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Dr. Kevin Lasher POL 315: Politics of War & Security

Jan 17, 2016



  • Dr. Kevin LasherPOL 315: Politics of War & Security

  • What was the Cold War?Military, ideological, political and economic struggle between US and USSRLasted from 1947-91US and USSR came close but never fought directly against each otherNumerous smaller wars against surrogates and other forcesStruggled to weaken each others alliances and acquire new allies in non-European world

  • What was the Cold War?Nuclear arsenals and possibility of mutual assured destruction brought a level of stability to superpower conflictPotential for WW III and global destructionUS policy of containment had many ups and downs and modificationsEnded with collapse of USSR in 1991

  • What was the Cold War?1947-51: Beginning of Cold War1952-1963: Regularization of the Cold War1963-1972:Vietnam Period and Nuclear Parity1972-1980:Dtente1981-85:Cold War II1986-91:End of the Cold War

  • Establishment of the Cold War Uneasy alliance was breaking down as WW 2 was ending

    Suspicions on both side

    US and USSR hopeful that alliance could continue in some form

    Realism says US-Soviet conflict almost inevitable

  • Establishment of the Cold War Traditionalists say that Cold War was the fault of Stalin and the USSR

    Revisionists say that Cold War was primarily the fault of Truman and USA

    Post-revisionists say that Cold War was the fault of both sides, with more blame on the Soviet side

  • Causes of Cold War: Systemic ViewTwo superpowers US and USSR dominate international system at close of WW II

    Much of Europe is destroyed during fighting (power vacuum)

    Uncertainty over treatment of defeated major powers Germany and Japan (especially Germany)

  • Causes of Cold War: Systemic ViewDevelopment of bipolar system with fairly rigid alliances and a de-colonializing Third World which is up for grabs

    US and USSR want to avoid World War III, even before the expansion of nuclear arsenals

  • Causes of Cold War: Domestic ViewUS wants a return to normalcy and withdrawal from Europe, reluctantly concludes that is not possible

    USSR wants a buffer zone in Eastern Europe and to prevent a renewed threat from a revived Germany

    US and USSR desirous of maintaining awkward alliance, if possible

  • Causes of Cold War: Domestic ViewTwo diametrically opposed political/economic/ideological systems

    Democratic capitalism vs. Soviet totalitarianism/communism

    Soviet ideology predicts the eventual triumph of socialism over capitalism

  • Causes of Cold War: Individual ViewBrand-new President Truman must prove his toughness following death of RooseveltTotalitarian dictator Stalin is surprisingly pragmatic in matters of foreign policyStalin wanted limited Soviet expansion but also some form of alliance with USBoth leaders want to promote their evolving national interests, but also want to avoid direct conflict

  • Establishment of the Cold War Was Cold War inevitable?

    No, but it was very highly likely

    Nature, length and ending of Cold War were NOT predetermined

    Also quite possible that the Cold War would transform into a Hot War (but it never did)

  • Post-War Realism? Stalin: Whoever occupies a territory also imposes on it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army has the power to do so. It cannot be otherwise.

  • Eastern Europe USSR will not be attacked by Germany again (WWI and WW II)

    Stalin demands a buffer zone in Eastern Europe

    Allies unsure how much control/influence Stalin will seek

    Eventually: Stalin takes total control

  • Eastern Europe Wasnt a master plan for domination of Eastern EuropeProcess of coalition governments, puppet liberal parties, communist dictatorshipDifferent pace in different countriesThere was actually some support for communism (not brutal dictatorship) in certain EE countriesUncertainty about Germany1945-49

  • Road to Cold War/Containment FDR-Truman transitionChurchills Iron Curtain speechKennans Long TelegramBritish exhaustion and withdrawal from Greece and TurkeyTruman DoctrineAmerican actions in Europe

  • President Harry Truman Inexperienced in foreign policyAn honest and diligent mediocrity (British diplomat)Deal with FDR legacy; inherited FDRs teamNeed to show toughness with SovietsWould FDR act differently? (probably not)

  • Churchill Speech March 1946: From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Called for Anglo-American alliance to resist Soviet expansionismSpeech viewed negatively in US

  • Churchill Speech Ambiguous speechCalled for Anglo-American alliance, avoidance of appeasement, working with UN to create a settlement with RussiaDeclared that a new war could be avoidedWarning rather than specific set of policies

  • George Kennan: Father of Containment American diplomat in Russia; expert in Russia and USSRFebruary 1946 Long Telegram and later Mr. X article in Foreign Affairs outlines containment strategyHe summarized/crystalized views of others

  • George Kennan: Soviet Threat Traditional Russian insecurity combines withMarxist ideology to create a view of international relations which makes cooperation with capitalist United States impossible

  • George Kennan: Soviet Goals To undermine the general political and strategic potential of major western powersTo weaken Western influence on Third World nations To weaken democratic and non-communist governments wherever possibleTo work to cause tension/conflict among major Western powersAll unofficial Soviet efforts will be negative and destructive in character

  • George Kennan: Soviet Hostility In summary, we have here a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be no permanent modus vivendi -- that it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure.

  • George Kennan: Western Response Soviet power is neither schematic nor adventuristic. It does not work by fixed plans. It does not take unnecessary risks. It is highly sensitive to logic of force. For this reason it can easily withdraw--and usually does when strong resistance is encountered at any point. Thus, if the adversary has sufficient force and makes clear his readiness to use it, he rarely has to do so. If situations are properly handled there need be no prestige-engaging showdowns.

  • George Kennan: Western Response Must treat Soviet threat with courage, detachment and objectivityMust educate American people about reality of Soviet threatStrengthen our own societyProvide leadership and positive programs for the rest of the world

  • George Kennan: Western Response Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society. After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism, is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping.

    Did we follow this advice?

  • George Kennan: Mr. X Article Balanced against this are the facts that Russia, as opposed to the western world in general, is still by far the weaker party, that Soviet policy is highly flexible, and that Soviet society may well contain deficiencies which will eventually weaken its own total potential. This would of itself warrant the United States entering with reasonable confidence upon a policy of firm containment, designed to confront the Russians with unalterable counter-force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.

  • George Kennan: Mr. X Article But the United States has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power. For no mystical, Messianic movement , and particularly not that of the Kremlin, can face frustration indefinitely without eventually adjusting itself in one way or another to the logic of that state of affairs.

  • Road to Cold War/Containment FDR-Truman transitionChurchills Iron Curtain speechKennans Long TelegramBritish exhaustion and withdrawal from Greece and TurkeyTruman DoctrineAmerican actions in Europe

  • Great Britain WithdrawsFebruary 21, 1947 Great Britain states that it will cease aid to Greece and TurkeyUS fears both might fall to Soviets

  • Truman DoctrineMarch 1947 Truman announces $400 million in military/economic aid to Greece and TurkeyBoth are semi-authoritarian, anti-communist regimesGreek government was completely reactionary and leaders were weak, stupid and venal (US official)

  • Truman DoctrineOne 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 DoctrineI believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities

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