Cold War Era When We Remove Essay

Pages: 16 (5351 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World

Cold War Era

When we remove the threat of nuclear war that loomed large during the Cold War era, it then becomes possible to engage in rational discourse on the subject. It is a subject that is endless in the complexities of the events and the powerful people behind those events. This paper concerns itself with those powerful world leaders, and events, using primary source documents and interviews, then, analyzing those sources to a measure of understanding the people and events today. The Cold War was a critical period in the history of the world, and it is the impact of the Cold War that continues to be a major influence on how world leaders respond to international threats and events today. Understanding the Cold War era, will help in putting into perspective and understanding the dynamics that concern each of us in the world today.

George F. Kennan (Part I)

U.S. Ambassador to Russia, George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram (1946)," is a primary source for researching and understanding the Cold War era. The document, a telegram sent by Kennan from his embassy post in Russia in 1946 to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a summation of Kennan's impressions of the post World War II U.S.-Soviet relations. The telegram was meant to brief Kennan's boss, the Secretary of State, who, in turn, would brief the President on Kennan's perceptions. Kennan probably knew that the telegram would make the usual presidential cabinet rounds: Secretary of State, the President, Vice President, Press Secretary, Chief of Staff, and others in the president's inner circle. The telegram made the rounds of the inner circle, but was also circulated to key figures in the Senate and the House. This, Kennan admits during a 1996 CNN interview, surprised him, because he believed that the telegram would receive a cursory review, and then the policymakers would proceed as they chose without being influenced by Kennan's first-hand observations and recommendations. Kennan said:

was sometimes surprised and shocked at the enthusiasm with which this telegram was received and the things that I had to say generally -- not just in the telegram -- were received in Washington (CNN, Personal Interview, 1996)."

Kennan's telegram, in 8,000 words, succinctly explains the mood in the U.S.S.R., and Kennan's ideas about the volatility of the situation in the U.S.S.R. Kennan described the antagonistic moods between the U.S.S.R. And the U.S. In the moment, which in historical hindsight shows an extraordinary sensitivity to the situation and perception in analysis. Kennan's telegram advises that there was no opportunity for a peaceful coexistence between the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. because of the opposing forces of capitalism and communism. Historians agree with Kennan's assessment, citing in part the U.S.S.R.'s goal of expansionism (Murin, Johnson, Fahs, Gerstle, Rosenberg, Rosenberg, 2008, 826).

As a result of the antagonistic mood, and because the U.S. had proved itself militarily superior with its show of force nuclear against Japan, the race for nuclear armament between the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. ensued (Murin, Johnson, Fahs, et al., 887). In the telegram, Kennan offers an important insightful caution, which proves to be historically accurate. Kennan writes:

Intervention against USSR, while it would be disastrous to those who undertook it, would cause renewed delay in progress of Soviet socialism and must therefore be forestalled at all costs (Kennan, the Long Telegram, 1946)."

His words, telegraphed from Moscow in 1946, proved not only insightful, but served as an accurate assessment of what actually happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962 (Murin, Johnson, Fahs, et al., 887). This was the moment in Cold War history when the two super powers faced off in a show of potential strength. At the behest of Cuba's communist leader, Fidel Castro, the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, following a failed coup attempt by Cuban expatriates living in America, and sponsored by the Kennedy administration (887). Khrushchev, in a show of support for communism, sent and assembled Soviet missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States (887). In a show of rational leadership, but after much muscle flexing and tension, President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev faced off, and, in the end, Khrshchev dismantled the missiles (887).

A moment in time about which Kennan so accurately assessed in his telegram, was avoided, and it was clear that Kennan's prediction of the disastrous outcome of such an event was well understood by the world. But Kennan's words proved even more prophetic, because following his caution about intervention against the U.S.S.R., Kennan also said that intervention would interrupt the natural progress of Soviet socialism (Kennan, 1946).

The Novikav Telegram

Yet another and equally important and insightful telegram, this time from the Russian side; Nicolai Novikav's September, 1946 telegram helps to set the stage for what would consume both sides of the political ideological divide in terms of paranoia (Novikav, 1946). Novikav, the U.S.S.R.'s Ambassador to the United States, was conveying to his superiors in Moscow his impressions of the mood and mind of the American political leaders, and his sense gained by being in America as to the mood generally of the American public.

Novikav establishes really the elements of the divide between the nations in the post war environment. His telegram explains how the Soviet's almost resented the American geographical position that prevented them from being invaded and attacked by Germany, and that America expected the Soviet Union to be irreparably weakened by the German attack, or even destroyed. Novikav seems to establish that it was the advantage gained by the United States in the war by way of its geographical distance from the invading German forces that establishes a sense of "competition" between the two countries. Novikav says that America anticipated the destruction of its competitors, apparently contending that the two were in a pre-war competition of sorts.

Instead of alleviating this perspective, the U.S. pursued policies that were contentious, and validated Novikav's assessment (Murin, Johnson, et al., 826). This makes Novikav's telegram almost as prophetic as Kennan's own, except that there is an almost irrational tone to it, as compared to Kennan's ration tone advocating patience and persistence through diplomatic approaches.

Novikav's telegram goes on to say that the American imperialists misjudged the strength of the U.S.S.R., inferring the Communist Party, and emphasizes the fall of Germany and Japan, but inferring, too, that the fall of these war instigators is somehow reflective of the fall of the United States. Looking at this in contemporary terms, it is perhaps more predictive of what would come to pass, rather than an honest assessment of the situation at the end of World War II.

The telegram analyzes the post war world in terms of economic power, suggesting that the United States would use its stronger position in commercial goods and food as a shoe horn by which to infiltrate and destroy European and Asian countries, and, of course, this included the U.S.S.R. It was an accurate assessment of the state of the world at the time, but a wholly inaccurate assessment of the ways in which America would use its resources.

The telegram is, overall, indicative of the hard-line position of the Stalin government. It is, in hindsight, almost pandering to Stalin's own sense of paranoia and his obsession with what he believed was the plot to oust him.

National Security Council White Paper, 68

The National Security Council (NSC) White Paper, 68 (April, 1950) was written in a post World War II atmosphere of fear and distrust. China had fallen to Communism, and it was an expression of the fear of communist expansion. The NSC was attempting to assess the political instability of the situation that existed, and the distribution of power in the world between communism and capitalism. It accurately measures the mood of the public on both sides as one of anxiousness and fear of nuclear armament and war. This document was intended as a working tool for policy making in the Cold War era by the member nations of the NSC.

The document pays a particular attention to the military capabilities of both sides, and warns of the Soviet capability and threat, and perhaps, in historical hindsight, even exaggerates the capabilities and strength of that moment in time. But the point of the exaggeration is not so much that the Soviet Union had the capability and strength, but that it was a mindset of the Soviet Union to present that image of its position to strike out at the free world, such that it would progress towards the exaggerated strength and capabilities. This is emphasized in the section that describes the fundamental design of the Soviet government, and in describing the communist expansion.

The NSC document is meant to encourage the member nations to respond to the threat of communism by uniting, with the United States as the military protectorate of sorts. It actually expresses in clear terms that the U.S.S.R. is a threat to the free world, and that the U.S. has the power to initiate a successful strike… [END OF PREVIEW]

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