Cold War:Postwar Tensions With Soviets,            1945
The Factor of the Third WorldJapanese surrender signatories are shown arriving on board the USS Missouriin Tokyo Bay, Sept...
Atomic Diplomacy
The Postwar Global EconomyThis is a general view of a plenary session of the United Nations Monetary Conference in Bretton...
Loans to the Soviet UnionPresident Truman, left, congratulates his new Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, after Acheson too...
Crisis in the Mediterranean
The Permanent War EconomyMilitary Industrial Complex:• Reaction to lack of readiness  for Pearl Harbor• Industry: permanen...
The "Iron Curtain"
ContainmentGeorge F. Kennan, right, new United States ambassador to Russia, stands with Nikola Shvernik, center, president...
The Truman DoctrineU.S. President Harry Truman waves with his cane as he leaves the White House in Washington, D.C., on Ju...
The Marshall Plan
The Berlin BlockadeA U.S. Air Force C-47 transport plane loaded with supplies lands in defiance of the Soviet blockadeof t...
The National-Security State
The Origins of McCarthyismMcCarthy, Joseph, photograph. AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.
The Soviet A-Bomb  If we go on with this race, there wont be a winner!
China Goes Communist
The American Century
Legacies of the Cold WarTaken on February 19, 1990, this photograph shows the dismantling of the Berlin Wall near theBrand...
Sources• "Cold War: Postwar Tensions With  Soviets, 1945." DISCovering U.S. History.  Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Reproduc...
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  • Alone of all the belligerent nations, the United States emerged from the war with its home soil unscathed and richer for having developed its wartime economy. Roosevelt and the internationalists knew that the other great powers of Europe were going to be severely weakened by the war, that the collapse of the European world empires was virtually inevitable, and that the United States alone was in the position to take economic advantage of this situation, especially in the Third World colonies of European nations. Even as the Japanese were signing the formal documents of surrender on 2 September 1945, the Vietnamese in Southeast Asia were declaring their independence from France. Before long Great Britain, once the largest empire in the history of the world, was forced to grant independence to many of its colonies--including India, Burma, Malaya--and mandates such as Palestine. France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and other European nations also began, willingly or unwillingly, to lose their colonies. By the mid 1950s Africa and Asia were ablaze with the fires of decolonization. U.S. officials hoped to establish American economic dominance in these areas. Because the Europeans had imposed Western-style capitalism on their colonies by force and had exploited them, however, communist and socialist political movements had developed in many of these regions, including Vietnam. Should this so-called Third World of Asia and Africa align itself with the Communist bloc, plans for American domination of formerly colonial economies would be seriously jeopardized. While the Soviet Union did not have the resources to rule the decolonized world, it could, and did, promote national independence for European colonies in the hopes that new nations would cement ties to the Soviet Union. Communist nationalism in the Third World, furthermore, threatened European economies, already in perilous condition, with a loss of raw materials and resources--a situation made more extreme after Eastern Europe, long the source of raw materials for Western industries, went Communist. American officials feared that such economic destabilization was a prelude to Russian domination of Western Europe. Thus, the Third World became the crucial arena of Soviet confrontation. While the majority of new nations to emerge from the collapse of the old empires did gravitate into the orbit of the Western system, during the early years of the Cold War the deep hostility of these countries to the West suggested that the opposite might occur. Competition for influence in these countries would ultimately produce several severe "proxy" wars, as in Korea, Vietnam, Angola, and Afghanistan, fought between belligerents armed and funded by the United States on one side and by the Soviet Union on the other.
  • It was impossible to keep atomic technology secret. The basic theories behind the release of atomic energy had been known before World War II among physicists worldwide. Once the United States detonated its atomic bomb, demonstrating the accuracy of those theories, it became inevitable that other nations would build their own atomic bombs. Given the mounting tensions between the two superpowers, it was clear that an atomic-arms race would develop. Within the American decision-making elite, opinion was split as to whether the atomic research and weapons development should be handed over to an international control agency under the United Nations or whether the United States should seek to keep its monopoly. Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer--the director of the research laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the bomb was developed--and many other scientists who had worked on the bomb hoped for international control, but they were outmaneuvered easily by those whose intention it was to keep the United States the sole atomic power. On 14 June 1946, Bernard Baruch, the U.S. representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Committee, presented a plan for the control of nuclear energy to the committee. The Baruch Plan, as it became known, proposed an international authority that would promote peaceful uses of atomic energy, would have authority to enter any nation to inspect atomic-energy facilities, and would destroy existing nuclear weapons. The Baruch Plan was unprecedented in its seeming concession of an American military advantage to the cause of peace. Since the United States was the sole manufacturer of atomic weapons, however, they were the only authority capable of dismantling them. To the Russians the Baruch Plan suggested that while they would be required to submit their military sites to American inspection, the dismantling of American weapons would be overseen by Americans. Furthermore, American officials refused to share atomic secrets with the Soviets until after a system of inspections began. Soviet officials believed that the Baruch Plan would require them to sacrifice the entirety of their atomic program for vague American promises that the United States would do the same. The Russians therefore rejected the plan, and an atomic-arms race began in earnest, culminating with the development of the Soviet atomic bomb in 1949. Cartoon from Photo of Bernard Baruch from
  • Picture Caption: This is a general view of a plenary session of the United Nations Monetary Conference in Bretton Woods, N.H. on July 4, 1944. Delegates from 44 countries are seated at the long tables. Sen. Charles W. Tobey, R-NH, is speaker in center background. (AP Photo/Abe Fox) Well before World War II, New York had replaced London as the financial center of the Western economic system. In the aftermath of the most destructive war in history, the position of Wall Street was even stronger. Possessing the only major economy undamaged by the war, the United States was able to impose economic requirements on other nations. American policy makers envisioned enhanced material rewards for Americans--and secondarily for the world at large. Achieving this goal required the repair of damaged economies in Europe and Asia and the imposition of free markets where they had not previously existed. The international monetary system would have to be rationalized and made compatible with the American dollar. The July 1944 conference of Allied financial planners at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, created the machinery of the modern global economy by creating the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). One-third of the capital and directorships of the World Bank were to be held by the United States, enabling it to set the world financial agenda. The World Bank would provide reconstruction loans to nations that opened their accounting methods to American control and formulated their economic practices according to American requirements. The IMF was created to ensure that all national currencies would be convertible to U.S. dollars in a fixed ratio, which benefited American trade balances. Although this system would ultimately collapse in the 1970s, it served for three decades as the master plan for the reorganization of the global economy according to American designs.
  • Soviet leaders were primarily concerned with rebuilding the shattered infrastructure of their nation. In 1945 they requested $6 billion in reconstruction loans from the United States. After American officials ignored this request, the Soviets formally asked for a loan of the much-reduced sum of $1 billion, again with no success. The Americans' refusal to assist the Soviet Union soured relations between the two allies. As the Russians were well aware, at the same time the United States was turning down Russian requests, the Americans were working out the details of reconstruction loans and other aid to Britain and France, as well as to Germany and other former Axis enemies, including nations that had joined in the German invasion of the Soviet Union during the war. Anti-American officials within the Kremlin viewed such actions as confirmation of a Western plot to destroy the Soviet Union. Yet from the American perspective, loans to the Soviets made little economic sense. Most American economists believed the state-controlled Soviet economy was virtually impenetrable by American business. American political leaders also feared that the Soviet Union might well become an economic powerhouse, better situated than the United States to dominate the lucrative European market, which officials viewed as vital to American trade. Grand strategists of the global economy, such as Dean Acheson--who would become a chief architect of both the TrumanDoctrine and the Marshall Plan--also feared that Soviet economic resurgence would re-create a Eurasian trading bloc similar to that almost created by Germany and Japan. Many American officials were determined to prevent the formation of such a bloc and equally determined to enforce an open door to trade worldwide. Even in 1944, two years before the Cold War political policy of "containment" was formulated, American officials were adamant about containing Soviet economic power.
  • Several events in the late 1940s also increased Cold War tensions. The first postwar showdown was a dispute over the Dardanelles, the narrow strait connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Mamara, which in turn is connected to the Black Sea by the Bosporus. Thus whoever controls the Dardanelles, which separate the Gallipoli Peninsula of European Turkey from Asian Turkey, controls the only outlet from the Black Sea. Because the Dardanelles gave Russia warm-water access to the Atlantic Ocean, Western leaders considered that strategic waterway an object of Soviet expansionist ambition. Turkey was a traditional enemy of Russia, and although it had claimed neutrality during the war, it had allowed the Germans free passage through the Dardanelles during their invasion of the Soviet Union. With Turkey in control of the Dardanelles, the Soviets feared that their access to the Mediterranean could be blocked. Truman proposed internationalization of the waterway, but in March 1945 Stalin insisted on joint Russo-Turkish control. Backed by the United States, the Turks refused this option. When Stalin asked what the United States might do if some South American country demanded the right to shut it out of the Panama Canal, Truman responded that Russia had a secret ambition to conquer Turkey (an unlikely event given the postwar condition of the Soviet infrastructure and economy). No sooner had this situation been resolved in the favor of the Turks than tensions mounted over Iran. To deny its strategic oil reserves to the Nazis, the British and Soviets had occupied Iran early in August 1941, with the British stationing its troops in southern Iran while the Soviets controlled the north. In the Anglo-Russian Treaty of January 1942 both Allied nations had promised to withdraw their troops from Iran within six months after the end of the war. The Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe and Russia, however, had resulted in the near-total destruction of Soviet oil production. Consequently, in March 1946--with all British troops out of Iran--the Soviets announced that they would not withdraw until they received guarantees of access to Iranian oil. At that time the United States was moving to replace the British in domination of Iranian oil operations, and it looked on the Soviet occupation as threatening to its long-range economic interests. Moving to defuse the situation the U.S. government announced that it had convinced Iran to give the Soviet Union a 40 percent share of the Iranian oil market if the Soviets withdrew their troops. Stalin ordered the troops home. In May, immediately after the last Soviet soldiers were gone, the Iranian parliament reneged on the deal. Although the Truman administration continued to claim that the Soviets were aiming at global conquest, Soviet troops did not reenter Iran. Scarcely accommodating by nature, Stalin nonetheless understood that the Soviet Union was in a precarious position which required careful diplomacy on his part. Map from
  • In January 1944 Charles E. Wilson, formerly chairman of the General Electric corporation, called for a "permanent war economy" to safeguard postwar America from a return to depression. As a member of the War Production Board, Wilson spoke for many industrialists and financiers, as well as government officials, who feared that the drop in war production--accompanied by the infusion into the job market of millions of veterans seeking employment--would precipitate a new economic crisis which would sap the international strength and position of the United States. Wilson called for long-term arrangements under which the largest corporations would maintain permanent liaisons with the military. Continued war production would be preparation for future emergencies. After the nation's lack of readiness for Pearl Harbor such logic seemed unassailable. Moreover, one of the primary war aims of the internationalists had been to prevent the creation of a world divided into economic blocs, each sealed off from the others. The internationalists envisioned a postwar global economy guided and controlled by the United States. The permanent war economy proposed by Wilson would provide the United States with the means to confront the military power of the Soviets, and, since a globally integrated economy would require worldwide allies who also needed to be armed, the military-industrial complex would meet their needs while ensuring profitability for itself. Critics, such as Vice President Henry Wallace, warned that such arrangements would create or exacerbate confrontation as well as create a national economic dependency on war production. A permanent war economy would require enemies whose existence could justify perpetual preparation for war. Photo courtesy of
  • [Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, speaks at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. on March 4,1946. This was the speech in which he used the phrase "Iron Curtain". (AP Photo)] At the moment of his greatest triumph Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain was voted out of office during the Potsdam Conference. At loose ends after the war, Churchill was determined to regain a place at the center of world events. On 5 March 1946, at the invitation of President Truman, Churchill made one of his most famous speeches before an audience at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Denouncing Soviet control of Eastern Europe, he declared that "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent." Claiming that the Soviets aimed at "the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines," he also asserted that they constituted "a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization." According to Churchill, the only salvation lay in the "fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples" and a military alliance founded on a monopoly of the atomic bomb. Churchill knew he was overstating his case. His eloquent and vehement words were intended to galvanize the American and British people for a new round of military confrontation, and they helped to polarize American-Soviet relations further. The speech also contributed an important new term-- iron curtain --to the emerging vocabulary of the Cold War . Ironically, in secret meetings with Stalin in 1944--resulting in what historians term the "Percentage Deal"--Churchill had himself helped to craft agreements that had resulted in the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Cartoon from
  • Another Cold War term was coined in 1947-- containment. In July a little-known American diplomat named George F. Kennan, one of the few members of the American foreign service who had lived in the Soviet Union and spoke Russian, published an article that had a major influence on American policy toward the Soviet Union. Basing his views on twenty years of observations, he argued that while Soviet ideology was aggressive and while the Russians sought to export the doctrines of Soviet-style Communism, Stalin's actual foreign-policy actions would be focused upon the defense of Soviet territory. In "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," published in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the foreign policy establishment, Kennan argued that the United States should seek to contain the spread of Soviet ideology by political means, essentially by seeking to prove that the American system was superior to the Soviets'. President Truman seized upon the term containment, making it the watchword of a policy that differed from Kennan's assessment in claiming the Soviets were territorially and militaristically expansionist. Henceforth the United States would focus its foreign-policy efforts on halting the spread of Communism. Speaking much later, Kennan concluded that American political and military planners had "exaggerated Soviet behavior" to create an "image of the totally inhuman and totally malevolent adversary." Kennan reflected that such characterizations created a political atmosphere in the United States such that "any attempt on anyone's part to deny its reality appears as an act of treason or frivolity."
  • Early in 1947 the British government informed President Truman that it could no longer afford to maintain control in Greece, where a Communist takeover was feared. The situation in Greece resembled that of Italy in many ways. During the war Communist partisans had opposed the Germans and their Greek Fascist allies. Under the terms of Churchill and Stalin's "Percentage Deal" of 1944, the Soviets accorded the British control of Greece, which they were in the process of liberating from the Germans. The British not only kept in power many of the same Greeks who had collaborated with Hitler, but they also reimposed the monarchy. Outraged Greek Communists initiated a civil war. Because of his agreement with Churchill, Stalin did not come to the aid of this indigenous Communist movement, but the British position within Greece was weak. The British-installed monarchy had little popular support, and the Communists enjoyed the backing of the peasantry as well as Communists throughout the Balkan Peninsula. While Stalin did not send troops, the Greek civil war was blamed on Soviet expansionism, as was an indigenous Communist insurgency in Turkey that took place at the same time. Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson told Congress that "like apples in a barrel infected by one rotten one, the corruption of Greece would affect Iran and all to the east." In response to pleas from Great Britain, President Truman announced that the United States would provide $400 million to arm "free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressure." The TrumanDoctrine succeeded in alarming the American people, and it signaled a change in American foreign policy. Henceforth the United States would confront Communism wherever it arose and attempt to police the globe in accordance with that agenda.
  • Indigenous Communist parties also enjoyed considerable popular support in Western Europe, based in large part on the Communists' wartime resistance to the Nazis. Postwar elections in Italy, France, and the Low Countries resulted in substantial gains for the Communists, alarming American officials. Policy makers argued that American economic assistance in European reconstruction would minimize Communist political influence, just as American military assistance blunted Communist guerrilla offensives in Greece and Turkey. To Truman military assistance to Greece and Turkey and economic assistance to Western Europe would be "two halves of the same walnut." Although the United States had already granted loans for European reconstruction, a more sweeping program would accomplish several objectives. First, Americans would grant assistance only to those countries that purged their governments of Communist participation. Second, sweeping assistance would be closely supervised by American administrators careful to maintain American economic advantages. Third, assistance would provide badly needed humanitarian relief, undercutting popular support for political radicalism and restoring the prewar status quo. In a speech delivered at Harvard University on 5 June 1947, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall proposed the sweeping program of economic aid to Europe that soon became known as the Marshall Plan. The Truman administration sold the unprecedented $17-billion program by stressing its anticommunist components to congressional conservatives and by emphasizing its humanitarian elements to liberals. By 1948 the governments of France and Italy had rid themselves of Communist participation, and Communists were losing popular support, owing in part to covert operations by the newly created Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Although the Soviets were offered Marshall Plan assistance, American officials understood that the stipulations attached to the aid would assure Russian repudiation of the plan. As predicted, they rejected the Marshall Plan at the 1947 meeting of Allied foreign ministers in Paris. By fall Moscow had revived its agency of international revolution, the Comintern, and announced that "the Truman-Marshall Plan is a constituent part, the European section of the general plan of world expansionist policy carried on by the United States." Russia began to tighten its grip on the East. The military and political subjugation the Soviet Union had previously exercised against Poland and Romania was directed against Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. By 1948 an iron curtain had indeed been drawn across Eastern Europe. Image courtesy of
  • The Marshall Plan brought the unresolved issue of Germany to a crisis point. Marshall Plan reconstruction of Germany presumed a stable economic and political base, but Germany remained politically divided and economically disordered. At the end of World War II the Allies had separated Germany into four occupation zones: the United States, with Britain and France, supervised western and southern Germany, while the Soviets held the east. Complicating this scheme was a parallel situation in Berlin. While the city was also divided into four separate zones, it was located entirely within the Soviet sector of Germany. Although occupation of Germany was intended to be a temporary measure, the Allies were unable to agree on terms for reunification, and troops remained on station. Having suffered invasion by Germany twice since 1914, the Soviets were understandably afraid that a reunited and reindustrialized Germany would again become a threat. Russia also wanted war reparations from Germany, but the United States and Britain were unwilling to agree to such terms. The bulk of the German industrial base was located in the western zones, and the Soviets hoped their Allies would transfer reparations from these areas to them. American internationalists, however, sought a rapid reconstruction of the German economy as the basis for renewed European trade; they feared that heavy reparations would destabilize the German economy and lead to political upheaval--as they had after World War I. The Marshall Plan ended efforts to find a compromise between American and Soviet approaches to the German question. Western German officials accepted Marshall Plan funds; eastern German officials, following the Soviets, rejected the aid. By mid June 1948 the United States, Great Britain, and France had unified the western occupation zones and established a standard currency, the deutsche mark, creating West Germany as a unified political and economic entity. On 24 June the Soviets responded by closing all traffic between its occupation zone and West Germany and blockaded Berlin in an attempt to force the Americans, British, and French out of eastern Germany. Cut off from overland supplies, the Western powers began virtually nonstop airlifting of cargo to Berlin to reinforce their position. The United States sent one hundred B-29 bombers to bases in England, within striking distance of the Soviet Union. The world braced for war, but fearing atomic bombardment, Stalin backed down on 12 May 1949 and reopened overland transport. He also stepped up research and development on the Soviet atomic bomb. Meanwhile, the division of Germany into separate western and eastern states became permanent. In the west the Federal Republic of Germany held elections on 14 August; in the east the German Democratic Republic--a Soviet-dominated, one-party state--was declared on 7 October. Like Germany, all of Europe was soon divided into two hostile camps.
  • Confrontation in Europe led inevitably to militarization. In July 1947 Congress passed the landmark National Security Act. Under its provisions the military services were streamlined and brought under the command of the newly established U.S. Department of Defense. The National Security Council was created to advise the president on relations with the Communist world. The Central Intelligence Agency was established and given a mandate to engage in covert operations against individuals and governments that U.S. officials considered threatening to American interests. The National Security Act destabilized the constitutional balance of federal authority, giving the presidency enormous powers to meet the demands of the Cold War . Over the next thirty years Congress would gradually become marginalized in the conduct of foreign policy. Critics argued that the Cold War had altered American government into an aggressive national-security state. Images courtesty of,, and
  • Establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 4 April 1949 united the nations of Western Europe into an integrated military alliance against the Soviet Union. There were twelve charter members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. (Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, and West Germany entered the alliance in 1955.) The United States benefited from this alliance because other NATO countries were dependent on U.S. aid to maintain their defenses. As Marshall Plan aid helped their economies to recover, NATO members would be purchasing U.S. armaments for their security, a benefit redounding to the American military-industrial complex. The very existence of this "entangling alliance," so contrary to American isolationist tradition, also enlarged Americans' fears about the Soviet threat, contributing to the rise of the anticommunist witch hunts of 1947-1954. Images courtesy of and
  • The Republicans won control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections of 1946 with a new generation of conservative Republicans determined to undermine the New Deal and Truman's prospects for reelection. Among the newcomers was freshman senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, whose name would shortly enter the American political lexicon. The term McCarthyism came to stand for militant anticommunism, a willingness to force consensus by political repression, and intolerance of dissent. At the same time it masqueraded as patriotism of the highest sort. During the McCarthyite Communist witch hunt of 1947-1954 tens of thousands of American citizens were denied the right to hold dissenting political beliefs and often suffered imprisonment or loss of employment. Persistent attacks by McCarthy's followers finally undermined the New Deal political coalition in the election of 1952, resulting in a Republican landslide. Ironically, the stage for McCarthyism was set by Truman himself. In order to persuade the public and Congress that military and foreign-aid expenditures were necessary, Truman had called the Communists a threat to the peace and security of the globe. At the same time he also planted the seed that became the flower of McCarthyite dogma--that international Communism had set its sights on subverting the United States from within. The Truman administration assisted the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in its efforts to condemn the political activities of homegrown Communists, and in 1947 Truman ordered all federal employees to sign oaths of loyalty to the U.S. government, a move that suggested to much of the public that Communists must have already infiltrated the federal government. McCarthy alleged in 1950 that not only were there Communists at the very core of American government, but this infiltration had occurred on Truman's watch. Truman and the Democrats were defeated by the charge that they had not been watchful enough to prevent this subversion.
  • The United States had initiated the Manhattan Project in response to warnings from Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard that the Germans were capable of making an atomic bomb. Fearful of becoming vulnerable, Roosevelt ordered the largest secret technological undertaking in history to develop atomic weaponry first. Yet the basic discoveries that made the bomb possible had been made before the war and publicized throughout the world scientific community. Consequently, the Soviets had begun their own atomic bomb project in the early part of World War II. Though not nearly as extensive as the Manhattan Project, the Soviet atomic enterprise took advantage of the same theoretical breakthroughs as the American project. The use of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrated that key ideas about nuclear fission worked. These demonstrations of the bomb actually helped Soviet atomic scientists. As Philip Morrison, a Manhattan Project physicist, put it: "The only secret about atomic bombs was that there was no secret." Sooner or later the Soviets would develop their own atomic weapons, and the state of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union spurred the Soviets to mount their own crash development program. The CIA estimated that the Soviets would achieve success in the mid 1950s. When President Truman announced on 23 September 1949 that the Soviet Union had detonated its first atomic bomb, many believed that Communist spies and traitors must have delivered atomic secrets to the enemy. Soviet spies were undoubtedly at work in the United States, just as American spies operated in the Soviet Union. The degree to which Soviets had penetrated the well-guarded atomic projects scattered across the United States was unclear, however. In 1950 two American citizens with Communist ties, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for allegedly giving plans for the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Evidence against them was flimsy and circumstantial, which kept them from being tried for the more serious crime of treason, but they were convicted and sentenced to death, a penalty usually reserved for treason cases. Despite a global campaign to spare them, they were electrocuted in 1953. The anticommunist crusade had become a witch hunt. Cartoon courtesy
  • Shortly after the Soviets exploded their bomb, a Communist revolutionary army led by Mao Tse-tung overthrew the U.S.-backed government in China. One of the main issues in the American disagreements with Japan that led to Pearl Harbor was Japanese occupation of China. A civil war between Mao's Communists and anticommunist warlords led by Chiang Kai-shek had been raging since the late 1920s, decreasing only slightly during the Chinese war with Japan that began in 1937. During World War II China experts such as Gen. Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell had warned that support of General Chiang was a waste of American time and resources and argued that the United States could make friends of the Chinese Communists because there was no love between Mao and the Soviets. But in the anticommunist atmosphere of the late 1940s no politician could embrace such ideas. Instead, the right wing of the Republican Party, led by McCarthy and Congressman Richard M. Nixon of California, began to attack Truman for having "lost China." Although England, France, and other American allies quickly accepted reality and recognized Mao's government, the United States refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of Communist China. Undersecretary of State Dean Rusk, later to head the State Department under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, asserted that Mao was a Soviet puppet and declared that the Chinese Communist Party "is not the government of China. It does not pass the first test. It is not Chinese." Even then the Sino-Soviet animosity was evident, yet members of the American foreign-policy establishment feared for their careers unless they adopted hard-line anticommunist positions. The United States officially recognized the government of Chiang Kai-shek, which had fled to the island of Taiwan, as the government of all China, implacably setting itself against the new mainland Chinese regime. Images courtesy of and
  • In 1941 Henry Luce, the publisher of Time, Life , and Fortune magazines, declared that the next one hundred years would be the "American Century." As Luce put it, the United States could exert unprecedented influence "for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Indeed, at the close of World War II the United States possessed the greatest might and prestige of any nation in history. American internationalists such as Luce had triumphed, and they stood poised to reorder the world. Yet, another power had also emerged from the dust of war. Unlike the United States, the Soviet Union was economically and socially devastated by the war, but it possessed formidable economic potential and the largest, most battle-hardened army on earth. The Soviets reasoned that their sacrifices had entitled them to a share in postwar decision making. But just as differing wartime objectives had divided the United States and Soviet Union, so differing national interests separated them in peacetime. Inability to compromise led to hardening of positions on both sides and finally to confrontation. In the process the citizens of both nations watched the growth of potentially devastating nuclear stockpiles with mounting anxiety. Image from
  • For Americans the Cold War stimulated a mentality that divided the world into "them" and "us." The public came to understand the Cold War in black-and-white terms, even when gray reality prevailed. The Cold War mentality became dogmatic and inflexible, forcing reality to conform to a preexistent set of principles. As Sen. J. William Fulbright once commented, "Like medieval theologians we had a philosophy that explained everything in advance." Open public debate became a casualty of the Cold War . Critics of Cold War foreign policy or of anticommunist hysteria were labeled "fellow travelers" of the Communists, or traitors. As the political climate became more ideological, the United States was led into "hot" wars in Korea and Vietnam. To sustain the military capacity to confront communism, the American economy became wedded to permanent production for war, while former enemies such as Germany and Japan devoted their resources to economic competition and by the 1970s began to eclipse the United States in many areas of production. The pursuit of victory in the Cold War threatened the American domination of the global marketplace so hard-won in World War II.
  • " Cold War: Postwar Tensions With Soviets , 1945." DISCovering U.S. History . Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Reproduced in Student Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2004.
  • Cold wartensionswsoviets

    1. 1. Cold War:Postwar Tensions With Soviets, 1945
    2. 2. The Factor of the Third WorldJapanese surrender signatories are shown arriving on board the USS Missouriin Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945 to participate in surrender ceremonies. Leftto right, front row: Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, who signed on behalf of theEmperor, and Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, who signed on behalf of the Imperial Hô Chi Minh est reçu à Paris par Marius Moutet (à droite)Japanese General Headquarters. Second row in top hats: Katsuo Okazaki andToshikazu Kase. Others unidentified. (AP Photo)
    3. 3. Atomic Diplomacy
    4. 4. The Postwar Global EconomyThis is a general view of a plenary session of the United Nations Monetary Conference in Bretton Woods, N.H. on July 4,1944. Delegates from 44 countries are seated at the long tables. Sen. Charles W. Tobey, R-NH, is speaker in centerbackground. (AP Photo/Abe Fox)
    5. 5. Loans to the Soviet UnionPresident Truman, left, congratulates his new Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, after Acheson took the oath of office in a White Houseceremony January 21, 1949. At right is Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson. (AP Photo/William J. Smith)
    6. 6. Crisis in the Mediterranean
    7. 7. The Permanent War EconomyMilitary Industrial Complex:• Reaction to lack of readiness for Pearl Harbor• Industry: permanent liasion to military• Confront Soviet military power• Ensure profitability
    8. 8. The "Iron Curtain"
    9. 9. ContainmentGeorge F. Kennan, right, new United States ambassador to Russia, stands with Nikola Shvernik, center, president of the Presidium of theSupreme Soviet, after presenting his credentials in Moscow May 14, 1952. at left, is A.F. Gorkin, secretary of the presidium. Others unidenfified.(A Photo/Sovfoto)
    10. 10. The Truman DoctrineU.S. President Harry Truman waves with his cane as he leaves the White House in Washington, D.C., on July 3, 1947. Thepresident is on his way to Charlottesville, Va., where he will make an Independence Day address at Monticello. (AP Photo)
    11. 11. The Marshall Plan
    12. 12. The Berlin BlockadeA U.S. Air Force C-47 transport plane loaded with supplies lands in defiance of the Soviet blockadeof the western-occupied section of Berlin in 1948.UPI/Corbis-Bettmann
    13. 13. The National-Security State
    14. 14. NATO
    15. 15. The Origins of McCarthyismMcCarthy, Joseph, photograph. AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.
    16. 16. The Soviet A-Bomb If we go on with this race, there wont be a winner!
    17. 17. China Goes Communist
    18. 18. The American Century
    19. 19. Legacies of the Cold WarTaken on February 19, 1990, this photograph shows the dismantling of the Berlin Wall near theBrandenburg Gate in East Berlin. Reuters/Corbis-Bettmann
    20. 20. Sources• "Cold War: Postwar Tensions With Soviets, 1945." DISCovering U.S. History. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Reproduced in Student Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2004.• AP Photo Archive