The conflict in ideologies between capitalism and communism resulted in one of the greatest conflicts of the twentieth century. The belief that freedom and democracy would die under communist rule caused the United States to start a conflict that would last for decades. The decisions made by the United States in W.W.II caused tensions to rise between the U. S. and the Soviet Union. Fear of Communism in capitalist nations, caused the United states government to use propaganda to raise Cold War anxieties. Furthermore, the American media influenced the attitudes of Americans, making a hatred of communism spread though the nation. Thus, the United States caused the conflict known as the Cold War, through its political policy and propaganda. The political relations going on in Europe during and directly after World War II had an enormous effect on laying the foundation for the Cold War. War time conferences such as Yalta and Terhran harshened the relationship between the communists and the capitalists. At the end of W.W.II American policy towards the Soviets changed drastically. The change in president in 1945 caused relations with Russia to worsen. Furthermore, other political contributions to the Cold War entailed the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. The division of Europe between the west and east drew physical borders which outlined that the war of misinformation that had began. Also treaties of the post war world further separated the two super powers of the world for the decades to follow. The waging of hot wars through other countries also strengthened Cold War hatred.(1) The first of the cold war tensions arose out of W.W.II conferences between the Soviet Union, America and, Great Britain. Tehran, the first major conference which lead America to start the Cold War, included all three of these nations. At this conference the reshaping of post-war Europe was discussed (2) Later in February of 1945, the big three met again at Yalta. At this conference European boundaries, German reparations, and Polish elections were agreed upon.(3) Stalin, the Russian leader, agreed to hold free and fair elections. Later after Roosevelt, who attended these conferences, died Truman became president. He accused the Soviet leader, Stalin, of not holding up to his agreements at Yalta.(4) Stalin wanted to use Poland as a buffer zone to prevent any future invasions from happening through this area. During W.W.II the Soviets had lost 27 million, and Stalin made it clear that in no way would he allow this to happen again.(5) Stalin responded to Trumans accusation with the following words, “I am ready to fulfill your request and do everything possible to reach a harmonious solution. But you demand too much of me. In other words, you demand that I renounce the interests of security of the Soviet Union, but I cannot turn against my country.”(6) On the other hand, American General Lucius Clay, who was stationed in post war Germany commented ” we must have the courage to proceed quickly with the establishment of a government for western Germany…42 million Germans in the British and American zones represent today the strongest outpost against Communist penetration that exists anywhere.”(7) At this response Truman changed his attitude toward the Soviets with the words, ” there isnt any difference between the totalitarian Russian government and the Hitler government.”(8) Furthermore, America decided to keep Stalin out of the loop about the Manhattan project, which furthered distrust, because Stalin learn about the bomb through espionage. Trumans change in attitude toward Stalin, from that of FDRs negotiation with “Uncle Joe” to one committed to stopping the Soviet cause, led to the creation of a new American anti-Soviet political policy. The Truman Doctrine, the name given to the policy established by Truman, would soon arise in American foreign policy. This Truman Doctrine came out of a speech the Truman gave to a joint session of congress. It was the response Truman gave to Britain, which delcared that they no longer could give military and economic aid to Greece.(9) In this speech Truman finally gave the Cold War official status, by stating the threat that the Soviet government had on national security. In Trumans actual words he said, “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”(10) Congress, knowing that Great Britain would no longer give aid the Turkey and Greece, realized that these nations would soon turn to communism. Thus, they decided to appropriate four hundred million dollars to help in the aid of Turkey and Greece.(11). To support Trumans policy Senator Author Vandenburg stated ” its time to scare the hell out of the American people with tales of communism on the march.”(12) Thus, America was further contributed to cold war issues by committing to stop the spread of communism in areas of the world very remote from them. Americas next political actions further caused the Cold War to escalate. In 1947, George C. Marshall the Secretary of the state at the time gave a speech at Harvard university which reveled his plans for the an after war economy. Marshall asked that all of the countries of Europe communists and capitalists alike to draw up a plan for economic recovery from the war.(13) The Soviets refused to participate, because they saw it as America using money to buy its way into good terms with Europe. In the words of the Soviet foreign minister Molotov, the Marshall plan was “nothing but a vicious American scheme for using dollars to buy its way.”(14) In the end, the United States sent 13 billion over to Western Europe to support economic recovery.(15) The Soviet Union saw this as an American attempt to keep any of these countries from turning to communism, which would close them off as US markets. Thus, the Marshall plan further contributed to a Soviet cause to continue waging a Cold War. In 1949 America helped to organize a treaty against communism. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO included the following nations : Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxemberg, Norway, Portugal , the United States. This treaty showed a clear division of Communism verses Capitalism, and it declared that an attack against one of these nations would be an attack on all of them.(16) Thus, the United States used this treaty to escalate the cold War by showing the Soviet Union that all of the NATO countries sided with the US in the Cold War. Finally, the United states waged hot wars through other nations; instead in actually declaring war against the Soviet Union. These hot wars in Korea and again in Vietnam. Both of these wars resulted from the United States trying to contain Communism from spreading throughout the world. (17) Thus, all of the United States political actions further contributed to the Cold War cause. The political actions Of the United States from the time of W.W.II onward caused the Cold War conflict. The conferences of W.W.II set the tone for a time period of distrust between the Soviet union and the United States. With a new president in office Cold War policy was officialy began. Furthermore, from that point on the policy of the United States delcared itself as anti-Communist from that point on. Thus, to get the American public to side with the government on the issue of communism, America turned to the use of propaganda. The United States used propaganda and other influences to get the American public scared of communism and in support of the cold war. First congress began to use HUAC to stop films from having to much of a communist appeal to them(18) Furthermore, HUAC investigated people for being communist spies. Both Julius and Ethel Rosenburg and Alger Hiss, people accused of being communist spies suffered conviction. This caused the anti-Communist attitude in the United States to grow tremendously. Thus, the American government used a federal organization to further the publics hatred of communism. Next an American Senator named Joseph R. McCarthy would lead a series of trials against communists in the United States.(19) Most of the people that Macarthy accused of being communist reached conviction. This happened despite the fact that many of the accused were not in fact communists.(20) This situation has compares to the Salem Witch trials; notably like the witch trial the main outcome of the Macarthy trial srtuck fear into American public. Thus, the McCarthy trial increased anti-Communist hatred in the US and scared anyone out of committing to communist party for fear of their life. Therefore, the McCarthy trials acted as form of US propaganda, which gathered American support for the Cold War against the Soviets. Moreover, with the publication of George Orwells book 1984, anti-communist propaganda increased. This book showed the United States under a communist dictatorship. Thus, as propaganda this book increased the general anticommunist attitude of the American public.(20) Moreover, Hollywood began to produce anti-Communist films such as The Red Menace, which increased a fear of communism in the United States.(21) Thus, the actions of the American government, journalist, and media increased the general anti-Communist support for the Cold War. The American media also contributed to the Cold War propaganda in and out of the United States. American journalists would commonly make up stories of communism in the United States in an effort to sell papers and to continue feelings of anti-communism.(22) Also a radio station called Radio One began to broadcast an anti communist message in Europe.(23) These radio broadcasts defamed the Soviet Union and communism and supported democracy and the United States. These broadcasts blatantly attempted to degrade communism, that they were never allowed to be transmitted in America.(24) Therefore, the overall actions of the United States clearly reports propaganda to increase support for the Cold War, which dominated American foreign policy for decades. The United States caused the Cold War by the political decisions that in made and through its use of propaganda. The political decisions made by the United States from W.W.II onward caused the Cold War to start and to continue for decades. Moreover, the governments use of propaganda at home rallied the American public in an anticommunist attitude, which supported the countries political decisions. Thus, the United States caused the conflict between Democracy and Communism.
Cayton, Andrew, and Elizabeth Israels Perry, and Allan M. Winkler. America Pathways to the Present . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall,1995.
Dudley, William. ed. The Cold War Opposing View Points. San Diego: Greenburg Press Inc., 1992.
Gaddis, John Lewis. We Now Know Rethinking the Cold War. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1997.
Glynn, Patricia. Closing Pandoras Box.. New York : Harper Collins, 1992.
Snyder, Alvin A. Warriors of Disinformation . New York: Arcade Publishing, 1995.
Yoder, Edwin M., Jr. Joe Alsops Cold War . Chapel Hill : The University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
1 Andrew Cayton and Elizabeth Israels Perry, and Allan M. Winkler, America Pathways to the Present , (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall,1995.) p.717
2 William Dudley, ed. The Cold War Opposing View Points, (San Diego: Greenburg Press Inc., 1992.) p14
3 Dudley 14
4 Dudley 125
5 Dudley 125
6 Cayton 720
7 John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: REthinking the Cold War,(Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1997.) p.119
8 Cayton 721
9 Dudley 17
10 Cayton 724
11 Cayton 724
12 Dudley 18
13 Cayton 724
14 Cayton 724
15 Cayton 725
16 Cayton 725
17 Patricia Glynn, Closing Pandoras Box., (New York : Harper Collins, 1992.) p.135
18 Gaddis 23
19 Edwin M. Yoder Jr., Joe Alsops Cold War, (Chapel Hill : The University of North Carolina Press, 1995.) p.23
20 Glynn 135
21 Cayton 733
22 23 Alvin A. Snyder, Warriors of Disinformation , (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1995.)p.221 24 Snyder 224