COLD WAR: LECTURE 2
How did US try to contain Communism in Europe
AGENDA OF THE LESSON
By the end of the lesson, you would be able to:
The Marshall Plan and
The benefits of such approaches
The draw backs of containment
THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE, MARCH 1947
Soviet expansion in Europe increasing - US and allies. Truman
decided that US must prevent this.
Under the Truman Doctrine USA would:
prevent Communism from spreading
help any country , threatened by Communism
Put his doctrine into action by:
Giving money & weapons to Greece and Turkey which were in danger of
being taken over by communists - able to stop the spread of communism
with US aid.
Stalin responded - formed the Communist Information Bureau
(COMINFORM) – alliance of Communist parties to keep
Communist Bloc countries together.
MARSHALL PLAN, JUNE 1947
Another way of containing communism – through
offering financial aid to Europe. Plan was named
after George Marshall who directed it.
Aims of the plan
help Europe recover economically from WWII
build a prosperous Western Europe – able to resist
MARSHALL PLAN, JUNE 1947
US Containment Policy:
By making Europe rich and strong again, he would help
to create stable, Capitalist, democratic governments in
US believed that with the Marshall Plan – people in in
Europe would become more prosperous and therefore
not support Communism.
MARSHALL PLAN, JUNE 1947
Details of the Plan:
16 countries in Western Europe agreed to the Marshall Plan.
Between 1948-1952 these countries – received $13 billion in aid, loans and
Marshall extended aid to East Europeans. Stalin refused – felt that the Plan –
was aimed at extending influence there.
Soviets formed an organization that would encourage trade between
Communist states in Europe. COMECON did not really improve the economies
of these states.
Western government still recovering – still better than large skins
Marshall Plan also divided European economies into halves - heightened tensions
NATO (NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION)
Europe was divided into two spheres of influence: The
Communist and Capitalist spheres.
US & USSR – forced to seek military allies. US tried to
increase their forces in Europe – set up NATO.
NATO – a military alliance formed by US and 11 other
countries. Its aims were:
To defend Europe from Soviet attack.
Attack on European allies by Soviets would be considered an
attack against all.
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
1955 - USSR decided that it would set up Warsaw Pact. All
communist countries in Europe (except Yugoslavia) joined the
Benefits of NATO/Warsaw Pact:
NATO and the Warsaw Pact protected the member states but;
Also heightened tensions in Europe during the Cold War.
The US was contented that the Truman Doctrine, Marshall
Plan and NATO could contain Communism within Europe.
OUTCOMES OF CONTAINMENT
World War II alliance between Britain, US and USSR after
1945 not close – mutually suspicious of each others
intentions. USSR viewed US moves in Europe as trying to
establish control there.
Containment helped to check Soviet expansion into Western
However, also increased tensions in Europe as:
both sides tried to gain allies to bolster their defenses against
possible attacks from the other.
CRISIS IN EUROPE – BERLIN BLOCKADE
Conflicts over how to administer Germany led to a crisis
between Britain, France, US and USSR in 1948.
Germany divided into four zones. Berlin – also divided
into four zones.
The four countries agreed to administer Germany
together under a joint administration.
In 1948: Britain, France and US joined their separate
zones in Germany and also created a new currency for
These actions helped the West German economy to
recover – Western powers also encouraged free
elections in West Germany.
Stalin was fearful that the West would make Germany
strong again and threaten Russia.
BERLIN BLOCKADE – STALIN’S STRATEGY
Stalin planned to seize control over the whole of
Berlin – by blocking off road, rail and canal links
between East and West Germany – June 1948.
He thought of forcing the allies to leave Berlin by
blocking off all supplies.
BERLIN BLOCKADE – US STRATEGY
US felt it was important to support West Berlin
Berlin represented the democratic system.
Concerned that if it pulled out of Berlin – Soviets would
be emboldened and attack the whole of West Germany.
Yet the US and allies were very cautious – could
not start a full scale war by sending in troops to lift
BERLIN BLOCKADE – LIFTING THE SIEGE
To avoid war, Pres. Truman ordered a fleet of planes to
fly over Berlin and drop food supplies and other supplies
Over 10 months – 2 million tons of supplies were flown
into West Berlin. About 2.5 million Berliners were kept
warm throughout the winter of 1948.
After 10 months – Stalin realized that Blockade was a
failure – West was determined to support West Berlin –
called off the blockade in May 1949
War time alliance was at an end – US and allies were mutually
suspicious of each other.
US and USSR locked in a struggle to gain allies and influence in
Europe (later the world)
These tensions did not escalate (become worse) because both
sides were fearful of starting another war – Europe still
recovering from WWII.
Both sides preferred to use threats and “challenge” each other –
but these never amounted to direct military actions.