still bitter about that brief period of American imperialism, about the Philippines, and about our treatment of the Native Americans. Our involvement in WWI caused an economic depression in a time that had been prosperous. So, by WWII we were even more isolationist than ever.

It was FDR’s isolationism that allowed (and indeed helped,) Stalin, Mussolini, AND Hitler get into power. It could’ve been avoided and we could’ve saved millions of lives. We could’ve ended the war before it happened, prevented all three of these men from taking power.

But actually, our involvement in foreign affairs has been very beneficial. Imagine that we’d been isolationist when Saddam captured Kuwait and prepared to attack Saudi Arabia in 1990. At that time Saddam’s dictatorship sported the fourth largest army in the world, chemical weapons of mass destruction, and scud missiles capable of carrying warheads and reaching Israel. Had we not prevented his advanced he would’ve taken Saudi Arabia and Kuwait giving him control of the world’s capital of oil. He would’ve had fifty percent of the world’s oil supply under his tyranny, and control of the centre of the Islamic world.

He would’ve gained more military, economic, and religious authority than anyone else in the entire world including the United States.
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