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S.S.R., which would ostensibly eliminate the threat posed by the U.S.S.R.'s capabilities. The report takes on a tone almost encouraging that to happen. It was very much the public mood of the time that would have supported that initiative. That the world came so close to the use of nuclear confrontation during the Cuban Missile Crisis is indicative of this, and it was only the ability of JFK to resist the military and other forces that would have plunged the world into nuclear war and disaster.
The single purpose of this document was to provide the rationale for an assault against the U.S.S.R. It provided the basis for foreign policy for most of the Cold War era, and that is supported by the poised position of the United States and other free world nations to strike out, and by the build up of nuclear arms in the U.S. And across Radio Free Europe (Murrin, Johnson, et al., 859-860).
The Sources of Soviet Conduct" by "X" in Foreign Affairs, July 1947
George Kennan, under the working title of X, wrote an article for quarterly publication, Foreign Affairs, in July of 1947. That Kennan wrote under a pseudonym is telling that his position in the paper might not have been consistent with that of the administration in which he served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Kennan frames his article in the confines of ideologically incompatible philosophies of communism and capitalism. He emphasizes, however, that both forces are politically driven, and it is the political body behind each philosophy that serves as the measure of its potential detriment to the other. This particular article seems to encompass more of a sense of impending doom that might be described as a mass paranoia of the Cold War era. It is a fearful article, one that details threat of the Soviet Union, not so much as a philosophy, rather as the machine driven by fundamentalists and fanatics who, aside from philosophy, would still remain a threat to society.
The Truman Speech
President Harry S. Truman came into office in the post World War II era to face the problems of the Cold War. The urgencies of the political upheaval around the world were numerous, and in his speech delivered before a session of joint Congress, Truman makes his case for America's need to respond to calls for help from nations in the free world. In this case, Truman is referencing the call from Greece for financial and economic assistance for Greece and Turkey. Both countries, Truman surmised, were vulnerable to the forces of communism, because of their post war economic instability and hardships.
Truman reports on the conditions of both countries, reminding Congress, and the world, that both countries were allies during the war, and their state of post war devastation is as a result of the war. The vulnerability that a country is cast into when it faces economic devastation and political upheaval, the case with both Turkey and Greece, compels the U.S. To respond to the calls of these nations on a humanitarian level, a political level, and in the interest of the free world at large.
Truman's goal is to appeal to the sense of responsibility, and the fear of communist expansion, in order to generate American economic and financial support for both Greece and Turkey. He was playing to an in tune audience, because Congress was already in a Cold War frame of mind, and the manifestation of that was going on around the country as people and institutions reacted to the threat of communism.
Truman suggests that there are two directions that a country's leadership can take; that of communism, or free enterprise capitalism. He says:
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms (Truman, 1949)."
Clearly, the Congress, already in the defensive frame of mind, responded to the argument made by Truman, and took the necessary steps for Truman to support Greece and Turkey with economic and financial assistance (Murrin, Johnson, et al., 827).
Conclusion (Part II)
The Cold War era was a prolonged period of contentious coexistence between the ideologies of capitalism and communism. The events that drew the world to the brink of nuclear disaster were, in historical hindsight, events precipitated by the inexperience and poorly advised and poorly informed actions of American political and military leaders in response to a ruthless and enslaving communist policy of expansion. At the end, the world can only be grateful that communism has, for the most part, proved itself unsuccessful, a flawed theory of government and economics. It remains, however, uncertain as to whether or not capitalism will prove itself more tangible and successful a political and economic blending of theories, or whether or not it, too, will succumb an as yet unknown greater force; only to have outlasted its flawed counterpart in communism.
It is interesting to note that while people tend to consider the Cold War in terms of the United States and the former USSR, that now, as then, China loomed almost quietly in the background. In the historical accounts of the Cold War, the focus is on the U.S. And Soviet relations, with the policies between them serving as the driving forces of the Cold War era. China, however, as a communist nation, was very much in the moment of the Cold War. Now, we see China emerging as a more prominent player in world politics and in the global economy. China, having perhaps drawn a lesson from the failed communist political philosophies that brought down the Soviet Union, has evolved its brand of communism into a pseudo one; combining the economic elements of capitalism with the political ideologies of communism, and the result is that modern day China looks very different from the Communist China or Soviet Union of the Cold War era. It begs the question of whether or not China's new and third formula is one that will survive the antiquated communism of the former Soviet Union, and the capitalism of the United States and other Cold World era free world nations.
The five primary documents used in this study reflect the poised position of the free world to embark upon the disastrous course of nuclear war, which Kennan so succinctly warns against in his "The Long Telegram." Kennan is on target when he suggests that the forces of communism will work its way through the U.S.S.R., and would essentially result in the deterioration of that government. Each player's position is well documented and presented in the primary documents, and they interact with one another: Novikav's ideas, expressed in his own telegram, that the U.S. would use its economic advantage to infiltrate foreign governments could conceivably be borne out by President Truman's 1947 speech before a joint session of Congress. The NSC White Paper 68 uses a language that encourages striking out against the U.S.S.R. The birth of the political rhetoric, which would flow for the next forty years, is reflected in these primary source documents.
The tension of the Cold War is expressed in these documents, although the hindsight reflection and analysis of historians helps to define the events, the strategies, rhetoric, and ideologies serves to further the understanding for those people who are of an age and mind to be politically active today, but whose own life experiences do not include the Cold War era. They are perhaps closer to the Cold War than even they realize, for their immediate family members did experience it. For each person who is living today, the Cold War has impacted their lives. Each of us, today, is in some way a product of the Cold War, and understanding the Cold War lends itself to understanding our own lives today.
Carter, Dale, and Robin Clifton, eds. War and Cold War in American Foreign Policy, 1942-62. New York: Palgrave, 2002.
The advantage of historical perspective is time, and this book is the reflection of that advantage in assessing the Cold War in America's foreign policy by each of the post World War II presidential administrations. It also reflects the advantage of being removed from the events in such a way that perspectives slanted by emotional events can be assessed in a purely historical way. This is not a work of revisionism, but is a historical reporting of the Cold War era. The advantage is what the editors of this book refer to as the state of historian "discipline." As noted by the editors, even the terminology and use of words such as "foreign relations, international history, foreign policy," and "diplomatic policy," are used in the book…[continue]
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