Cold War Crucible: United States Foreign Policy and the Conflict in Romania, 1943-1953

Article excerpt

Elizabeth W. Hazard. Cold War Crucible: United States Foreign Policy and the Conflict in Romania, 1943-1953. East European Monographs, No. CVXLII. Boulder, CO: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1996. ix, 258 pp. Photographs. Bibliography. Index. $28.00, cloth.

Romania, the first of the eastern bloc nations to be overwhelmed by the Soviet tidal wave of hegemony in the early post-war years, also became the last to overthrow its Communist dictatorship. When the country finally emerged from the rubble of the Soviet empire to once again join the family of independent nations, it faced a long recovery from decades of Soviet political, cultural, and economic oppression. As Elizabeth Hazard shows in Cold War Crucible, Romania early suffered as a type of testing ground in the US-Soviet competition for power in the post-war world. It is a tragic story, one that Hazard believes could have been avoided if the United States had early on developed a more coherent, consistent strategy for dealing with Soviet demands in Eastern Europe. Instead, the State Department's practice of overtly advocating restraint among impatient Romanian opposition leaders, while covertly holding out the carrot of US assistance in the event of an uprising against Soviet authority, undermined both facets of US policy and increased Soviet suspicions in the area, which only escalated hostility. Hazard's indictment of the bifurcated nature of U.S. policy goes beyond Romania, however. In her view, what happened in Romania can serve as a case study for exposing the fallacy of US policy in other parts of Europe as well as in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Whereas post-revisionist scholars such as John Gaddis have placed equal blame for aggravating superpower tensions on the USA and the USSR, Hazard holds the American administration primarily responsible.

Although Roosevelt's war-time concern with the Balkans took an obvious back seat to the Allied desire to open a second front in France, once the German defeat seemed imminent, the American commitment to universalist political and economic principles came to bear on the countries of that contested region. Romania was no exception. Hazard skilfully shows the emerging divergence between the British and the American views of post-war Eastern Europe, a development that further confused Romanian resistance leaders. Because of her extensive work in the U. …