Essay: Churchill Staline Cold War

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Churchill/Stalin/Cold War

The Cold War: Causes and Aftermath

The Cold War, the war of tensions and nuclear stalemate that characterized the period immediately after the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin War divided Europe into two warring factions. On one side, the United States and most of the Western European powers it had striven to rebuild as the result of its Marshall Plan stood for freedom, sometimes only in name but often with genuine feeling and commitment. On the other hand, Soviet Russia held Eastern Europe in a grip of fear and terror. Was Stalin simply an evil man? According to Winston Churchill, that was the case. In his famous 1946 "Iron Curtain" speech Churchill stated: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow." Soviet influence was so pervasive, warned Churchill, it would be impossible to resist, were it not contained.

The Western powers, in short, feared that the Soviet Union would use its sphere of influence to encroach upon the remaining democracies in Europe, which were still weak in the aftermath of the Second World War. Stalin, much like Hitler before him, had continually reneged upon his promises to reign in his nation's influence and power. However, it should be noted that Russia's paranoia had some foundation. The United States, and even the decimated European powers, were far more economically powerful than Russia, which was then only haltingly industrializing and modernizing as befits a 20th century world power. At the beginning of the century, much of Russia existed as a feudal, agricultural province with no industrialization, and its people and economy were entirely subject to the will and whim of the tsar. Russia had no democratic tradition, and to modernize and protect itself, the autocracy put into place by Joseph Stalin seemed like the most logical way to operate.

It should be noted that although Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech is understandably quite famous for defaming Stalin, it also did contain some praise for Russia: "I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in Britain -- and I doubt not here also -- toward the peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships." Although this may sound like pure rhetoric, and undeniably there is a certain element of political finesse to this comment, it is likely that recently Blitz-ravaged Britain did feel sympathy for the tremendous suffering and loss of life experienced by Russia at the hands of the Nazis.

Russia, always poor, fearful, and with an inferiority complex to the rest of Europe, now felt even more threatened and open to attack. During the Battle of Stalingrad, the German forces were defeated by the winter more than the Russian army, and millions starved to death. As Stalin quite accurately… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Churchill Staline Cold War.  (2008, July 26).  Retrieved May 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/churchill-staline-cold-war/1944

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"Churchill Staline Cold War."  Essaytown.com.  July 26, 2008.  Accessed May 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/churchill-staline-cold-war/1944.