Cold War and Containment strategy
The discrete but real tensions between the United States and Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991 have been termed as the Cold War. The period was characterized by vigilant pursuit of dominance in the international order created after the Second World War. Initially the American troops had collaborated with the Red Army (Russia’s army) in defeating a Nazi led occupation of Eastern Europe. The collaboration had constituted the Second World War. However, the Soviet Union exhibited other motives other than defeating the Germans collaborating with the Japanese. While America was keen to instigate its fundamentals of capitalism and democracy on the international arena, Russia was eager to spread its communist inclinations on the same arena (Taylor 2007). The international agenda was targets at areas of specific interest such as Eastern Europe, the sub Asian region, Cuba and other areas of high economic as well as military power.
George Keenan is the person mostly attributed to coining the containment strategy that entailed long term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of the Russian expansion tendencies. This was in 1947 even though the idea had existed since 1941 where America under President Roosevelt had been devising means of containing the Russian’s expansive strategies while at the same time enlisting their help in defeating the Germans. The containment strategy was induced by the need to minimize human, technological and political causalities eminent in a direct military confrontation with the Soviet Union.
The containment strategy is the foreign policy employed chiefly by the United States during the cold war period. The curbing of communism was perpetrated by western leaders at during the 1940’s such as Winston Churchill and Truman. The Russian leader, Stalin, had escalated his countries expansion due to the paranoid state characteristic of the post second world war era. He strove to consolidate the Eastern Europe countries around Moscow as a means of stabilizing Russia’s rule.
The financial package granted to Greece and turkey in 1947 is an application of the containment strategy. This is because the motivations behind it was to strength or stabilize the countries in advent of communist insurgence. President Harry Truman requested the 400 million dollar grant from congress terming it as necessary in assisting free people threatened by occupation by totalitarian governments (Gaddis, 2005). The Russian breach of the Yalta agreement had been met by protest from the American government and the containment strategy extending help to Greece and turkey restricted the communism spread into the weakened economies. Due to the breach of the Yalta agreement, Truman cut off all aid to the Soviet Union in 1945. This was an early application of the containment strategy in the Cold war.
When George Keenan drafted the telegram as Mr. X, his initial step in the containment strategy was to restore balance of power distorted by falling of the Germans and Japanese. The distortion left the ground free for Russia’s occupation in terms of communism. Thus the Marshall plan was put in place that would see the American government pump millions of dollars to Western Europe countries left bleeding due to the Second World War such as Britain. This would booster their belief in capitalism (Taylor 2007). It was to take place in the 1947-1951 duration where economic and technical assistance was to be given to Western Europe countries, Asian countries of interest, the Soviet Union and its allies. However the Soviet Union refused the assistance and went ahead to develop its own stimulus package.
Another example of the containment strategy was the formation of NATO conceived in the onset of the German blockage where America sought to consolidate military power away from Russia and secure Europe. This extended to the American giving France support in maintaining its colony in Vietnam (Gaddis, 2005). The portioning of Germany in 1948 was an extension of the containment strategy where the Russian influence creeping from the eastern part was eminent in Poland and Czechoslovak.
The cold war dominated international relations and foreign policies for almost half a decade. It significantly provided a platform for America to project its dominance in creating an international order where the US emerged as the global leader. Secondly, the cold war provided the Russian repressive regime and external enemy that justified their conduct of governance. The Cold War can be accredited with the divisions in Germany and Korea where there were too extremist regions in one country. United States concluded that the Russian government intentionally stalled the economic recovery of Germany and thus consolidated with France and England to form western Germany in 1948 (Gaddis, 2005). Germany later reunited but Korea remains divided as South Korea and North Korea. This because both the Russians and American had entered Korea to disarm the Japanese.
The Korean and Vietnam wars were the instigated by forces at play in the Cold War. These forces, here by America and Russia, created threats of nuclear annihilation with ally nations forming the base, such as the Cuban missile crisis. This meant there was consistent development of military arms and technology forming another effect of the Cold War. Additionally, the Cold war saw a reaffirmation of the United Nation formation due to the two forces using it as an international forum for issues of contention such as Poland, Greece and turkey (Gaddis, 2005). The Marshall plan was beneficial to America’s relations with Western Europe since it fostered and developed collaboration between the two global blocs. The wars that were instigated in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia were costly in terms of humanitarian conditions and dire economic conditions.
Gaddis, J. L. (2005). In The Cold War: A new history. New York: Penguin Press.
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College., & Taylor, R. J. (2007). In Containment: A viable strategy for success in the GWOT. Fort Leavenworth, KS: US Army Command and General Staff College.